Blatchford resorts to the bucket defence

In a follow-up to her screed against diplomat Richard Colvin, Globe and Mail columnist Christie Blatchford resorts to a full-blown bucket defence. According to Blatchford:

  1. There is no evidence Afghan security forces abused prisoners Canada turned over to them: “This is not akin to officials knowing that Afghans were being tortured.”
  2. Everyone knew Afghan security forces abused prisoners Canada turned over to them: “[It’s] obvious that Afghanistan is a brutal country where cruelty, hardship and physical violence are a way of life. No one with a lick of sense would expect that Afghan prisoners would live in comfort or ease.”
  3. Colvin never actually complained about torture: “If Mr. Colvin had been shouting TORTURE at the top of his lungs… word would not have leaked out” and, quoting retired lieutenant-general Michel Gauthier,  “There was nothing in [Colvin’s] reports that caused me or my staff to see in them serious, imminent or alarming new warnings of torture … and to suggest that senior officials or commanders ignored these or covered them up is wrong.”
  4. Colvin’s complained about torture in a manner so shrill as to be hysterical: “Mr. Colvin… spun himself into a hyperbolic fury over it.”
  5. Colvin only discovered the torture problem in April, 2007, after Globe and Mail reporter Graeme Smith blew the lid off the issue.  “Within days of [Smith’s] first story… Mr. Colvin had found his issue and was off to the races” and “Mr. Colvin discovered the abuse story shortly after or as this newspaper did.”
  6. By early 2007, everyone in Kandahar knew about the torture problem: “In other words, by early 2007, it was clear to just about every senior Canadian military and Foreign Affairs official in Afghanistan that there were serious questions with the monitoring of how Afghan prisoners taken by Canadian troops were being treated. From early 2007 on, recognition of the problem wasn’t the problem; figuring out how to fix it, and winning political approval for the fix, was.”

In other words, there was no torture; everyone knew there was torture. Colvin never complained about torture; Colvin was hysterical about torture. Colvin only discovered the torture problem in April 2007; by April 2007, everyone and his dog knew there was a torture problem.

Or, to put it another way, “I never borrowed your bucket. It was in perfect shape when I gave it back to you. I wish I had never borrowed the bucket anyway because the damed thing has a hole in it.”

One can scarcely imagine the embarrassment in the Globe newsroom at this meretricious imitation of journalism, especially in light of the excellent work Smith and other Globe reporters have done on this story.

In a world where bloggers often deride their mainstream counterparts, it’s important to note that Blatchford is an exception to the many mainstream reporters (Smith, Murray Brewster, Paul Koring, Steve Maher, and others) who have done solid reporting on the torture scandal.