From media reports, General Hillier, Canada’s top soldier, has been shown to be confused about Canada’s system of government. General, we live in a parliamentary democracy, in which the people elect members to act on our behalf. This means that you are NOT in charge.
The Globe and Mail’s ALAN FREEMAN AND JEFF ESAU( Monday online), report that ” [t]he office of General Rick Hillier, Canada’s top soldier, has halted the release of any documents relating to detainees captured in Afghanistan under the federal Access to Information Act…” He does so by way of “… the Strategic Joint Staff, a newly created group that advises Gen. Hillier, [which] has been reviewing all Access to Information requests about detainees since March, shortly after the detainee controversy first erupted.”
Freeman and Esau report that “[i]t was on the basis of successful access requests by The Globe and by Professor Amir Attaran of the University of Ottawa that Canadians first learned of allegations that three Afghan detainees were abused while in Canadian custody.” So, it is reasonable to conclude that Hillier is deliberately subverting the rights of Canadians to know what is being done in our name. Professor Attaran is quoted as saying that:
… he believes the Access to Information process in National Defence and other departments “is being completely subverted” on all questions related to Afghanistan.
As the country agonizes over it’s dead soldiers, Hillier seems bent on turning himself into a future war crimes suspect. It is horrendous enough to see Canada’s mission in Afghanistan for what it really is : as a brutal war of occupation. As well, in plain sight, Hillier is blocking efforts to uncover the truth about Afghan detainees – or rather – prisoners of war. If Canadian officers know there is abuse and then help to cover it up – that puts their own soldiers at risk. It’s an ugly situation.
Hillier must be immediately removed form his command, the Strategic Joint Staff must be disbanded and Parliament must be immediately recalled to debate the Afghan mission, once and for all. All Canadians should be very concerned about this development. We have NO WAY of knowing who is being taken prisoner by Canadian soldiers, then turned over to Afghan authorities. If abuse occurs then every Canadian is culpable in the abuse because this war is waged in our name.