Friday, February 27, 2009

A Respectful Citizen vs. The Department of National Defence in the Federal Court of Canada

"The Government of Canada is working hard to enhance the role of Parliament and the proactive disclosure of information so that Canadians are better able to hold Parliament, their Government, and public sector officials to account."
Department of National Defence website, Febrary 27, 2009

The original request for information, December, 2006

Monday, February 23, 2009

“If anyone has any charges they want to bring, we’ve had a system in place for the last 800 years ... They should put up or shut up.”

Clive Stafford Smith, Binyam Mohamed's lawyer, quoted by the Financial Times

Freed detainee says MI5 knew of torture
By Alex Barker, Political Correspondent

Published: February 23 2009 22:24 | Last updated: February 23 2009 22:24

A British resident freed from the Guantánamo Bay detention centre arrived in London on Monday, claiming that the US orchestrated his abduction and torture in “medieval ways” with the complicity of UK agents.

Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian-born resident of the UK who spent almost seven years in detention, said he would speak out on his rendition and mistreatment “as an obligation to others still in the torture chambers”.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Walt Kelly, 50 years on and going strong...

“A Few Backwards”

From: The Pogo Sunday Parade, 1958, Simon And Schuster, pg. 130

“It is not so easy these days to sound a simple, clearheaded note of hysteria, but my friend Bill Vaughan, craft columnist of the Kansas City Star and the NANA Service, working hand in glove with a certain cartoonist, is positive that the bugle with which to blow such a blast has been found.

“Drift-finders, an organization devoted to the wetting of the wind with a forefinger, has discovered that the ordinary man in the street only appears to be smarter than his leaders at home and abroad. In the January 1958 report, Just Plumb Bob, Mr. Vaughan indicates that there is every reason to believe that heads of government, statesmen, and other people with yellow briefcases and blue suits, are just playing at being stupid.

“'If we are in a race with Russia,' says Vaughan, 'we cannot merely pretend to be stupid; we will have to be genuine idiots. WE MUST OUTSTUPEFY THE RUSSIANS.'

“That seems to be the key phrase: OUTSTUPEFY THE RUSSIANS. There is not much time left. But we have the material, the men, the know-how, and somewhat of a tradition in the field.”

And the Soviet Union lasted 10 years in Afghanistan. NATO is well on its way...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Application of the Third Geneva Convention in Afghanistan

From the Globe and Mail,19 Feb, 2009
article by Paul Koring
Prisoner transfers halted as early as spring 2007
"Voicing their doubts"

"At least some Canadian military police officers in Afghanistan were worried about what would happen to prisoners they handed over to Afghan authorities, according to transcripts of the Military Police complaints Commission's interview with Captain Jason Tarzwell, deputy commander of the Canadian military police deployed to Kandahar in the first months of Canada's move to the Taliban heartland.

"Capt Tarzwell: 'I didn't think with the Kandahar facility, detention facility that it was appropriate for us, Canada, to be directly involved in transferring folks to a prison that held political prisoners, adulterers and homosexuals and that I really didn't think it was Canada's responsibility to pick the spot where we were going to put them, because then we would have ownership of that problem.

'It was certainly laid out in the Geneva Convention 3[*] why we don't put people in prison.

'And then the folks in that particular prison, again, it wasn't something I felt Canada or Canadians should be involved in...

'Now, I made that determination, again, because that facility wasn't appropriate. I'm not sure why anyone else didn't look at it in the intervening time that I was gone, and say, hey that's not appropriate, but as the platoon commander there and the commander on the ground and responsible for that facility it clearly didn't meet the Geneva Convention.

'So I'm thinking either Major Fraser wasn't in tune with the Geneva Convention, or he never looked at it, or he didn't really put much thought into what was happening there...'

*Link to ICRC website added

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Monday, February 9, 2009

The future of parliamentary democracy...

The Gobe and Mail "Public Policy Wiki"

This seems to me a very creative idea by Mathew Ingram, a public policy forum that allows participation by citizens, within reasonable rules of debate. If it works -- and why wouldn't it work? -- it should also free the "free press" in an era of centralized ownership and attempts by government to "manage information".

See also Mathew Ingram's blog at the Globe...Ingram 2.0

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Desurging and Afghanistanization

Vietnam in retrospect

"If we all look back on the history of the past
We can just tell where we are."

Harry Lauder, quoted by Winston Churchill in the Canadian House of Commons, December 30, 1941

The following, slightly modified, is from "The Best and the Brightest" by David Halberstam
Ballantine Books 25th Anniversary Edition, page 665

"But the Nixon [Obama] Administration, like the Johnson [Bush] Administration before it, did not control events, and did not control the rate of the war; and though it could give Thieu [Karzai] air power, it could not give him what he really needed, which was a genuine, indigenous political legitimacy. While Thieu's [Karzai's] regime was as thin and frail as ever, the North Vietnamese [Taliban] were imbued with a total sense of confidence. Time was on their side, they were the legitimate heirs of a revolution, nothing confirmed their legitimacy more than American [NATO] bombs falling on the country. Eventually, they knew, the Americans would have to leave. What was it a fully confident Pham Van Dong had told Harrison Salisbury of the New York Times in December 1966 in Hanoi: 'And how long do you Americans want to fight, Mr. year? Two years? Three Years? Five Years? Ten years? Twenty years? We will be glad to accommodate you.'

"And so the war went on, tearing at this country; a sense of numbness seemed to replace an earlier anger. There was, Americans were finding, no light at the end of the tunnel, only greater darkness."