We still do not know whether Prime Minister Stephen Harper will agree to opposition demands for a public inquiry into Richard Colvin's allegations (I think he should), as he refused to take questions from reporters last night.
However, the Toronto Star, quoting a former senior NATO official, is reporting that his "office in Ottawa ' scripted and fed' the precise wording NATO officials in Kabul used to repudiate allegations of abuse 'at a time when it was privately and generally acknowledged in our office that the chances of good treatment at the hands of Afghan security forces were almost zero.'" The official also says of prisoner transfers: "It was not an issue for anyone else, though other nations ought to have been as concerned as the Canadians."
Over at the Ottawa Citizen, Matthew Fisher, after interviewing the warden of Sarpoza prison , estimates that about a dozen prisoners were tortured. The warden takes issue with reports that most of the transferred prisoners were innocent, and lauds Canadian officials who helped improve the situation at the prison.
Across the pond, the Times of London reports that Prime Minister "Gordon Brown has ordered defence chiefs to find a way of pulling some troops out of Afghanistan by the end of 2010, according to senior defence sources. They say he wants to be able to tell voters before the expected election in May that a partial troop withdrawal will begin by Christmas next year." And Christina Lamb serves up personal reminiscences of President Hamid Karzai.
Back in Canada, Sun Media is reporting the results of a Leger poll conducted before Mr. Colvin's allegations became public: "half of Canadians (45%) said our role in Afghanistan is not driven by Canadian morals or values. And at least another two in 10 Canadians felt the campaign is morally wrong. Only 30% felt Canada sending troops to Afghanistan is morally the right thing to do." Also in Sun papers, columnist Greg Weston provides a useful chronology or the prisoner transfer issue.
The Washington Post publishes an analysis of U.S. public opinion confronting President Barack Obama as he reflects on his future course of action in Afghanistan.
The New York Times is reporting that "American and Afghan officials have begun helping a number of anti-Taliban militias that have independently taken up arms against insurgents in several parts of Afghanistan, prompting hopes of a large-scale tribal rebellion against the Taliban. … The American plan echoes a similar movement that unfolded in Iraq, beginning in late 2006, in which Sunni tribes turned against Islamist extremists."
The Los Angeles Times reports that a rocket was fired at an Afghan hotel housing foreign humanitarian workers.
(Photo: Manpreet Romana/AFP/Getty Images)