A who's who of officials named in Richard Colvin's testimony

A breakdown of government and military officials mentioned in former top diplomat Richard Colvin's testimony this week on Afghan detainee transfers.

David Mulroney

Position: Former deputy minister of the federal government's Afghan Task Force, now Canada's ambassador to China.

Response to Colvin's testimony: CBC correspondent Anthony Germain tried to contact Mulroney but was rebuffed by embassy public affairs officials. UPDATE: In a letter dated Nov. 20 to Conservative MP Rick Casson, chair of the House of Commons special committee on the Canadian mission in Afghanistan, Mulroney writes that he would "welcome the opportunity" to address the allegations made during Colvin's testimony last week and to "set the record straight" by appearing before the committee.

He also says that he "encouraged officials to report freely and honestly."

He concludes by noting that he believes "Canada is at the forefront of detainee monitoring in Afghanistan" and that "we have always recognized that the human rights situation in Afghanistan was cause for concern."

Rick Hillier

Position: Former Chief of the Defence Staff, Canadian Forces.   

Response to Colvin's testimony: Hillier says he can't recall reading Colvin's notes. He says the military, as well as the federal government, were concerned about torture in Afghanistan all along. Hillier says the one credible report of torture the military received was in October 2007. The general who commanded Canada's Task Force Kandahar at the time, Brig.-Gen. Guy Laroche, immediately halted transfers until new arrangements could be put in place to monitor Afghan prisons. This order was enacted by his deputy, Col. Christian Juneau. Watch the video of Hillier's comments during a Thursday event in Toronto.


Margaret Bloodworth

Position: Former national security adviser to the Prime Minister Stephen Harper, one of the most senior positions in the prime minister's personal ministry, the Privy Council Office. Bloodworth is now retired. Colvin included Bloodworth on some of his reports.

Response: Bloodworth has so far refused to return calls to her home or to her cellphone. 


Jill Sinclair

Position: Former assistant secretary to the cabinet for foreign and defence policy.  Sinclair is now the assistant deputy minister (policy) at Department of National Defence. Sinclair was copied on some of Colvin's memos. 

Response to Colvin's testimony: Sinclair referred all questions to the public affairs office at DND. 


Colleen Swords

Position: Former assistant deputy minister in the international security branch of Foreign Affairs, now associate deputy minister at Indian and Northern Affairs. Swords was ultimately Colvin's boss when he worked in Kandahar.  She was copied on some of Colvin's memos.

Response to Colvin's testimony: Swords told the Afghanistan committee on Dec. 2 that she hoped to make it clear that she encouraged strong reporting from the field. She recalled that, by April 2007, and largely due to the efforts of David Mulroney, the creation of the Afghanistan task force had greatly improved coordination. She stressed that Canada's detainee transfer policy was inspired by two things -- respect for Afghan sovereignty, and for international humanitarian law. She recalled that, in September 2006, she was briefed on problems with notification of transfers, which was an "important issue" given that it was the International Comittee of the Red Cross that was responsible for following up. As a result, they began giving "informal notification by phone," as well as the official notification.

During her testimony, Swords insisted that, due to Canada's role in Afghanistan, officials were especially receptive to concerns raised by Canadian officials, including, on several occasions, refusal of access to NDS facilties. By April 2007 — which would be about the same time that the Globe and Mail story was breaking — she said they had developed a "contingency plan" in the event than an allegation of torture was received, which included consideration of how Canada could set up its own monitoring regime.

"We were determined not just to announce we would be monitoring, but to do it well," she told the Afghanistan committee.


David Sproule

Position: Former ambassador to Afghanistan in 2006 and part of 2007. Sproule is now the deputy legal adviser and director general of the Legal Affairs Bureau at Foreign Affairs. Sproule was Colvin's boss in Kandahar and was included on some of Colvin's memos. 

Response to Colvin's testimony: Sproule referred all questions to the communications desk at the Afghanistan Task Force. 


Arif Lalani 

Position: Former ambassador to Afghanistan in 2007 and 2008. Lalani was Colvin's boss in Afghanistan.  He approved some of Colvin's memos detailing allegations of torture. Colvin alleges Lalani later started to censor Colvin's reports from Afghanistan.

Response to Colvin's testimony: Lalani has not responded to an email request from CBC News for comment. 


Michel Gauthier

Position: Retired lieutenant-general who was the former commander of Canadian Expeditionary Force Command. Gauthier was responsible for all of the Canadian Forces' overseas missions. He ran Canada's military mission in Kandahar from his Ottawa headquarters. Colvin says he sent some of his memos to Gauthier. 

Response to Colvin's testimony: In an email to CBC News, Gauthier said the following: 

"First of all let me say I am deeply troubled by Mr. Colvin's testimony before the Special Committee. It's pretty clear, from what he said yesterday, that he has for some time had a deep-seated concern about Govt of Canada practices regarding detainees. I look forward to providing an absolutely frank view of some key aspects of Mr. Colvin's testimony when I appear before the committee next week.

"In the meantime, I simply want to assure you and all Canadians that, in my capacity as Commander of CEFCOM, I very clearly understood my responsibilities under international law with respect to the handling of detainees, and I would certainly not knowingly have done anything — ever — to expose our soldiers and commanders in the field, our government, or myself to complicity in war crimes or other wrongdoing as Mr. Colvin suggests. I can also say with complete confidence that personnel under my command were not in the habit, as a matter of either policy or practice, of ignoring important reports from the field, quite the opposite. In light of our potential liability as commanders under international law, one would have to ask why any of us would knowingly and deliberately ignore substantial evidence from the field that could ultimately implicate us in a war crime.

"I applaud Mr. Colvin's courage in coming forward, but there will evidently be more than one side to this story. "