The Harper government has blacked out large sections of relevant files handed over to the independent inquiry probing allegations of transfer to torture of detainees in Afghanistan, despite the fact that its investigators have the highest levels of national security clearance.
The heavily redacted documents, obtained by The Globe and Mail, underscore the sweeping nature of the government's efforts to keep the documentary record from the Military Police Complaints Commission, which is attempting to conduct an inquiry into allegations that Canada knowingly transferred prisoners to likely torturers in Afghanistan.
The MPCC's repeatedly thwarted effort to get to the heart of the detainee-transfer issue – it has faced attempts by the Harper government to gag witnesses, limit the scope of the investigation and withhold documents – prompted opposition politicians to open their own limited probe through a parliamentary committee, leading to last week's explosive testimony by diplomat Richard Colvin. But that committee's efforts have been similarly stymied, since it has no power to compel the government to deliver the documentary record and no real opportunity to cross-examine witnesses.
In the material delivered to the MPCC, government blackouts render unreadable many of the documents, some drafted by Mr. Colvin. The sweeping redactions were imposed even though everyone who works with or serves on the MPCC must have at least “secret” clearance and all of the senior investigators, as well as the panelists who would conduct the inquiry, have the highest security clearances.
"...someone is going to considerable lengths not to disclose what was known,” said Stuart Hendin, an expert in the law of war and international-rights issues who represented now-retired Brigadier-General Serge Labbé, one of the most senior Canadian officers embroiled in the Somalia affair 16 years ago.
Is this behavior consistent with people who have nothing to hide, NO culpability?