Absolutely amazing statements from the Prime Minister, when one considers the timing. Just as Harper was lauding press freedom, with laughable quotes, we find out that he "personally" manipulated the message, and approved any rhetoric on the torture issue.
Harper on the role of media:
“Instead we believe strongly that Canadians' freedom is enhanced when journalists are free to pursue the truth, to shine light into dark corners, and to assist the process of holding governments accountable.”
Most objective observers agree that this is the most secretive, message control orientated government in Canadian history. That Harper actually uses the word "assist", when he does everything to throw up roadblocks, withholds information at an unprecedented pace, well... The fact Harper makes these nonsensical assertions at the same time we learn the following, simply staggering:
PMO issued instructions on denying abuse in '07
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's office used a "6,000-mile screwdriver" to oversee the denial of reports of Afghan detainee abuse when the scandal first erupted in 2007, according to a former senior NATO public affairs official who was then based in Kabul.
The former official, speaking on condition his name not be used, told the Toronto Star that Harper's office in Ottawa "scripted and fed" the precise wording NATO officials in Kabul used to repudiate allegations of abuse "at a time when it was privately and generally acknowledged in our office that the chances of good treatment at the hands of Afghan security forces were almost zero."
"It was highly unusual. I was told this was the titanic issue for Prime Minister Harper and that every single statement that went out needed to be cleared by him personally," said the former official, who is not Canadian.
"The lines were, 'We have no evidence' of coercive treatment being used against detainees handed over to the Afghans. There were very clear instructions for a blanket denial. The pressure to hold to that line was channelled via Canadian military and diplomatic personnel in Kabul. But it was made clear to us that this was coming from the Prime Minister's Office, which was running the public affairs aspect of Canadian engagement in Afghanistan with a 6,000-mile screwdriver."
The above provides another tenticle that puts the PMO at the center of the torture question, their denials almost offensive at this point. Further, this micro-managing of every word uttered, provides culpability- it suggests that Harper was WELL AWARE that torture was taking place and acted accordingly to STONEWALL any investigation. If we are using the "light" analogy, the Conservatives spent considerable energy ensuring that complete BLACKNESS was achieved, paranoid to the point that they oversaw all commentary. "Blanket denial", doesn't quite jive with this notion of a press doing a commendable job keeping government accountable. The chasm between the rhetoric and the reality, truly mammoth.
Harper took no questions from reporters, after his statements on the important role of the press....