Friday, April 13, 2007

Smells Like a Cover Up In Progress

It seems that the DND is having a hard time coming up with a defense for the policy around handling arrestees in Afghanistan.

After missing a court deadline, Canada's Department of National Defence has decided it now wants to defend itself against accusations that its Afghan detainee policy violates international law and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Defence Department e-mailed a letter late Wednesday asking lawyers for Amnesty International of Canada and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association to agree to a three-month extension of a 30-day deadline to respond to the charges of the two groups.


Hmmm...the official commentary out of the DND?

“Retrieving and reviewing all relevant documents, including those generated in Afghanistan, is an enormous task,” the letter says. It was signed by Sanderson Graham, the senior Justice Department lawyer, representing Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor and Chief of Defence Staff General Rick Hillier.


This starts to smell rather rotten here - like a bureaucrat trying to cover something up. Especially when we remember that Hillier referred to the Afghanis being arrested in the following colourful language:

However, the blunt-speaking top soldier has also called enemy combatants “detestable murderers and scumbags.”


Meanwhile, on other fronts, Canada lost 8 (6 + 2) soldiers this past week to "IED" bombs (let's get real - these aren't "improvised" devices any more when they can take out armored vehicles - these bombs have been engineered for the purpose - quite well it would seem)

Apparently, in response, our government is going to burn untold amounts of taxpayer money not just on buying new (used) tanks but leasing a batch for immediate use. (The number I heard on CBC driving home yesterday was about $1/2 Billion - to purchase the "new used tanks", no word has been given on the terms and cost of the leased units from Germany - nor the duration of said lease. (How open and accountable of O'Connor)

I'm a little skeptical about buying and overhauling used tanks here - especially after the "great deal" Canadians got buying some surplus submarines from the UK a few years ago. According to the CBC, the tanks from the Netherlands have been "The 100 surplus tanks, which have been sealed in heated buildings for 10 years...".

Anyone who has owned an older car knows that even kept in storage, they need a certain amount of "care and feeding" - or things like seals dry out, gaskets weaken etc. The overhaul of those tanks could easily outstrip the cost of purchase as the overhaul process turns up various problems that would not be obvious on visual inspection. (Remember, tanks are used in battle zones - not exactly the place to be climbing around your vehicle trying to figure out why the engine just died, or the tracks just snapped due to metal fatigue). I'm not saying that the existing tanks (which are old) are a good thing, but I'm cautious about buying someone else's mothballed gear right now. Buy one or two, overhaul them and prove to me that they work reasonably well without costing an arm and a leg.

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