Tuesday, January 29, 2008

More rumours emerge

Today's Globe cites an 'anonymous source' as having some inside information on the Afghan detainee controversy - Detainee fallout: take few, free quickly. (H/T National Newswatch)


How is it that the Globe can publish operational security details? Don't they know that the Taliban can read?

...One well-placed source who spoke to The Globe and Mail Monday on condition of anonymity said that, in addition to being told that Canadian detainees were being held at Kandahar Air Force base, he understood some insurgents detained in joint Canadian Forces-Afghan National Army combat operations were being turned over to the Afghan military in a “grey zone” action.

He said he has been told that Canadians have been content in some cases to allow operations to be labelled as Afghan-led military proceedings. Thus, detainees passed into Afghan military hands with no records kept...

But the Post reports that Harper calls this information "operational security":

...Citing "operational security" and the desire not to tip their hand to the Taliban, Mr. Harper and his Cabinet refused yesterday to discuss what was being done now with detainees...

Politically, it would be to his advantage to disclose the information and be 'transparent' about the whole process, so there must be a reason to keep details on a need-to-know basis.


And so just who is this 'well-placed source' and why did he feel he needed to bypass national security and the safety of our troops to get this story to the Globe? And how do we know it is true? How can we check?

Where's the accountability?

* * * *
Related: Don Martin has a great column today - Harper reveals a humble side. Well worth the read. As a sidebar he muses:

(Nobody has satisfactorily explained why revealing the status of our detainees is a national security concern, particularly when that information is released routinely by our allies. After all, the Taliban have rarely hit the massive Kandahar Airfield's outskirts with long-range mortar fire. How on Earth would they stage a rescue of their terrorist buddies from an undisclosed spot deep inside the heavily fortified base? Answer: Only if they want to die in the attempt.)

Well, I'm no military expert. I'd love to hear some theories though.

As for the rest of Martin's column, I totally agree. If Harper can continue with this approach to be open to compromise, show his softer side, and refrain from the angry outbursts in Question Period, I believe he would be able to achieve his majority. This is the kind of attitude that can sway female voters.

Perhaps like a fine wine, Stephen Harper only needed a chance to age a bit and mellow.

* * * *
Tuesday Update: Newstalk 570's Jeff Allan just reminded the listening audience of this World War ll phrase - "loose lips sink ships".

Raphael has a theory. Check it out.

CNEWS - Canada would be first nation to abandon Afghanistan.

CTV - PM defers to military to disclose prisoner info. Check out the comment from "Army Wife".

Wednesday Update: Steve Janke - Globe and Mail backs off the furious Rick Hillier story.

55 comments:

Anonymous said...

Our local radio station is blasting out one liners saying that Hillier made an angry phone call to the PM.
???
No source, just that. Reminds me of a few months ago there was story about Hillier being blasted by the PM. No facts just sound bites from the Olivers and Fifes who like to tell us how everyone thinks and feels ,but we don't here it from the actual subjects!

ha! word verification:
cursmq

Anonymous said...

OTTAWA -- A new poll suggests the Liberals have pulled ahead of the Conservatives amid bad news on the economy and controversy over the Afghan military mission.

The Liberals were ahead of the Tories in vote-rich Ontario and Quebec.

There was also a furor over the continuing military deployment in Afghanistan, fed in part by the disclosure that the government failed to reveal that the military has stopped handing over prisoners to Afghan authorities because of torture concerns.


I wouldn't cork that fine wine, looks like it's turned to vinegar.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Our local radio station is blasting out one liners saying that Hillier made an angry phone call to the PM.

Actually, that's covered in the Globe article that I've linked. No name though, just "reports have also emerged..."

Just like I could say to Anon at 8:53 that 'sources' have told me that the Conservatives are ahead; depending on which polling company you listen to (and who commissioned the poll).

Alberta Girl said...

Oh Anony - what poll are you reading - that Decima poll - how is it that the Ipsos poll has totally different numbers!!


Depends on the question I guess?? Me - given that polls are sooooo variable between companies, I tend not to pay much attention to them.

I can see that you would want to pay attention to the Decima one though, seems to be the only one that ever has the Libs up.

Makes one wonder doesn't it?

With regards to the "reporting" of facts vs fiction surrounding our prime minister - the press is aways on about him not talking to them, yet when he does, he either gets negative stories or gets made fun of.

No wonder he doesn't want to talk to them.

Lee said...

Yep, now the cat is out of the bag. Some steely eyed sleuth has uncovered the great secret of where the detainees are.
Is our military better off now?
Does the Canadian public care?
No and No.
But this fantastic coup by the press is viewed as something important.
We are finished people. Just disband the military, save all that money so the Liberals will have something in the kitty when they take over.
The press bragged that they can break Mr. Harpers Government, and they are well on the road to doing just that.
Get used to it folks, the press run this country

Anonymous said...

Polls will almost always provide the result that whoever paid for the poll wants. It's what question you ask, how you ask it, and who you ask.
The WHO you ask is key. A phone poll done from 9-5 on a weekday to residential numbers will by its very nature reach only a select subset of the population (stay-at-home parents, the unemployed and retired), likewise, a poll done on the street from 12-1 PM at Bloor & Yonge is going to get a very different demographic.

Anonymous said...

I can see that you would want to pay attention to the Decima one though, seems to be the only one that ever has the Libs up.

Actually, you're incorrect. Ipsos had the libs up just before Christmas.

Given the fact that Harris- Decima has been a conservative polling firm since it's inception, your comments seen rather ill-informed.

Any road up, there doesn't seem to be a clear indication which way Canadian voters are leaning these days.

This must be a pure annoyance for Harper. He is still having a hard time convincing the average Canadian that he's trustworthy.

Maybe a change of leadership would benefit conservative fortunes?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Yep, now the cat is out of the bag. Some steely eyed sleuth has uncovered the great secret of where the detainees are.
Is our military better off now?
Does the Canadian public care?
No and No.


I'll bet there are a few people livid over this.

Christian Conservative said...

My honest opinion? If he want's a majority, he needs to show up at the National Press Gallery on a regular basis... every time he does, he knock 'em dead, shows a more humble and softer side, and handles the Press with a great deal of charm and intelect.

I have no idea why such a big deal was made over the whole Press Gallery issue in the first place.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

I have no idea why such a big deal was made over the whole Press Gallery issue in the first place.

If you've read Tom Flanagan's book, you'll understand why he has a basic distrust of the press, but he needs to throw them a bone every once in a while. It could be a symbiotic relationship with the right attitude on both sides.

Anonymous said...

I think Harper has played this brilliantly actually.

According to Hansard, when Dion was over in Afghanistan he was told by military officials to keep quiet about it because it would endanger our effort and our soldiers.

If it's ok for Dion to keep quiet why isn't it ok for the PM to do so?

On the other hand if Dion wants to undermine our effort and soldiers, let him, but I sure don't want the leader of our country to follow the lemmings along over the cliff.

Canuck1955 said...

Polls only count on election day. Anyone that thinks they matter now is dreaming in technicolour!
Is it me? Not one person has mentioned the detainee thing in the course of any conversation.
Does anyone but the press actually care? I could care less.
The Globe will use anonymous sources any time they can take a shot at Mr. Harper, another reason they are losing credibilty and subscribers.
Mr. Harper should continue to treat the PPGallery the way they deserve, like pond scum!!!

Joanne (True Blue) said...

This whole thing keeps reminding me about the Canadian Caper when Joe Clark decided to take Trudeau into his confidence and did so on November 26. Though Clark hoped that this would soften Liberal questioning, he was disappointed. The partisan opposition attack continued.

Some things take priority over partisan politics. I trust our PM to make the right decisions even though they are difficult.

Anonymous said...

anon@12:47
I agree that PMSH is handling this well, but he had a 'meeting' with the self-appointed opposition(aka PPG) yesterday, and there is nothing but spin and twist today by the media, sprinkled with the usual respect and homage to Dion and Iggy.

Anonymous said...

we all have such short memories don't we?

Don't you remember how accurate the polls and media loons were last federal election????

THEY WEREN'T EVEN CLOSE !!

Those same loons are still smarting from the Harper win...and in the throes of the next federal election they'll do like they did before and trip all over their tongues making up excuses as to why the polls and pundit were wrong.

Wait for it folks....lemmings aren't known for being quick studies are they?

Sorry Jo - I borrowed the whole lemming label because it's rather catchy

Raphael Alexander said...

Has anyone at all considered the possibility the military leaked this?

By the way, this word verification is stupid. I can never enter the words correctly on the first two tries... argh

Joanne (True Blue) said...

By the way, this word verification is stupid. I can never enter the words correctly on the first two tries... argh

I could try taking it off temporarily.

Raphael Alexander said...

Well, don't do it on my account Joanne. I'm just clumsy with the typing :)

maryT said...

Re polls, just look at all the grim faces on cnn after every caucus or primary. Who predicted a clobbering of billory last week. As someone mentioned elsewhere, the cell phone only people are left out of polls. That makes a huge difference.
Glad to see my comment a few weeks ago-loose lips sink ships- is being picked up in lots of places.

Gabby in QC said...

From the G&M story:
“Reports have also emerged that General Rick Hillier, Chief of the Defence Staff, was furious with the Prime Minister's Office's handling of the military's new policy and angrily telephoned Mr. Harper Friday night after letting it be known he was “tired of being used” in political controversy. ...
One well-placed source who spoke to The Globe and Mail Monday on condition of anonymity …”

What double talk.
The MSM and the opposition always accuse the government of not being transparent, of being secretive, of not divulging all the information it has, so why is the “well-placed source” trying to protect his/her identity?

Also, reporters - and I use the term loosely - can describe in minute detail everything that goes on behind supposedly impenetrable walls, i.e. the PMO.

Please! Hollywood is crying out for writers of good fiction. MSM, here's your opportunity!

liberal supporter said...

Has anyone at all considered the possibility the military leaked this?
Of course they did. They want the Taliban to think we are in disarray. That may draw them out of their hiding places now, during the winter instead of during usual fighting season. It seems to be working, since sadly, we just lost a soldier.

Now it looks like they are being encouraged to attack the main base. Can you spell "trap"?

Möbius said...

Maybe a change of leadership would benefit conservative fortunes?

The only change that would benefit the CPC more, is if you get rid of Dion, and bring in Volpe to replace him.

Just a thought.

Greg said...

And so just who is this 'well-placed source' and why did he feel he needed to bypass national security and the safety of our troops to get this story to the Globe? And how do we know it is true? How can we check?

My guess is he or she wears a uniform. The military hate being used as fall guys for political hacks.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Greg, that's Raphael's theory too.

Canada Goose said...

This stuff about changing Harper is ridiculous. Here we have a relatively young guy with a great family who has nothing in his past that the press can use against him. He is bilingual, an intellectual, thinks fast on his feet and knows the country well. I could go on, but...

If we pick another leader we will have six months of the press picking him/her apart and complaining because he/she doesn't know which way some river runs.

Look at the Macleans article about the men and women who surround Harper. And these are just the icing on the cake. This government just doesn't get credit for its integrity, hard work and depth of its team.

I recently had the opportunity to meet the Justice Minister and Attorney-General Robert Nicholson who visited our riding of Pierrefonds-Dollard and I was very impressed. Compare such people with the Liberal team with their situational ethics and arrogance. Maybe we need to highlight the team more.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Canada Goose - all good points.

Just imagine Dion and Coderre in charge of the Afghanistan mission right now!

Greg said...

Greg, that's Raphael's theory too.

Given the level of specificity of the information, I would say it is more than a theory. I would say it is almost certain.

jad said...

I may be going out on a limb here, but I really don't understand why "Canadians need to know" all about the detainees.

Will I sleep more soundly knowing how many there are ? No Will I feel more secure if I know where they are ? No, again.

The Government tells us there is a plan in place to make sure that any abuse is prevented, and call me a sheep, but I'm actually quite happy to believe they are doing their best on this. Are there problems from time to time? Quite probably, but please remember that this is a third world country that has been at war for years, and has a completely different moral code from Canada. As wiser people than I have said, we want to create a democracy in Afghanistan, but we should be careful if trying to force the creation of a democracy exactly like our own.

Quite honestly, it seems to me that if the military want to relese details, then they should, but politicians who get security briefings should refer all questions to the operational people.

This was a mnaufactured story when it first came out in the spring, and it will not go away until the MSM get bored with it. That doesn't mean Canadians have to care about it.

Raphael Alexander said...

This stuff about changing Harper is ridiculous.

Well, it's not that it's ridiculous. It's that it's unnecessary. Clearly Stephen Harper's strategy of stonewalling on this issue is an abject failure, and no amount of rhetoric like "it's a matter of national security" is gonna keep this puppy from coming out. Harper may as well own the issue now, dominate the media on it, apologize for whatever indiscretions there were, apologize and make up with the military, and start some of that transparency talk he was on and on about in 2006 when he was lambasting the Liberals over something a previous government tried to hide...

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Jad, I agree with everything you said.

I cannot for the life of me figure out what the military could possibly gain by leaking this information, other than possibly the fleeting satisfaction of a moment of revenge.

Boy, Raphael, we are really apart on this one.

Raphael Alexander said...

Boy, Raphael, we are really apart on this one.

Well, let's look at this objectively. We know that Stephen Harper is a good leader, and has many qualities reflective of that. But no leader is above the trouble which arises from over-confidence and arrogance. Now Mr.Harper has a number of options to take here, which all have various end results.

1. Stonewall and ignore. This tactic often works with the Conservatives, but I don't know whether it'll work on this one, as the attention of the public and media are asking questions, and insiders are leaking information. Stonewalling can only work for so long, before eventually something is exposed which is believed to be scandalous. Next thing you know it's 2 seats in the House, and the Liberals have a 13 year mandate.

2. Harper comes forward, explains the important reasons behind the secrecy, and reconciles with the military. He promises more openness and accountability, and he explains why it is a matter of security. He stops refusing to answer questions, and give ambiguous answers. Canadians respect his tactics and they give him credit for his honesty and his integrity in caring about the mission and Canadian troops.

3. Cons find a fall guy, that person takes severe heat and gets canned.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Harper was just on QP saying that he hasn't spoken to Hillier on the phone for several weeks so either the Globe's anonymous source is lying or Harper is.

Raphael Alexander said...

JAD, let me tell you what a military man had to say on the forums of our Armed Forces website:

I need to repeat: I am a card carrying, regularly contributing true blue Conservative; I wouldn’t vote for Dion’s Liberals if they were the only choice on the ballot and I think Gilles Duceppe and Jack Layton, and their parties, are bad jokes. But: I am not blind to the fact that Prime Minister Harper and his close, personal staff are anti-military and, at the very best, weak sisters when it comes to the Afghanistan mission.

They (Harper’s closest advisors and staff assistants) have lied, over and over again, about Gen. Hillier in an attempt to control or undermine him and to subvert his “message” to the armed forces he heads and to Canadians – the parents, spouses, children, brother and sisters and friends and neighbours of our armed forces’ members.

Prime Minster Harper has been a notable and singular failure at explaining (much less defending) the mission in Afghanistan – most likely, I believe because he only considers the mission as a partisan political device that he can use to sow dissention in the ranks of the Liberal Party of Canada. In other words: Prime Minister Harper – my prime minister, head of my party – cares little about the troops and their mission. His only concern is the next election.

Maybe that’s the way it has to be in 21st century Canada, but Blatchford’s description of a “disgraceful whirlwind” is spot on.


Do not mistake the recent criticisms of the Harper government as being solely that of the "MSM" or "Liberal media".

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Harper said he did meet Hillier in person to discuss the Manley report, but did not talk about the detainees.

jad said...

"JAD, let me tell you what a military man had to say on the forums of our Armed Forces website:"

Sorry Raphael, but I think your "military man" has been reading too many stories in the Globe & Mail. I think the amount of money that the Conservatives have spent on the military compared to previous Governments demonstrates that these guys care a lot more, although there are likely people who think that it still isn't enough.

Harper and his ministers have been out to Afghanistan many more times than previous Governments. Sure, these are in parts photo-ops, but if I was serving in Kandahar, I would be just a little impressed that they bother to keep showing up. Additionally, you always see pix of Harper and the other ministers with real soldiers, not so many pix when it comes to Coderre, Dion, or Ignatieff. I discount Dion's rather staged little hockey shott-out which I believe took quite a long time ot organize.

I would point out however, that instead of answering my questions as to why it is so important for Canadians to know all the details about the detainees, you simply quote some unnamed source dumping all over the Government in a military forum.

PS I enjoy your blog as well as this one !

Joanne (True Blue) said...

I would point out however, that instead of answering my questions as to why it is so important for Canadians to know all the details about the detainees, you simply quote some unnamed source dumping all over the Government in a military forum.

Another good point!

BTW, I enjoy his blog too. Thanks for your comments Jad. They are illuminating and thoughtful.

Anonymous said...

raph...I suspect you are responding to the spin in exactly the way the Libs and media want you to. You have been trying not to be partisan. I appreciate that. But I don't think we can depend on 'anonymous sources'. It plays too smoothly in to what the Libs want to do.
And why is the media in a dither about this? Because the Libs are...IMHO.

maryT said...

I loved PMSH's smackdown of Layton in QP today re story of annonomous sources quoted in the globe. Something about you want openess but quote an annonomous source.
Hiller is on vacation in the Carribean. Phone records can be traced so we will see who is lying re Hiller calling the PM or vise versa.
Ever notice as soon as a poll comes out with us ahead, it last for about 2 days. Wonder what internals say.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

I saw that too Mary. Harper said he spoke to Hillier in person, and wished him a good vacation, but that they didn't talk about the detainees; and there wasn't a phone call.

So either someone is lying or the Globe's anonymous source isn't very reliable.

Gabby in QC said...

So, let me get this straight:
when PM Harper uttered phrases like "Canadians don't cut and run" (paraphrase), he was characterized as enamoured with the military, gung-ho on all things military, even wearing the flack jacket on his visits to Afghanistan were ample proof of that, and look at all the billions spent on the military, yada yada yada.

Now, because some would like to pit the government against ALL and SUNDRY, characterizing the Conservatives as against the environment, against women, against seniors, against the Canada Health Act, against the provincial premiers, against lawyers and judges, against sunshine and roses and puppies and yada yada yada
NOW they're also AGAINST the military!?!

GIMME a BREAK!

Gabby in QC said...

BTW, those who enjoy reading fiction, as evidenced by their quoting some MSM op-eds and columns, may want to read "The Kite Runner" by Afghan American author Khaled Hosseini. Or go see the movie, probably playing at a theatre near you.

Raphael Alexander said...

NOW they're also AGAINST the military!?!

Well, Gabby, I'm not here to bash Stephen Harper. I actually quite admire what he's done with the party up until this most recent incident. I've written countless articles praising what he's done. But understand that one of the less attractive aspects of the man is his tendency to put partisanship ahead of prudent policy. Using loaded terms like "cut and run" alienated him among some people who thought the rhetoric was meant to impugn the patriotism and bravery of Canadians. When you live by the rhetorical sword...

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

I'd really love for someone in a uniform to say that this is a matter of operational security, but sadly it's too late for that now. It seems to me that the GOVERNMENT decided that this was a matter of OPSEC, not the military (which goes along with Raphael's theory that it's the military where all these leaks are coming from). I'm pretty much convinced that OPSEC is being used by the government because they don't want to admit that they've implemented the halt to detainee transfers that they used to viciously attack when it was even SUGGESTED by the opposition. It does the government no good to admit that the opposition was right and they (or the military) decided to halt the transfers. It's ESPECIALLY problematic if the TROOPS came to this realization and recommended the change (which would mean that the TROOPS came to the same conclusion as the opposition, and had to make the government follow suit). After months and months of questioning the patriotism of anyone who even SUGGESTED halting the transfers, I can see why the government would want the change kept quiet.

I think the military did the right thing here, and the government hung them out to dry because the "right thing" in this case was also "what the opposition is demanding". Better from the Tories' perspective to cloud everything in "operational security" rather than simply admit "the opposition was right". The regularity with which our NATO allies release this type of information suggests to me that operational security is not really the issue here, partisan manouvering is. And since Hillier can't very well come out and say "the Prime Minister is lying about OPSEC to cover up an embarassing flip flop", suddenly the mission is leaking like a sieve.

OMMAG said...

What would the Libtards do without the Globe&Mail to carry their water??

Raphael Alexander said...

What would the Libtards do without the Globe&Mail to carry their water??

Actually, Christie Blatchford of the Globe is probably the most informed journalist in the Canadian MSM papers. Just sayin'.

maryT said...

Newman just had an interview with someone from Britain, showing the headlines in British and other papers.- Canada threatens to end Afghan Mission-
Wonder if dion and layton expected this reaction to their rants.
Guess the story tells how the opposition is giving the government a bad time, and if Canada goes, Britain will follow.
When the killing stadiums start up again in Afghan, I hope dion and layton can sleep at night.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

When the killing stadiums start up again in Afghan, I hope dion and layton can sleep at night.

Read the comment from 'Army Wife' at the CTV link I left on the post update.

Gabby in QC said...

"... let me tell you what a military man had to say on the forums of our Armed Forces website ...
They (Harper’s closest advisors and staff assistants) have lied, over and over again, about Gen. Hillier in an attempt to control or undermine him and to subvert his “message” to the armed forces ..."

And what would Gen. Hillier's "message" be that had to be thwarted by Harper's advisors?

Come on, people, GET REAL. Don't tell me that the TRUTHERS have set up a branch office in Canada.

On the basis of one possibly disaffected and/or disappointed person, one should draw the conclusion that Harper is anti-military?
That Harper has lied about Hillier?
C'mon.
What lies has Harper told about Hillier?

Who are the ones saying there's a rift between Harper & the General? The likes of Craig Oliver & co. who need to make themselves relevant to the Canadian public.
But the more they gossip and invent silly scenarios for the gullible, the more ridiculous and irrelevant they become, IMHO.

"It seems to me that the GOVERNMENT decided that this was a matter of OPSEC, not the military (which goes along with Raphael's theory that it's the military where all these leaks are coming from)."

Can you provide some link and/or proof of that?
Saying that it's probably the military leaking info. implies that the military is not trustworthy, that it does not support whatever policy the government has set.
Again, GET REAL!

Greg said...

Afghan, I hope dion and layton can sleep at night.

Remind me again how any of this has anything to do with either gentlemen? We have a Prime Minister who seems not to know he is in charge of the government. A guy who is now passively allowing the army to create prisoner policy for him. That's some kinda leadership.

Anonymous said...

greg...that's rich!
Harper has been faulted for being a control freak. Now, if he is not entirely 'in control' of prisoner policies, he lacks leadership?!

I'm quoting gabby
"get real people!"

Möbius said...

Actually, Christie Blatchford of the Globe is probably the most informed journalist in the Canadian MSM papers. Just sayin'.

She's a great writer, and her columns are always interesting and personal.

Why do you think she's well-informed?

Gabby in QC said...

I was composing my comment, and then saw Anonymous @ Tue Jan 29, 08:06:00 PM EST beat me to it, but it bears repeating:

OK, I see "Dion-itis" has taken hold in some quarters.

Before, the PM was accused of being too much of a control-freak, micromanaging every single aspect of the government, etc.

Now, "We have a Prime Minister who seems not to know he is *in charge* of the government. A guy who is now passively *allowing the army to create prisoner policy* for him."

Harper not know he is in charge?
It is to laugh ...

liberal supporter said...

Before, the PM was accused of being too much of a control-freak, micromanaging every single aspect of the government, etc.

Now, "We have a Prime Minister who seems not to know he is *in charge* of the government. A guy who is now passively *allowing the army to create prisoner policy* for him."

Obviously, it is because the PM is a micromanaging control freak, when it comes to his caucus and ministers, that such a barb as "not knowing he is in charge" is so funny.

Harper's problem is he either micromanages or abdicates. He doesn't understand simply providing leadership, letting everyone do their jobs with some discretion while properly overseeing. He can't get out of campaign mode.

You may snicker at Dion's style, but he actually leads, like an executives does. Or if you prefer, like a player-coach.

Gabby in QC said...

"Harper's problem is he either micromanages or abdicates."

♬ In your eyes only ... ♬

Möbius said...

You may snicker at Dion's style, but he actually leads, like an executives does. Or if you prefer, like a player-coach.

Holy shit, did you actually write that?

You're definitely on the payroll.