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WikiLeaks report untrue: father of slain soldier

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CTV National News: Scott Laurie reports
U.S. military documents that were leaked online claim that four Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan were killed by friendly fire, and not in a firefight with the Taliban. The military denies this, but for the families of the fallen, the reports are reopening painful wounds.
CTV News Channel: Avril Stachnik, mother
The mother of Sergeant Shane Stachnik, who was killed in Afghanistan, says there is no doubt in her mind that the reports on Wikileaks about how her son actually died are wrong. She also says the reports are very disturbing, terribly cruel and unnecessary.
CTV Atlantic: Rick Grant in Nova Scotia
The parents of a Maritime soldier killed in Afghanistan four years ago do not believe a classified U.S. document posted on WikiLeaks that says their son, Frank Mellish, was killed by friendly fire.
CTV News Channel: Barry Mellish, father of soldier
The father of a Canadian soldier killed in Afghanistan in 2006, is rejecting allegations that his son died from friendly fire and says he was killed by Taliban. He says the leak has opened up the wounds all over again of the families of the four soldiers that were killed that day.
CTV News Channel: Gen. (Ret'd) Rick Hillier reacts
The former chief of defence staff explains why he is on the side of the mother of Sgt. Shane Stachnik, who died in Afghanistan, when she says one of the documents on the Wikileaks site is just wrong.
Canada AM: Alan Bell, security expert
A leak of military documents could cause friction among coalition troops as conflicting reports about some incidents could put various governments at odds with one another.
CTV National News: Robert Fife on the documents
More than 90,000 secret U.S. military documents have been leaked online, showing a grim assessment of the war in Afghanistan. Some of the revelations that were revealed appear to differ from what Canadians have been led to believe.
CTV News Channel: Scott Taylor, military analyst
A former Canadian soldier and military analyst says the leak will not endanger Canadian troops nor will it change the tactical situation having this information made public. He says there will be an impact, but it will be more on the public's support of the war.
CTV Edmonton: Scott roberts on the leak
It's the largest information leak in U.S. military history and there are fears it could cost Canadian lives.
CTV News Channel: Phyllis Bennis, IPS
A fellow with the Institute for Policy Studies says the documents that were leaked will affect the NATO mission, but not in the way the Obama administration thinks, since everything that was leaked in the reports were incidents that already occurred.
CTV News Channel: Sunil Ram, military analyst
An international defense and security analyst says the information from WikiLeaks has shown the public that the government has been disingenous about the war and its objectives and the Afghan mission has been lost strategically.
CTV News Channel: Kamran Bokhari, STRATFOR
The regional director for the Middle East and South Asia for STRATFOR says the threat has to be mechanical and it remains unclear how insurgents could utilize the leaked information, while also saying the information has been well-known since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
CTV News Channel: Janis Mackey Frayer in Kandahar
CTV's South Asia bureau chief explains the significance of the leaked U.S. military information and describes the reaction from the Afghan government.
CTV News Channel: Robert Gibbs comments
The U.S. White House spokesman reacts to the massive online leak of confidential U.S. documents on the Afghan war could extend well beyond the Internet -- and could even affect the war itself.
CTV News Channel: Cannon responds to leak
Canada's foreign affairs minister reacts to the leaked U.S. military report that a Canadian soldier was killed by a heat-seeking missile.

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CTV.ca News Staff

Date: Tue. Jul. 27 2010 8:07 PM ET

The father of a slain Canadian soldier isn't putting much stock in a leaked U.S. military document that suggests his son was killed by friendly fire.

"It's not an accurate document," said father Barry Mellish, whose son was killed while serving in Afghanistan nearly four years ago.

Mellish said that several sources have told him that his son was killed during a gun battle with insurgents.

"I was told by soldiers who were there with my son when he was killed, by the military, and by a soldier that was standing right beside my son when he was killed," Mellish told CTV News Channel Tuesday from Truro, N.S.

On Monday, more than 90,000 secret U.S. military documents were put on the WikiLeaks website. Many of them are raw intelligence reports which are unedited.

"I don't believe these reports from WikiLeaks," said Mellish.

Warrant officer Frank Mellish, 38, was killed Sept. 3, 2006 in a volatile region of southern Afghanistan. Three other soldiers were also killed in the incident.

At the time, the military said the deaths occurred as "they fought to drive Taliban fighters" from an area near Kandahar.

Mellish was a veteran soldier and had been based in CFB Petawawa in eastern Ontario before his death.

The soldier's father said that Defence Minister Peter MacKay's office had contacted his daughter-in-law and told her that the leaked reports were false.

"She was told that there was no truth to this document whatsoever," Mellish said, adding that the report "has opened up the wounds all over again for the families of the four soldiers who were killed that day ... It's bringing the horror back."

Mellish said his youngest grandson is angry and upset because of the new reports.

"There's no need for this at all," said Mellish.

Pte. William Cushley, Warrant Officer Richard Nolan and Sgt. Shane Stachnik were also killed during the incident.

Stachnik's mother Avril said Tuesday that the death was due to shrapnel from a rocket-propelled grenade.

Speaking from Alberta in a telephone interview, she said the newly unveiled reports were disturbing for her family.

"It's terribly cruel and unnecessary," she said, adding that government staff had called to reaffirm that the death was not due to friendly fire.

The Canadian government has steadfastly denied the friendly fire report, CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife reported.

"MacKay's office insists the four Canadian soldiers were killed in a firefight with the Taliban. They say the only Canadian who was killed by friendly fire died the next day, on September 4, 2006," Fife said Monday.

The U.S. military has said that the leaked reports pose a threat to national security and have put soldiers in danger.

Gen. Rick Hillier (ret.) said that erroneous reporting often occurs, given the size of the bureaucracy guiding the war in Afghanistan.

He said that first reports are often based on flimsy evidence and need to be checked and re-checked before the truth is verified.

"I had a rule: first reports are always wrong, second reports and third reports are equally wrong, and only after that do you start to get to the truth."

He said that several drafts of military reports are often completed, but earlier versions are kept around. Some of those raw reports were leaked on Monday.

"I think that is what happened in this case," said Hillier, speaking to CTV News Channel from Ottawa on Tuesday.

He added that the Canadian military based their information about the insurgent battle on hundreds of witness accounts, including interviews with soldiers.

Hillier said that "millions" of pages may be leaked out, and many of them will contain information that is not verified.

"Just because they have a report doesn't mean it's correct."

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