Harper stands by Hillier
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is staunchly defending his Defence Chief amid claims the General did not consult with Foreign Affairs before signing a detainee transfer agreement in 2005 that left no provision to verify prisoner safety.
Hillier pushed flawed detainee plan
The Department of Foreign Affairs was pushed to the sidelines when Canada struck its detainee-transfer deal in Afghanistan, two senior government sources have told The Globe and Mail.
“We were not consulted,” said one, adding that Foreign Affairs was shunted aside by the Department of National Defence and Canada's top soldier, Rick Hillier, when he signed the accord in 2005. The deal has become mired in controversy because it includes no follow-up role for Canada on the fate of detainees in Afghanistan's notoriously brutal prison system.
Another senior foreign-service officer gave a longer explanation: “Hillier went to Kabul thinking of them [the detainees] as ‘scumbags' and made the deal. Hillier wanted to sign it; he insisted on signing it,” he said. “Defence took the file and messed it up.”
The comment played off a remark General Hillier, Chief of the Defence Staff, made in July, 2005, when he set off a national debate by referring to the Taliban as “detestable murderers and scumbags.”