Determinedly obtuse reasonably describes his response this week when asked on YouTube why Conservatives routinely hide behind the troops when questioned about abuse.
Harper answered by again using soldiers as a shield. There's no evidence, he said for the umpteenth time, that Canadians did anything wrong.
That's an artful dodge that ducks not one but two of the most salient points. One is that the Red Cross, diplomat Richard Colvin and Afghan human rights watchdogs provided compelling warnings that Canadian prisoners were routinely tortured by Afghans. The other is that international law requires only suspicion, not proof, before a country transferring prisoners must act to protect them from abuse.
Harper's stonewall defence is disingenuous at best, deceptive at worst. It suggests he doesn't know the law or fears the truth.
Equally troubling, the Prime Minister's determination to shift the focus away from himself, ministers and most senior commanders puts at risk the very troops and military institutions that Conservatives accuse political rivals of attacking.
As sure as war is hell, the Afghanistan story will inevitably unfold and the walls will come tumbling down. When they do, Harper, his cabinet and at least one chief of defence staff will have much to explain.