National Defence defends itself

DND has been running its own spin operation to try to limit the impact of the Ottawa Citizen story, and later Lawrence Martin’s column. This letter appeared in the Globe and Mail. – Steve

No monitoring here

The Globe and Mail
Mon 23 Jul 2007
Letter To The Editor
Jamie Robertson
Lieutenant-Colonel, Department of National Defence

Re Lawrence Martin’s Too Often, Access Is Denied To Hide Wrongdoing (July 19): The Department of National Defence does not “monitor” individuals. The “report” referring to Steven Staples was an e-mailed speech summary and personal observations of follow-on discussions on a topic titled The Americanization of the Canadian Military.

At no time did DND deny the Access to Information request as cited in the original Ottawa Citizen story, nor did DND try to cover anything up. The request was for documents or e-mails written between Jan. 15-30, 2006, on speeches by civilians in Halifax. The e-mail cited in the Citizen story was written after those dates. As publicly stated by the deputy minister of National Defence, the department follows the Access to Information Act diligently.

Operational security checks are done on documents that may have the potential to compromise the security of our troops. Such information is legally severed in accordance with the ATI Act, and these severances can be – and often are – challenged. The department handled 1,808 individual ATI requests last year, resulting in 153,103 pages of released information. Some 93.3 per cent of the requests – which require thousands of hours of research – were completed on time.

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