Monday, June 14, 2010


*** Who is the liability now? Tell us how hiding this from Parliament in any way helped Canada, locally or on the international stage? Yeah, that's what I thought. MS ***


OTTAWA - Senior military officials at Canada's overseas command wanted to see diplomat-whistleblower Richard Colvin reined in and possibly removed from his job at the embassy in Kabul.

A toughly worded memo dated May 7, 2007, was released Monday as part of an inquiry by the military police complaints commission.

It painted Colvin as a troublemaker "with a pattern of questionable reporting decisions" whose position as the embassy's No. 2 should be re-evaluated.

It warned he "could become a liability to the Government of Canada's interests if left unchecked."

The memo, penned by a policy adviser at Canadian Expeditionary Force Command, recommended Colvin be reminded of responsibilities as a diplomat and "boundaries as a reporter." It said if he was not checked "his contribution to the Embassy in Kabul should be re-evaluated."

Starting in June 2006, Colvin filed a series of memos critical of Canada's policy in handing suspected Taliban prisoners over to Afghan authorities. He's testified his repeated warnings about possible torture were ignored.

The memos evidently got under the skin of Defence Department officials, who accused him of reporting "highly sensitive" operational details, expressing personal opinion without prior consultation and offering "unqualified criticism of Canadian Forces leadership decisions."

Colvin's explosive allegations became public last fall when they were aired before a parliamentary committee. At the time, many in government and the military professed never to have heard of the diplomat.

Gabrielle Duschner, a former senior policy advisor at the overseas command, said she was aware of the criticism of Colvin at the time and the impression at the Defence Department was inaccurate.

The memo recommending he be warned and possibly replaced was sent to her by one of her staff.

Duschner said she disagreed with the report's conclusions.

She told the commission hearing there was a general awareness and concern about the treatment of prisoners in Afghan jails prior to April 2007.

But Duschner said the issue became a No. 1 priority after media reports were published that month alleging abuse had take place.

The civilian-run complaints commission is investigating what military police knew — or should have known — about abuse allegations.