Well, what else am I supposed to believe after reading this story:
All three opposition parties have demanded that a diplomat who may have crucial information about the alleged torture of Taliban prisoners be allowed to testify before a military watchdog inquiry.
The Liberals, New Democrats and Bloc Quebecois each took turns peppering the Tory government Friday with questions about Richard Colvin, whom government lawyers are trying to strike from a witness list.
In this situation, being part of a cover up is as bad – as evil – as being part of the original transgression. Torture has no place in the military operations of a liberal nation. I’m not trying to put my head in the sand and say that it will never ever happen if it is not sanctioned by high-level decision makers, but when suspicions arise, our military and political structures have to be tuned to identifying and eliminating these abuses.
If the Conservative government wants to maintain a hawkish foreign policy, that’s fine; they’re the government and they get to take the lead in setting policy (though they don’t have the only say). If, as part of this philosophy, they feel that certain interrogation techniques are valid, techniques that the rest of us might consider unacceptable, then they should be open and direct when questioned. They should defend, in both practical terms and ethical terms, the interrogation techniques that our military sanctions, and they should do so in an open and robust debate. They should not try to control the participants to an official inquiry.
Even the rhetoric they are employing is offensive, both to our intellects and to our soldiers. Check out this exchange:
[Liberal MP Marlene] Jennings said the “honour and dignity” of Canadian soldiers demanded that the government be more open and stop “stonewalling” – something [parliamentary secretary to the defence minister, Laurie] Hawn, a former military officer, interpreted as a slight against those in uniform.
“To suggest the Canadian Forces or this government does not take seriously the type of allegations – allegations only – that have come forward is obnoxious,” he said.
This is utter nonsense, and Mr. Hawn should be ashamed, as I would think a man of his position is smarter than to actually believe the tripe he let out. Ms. Jennings was defending our troops. Our troops, on the whole, are honourable and they respect the inherent dignity of humanity as they carry out their difficult and dangerous tasks. In order to maintain any sort of integrity in the military structure, when allegations of torture are presented we must shine as much light on the situation as possible.
This is the practical application of an interventionist liberal foreign policy. Assuming that our soldiers are not, inherently, torturers (which was Ms. Jennings’ point), and deciding to fully investigate any allegations of torture is not “obnoxious”. “Obnoxious” would be an obstinate stance that claims there can be no reason to be concerned about the possibility that the government and military are not doing there utmost to investigate and eliminate crimes against basic human decency.
I’m with Jim Manzi on the issue torture. Even if we put aside the ethical issues relating to torture, torturous nations do not thrive; they do not persist. This is not the type of nation that Canada should become. Further, attempting to hide information about torture will serve us no benefit, either. As a nation, we cannot survive by avoiding the truth and walling off information to the public. Sticking one’s head in the sand serves no purpose but to expose one’s neck.