Saturday, March 24, 2007

Military Lawyers Defy Defence Minister

This strikes me as rather weird. Why would the lawyers defy their own minister on this issue unless the minister questions the jurisdiction of the independent commission? Yet he publicly supports the inquiry.

Military lawyers defy O'Connor on detainees policy
Last Updated: Friday, March 23, 2007 | 7:21 AM ET
CBC News
Defence Department lawyers are trying to block investigations into the way Canadian troops handle detainees in Afghanistan, even though the defence minister has promised they would go ahead.

Minister of Defence Gordon O'Connor told MPs earlier this week that an independent commission would review allegations that military police broke the law when they turned Afghan prisoners over to the Afghan government, knowing they might be tortured.

But lawyers working for O'Connor's own department are now at odds with him.

A spokesman for the Canadian Forces legal office said lawyers are reviewing whether an independent commission would be overstepping its bounds by reviewing how Afghan detainees are treated. The lawyers may pursue legal action to stop such an investigation.

Stanley Blythe, who is working for the independent commission, sees no reason the review should not carry on. "We see this as our job, certainly. And they [defence ministry lawyers] see this as apparently not our job," he said.

A Defence Department spokesman told the CBC on Friday there was a "technical issue" to resolve and military lawyers are still reviewing how to stop the investigation in spite of O'Connor's decision.

Still, a source close to the minister said O'Connor will not back down from his word

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