Tuesday, March 31, 2009

CSIS just fine with tips "extracted" via torture

I'm not sure what is the most alarming aspect of CSIS testimony today that they will still use information that may have been obtained by torture in other countries "if lives are at stake" :

"Geoffrey O’Brian, a CSIS lawyer and advisor on operations and legislation, under questioning by the public safety committee, admitted there is no absolute ban on using intelligence that may have been obtained from countries with questionable human rights records on torture."

~ That CSIS continues to reward other countries for torture - when exactly are lives not "at stake"?
~ That they condone a practice which, in addition to being barbaric, is not even effective
~ That oversight of CSIS operations remains negligible
~ That recommendations from both the O'Connor and Iacobucci inquiries are being ignored
~ That we are now in open contravention of UN Convention Against Torture
~ That CSIS is comfortable being open about this, presumably based on the assumption there is sufficient public support
~ That about half of the 250+ public comments under a similar article at the G&M do indeed support the CSIS position, citing the necessity of preserving "republican" or "christian" or "North American" values, backed up with examples gleaned from the US TV drama 24 Hours.

Apparently in addition to condoning actions that prove we have lost the war on terrorism, we have also become a nation too stupid to safely operate a television.

Update : When I blogged this afternoon about this, I hadn't yet watched the actual proceedings.
Well now I have.
Apparently, according to O'Brian who is very keen on quoting the British House of Lords 2005 "torture decision", "the Executive is bound to make use of all information, both coerced statements and whatever fruits they bear, to safeguard the security of the state."
And if mistakes are made? Well there's always SIRC, the Security Intelligence Review Committee and source of glowing reports about CSIS, to complain to afterwords.
And further, we should be grateful and proud of that.
Also, just because a country has an "abysmal" human rights record, it doesn't necessarily follow that information we receive from them is extracted by torture. In fact, usually we have no idea how information is obtained, so - not our fault.
Do we continue to share info with Egypt and Syria? Yes, we share info with 247 agencies, with caveats of course. See SIRC above.
Does the Con chair of the committee plus the five Cons on it continually interrupt with points of order and run interference for the intelligence agencies phrased as questions? You betcha.
Also on this one : Skdadl and Dave

Braidwood Inquiry : Blaming the victim

RCMP lawyers steered their defence straight into the toilet yesterday as they questioned a friend and neighbour of Robert Dziekanski in Poland via video link.

Stating their purpose was to "explain Dziekanski's behavior at the airport", lawyers for Constables Bill Bentley and Kwesi Millington began with questions about whether Dziekanski drank or had a history of violence but then went on to ask whether his relationship with his ex-girlfriend was toxic and hey, how about that time he was busted for theft as a juvenile?
Iwona Kosowska, Dziekanski's friend of 20 years, was having none of it :
"You guys made the mistake and now you want to turn everything around. For me, my friend just got killed in front of my eyes."
Millington's lawyer Ravi Hira persevered, muttering something about jail time, despite twice being over-ruled by Justice Braidwood to applause from the public gallery, until Kosowska had had enough :
"Can we stop this? You are trying to make a bad person out of him so you can kill a bad person, not a good person."
Well said, Ms Kosowska.

Monday, March 30, 2009

George Galloway update : Would anyone else care to pee on the red carpet before we begin?

As Chris said in comments down the page : Her Majesty's New Government has now barred a sitting member of Her Majesty's Oldest Government from entering one of Her Dominions.

At 2pm we should hear whether a federal court judge will overturn a government decision to bar British MP George Galloway from speaking in Canada this week.

From Team Carpet Pee :
Former American Enterprise Institute alumnus and current Jason Kenney spokesweasel Alykhan Velshi :

"He is a threat to the security of Canadians.
It is actually quite odious and I think it is entirely appropriate for our security agencies to say that if they have advanced notice that Mr Galloway is going to come to Canada to pee on our carpet, that we should deny him entry to the home."

Government lawyer Stephen Gold, yesterday :
"there was a possibility that if Galloway attempted to enter Canada, he could be detained and placed in custody until immigration authorities ruled on his case."

Meir Weinstein, national director of the Jewish Defence League of Canada :

"We asked that he not be allowed in. Whether or not that had an effect on anyone – well, he's not in."
Four days later, Kenney's office confirmed the British MP would not be allowed into the country.

and :

"We will be looking into these organizations in Canada that have invited him [Galloway], their links to terror groups as well."
"And therefore, and if he uses those other means, we will see to it that the Canadian government will be monitoring every individual and organization that will have anything to do with it ..."

Galloway is currently sitting in a plane on a tarmac in New York awaiting the verdict.
On CBC's The Current this morning he said that he does not support Hamas; he supports that the democratically elected government of Gaza is Hamas. He also said he thinks he that he is actually being banned from Canada for his very outspoken opposition to the war on Afghanistan.

Fun fact : The FBI considers the The Jewish Defence League to be "a violent extremist organization"

Sunday, March 29, 2009

F Words 2009!

Pale and Prole from A Creative Revolution are hosting the F-Word Blog Awards again this year. Hosting them, hell, they do everything.

Last year's winners - Yes, of course that's me - why else would I mention it?

Rules 'n Stuff - Yes, you can nominate yourself, and as many others as you like. "Stuff" includes a couple of promotional buttons you can put on your blog all the better to get this rolling.

Nominations start Wednesday. Mudwrestling at 11.


Saturday, March 28, 2009

George Galloway Petitions : Let Him Speak vs Keep Him Out


Dear Signatories of the Keep George Galloway Out of Canada Petition to Those Who Cherish Canadian Values ... all 264 of you :
Re your comments section
"Administrative detention" and "targetted assassination" are not actually "cherished Canadian values".
Also it's "anti-Semitic", not "anti-semetic", and Nazi doesn't have a "t" in it.
Yours in disgust,

Friday, March 27, 2009

Canada throws up yet another roadblock to Abdelrazik

"A Montreal man stranded in Sudan must get himself removed from a United Nations blacklist before he can return to Canada, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said Friday."


Background :

  • Canada has Abdelrazik detained - and tortured, he says - in Sudan in 2003.
  • Sudan releases him but not before his passport expires and his name is added to the UN Security Council's list of terrorist suspects.
  • Destitute, he moves into the weight room of the Canadian embassy in Sudan.
  • His family in Montreal send money for a ticket but Canada refuses to issue a temporary passport.
  • In December 2008 Ottawa says he could be given a temporary passport - after he books a flight home.
  • He books one; they withdraw the offer.
  • Ottawa then says he must first have a fully paid ticket but in February his lawyer says anyone contributing to it can be charged with aiding a possible terrorist.
  • Nonetheless in March 170 Canadians including Stephen Lewis and a former solicitor general of Ontario buy him a ticket home.
And now this.

The RCMP has cleared him. CSIS has gone so far as to ask for an internal probe to clear itself of allegations made in secret Foreign Affairs department documents.

So what's the fucking hold-up? Apparently The Security of North America

Canada feared U.S. backlash over man trapped in Sudan
Senior Canadian intelligence officials warned against allowing Abousfian Abdelrazik, a Canadian citizen, to return home from Sudan because it could upset the Bush administration, classified documents reveal.

"Senior government of Canada officials should be mindful of the potential reaction of our U.S. counterparts to Abdelrazik's return to Canada as he is on the U.S. no-fly list," intelligence officials say in documents in the possession of The Globe and Mail.

"Continued co-operation between Canada and the U.S. in the matters of security is essential. We will need to continue to work closely on issues related to the Security of North America, including the case of Mr. Abdelrazik," the document says.

The Abdelrazik documents - prepared by senior intelligence and security officials in Transport Canada, the unit that creates and maintains Canada's own version of the terrorist "no-fly" list - make clear that it was the U.S. list that kept Mr. Abdelrazik from returning to Canada when he was released from prison three years ago. "

This has nothing to do with the security of Canada, much less the Security of North America, unless - like this government - you count sacrificing a Canadian citizen and the sovereignty of Canada to be worth the price of keeping those trucks flowing back and forth across the border without any accompanying U.S. frowny faces.

Update : What Dawg said.

Chris wrote to his MP asking what assurances he has that as an international traveller the government will protect him. You can do the same.

To contact Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon directly :

Telephone: (613) 992-5516 Fax: (613) 992-6802 EMail: CannoL@parl.gc.ca .


George Galloway runs smack into the Canada-Israel border

Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, has stated repeatedly that the banning of George Galloway from Canada is not his responsibility.
Well of course it isn't.
It's the responsibility of the Canadian Border Services Agency under Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan.

Say, how's that Canada-Israel "homeland security" border coming along?

"On November 17-26, a delegation from the Ministry of Public Security visited the United States and Canada on an official visit. The visit was within the framework of the joint work team with the American Department of Homeland Security on Science and Technology.

In March 2008 a Declaration of Intent was signed between the Israeli Ministry of Public Security and the Canadian Ministry of Public Safety in order to promote mutual interests in the fields of the battle against organized crime, human trafficking, terrorist financing, managing crisis situations, border security, crime prevention and other aspects of homeland security.

The first work meetings of the two sides were held on November 24-26 in Ottawa, Canada, with the aim at forming a framework for the implementation of the agreement signed between the two countries.
The meetings were attended by the Deputy Director General of the Ministry, the Chief Scientist, representatives of the Israel Police and the Israel Prison Service, a representative of the Counter Terrorism Division in the Office of the Israeli Prime Minister, and representatives of the Canadian Ministry of Public Safety, the Canadian Police and Canadian Prison Service.

The meetings focused on the following fields:
Security of strategic facilities
Border control
Emergency preparedness
Correction facilities and services
Crime and delinquency
Science and technology – including law enforcement and counter terrorism technologies.

During the meetings the two parties surveyed their primary activities in their fields and examined potential projects of mutual interest. The meetings concluded by deciding on primary principles of the operational and technological cooperation between the two countries in the above fields. "

Declaration of Intent Between the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness of Canada and the Ministry of Public Security of the Government of the State of Israel :

To establish a Management Committee that would:
  • Be comprised of the Deputy Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness of Canada, and the Director General of Public Security for the Government of the State of Israel;
  • Meet annually and as needed to develop and approve a program of work, consistent with the scope and objectives of this Declaration, for that upcoming year;
To achieve the following objectives:
  • Build on their shared commitment to facilitate and enhance cooperation to protect their respective countries’ population, assets and interests from common threats;

  • Integrate and coordinate of the identification, prioritization, and implementation of cooperative efforts between themselves in the area of public safety;
I'm guessing somewhere amongst all that "shared commitment" and "enhanced cooperation", George Galloway fell under the heading of "aspects of homeland security : projects of mutual interest".
Harper is seen above on Thursday "urging all Canadians to confront what he calls a 'rising tide of anti-Semitism' around the world" :
Harper, who was joined by Conservative MP Peter Kent, who represents the area, urged all Canadians to "confront" anti-Semitism as a "moral evil."
Speaking of "moral evil", Harper has previously joined George Bush in publicly attempting to blur the lines between criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism.
Presumably he's referring in his speech above to people like this or this or this or this .
What can you do about it? L-Girl has a list of actions.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

RCMP : Getting away with murder

Exhibit A
In June 2008, in response to public outrage over Robert Dziekanski's death at YVR in 2007, the House of Commons public safety and national security committee threatened the RCMP with a complete ban on TASER™ use if "clear restrictions" were not put on officers discharging stun guns multiple times by December.
Eight months later, RCMP Commissioner William Elliott told the committee that the force had already introduced a revised Taser policy back in June 2008 to address that very concern : "We have taken steps to restrict its use."

At the time, many wondered why Elliott had waited a whole eight months to signal compliance with a policy already implemented.

Tonight CBC reports that instead, Elliott had actually relaxed the 2005 restrictions on multiple zappings, removing the following rule from the RCMP operational manual on conducted energy weapons :

3. 1. 3. Multiple deployment or continuous cycling of the CEW may be hazardous to a subject.
Unless situational factors dictate otherwise (see IM/IM), do not cycle the CEW repeatedly, nor more than 15-20 seconds at a time against a subject.

Cpl. Gregg Gillis, the RCMP's national use-of-force co-ordinator, cited two studies to explain the new position - one was funded by Taser Int., while the other did not address the effect of multiple TASER™ use on the heart at all.
Three of the officers involved in Dziekanski's death were trained by Gillis three months before but were unable to recall the policy. When questioned, Millington, who deployed the TASER™ on Dziekanski five times for a total of 31 seconds over one minute, said he would have to check the manual first to answer why there was a policy on multiple use.

Obviously if even their own manual does not prohibit it, individual RCMP officers cannot be held responsible - or charged or sued - for deaths by multiple TASER™.
Further, if another confused and frustrated immigrant walks through the Canadian Border Services Agency administered area of YVR tonight where the observation cameras apparently don't work and even when they do the tapes get erased, there is no reason to expect a different response and outcome than the one Dziekanski received.

In response to CBC's request for an interview, RCMP Commissioner William Elliott wrote: "Unfortunately I am not available to be interviewed."

Exhibit B
It is very unlikely that the Criminal Justice Branch of BC will change its decision to prosecute the RCMP officers who killed Robert Dziekanski - even following their appalling performance at the Braidwood Inquiry - because of the following criteria :
1) It must be determined that their prosecution would be in the public's interest
2) There must be a substantial likelihood of conviction

That the Crown had already seen Pritchard's video and apparently did not consider it to substantially contradicted the officers' statements tells us a good deal about their criteria.

Exhibit C

When the investigating officers from the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) interviewed the four officers about Dziekanski's death, they failed to warn them first of their rights under the Charter that anything they said could be held in evidence against them or that they had a right to have their lawyers present. Consequently all of that now utterly debunked original testimony - Dziekanski running at them screaming and brandishing a stapler and needing to be wrestled to the ground following multiple TASER™ use or the CBSA room being too crowded - is now considered contaminated for use in the courts.

And even if the IHIT team had warned the officers, what they say in testimony at a public inquiry cannot be used directly in evidence against them at any other proceeding. Plus the Braidwood Inquiry does not have any jurisdiction over the RCMP and cannot compel them to hold hearings or investigations.

The RCMP is a paramilitary organisation that from Elliott on down through the ranks ceased being accountable to the public quite some time ago. What can you do? Here's one facebook petition nearing 10,000 members.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Captioning the Braidwood Inquiry

Someone at the Calgary Herald slipped a little creative captioning into their gallery of 18 news photos from the Braidwood Inquiry. Easily missed among the other serious pants photos and captions are the following :

"Exhibit A : The Apsco stapler is 7 inches in length when closed and 13 inches when opened. It does not, as has been suggested, come with kevlar armour, laser sighting, and a semi-automatic. "

"RCMP constable Kwesi Millington testifies at the Braidwood Inquiry. Millington was so frightened of the stapler on display in the court that he chose to give video testimony from a nearby broom closet."


Monday, March 23, 2009

Braidwood Inquiry - The return of the Staples Defence

In what is now a familiar and depressing story, RCMP Cpl. Monty Robinson joined the previous officers in testifying today that he "saw a couple of staples come out" of the dreaded and terrifying stapler that Robert Dziekanski was clutching moments before he was zapped five times and died on the floor of the Vancouver airport in 2007.
In his initial statement to the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, Robinson had said that Dziekanski was "swinging the stapler up high...in an attempt to hit us."
Cpl. Robinson also repeated the fiction, in spite of evidence shown to the contrary on the Pritchard video, that Dziekanski failed to go down on the first TASER™ shot - hence his instructions to "Hit him again! Hit him again!". This command was actually given as Dziekanski, in the words of Justice Thomas Braidwood, "was already on the ground howling with his legs in the air."
Perhaps most chilling today was Robinson's excuse for ignoring the fact that after being zapped five times and held down by Robinson's knee on his back with his hands handcuffed behind his back, Dziekanski was turning blue :

Canadian Club on Ice begins today

Last week Vladimir Putin banned the killing of baby harp seals under a year old in Russian waters, calling it "bloody industry" that "should have been banned a long time ago."
The Russian ban effectively ends commercial seal hunting in that country, as most of the market for pelts comes from seals less than a year old. The quota had previously been set at 35,000.

In Canada we've upped our quota by 55,000 to 338,200 seals from last year.
Seals are not usually hunted until they reach the "beater" stage of development at around 25 days old.
Approximately 1% of the total population of Newfoundland and Labrador derive income from sealing.
Greenland and Norway combine for an annual catch of less than 50,000.
The European Union is expected to ban imports of seal products this spring.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Braidwood Inquiry resumes tomorrow; William Elliott is an ass

On the eve of the resumption of the Braidwood Inquiry into the homicide of Robert Dziekanski after a two week hiatus, RCMP Commissioner William Elliott said he "would ask Canadians to reflect for a minute before they jump to conclusions".

A whole minute? What did Dziekanski get? 25 seconds, was it?
"Even in situations where people make mistakes or don't act appropriately, I think there is a requirement for a sober, sound examination of the facts and circumstances."
Yes. Watching Paul Pritchard's video, it's obvious that is precisely what was missing.

"I think the expression, 'Walk a mile in my shoes,' comes to mind.
I am optimistic that the inquiry will result in an assessment and recommendations that are based on that and not based on a knee-jerk reaction to what is heard, what is said or seen."
Right. So your advice is that we should just ignore what millions of us saw on the video and heard in the bullshit testimony given so far that bears no relation to it.

Tomorrow the lead officer, RCMP Cpl. Benjamin (Monty)"Hit him again! Hit him again!"Robinson, takes the stand.
Will he, like the three officers before him, also testify that Dziekanski was throwing things when they arrived, that he came at them screaming and brandishing a stapler, that he ignored their commands and had to be zapped twice before being "wrestled" to the ground, that none of the four have ever mentioned a single word to each other about what happened? Will he also have to be walked though the video frame by frame and have their official story debunked?

Cpl. Robinson will also presumably be asked why, as the lead officer, he did not monitor Dziekanski's condition after he started turning blue, why he did not attempt rescusitation, and why he initially refused to remove Dziekanski's handcuffs for the first responders.

On Oct 25, Cpl. Robinson again failed to provide aid for a victim when he fled the scene of an accident in which he hit a motorcyclist with his jeep. The motorcyclist died of his injuries.

In other RCMP/TASER™ news, the Sun reports that B.C. RCMP Sgt. Russell Hannibal, who was acquitted after zapping a man in handcuffs six times, "received a formal reprimand, not for deploying his Taser, but for using “vulgar, inflammatory” language during the arrest.
Hannibal’s commanding officer would have reviewed all the facts in the case before deciding against a formal hearing."

Yeah, don't mention the TASER™ - I did once but I think I got away with it.
Monday Update : P.S.A. on that whole "whack a mole in my shoes" thing.

Canadians plan physical escort of Galloway into Canada

CP : "Organizers of the four-city speaking tour of British anti-war MP George Galloway are going to challenge the decision to bar him from Canada in court.

Should that fail, a delegation of Canadian MPs, lawyers and activists is assembling to escort Galloway from the U.S., where he is on tour, across the Canadian border [on Monday March 30th].
A legal team, led by prominent immigration and refugee lawyer Barbara Jackman, has assembled support of more than 50 organizations.
Groups include the Council of Canadians, Canadian Civil Liberties Union, Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights, anti-war coalitions in Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal, several large labour unions and many community organizations."

Galloway's 4 day speaking tour - March 30 in Toronto, March 31 in Mississauga, April 1 in Montreal and April 2 in Ottawa -will focus on the war on Afghanistan.
The CBC interview below from a couple of year's back clearly illustrates why the current Canadian government is not eager to hear any more of Mr. Galloway's opinions on the subject.

Defend Free Speech, Lift the Ban on George Galloway
For all you anti-war free speech mongers in Lotusland, there's a demo in Vancouver tomorrow : Monday Mar. 23 at 12:30pm in front of Immigration Canada at 300 W. Georgia, at the corner of Hamilton.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

George Galloway vs the Canadian director of the Jewish Defense League

in which Meir Weinstein takes credit for having Galloway banned from Canada and makes some rather unattractive threats about having the anti-war organisers of Galloway's now cancelled Canadian appearances checked out for links to terrorists.

However much I may not care for Jason Kenney or his decision to allow Galloway to be banned, he doesn't deserve to wear Weinstein ... but he does own the tie.

Galloway rather more sanguine here about the next Canadian election than the rest of us are, I think.

Update : More on this vid from Skdadl and Dr.Dawg

Sunday Night Update : Let Him Speak : Allow George Galloway To Speak in Canada

Over 4000 members on Facebook; over 3000 signatures on the petition.


Matt Taibbi : The Big Takeover

How Wall Street insiders are using the bailout to stage a revolution

"It's over — we're officially, royally fucked.

The latest bailout came as AIG admitted to having just posted the largest quarterly loss in American corporate history — some $61.7 billion. In the final three months of last year, the company lost more than $27 million every hour. That's $465,000 a minute, a yearly income for a median American household every six seconds, roughly $7,750 a second. And all this happened at the end of eight straight years that America devoted to frantically chasing the shadow of a terrorist threat to no avail, eight years spent stopping every citizen at every airport to search every purse, bag, crotch and briefcase for juice boxes and explosive tubes of toothpaste. Yet in the end, our government had no mechanism for searching the balance sheets of companies that held life-or-death power over our society and was unable to spot holes in the national economy the size of Libya (whose entire GDP last year was smaller than AIG's 2008 losses)."


Friday, March 20, 2009

Jason Kenney spokesthingey Alykhan Velshi is an interesting fellow.

So outrageous was his "pee on the carpet" debut on Channel Four News to explain why Canada is banning British MP and Viva Palestina! leader George Galloway from entering Canada, I thought I'd look him up.

Here he is in 2006 fondly reminiscing about his days at the American Enterprise Institute :
"Ambassador Kirkpatrick, until fairly recently, was a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, where I interned last year, and her office was only a few steps away from my bay on the 11th floor. She later went on to help found the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies."

As the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies later went on to employ Alykhan Velshi, along with Clifford May, Richard Perle, Newt Gingrich, William Kristol, James Woolsey, Charles Krauthammer, Michael Ledeen, Gary Bauer ... you get the idea ... if you signed the PNAC letter, you're in.

Here he is at FDD touting a 2007 article he co-wrote for National Review Online - "The law and terrorist charities" :
"There is, however, a compelling basis for a government ban on any assistance — even self-described humanitarian aid — to terrorists. Because terrorist organizations are not known as models of corporate transparency, there is no way of knowing whether a terrorist entity’s humanitarian arm is funneling money to its militant one."

Gosh, isn't that just what his new boss Jason Kenney thought he was up to two days ago when he stripped federal funds to the Canadian Arab Foundation for providing language training to new immigrants and the Canadian Islamic Congress for providing sensitivity training sessions to the Canadian Air Transportation Security Authority? h/t Stageleft

Do the Cons get all their ideas from ex-American Enterprise Institute interns?
Update : Mr. Greg got there before me.

Canada bans Galloway

George Galloway, a sitting member of the British Parliament and leader of the Viva Palestina humanitarian aid convoy to Gaza, has been banned from Canada on security grounds.

Describing him as an "infandous street-corner Cromwell", Jason Kenney spokesweasel Alykhan Velshi told Channel Four News above that George Galloway "poses a national security threat to Canadians" and will not be allowed "to come to Canada to pee on our carpet".

Well done, Alykhan Velshi.
It has been very difficult thus far to get national media coverage for the Viva Palestina aid convoy's mission to end the seige of Gaza but I think your nonsense will do the trick nicely.

You do realize, do you sir, that Galloway was in Canada just two years ago?
And that he evidently does not pose a threat to the national security of France, Spain, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, or the U.S. where he will be speaking just prior to the now cancelled engagement in Toronto.

Responding to the ban, George Galloway said,
"This has further vindicated the anti-war movement's contention that unjust wars abroad will end up consuming the very liberties that make us who we are."

But hey, you go, Mr Velshi.
The coveted Certificate of Hitlertude has so far eluded our Minister of Fascism and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney but this latest clowncar foray onto the world stage just might garner him another shot at it.

h/t Politics 'n Poetry and We Move to Canada
Galloway's full response includes some serious ass-kicking :
"gay-baiter, gung-ho armchair warrior, right-wing last-ditch dead-enders of Bushism in Ottawa"

Thursday, March 19, 2009

RCMP runs out the clock on another inquiry

A panel of RCMP officers in Saskatchewan has concluded it can't deal with a constable's complaint of sexual harassment involving her supervisor because the case took too long.
Const. Laura Lehne, who is on leave without pay, made her complaint in 2004 and her allegations were investigated and found to have merit, however former head of the RCMP Saskatchewan, Darrell McFadyen, missed a deadline to file papers on the case by one month so the case was thrown out today.

RCMP : "The complaint of harassment was deemed to be founded although with this ruling, formal discipline has now ended."
Const. Lehne : ""I knew if they dragged their feet, they would miss the timelines. It gets thrown out today. And we knew [as] we watched that this was going to occur ... The only person who loses in this is me. The RCMP walk away from any accountability."

In 2002, nine officers were being investigated in Prince George for links to underage prostitutes. Const. Justin Harris was alleged to have had sex with prostitutes between 13 and 15 years old.
In 2004, a disciplinary hearing was initiated.
In 2006, the case was thrown out because senior officers in the B.C. headquarters took too long to investigate and lay charges.

In 2001, Burnaby RCMP Const. Michael Pratt -- who was criminally convicted of assaulting a woman during a routine traffic stop -- had his disciplinary charges thrown out because the time limit had expired.

In Oct 2006, then Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said his government was looking into changing the RCMP Act to prevent misconduct investigations from being thrown out due to taking too long.

So how's that coming along?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Harper slashes RCMP watchdog funding

because watchdogs have this annoying tendency to call you out.

Last June, RCMP watchdog Paul Kennedy issued a scathing report on the RCMP use of TASERs, citing the RCMP's over-reliance on the TASER™ manufacturer in developing their policies and training, sloppy reporting of TASER™ use, use of "the folk terminology excited delirium" as an excuse to deploy the TASER™, and failure to treat it as a "firearm".
The report from the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP recommended that TASERs™ be used only on suspects that present a clear physical threat.

Two weeks ago Mr. Kennedy told the public safety and national security committee that he is powerless to tell whether the RCMP have made the changes needed to prevent another Maher Arar affair.
Justice Dennis O'Connor's federal inquiry two years ago into the RCMP's role in the rendition and torture of Maher Arar called for an overhaul of the RCMP complaints commission that would give it new powers to keep an eye on the Mounties' intelligence activities.
Mr. Kennedy told the committee that because this recommendation was not implemented and he does not have full access to RCMP files, he is unable to determine whether the RCMP has cleaned up its act.

Yesterday : Feds slash RCMP watchdog funding
"The Harper government is slashing nearly half the funding for the watchdog agency that monitors the RCMP and recently helped pressure the national police to craft a new policy on Tasers."

Mr. Kennedy said the funding was supposed to produce more than a report on Tasers.
"The commission is close to completing a report on cases where RCMP officers have been involved in deaths and been investigated by their own colleagues.
A spokesman for Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan said the project is now over, and the government is consulting with the provinces about other ways to bolster the RCMP complaints process."

In his report last June Mr. Kennedy warned of the danger of the RCMP behaving like "a group distinct from the public" and following "a model in which officer safety takes precedence over that of the general public."
"The cumulative effect of these trends over time may reduce the degree of co-operation of the public that is essential to public safety in Canada."

Obviously. Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan evidently has other priorities.

Meanwhile over at Runesmith, Jennifer is on a mission to save another government watchdog, Kevin Page, who has issued a public plea for help. Go.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The free market : it isn't free and it isn't a market

"The American International Group, which has received more than $170 billion in taxpayer bailout money from the US Treasury and Federal Reserve, plans to pay about $165 million in bonuses to executives in the same business unit that brought the company to the brink of collapse last year. The payments to A.I.G.’s financial products unit are in addition to $121 million in previously scheduled bonuses for the company’s senior executives.

A.I.G.’s main business is insurance, but the financial products unit sold hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of derivatives, the notorious credit-default swaps that nearly toppled the entire company last fall.
A.I.G. had set up a special bonus pool for the financial products unit early in 2008, before the company’s near collapse, when problems stemming from the mortgage crisis were becoming clear and there were concerns that some of the best-informed derivatives specialists might leave.
Edward M. Liddy, the government-appointed chairman of A.I.G., argued that some bonuses were needed to keep the most skilled executives."

AIG loss in 2008 was $99.3 billion.

Fin. Times : "Goldman Sachs Group Inc and 22 European banks were the major beneficiaries of US$93-billion in payments from AIG -- more than half of the U.S. taxpayer money spent to rescue the massive insurer."

Goldman Sachs was formerly led by Henry Paulson who was treasury secretary at the time of the original AIG bailout.

Michael Parenti : "They don't mind recessions. Recessions are fine. It allows them to buy up smaller companies at bargain prices. It disciplines labor. It humiliates and beats back people. And this, I think, is what we're facing.
And it's not merely because of a number of wicked personalities, because these personalities are brought to the fore. Those are the people who get the rewards.
The free market does not work. It's not free. It's not really a market; it's a plunder. And it has to be done away with."

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Kady liveblogs the Manning Netwonking Conference

Kady O'Malley liveblogs an afternoon at the Manning Networking Conference and Exhibition 2009 to amusing effect.
Y'all remember the Manning Centre for Building Democracy for Cons, right?

On this the third day of workshops on the importance of successful social netwonking, the afternoon's event naturally featured Blogging Tory Stephen Taylor struggling with technical difficulties in a failed attempt to set up his PowerPoint presentation on simplifying the message :
Ask your readers, "Are you mad?" Assure them: "We are too."
I never doubted it for a moment.

The other panelists were two Republicans from the McCain campaign who apparently shared their tips on the extraordinary success they managed to pull off for McCain.
There was of course also a shooting gallery.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Cramer vs Stewart

Once again Jon Stewart, the supposedly fake news anchor - "Hey, I come on at night after Puppets Who Kill!" - exposes the real fake : a supposedly real financial NBC journalist.

Puppets who kill, indeed.

Update : Drat! Foiled by Viacom!

Well, you can still catch it at Mike Watkin's in four parts.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Abdelrazik has his ticket!

G&M : "More than 100 supporters of a Canadian citizen stranded in Sudan have flouted Canadian law by purchasing an airline ticket home for the one-time terrorism suspect.
The activists, including former solicitor general Warren Allmand, bought the ticket for travel April 3 and put it in the hands of Abousfian Abdelrazik. It's now up to the government to issue Mr. Abdelrazik travel documents, said his lawyer, Yavar Hameed."
With thanks to commenter Sumeet Jain of the British Association of South Asian Studies who set up the facebook account to facilitate this and to everyone who responded.
The ball is now in the Canadian government's court.
Here the Montreal Gazette describes our government's vile and Kafka-esque machinations after Sudanese investigators cleared Abdelrazik. Canadian security operatives had originally requested to have Sudan - a country with a notorious record of torture and abuse in its prisons - arrest and detain him in our very own Canadian version of rendition :
"Our former Liberal government, and now the Conservative one, have persisted in treating this citizen this way. Look at the absurd Catch-22 he's in now, housed in our Khartoum embassy: For no stated reason, Ottawa refused to issue him a passport, so he can't come home. For some time Ottawa said he could be given a temporary passport - after he booked a flight home. He booked one; they withdrew the offer. Now Ottawa insists he have a fully-paid ticket, but he has no money, and anyone who helps him financially will be charged under anti-terror laws, Ottawa says.

Frankly, we would rather have a dangerous terrorist walking around than accept the idea that Ottawa can condemn a citizen to this sort of quasi-legal hell.

If they can do this to him, they can do it to you."
So how's the Con's bid to revive Canada's draconian Anti-Terror Act powers coming along?
Last Thursday, Paul Kennedy, chair of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, told a Commons committee he's powerless to tell whether the Mounties have made the changes needed to prevent another Maher Arar affair.
The RCMP watchdog says he can provide no assurances the government has enacted the Arar inquiry's recommendations.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Cons to bring back anti-terrorism powers

Last night Justice Minister Rob Nicholson gave notice the

1)Give police the power to make preventive arrests, without a warrant, of anyone authorities fear might commit a future terrorist attack, and

2)Give judges the power to compel testimony at secret investigative hearings from anyone the authorities think might know something about terrorism, or risk jail.

After 9/11, the Liberals brought in Canada's first Anti-Terrorism Act in December 2001. It included these two provisions but with a five year sunset clause. As they were about to expire, the Cons tried to extend them but the opposition parties combined to prevent it.

Explaining the Liberal change of heart against the provisions in Feb. 2007, then deputy Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff argued that "the curtailment of civil liberties can only be justified under emergency provisions and when public safety absolutely requires it".

"If this is the test," he said, "the clauses should sunset because they have not proven absolutely necessary to public safety. The government, in essence, has not proven its case and on these questions where our liberties are at stake the government has to prove the case of public necessity beyond a shadow of a doubt."

In March 2008, the Libs changed their minds once again and came out in support of them, after oversight changes were included :

"We recognize that this is necessary," public safety critic Ujjal Dosanjh said. "Other countries have much more stringent laws."

Against whom? Olympics 2010 protesters? Native activists? Some poor schmuck at a fat camp?

So, human rights specialist Michael Ignatieff, how will you greet this newest attack on our civil liberties on Thursday?


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

UN report on torture and rendition cites Canada

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism,
Martin Scheinin*

The Guardian : "While the practice of extraordinary rendition was put in place by the US, it was only possible through collaboration from other countries, the report says. It identifies the UK, with ­Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Croatia, ­Georgia, Indonesia, Kenya, Macedonia and Pakistan, as countries that provided "intelligence or have conducted the initial seizure of an individual before he was transferred to (mostly unacknowledged) detention centres in Afghanistan, Egypt, Ethiopia, Jordan, Pakistan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria, Thailand, Uzbekistan … or to one of the CIA covert detention centres, often referred to as 'black sites' ".

The Independent :
"Grave human rights violations by states such as torture, enforced disappearances or arbitrary detention should place serious constraints on policies of co-operation by states, including by their intelligence agencies, with states that are known to violate human rights," he said. "The prohibition against torture is an absolute and peremptory norm of international law. States must not aid or assist in the commission of acts of torture ... including by relying on intelligence information obtained through torture."

In his Nov 2007 ruling on the Safe Third Country Agreement, Justice Michael Phelan of the Canadian Federal Court ruled that "The U.S. does not meet the [UN] Convention Against Torture prohibition." That ruling was subsequently overturned.
The report notes that "lack of oversight and political and legal accountability has facilitated illegal activities by intelligence agencies", and is exacerbated by "increased cooperation between intelligence agencies" when "condoned or even secretly directed by government officials".

The phrase "sentiment analysis" was new to me on the issue of racial/ethnic profiling.
"While data mining is not prohibited as such, it should not be allowed to include variables that result in compromising the right to non-discrimination.
Data-mining software that performs “sentiment analysis”, which extracts and summarizes opinions from unstructured human-authored documents on the Internet in order to create a terrorist profile - and which is apparently used by intelligence agencies in the United States, Canada, China, Germany, Israel, Singapore and Taiwan - must not be used as the basis for deprivation of liberty or inclusion on "watch lists".

And I was surprised, although I probably should not have been, by this statistic :

"On the introduction of a profit motive into situations which are prone to human rights violations ... 70% of intelligence activities of the U.S. are being outsourced to private actors."


Monday, March 09, 2009

"AirShow" MacKay's excellent NATO audition

When we read in today's G&M that :
"The Washington Post reported Sunday that U.S. Vice President Joe Biden would be promoting Mr. MacKay's candidacy [to be the next NATO secretary-general] to "reward Canada for its valiant combat performance in Afghanistan "
after we finished gagging, we of course immediately remember AirShow's excellent audition ten days ago fighting off the Red Menace :
"I'm not going to stand here and accuse the Russians of having deliberately done this during the presidential visit, but it was a strong coincidence, which we met with a presence, as we always do, of F-18 fighter planes. "[The pilots] sent a strong signal they should back off and stay out of our airspace."

At the time we all considered the whole matter closed upon learning that :
"A senior government official said highlighting the mid-air meeting was a good way to show the worth and relevance of NORAD while its commander, U.S. Gen. Victor Renuart, was visiting Ottawa."

A ha, we thought, it's just MacKay's audition for the NATO gig.

Today, Boris and Impolitical quote Dave Pugliese wondering what the fuck is up with ReformaCon MP Laurie "Red Dawn" Hawn, who happens to be AirShow's parliamentary secretary. Here is Hawn's question to Vice Admiral Dean McFadden, head of Canada Command, during a recent visit to a Commons defence committee hearing, of which, rather alarmingly, Hawn is a member:
"Are we concerned about any aerial incursions by the Russians for the Vancouver Olympics?" Mr. Hawn asked.
This question came out of the blue. VAdm McFadden hadn’t even mentioned the Russians as a potential threat to the Olympics. [Ed. note : Duh.]
Adm. McFadden indicated to Mr. Hawn that he was not concerned about any Russian incursions."
Mr. Pugliese : "Huh?"

Mr Hawn may be hoping for a promotion in the event his boss moves on to NATO.
Or perhaps he's just following AirShow's lead in conjuring up an excuse to warm us up to the US military "incursion" at the 2010 Olympics ...

AirShow hosted the 8th Conference of Defence Ministers of the Americas held in Banff last September. Attending were over 30 defence ministers of the "Americas", including US Defense Secretary Robert "Iran Contra Affair" Gates.

US State Dept : "Sub-themes for this year's gathering include generating military assistance for regionally or nationally hosted events like the 2010 Winter Olympics in Canada."

CP : "MacKay says the size of the [hemisphere] makes it challenging to co-ordinate efforts.
He says the ministers will discuss how to co-operate on providing armed security during natural disasters such as hurricanes or major national events like the 2010 Olympic games in Vancouver."

Viva Palestina! convoy has entered Gaza!

Viva Palestina! website : "And they entered side by side like heroes, some on foot some in their vehicles, tears, smiles, hugs, flowers. It was historic, it was legendary."
The fire truck, generator, and boat have been forced to do the detour through Israel first to be searched but the rest of the convoy is in!
And some media coverage is finally kicking in :
"Part of a 99-vehicle convoy bringing medicine, food, clothing and toys from the UK has reached Gaza after a 24-day journey through Europe and Africa."
"They are organic farmers, art gallery owners, writers and activists - regular people. And this week they are doing what Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon would not do on his trip to the Middle East last week: They're visiting the war-ravaged Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

The visitors include Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker and about 60 other people who arrived over the weekend ..."
Um, wait a minute ...
ok, here we go ... a line in the middle of paragraph five :
"A 300-person convoy called VivaPalestina and led by the controversial British MP George Galloway arrived yesterday at the Rafah crossing."
That's it? Yeah, ok, well thanks for that I guess, G&M.
The G&M article does a rather better job covering Kim Elliott of Rabble, who's own coverage here is even better : I hadn't known that Rachel Corrie's parents were also going - it's been six years since 23 year old Rachel was killed by an IDF bulldozer in Gaza. CodePink and Sandra Ruch of Women's Coalition for Peace in Israel and Independent Jewish Voices in Canada also get a one-line G&M mention.
None of these activists imagine that the humanitarian aid they are bringing is more than a drop in a bucket that requires a thousand times more in the way of daily supplies of fresh water, food, fuel and medical supplies to Gaza. The point is to build pressure on the various complicit governments like ours who refuse to acknowledge their part in the crisis. But as Alice Walker put it :
"All great changes come from minorities - in fact, they usually come from two to three people."

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Emma celebrates International Women's Day

Status of Women Canada has a new slogan for International Women's Day this year :

Wtf does that even mean?

It's as if, having removed the word "equality" from the SWC mandate some time ago, Steve's gang is now sprinkling it here and there across the SWC website where it can do the least harm.
Dr. Dawg and Antonia Z explain what's up with pay equity.

Have a nice day!

Update : April Reign : "Give her a pill" says Vic Toews in the H0C to a female MP objecting to Con flimflammery on pay equity. Bah.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Viva Palestina! - media blackout

Updated below.

It would be quite something to see, wouldn't it?
The firetruck donated by the Fire Brigade Union in Manchester leading the now three miles long convoy of ambulances and trucks across the desert of North Africa from the UK to Gaza.
As Skdadl says : Now, THAT is a motorcade!
You'd think the western media would be all over a story about ordinary people collecting a cool £1-million worth of humanitarian aid and setting out on a 5000 mile epic crusade with no assurances that they would even be allowed into Gaza once they got there.
Well they aren't all over it. They're ignoring it. Completely.
Author Alice Walker and 60 members of the anti-war group Code Pink got a mention in the Boston Herald as they waited to enter Gaza today - and good for them! - but Viva Palestina? Nothing. Cowards.
News from the convoy on the road into Alexandria :
"every single house has had two police officers guarding the front with their backs towards the road making sure nobody is watching the convoy, to the extent that even areas of barren land police scatter to make sure children dont run up towards the vehicles, clearly not for road safety, but censorship ... it’s crazy, every mosque we’ve driven past has been barricaded to stop people looking "

We get why this is difficult for Egypt, third highest recipient of US aid after Iraq and Israel.
But what's the western media's excuse?
Update : The Scottish medical aid convoy was permitted to enter Gaza from Egypt at Rafah today ahead of the others, so it looks like it's actually gonna happen. The rest of the convoy arrives tomorrow.
Sunday night update : Shit. A glitch. Israel is apparently insisting that the convoy detour around and enter Gaza via Israel instead. This change of plan is obviously not acceptable to the convoy. There is also some problem with allowing the fire engine, the generator and the boat to enter. Currently George Galloway is standing firm that Egypt allow the entire convoy to enter Gaza directly from Egypt. So now we wait and see what happens tomorrow.


Friday, March 06, 2009

The Canada-US Project : Deep integration redux

But first : a quiz !
Can you spot the main difference between the two pictures below?
Take your time ... don't rush it ...

[The answer is in comments.]
In the top picture, Harper is holding the latest Canadian foray into deep integration : From Correct to Inspired : A Blueprint for Canada-US Engagement from the Canada-US Project.

Appearing with him are Canada-US Project luminaries (L to R) Colin Robertson, on loan from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade to Carleton University to direct the project; Fen Osler Hampson, Canada-US Project co-chair and director of the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University; and Derek Burney, former Canadian ambassador to the US and co-chair of the Canada-US Project at Carleton.

Contributors to the "blueprint" include Thomas D'Aquino of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives; Perrin Beatty of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce; three former American ambassadors to Canada : David Wilkins, James Blanchard, and Gordon Giffin; and serial Canada-basher Michael "Canada blew it!" Hart.

"Blueprint" authors Fen Hampson and Michael "Canada blew it!" Hart appeared before the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development on Feb 23 to complain that the Canada - US relationship has :

"an awful lot of informal, below-the-radar relationships," Mr. Hart said.
"I mean hundreds of relationships among officials and so on, but none of that is provided with a kind of from-the-top political guidance as to what the objectives are."

The two professors went on to say Canada must redefine its relationship with the U.S. in a way that will strengthen security but also enhance trade. Ideally, they recommended broadening, among other things, NORAD to create a secure land, sea and air perimeter around North America, while dropping the national border to create a Schengen-type arrangement.

The Schengen Area is a group of twenty-five European countries which have abolished all border controls between each other.

Two days later Thomas d'Aquino of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives told the Commons' Foreign Affairs committee on Feb. 25 that the North American Security and Prosperity Partnership "is probably dead." However something else will inevitably replace it, he said.
The Canada-US Project is certainly making a good run at it.
Here's some random quotes from their above-mentioned "Blueprint for Canada-US Engagement" :

  • The two governments should re-examine the benefits of a perimeter approach to the border.
  • The two governments should also take a blowtorch to regulatory differentiation and overlap that serve no useful purpose other than to preserve some government jobs and to perpetuate a preference for differentiation for its own sake.

  • On Afghanistan :
    Canada certainly has earned the right in blood and treasure to influence stronger US leadership and to spur a more substantive, more cohesive international effort.
  • Domestically, the enthusiasm that greeted the election of Obama will fade in the face of the persistent unease of Canadians about getting too close to Canada’s giant neighbour.
  • Crisis, a convergence of national interests, and the need for economic recovery should help to bring us together. Canadians are ready ... They accept that the border has become dysfunctional and that minor regulatory differences make little sense.
  • Obstacles to achieving this agenda are chronic indifference in Washington and wariness or narcissism in Canada.

  • Redefining the way the two governments manage the interoperability of Canadian and US forces is an important next step. Putting NORAD on a permanent footing was a start, but there is a need for appropriate institutions for land and maritime forces as well.
  • Canada’s role in Afghanistan is proving critical to re-establishing its credentials as a credible security partner. The government will need to be prepared to offer help in other trouble spots.
  • As Obama takes office, he will pursue a faster drawdown in Iraq with compensatory emphasis on Afghanistan. This may put pressure on the prime minister’s vow to take Canadian combat troops out of Afghanistan by 2011. Cutting Canada’s losses on a costly and unpopular mission may prove popular at home but will at the same time reduce Canadian influence and visibility with a new administration.

  • The most pressing bilateral issue is the need to re-think the architecture for managing North America’s common economic space.
  • Re-imagining the border. ... the border has become an instrument to address yesterday’s problems. It may be time to resurrect the “perimeter” concept and find a better balance between security and economics. Integrating national regulatory regimes into one that applies on both sides of the border. But to make this work, the two governments must also develop joint rules and procedures to coordinate regulatory policy on an ongoing basis.

  • Building an enhanced capacity for joint rule making.
    The two governments may need to establish a few institutions that are capable of providing political leadership as well as political oversight.
    Part of the solution may lie in making better use of the “hidden wiring” in the relationship. Over many years, relations have grown and deepened at many levels – from the state-provincial and business-to-business to nongovernmental, and legislative levels.
  • [I]t is not in Canada’s best interests to restrict energy exports to the United States at this time – a situation that will remain unchanged for quite a number of years.

  • The third major challenge is to bring the rules governing the cross-border movement of goods and services into line with the reality of deep integration. Border security has become economic protectionism in a new guise.
  • Additionally, it is critical that the two governments find a joint approach to border management in the event of a major terrorist attack in either the United States or Canada. There is no agreed contingency plan to deal with such a crisis.

  • Finally, the smooth operation of the integrated Canada-US economy requires that the two countries come to grips with what some have called the narcissism of small differences in the regulatory structures of the two countries.
    Health Canada spends an enormous amount of time and money testing drugs that have already been tested and approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.
  • North American economic integration has grown and an enhanced Canada-US trading relationship needs to reflect that reality. Canada can speed the process of convergence by making a concerted effort to align a wide range of regulatory requirements with those in place in the United States.
  • [O]nly Canada’s inveterate anti-Americans can take satisfaction in seeing their neighbours in such trouble. The over-hyped talk among the pundits about the death of the American market economy model is nonsense.

Apparently their polls that show that "95% of Canadians desire the federal government to have a closer relationship with the US", hindered only by "the chattering classes" - a rather odd reference given that co-author Derek Burney is Chairman of the Board of Canwest Global Communications Corp. - but doesn't all this sound like a blueprint for SPP on steroids to you?

OK, on to the exciting quiz answer....

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Canada, Sudan, and the stench of hypocrisy

Two headlines on Canada and Sudan, just hours apart

Canada urges Sudan to cooperate with the International Criminal Court
after the bench issued an arrest warrant for President Omar al-Beshir for war crimes in Darfur.

Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon :
"Canada strongly supports the work of the ICC, including its work in Sudan," he said, calling for "ongoing international scrutiny of Sudan's commitments to human rights."

Sure. Unless, of course, Canada is making use of Sudan's crappy human rights record to detain and torture a Canadian citizen, Abousfian Abdelrazik. Then we're not so keen on those "commitments to human rights".

CSIS asked Sudan to arrest Canadian, files reveal
Abdelrazik is 'first case of Canadian rendition,' MP says

"Canadian security operatives asked Sudan - a country with a notorious record of torture and abuse in its prisons - to arrest and detain Canadian citizen Abousfian Abdelrazik, according to heavily redacted Canadian documents, marked "secret."

The newly obtained documents provide the strongest evidence to date that Canadian Security Intelligence agents engaged in the Bush-era U.S. practice of getting other countries to imprison those it considered security risks aboard rather than charge them with any crime."

Abdelrazik fled to Canada in 1990 after being imprisoned in Sudan for his political beliefs following the coup by the same President Omar al-Beshir the ICC is after today. Abdelrazik was granted refugee status and in 1995 he became a Canadian citizen.
While he was visiting his ailing mother in Khartoum in 2003, Canada had him arrested and interrogated there. Despite his being declared innocent of terrorist ties and released from prison by Sudan, even despite Sudan's offer to fly him home to Canada, Canada refused to return or reissue his expired passport and his name subsequently went on the U.S. no-fly list.

On April 3, 2007, Foreign Affairs point man on the case, Sean Robertson, sent a cable to the Canadian embassy in Khartoum :
"Mission staff should not accompany Abdelrazik to his interview with the FBI."

A month later a Canadian embassy official in Khartoum told Ottawa that Mr. Abdelrazik had been told by the FBI that he would never see Canada again unless he implicated others as al-Qaeda operatives.

I do believe we've been here before.

Let Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon know you're watching - Cannon.L@parl.gc.ca. -and support Abdelrazik's return to Canada on Facebook.
Previous Creekside posts on Abdelrazik. . . Dr. Dawg's superior coverage.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Braidwood Inquiry : Can't get their stories straight about getting their stories straight ...

Feb 27 RCMP Const. Bill Bentley testifies :

"We did have what's referred to as a 'critical incident debrief' where we all told our version of the events that transpired that evening," he said.
Bentley said that, along with the four officers involved in Dziekanski's death, a psychologist and staff representatives were present, but he could not remember when it took place.
Today -Mar 3 - RCMP Const. Kwesi Millington is asked if he talked to any of the other officers, or conversed with them via any other media, about Dziekanski's death prior to this inquiry.
"No," he says.
Reminded of Const. Bentley's testimony about the 'critical incident debrief ' all four officers attended, Millington insists :
"I don't remember any of these discussions."

Mounties : Things all three of you managed to get wrong in exactly the same way - apparently without comparing notes or concocting an agreed-upon defence :
  • That Dziekanski was a fearsome creature who advanced on you screaming and brandishing a stapler
  • That the armed four of you in your kevlar vests feared for your personal safety
  • That several TASER™ shots were required to drop Dziekanski

Millington also stated that he had only seen Pritchard's video in the last month and was unaware of initial RCMP reports and media coverage of the incident.

One more day of grilling for him and then a two week break before we hear from RCMP Cpl. Benjamin Monty Robinson.

Cpl. Robinson was in court himself yesterday.

On Oct. 25 while off-duty he struck and killed a motorcyclist in his jeep. He immediately left the scene of the accident with his children and returned 10 minutes later. The attending officer noted he smelled of alcohol and his speech was slurred. He tested over the limit. His licence was suspended for 90 days and he was suspended from the force with pay pending charges.

Yesterday he was in court to protest that the drinking that put his blood alcohol over the limit occurred during his ten minute absence. The judge didn't buy it, citing "inherent inconsistency" in his statement at the scene of the accident.

Inherent inconsistency. Ho boy.


Monday, March 02, 2009

Braidwood Inquiry - A third officer is forced to recant

Another very bad day for RCMP credibility as a third RCMP officer, the one who applied the TASER™ to Robert Dziekanski five times, is forced to reconcile Paul Pritchard's video with his own completely different version of events.

In his statement immediately after the incident and before seeing the video, Constable Kwesi Millington claimed that Dziekanski assumed a "combative stance" and came at the four RCMP officers in a "threatening manner" while "swinging the stapler wildly". Millington further testified that Dziekanski didn't go down even after three rounds of TASER™ and continued to fight even on the ground.

Justice Thomas Braidwood asked Millington how he could possibly insist the man was still standing after the first TASER™ "when he was on the ground howling with his legs in the air."
"I was wrong about that," says Millington.
So why did he hit him a second time? Because he was "resisting".
Video is shown of Robert Dziekanski spinning around in circles on the floor like a bug all by himself. Who exactly is he resisting?
"I was wrong about that", admitted Milligan again.
And the third time? Because he was still resisting.
And the fourth time? Seems he wasn't sure the TASER™ was working properly so he tried it in push-stun mode, applying it directly to Dziekanski for what he called "pain compliance".
He could not remember having done this a second time as the TASER™ record shows, for a total of five times over 30 seconds.

The stapler defence.
Millington : "I formed the impression he wanted to attack one of the officers or all of the officers."
Asked to demonstrate the stapler threat, Millington holds the open stapler close to his body just above waist height. Jeers break out in the gallery. The video shows Dziekanski surrounded by four officers backed up against the counter and making no movement towards them.

BC Local News :
"Asked what could have gone wrong if officers had waited another second or two, Millington maintained the stapler-wielding Dziekanski posed a threat.
"We feared for our safety and we felt he was going to escape."

Vancouver Sun :

"After Dziekanski was handcuffed behind his back, face-down, Millington said he recalled Const. Bentley pointing out "within a minute or two" that Dziekanski's "ears were starting to turn blue."
Millington agreed that he did not check Dziekanski's pulse or breathing, but thought that Cpl. Benjamin Robinson, might have done so, although he agreed with Vertlieb all officers wore gloves, making medical checks difficult.

Richmond Fire Capt. Kirby Graeme has testified that as the first paramedic on the scene, he was shocked to see Mounties "standing around" not monitoring Dziekanski, who was lying motionless and blue, "not in anything remotely resembling a recovery position."

Millington faces cross-examination and then we'll hear from the fourth and last RCMP officer, Corporal Benjamin Robinson.

Still no transcripts up at the Braidwood Inquiry website since Feb. 19.
RCMP Const. Bentley's lawyer has asked that official inquiry transcripts, video, audiotapes and exhibits at the inquiry not be released without a court order because they fear Poland may bring charges against the officers. Poland has denied they intend to do so.
Braidwood Inquiry - Dziekanski may have shot staples
Braidwood Inquiry : First RCMP testimony today
Braidwood Inquiry : A second RCMP officer recants
Braidwood Inquiry : Dziekanski compliant after all
Live coverage of the inquiry can be found at the CBC :
Mon to Fri from 10am to 11:50am and 2pm to 4:30pm

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The "Master Narrative" on Afghanistan

Have you ever suspected that the military and politicians who insist on referring to the people we kill in Afghanistan as "insurgents" and who go on interminably about little Afghan girls going to school must all be reading from the same script?

Well, they are.

NATO's Media Operations Centre issues a "Master Narrative"
"designed to assist all those who play a part in explaining the situation in Afghanistan and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission, but especially those who deal with the media."

To wit : "Headline Messages" Oct. 2008

  • The Afghan National Security Forces and ISAF are making progress on the ground. The militants¹ do not and cannot hold ground where they are challenged by ANSF and ISAF.

  • ¹Opposing Militant Forces is the correct term but is not suitable for use with the media. Depending on the audience and the group being referred to, the phrases militants/insurgents/extremists/Taleban extremists/enemies of Afghanistan may be used.

  • The Afghan National Army is a significant success story. It continues to grow in number, competence, and capabilities and is approved to grow to 122,000 by 2012. Today, the majority of operations involving the ANA are Afghan-led.

Lots of talking points on how Operation Enduring Freedom and ISAF are NOT THE SAME and the obligatory huzzahs about little girls in school etc. Some of the suggested talking points are puzzling :

  • Any talk of stationing or deploying Russian military assets in Afghanistan is out of the question and has never been the subject of any considerations.

while others are just wtf? :

  • Polls : Great deal or fair amount of confidence in institutions such as the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police (both more than 80%).

  • Poppy-free provinces in 2006: 6, in 2007: 14, planned by the end of 2008: 22 (out of 34).

  • More than 4.5 million cell phone subscribers, up from zero in 2001.

Harper appeared to have wandered off the NATO narrative on Friday when he told the WSJ that the Afghan mission is a major NATO test and failure in Afghanistan could have major ramifications for the military alliance. Then, on CNN, taped last Monday :

Canadian PM says Afghan war can never be won

"We are not going to win this war just by staying," Harper said. "My own judgment is, quite frankly, that we are not going to ever defeat the insurgency."

"If we think that we are going to govern Afghanistan for the Afghans or over the long-term be responsible for day-to-day security in Afghanistan and see that country improve, we are mistaken," he said.

Unless of course the "Master Narrative" can be retooled to guarantee "success" :

NATO can't defeat Afghan insurgency, PM says

The United States must come up with a viable Afghan exit strategy before asking Canada to rethink its plan to pull out of the country in 2011, Prime Minister Stephen Harper says.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay told a conference last week that while the combat mission will end in 2011, "that does not mean an end to Canada's role in Afghanistan, by any means. We will reconfigure the mission in a way that allows us to contribute in other ways," he said.

Success in the country is crucial both for Afghans and for Canada's national security, which Canadians must be reminded of constantly, MacKay added.

The issue for Canadians is not "whether we stay or whether we go."
"The issue that Canadians ask is are we being successful," Harper said.

The "Master Narrative" on Afghanistan. Some assembly required.


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