Monday, May 31, 2010

Peter MacKay, Thyssen AG, and Harper's Magazine

So let me see if I've got this right. Elmer MacKay was Brian Mulroney's bagman, who had dealings with KarlHeinz Schreiber, who paid Brian Mulroney cash in envelopes for weird unspecified services that may or may not have to do with promoting an armoured car plant at Bear Head, Nova Scotia. Meanwhile, Peter MacKay, Elmer's son, a lawyer, "happened" to get a summer job in Germany working for Thyssen AG. Now Peter, our Minister of National Defence, is our representative in NATO, which might be a step up on Maxime Bernier, or not.

You can't make this stuff up.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Cometh the Hour, cometh the Weasel

Opposition balks at Tory loophole in detainee records deal

Globe and Mail, May 29

Solicitor-client privilege, my ass. Bring on Rob Walsh!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Harper's Afghanistan

Minimum number of rip-offs of the famed Harper's Index: 2
Area of Afghanistan: 652,230 sq km
Area of Vietnam: 331,210 sq km
Minimum number of MACV/American troops present in half of Vietnam at the height of the "Vietnam War": 500,000
Maximum number of ISAF/NATO/American troops present in Afghanistan now: 100,000
Minimum density of White Guy troops in Vietnam: 1.51/sq km
Minimum density of White Guy troops in Afghanistan: 0.15/sq km
Ratio of White Guys in Vietnam/Afghanistan (absolute minimum): 10:1
Population of China: 1,330,141,295 (July 2010 est.)
Minimum Chinese population that is Muslim: 13,301,413
Minimum number of years the Americans were in Vietnam: 12
Manner of leaving: Chaos
Minimum number of years that ISAF has been in Afghanistan: 9
Manner of leaving: TBA
Number of years that Chinese troops have been in Afghanistan: 0
Manner of leaving: N/A
Value of mining properties developed in Afghanistan by NATO countries: 0
By China: $US 4 billion
Cost borne by China: 0
Threat to the world posed by Afghanistan as estimated by NATO:
By China: 0
Maximum number of clearly defined criteria for leaving Afghanistan;
By the UN: 0
By ISAF: 0
By NATO: 0
By the United Kingdom: 0
By the United States: 0
By Canada: Ask Obama
Minimum number of friendly jokes made by Stephen Harper at the "hanging" of Jean Chrétien: 1
Maximum number of friendly jokes made at the Nuremberg hanging of Wilhem Keitel: 0
Minimum number of Canadian troops killed in Afghanistan: 146
Minimum number of Canadian troops wounded in Afghanistan: [secret]

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Google screws up

So, this is where I grew up.

View Larger Map

Except it isn't. It's a lovely picture:

View Larger Map

...and it's close. But no cigar. It's wrong.

Don't believe everything you read.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Excerpt from page 462-3

"The collapse in the South, the one force which the American leaders could not control, continued unabated. The Americans had always had the illusion that something might turn it around; a new leader in South Vietnam who would understand how to get with the program; a realization on the part of the feared enemy (the Americans' feared enemy, though perhaps not the feared enemy of the Vietnamese), the Communists were about to walk into Saigon. Or magically, the right battalion commander would turn up to lead ARVN battalions into battle against the Vietcong, or the right program would emerge, blending arms and pig-fatteners together to make the peasants want to choose our side. But nothing changed, the other side continued to get stronger, the ARVN side weaker. One reason the principals were always surprised by this, and irritated by the failure of their programs, was that the truth of the war never entered the upper-level American calculations; that this was a revolutionary war, and that the other side held title to the revolution because of the colonial war which had just ended. This most simple fact, which was so important to understanding the political calculations (it explained why their soldiers would fight and die, and ours would not; why their leaders were skillful and brave, and ours were inept and corrupt), entered into the estimates of the American intelligence community and made them quite accurate. But it never entered into the calculations of the principals, for a variety of reasons; among others to see the other side in terms of nationalism or as revolutionaries might mean a re-evaluation of whether the United States was even fighting on the right side. In contrast, the question of Communism and anti- Communism as opposed to revolution and antirevolution was far more convenient for American policy makers."

"For members of the intelligence community, the war was directly linked to the recent past; they saw deep-rooted reasons for Vietcong successes and Saigon government failures. As far as the intelligence community was concerned, history was alive and gaining its revenge in Indochina; as far as the principals were concerned (and it was a very American attitude that Vietnamese events and history began only after the Americans arrived and took charge), nothing had existed before because it had not been done, tended to, examined by Americans. The Americans were tempting history by ignoring it; after all, in the past they had been able to dominate events by the sheer force of their industrial capacity, which had exempted them from much of the reality of the world."

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Oil in space

It's a funny thing, but you can't find these images at NASA or NOAA, despite a grillion dollars spent on space, and with a new space plane - of undetermined purpose - orbiting the Earth.

We can see minute details in northern Pakistan...but...somehow...when it comes to the Gulf oil spill - a catastrophic accident rather than an "incident" - North America is blind, deaf, and dumb.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Global Vision Thing

So this... being organized by these guys...

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...which would seem to have something to do with these guys...

...but this (which already happened)...

...was organized by these guys.

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Who are any of these guys? And how did Carleton University get dragged into the mess?

Order of Canada

Terrence Joseph Slater Clifford, C.M., M.Ed.

Full NameHonour ReceivedResidence
Terrence Joseph Slater Clifford, C.M., M.Ed.C.M.London, Ontario
Member of the Order of CanadaMay 8, 2003May 14, 2004
Terrence Clifford has dedicated himself to working with Canadian youth. Following a stellar career as a teacher and administrator, he entered politics, serving as a member of Parliament for several years. After leaving public life, he founded Global Vision International, a non-governmental organization that offers mentoring and educational opportunities. Regional training centres, located in universities across the country, have connected thousands of students with sponsor corporations and allowed many to participate in Team Canada trade missions to learn first-hand about globalization.

What to Know more about the Mission to China?

by Adam Dewar on 20th May 2010 View all blogs by Adam Dewar

Well the good news it is still going to China. The great news, it will also be stopping in Malaysia.

Here is the brief rundown, and yes Terry is the one who told me to prepare this little piece.

When: August 2nd -20th

August 2nd – Depart Canada for Beijing

August 9th – Teams Split Team A– Chongqing, Kunming

Team B: Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Guangzhou

August 16th – Teams Re Unite - Malaysia – As in Kuala Lumpur – Home of the Petronas Towers.

August 20nd – Return to Canada Deliver reports to sponsors, and spread the word. Get ready to give back and help Global Vision. (As in for the next mission)

What is your task: The task is to get your community in preparation for the mission, find commercial; government, and association interests who will support your efforts. Show them what you can do for their business; represent their products, promote them, look for manufacturers, make contacts and connections. Get the mandates that matter!


· You have to have submitted an application for this current program cycle.

· You need to raise $5,500.00

· Your account with Global Vision needs to show a total balance of $5,500.00 either through sponsorship or personal deposit by July 5th, 2010

· Deposited monies are refunded upon successfully raising $5,500.00 (Usually Late September is when the cheques come back)

· Students who raise more than $5,500 earn extra points. (IE for other future opportunities with GV) – Amounts over 5,000 go to help Global Vision cover the other half of the cost of taking participants. Raising more makes you a team player. And you get to be in the President’s Club

Deposit Schedule

June 15th - Signed JTC Contract must be submitted by this date.: $1,000 is due

June 30th: Second $1,500 is due – Sponsorship monies raised AND SUBMITTED (We have to have the cheques) may be counted toward this instalment.

July 15th: Final $3000.00 is due – JTC account total Sponsorship (Which JTC has received) + Personal Deposits must be $5500.00.

Remember we are here for you, and will be able to help coach and mentor you. The first step in your search should be to sit down with parents, a JTC grad, and relatives to find out what your family/JTC network looks like. From there next steps include:

Be forewarned- rejection will happen but above all else Move On to the next!! Suck it up and charge ahead- fly with eagles do not let the turkeys keep you down!

1.) Meeting with your MP

2.) Meeting with your MLA

3.) City Councillor/Mayor

4.) Issuing a Press Release to the Local Papers

5.) Meeting with the President or Vice President of your University/ If you are in High School Talk to your Principal and your local School Board.

6.) Don’t Forget, Different Departments have different Budgets!

7.) Your Student Union, they usually have funds for activities just like this! (Often for 6 and 7 they’ll only pay you after the fact – but they are reliable advance the funds to Global Vision on the organizations behalf, and we will issue you a receipt so you can collect

8.) If someone says no to sponsorship you, say thank you and ask them if they could suggest other people for you to contact.

9.) Use your network to make lots of calls. Remember you should be making 25 calls a day.

10.) Set a goal to have 5 meetings a week.

11.) Get creative.

From experience: If you put in the time YOU WILL Raise the money.

Last note: Cold calling is an absolute attribute of the JTC brand. Everyone wants it but only the best have it and it lasts a lifetime!

So – Are you in?

If you are in send an email to cc: – Include your full name, phone number, address, and email – as well as a brief reason for wanting to go on the mission. We’ll check our records to make sure you submitted that application and then we will send you off the paperwork to sign and make a first deposit. It’s that simple.

I just want to make one more point. This offer expires soon. (As in likely toward the end of next week.

    Monday, May 17, 2010

    A win for the Magna Carta in Canada

    ...but don't take your eye off the weasel.

    Go, Habs!

    Friday, May 14, 2010

    Gordon O'Connor's conflict of interest...

    In the negotiations leading up to the all-party compromise on the review of unredacted documents relevant to Canada's prisoners in Afghanistan, Conservative House Leader Jay Hill ("We're in Afghanistan so little girls can go to school...") was seconded by Gordon O'Connor.

    In the nomination of of a new committee to review such documents, Gordon O'Connor, and Peter MacKay, should now be excluded by conflict of interest. Mr. O'Connor was Minister of National Defence during some of the most important periods in the transfers now under scrutiny, and he was succeeded by Mr. MacKay. Participation by either in the forthcoming review of documents would obviously put them in the impossible and illegal position of participating in Parliament's investigation of their own decisions.

    I point out also that Mr. O'Connor is the subject of a formal complaint - mine - made to the RCMP War Crimes Section, October 28, 2009.

    Wednesday, May 12, 2010

    Hockey for Americans

    Welcome back to House of Commons Night in Canada. I’m Ron MacLean here with Don Cherry. Grapes, it’s been an interesting couple of days…

    INTERESTING??!! I still think Luongo’s trying to kill me. Maybe I died and was brought back to life by CPR…

    The Canadian Pacific Railway?

    That too.

    And now of course Montreal has bounced Pittsburgh out of the playoffs, knocking off the Stanley Cup defending champions after defeating the league-leading Washington Capitals…

    You know, there’s nowhere left for me to put my nitroglycerine patches except my scrotum, and I heard expert medical advice that the absorption there is better than anywhere…

    You should ask Sami Salo…

    I'm not sure he can talk yet…

    And now the Speaker of the House of Commons, Speaker Milliken, is waiting "patiently" for the House to produce documents about prisoners taken by Canadian Forces in Afghanistan...

    Yeah, it's going to come down to a respect for the truth...

    Which is...

    Exactly what it says. You can talk the talk, you can walk the walk, but there's only one guy holding up Lord Stanley's Cup...

    And what about the fabric of Lord Stanley's Cup...?

    It's available at Fabricland...

    So what's your take on Pittsburgh's too many men on the ice penalty?

    I knew you'd ask me that! It brings back a lot of bad memories...

    And how does that fit with the Minister of Justice, Rob Nicholson, who apparently is gung-ho on Mixed Martial Arts?

    You know, I'm not a guy to avoid fisticuffs, but if you want to watch a fight, you don't need the NHL, and if you want to show how manly you are, you can show up in the House of Commons and not be a skulking loser at Niagara Falls Flyers' game in the bar after the disaster.

    And that's it for us until Friday here on the House of Commons Night in Canada.

    Mike Richards is keeping Philly in the game.

    Do you see a Montreal-Boston semi-final?

    It would be Armageddon.

    Tuesday, May 11, 2010

    Bring on the Reserve Powers

    An open letter to the Governor-General of Canada

    Vancouver, BC
    May 11, 2010

    Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean

    Governor-General of Canada
    Rideau Hall,
    1 Sussex Drive,
    Ottawa, Ontario,
    Canada K1A 0A1


    I write as a respectful citizen, loyal subject, and an ardent defender of the Magna Carta.

    Today, Tuesday, May 11, 2010, is D-Day (Documents Day), is the deadline set by the Speaker of the House of Commons for all parties to provide a workable plan for the review of documents, hitherto withheld, regarding prisoners taken by Canadian troops in Afghanistan. The possibility has been raised that the Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, currently swanning around Europe at our expense when he should be at home taking care of business, might call an election on the documents issue. In my opinion, that would be a very stupid election on the single issue of the supremacy of parliament over the executive, which was decided some centuries ago, this apparently being news to Steve.

    As you well know, I am sure, the issue before the House is contempt of Parliament. This will not be resolved by an election.

    I am writing to respectfully – very respectfully – request that you not dissolve Parliament before the issue of contempt has been resolved. As a fan of British Parliamentary democracy I point out that you hold the Reserve Powers, which are considerable if ill-defined, and that you should not hesitate to use them in the best interest of the nation.

    I recall an instance some decades ago when I was living in the United Kingdom, when a citizen, frustrated in every attempt to regain possession of his own house from a foreign tenant who refused to leave, and who had exhausted every means to regain lawful repossession, wrote to the Queen, and – fabulously – the tenant was on his way out of the country the next day as persona non grata.

    I am not suggesting that you exile the Prime Minister to St. Helena, as would be my personal solution to the documents problem, were I to be Governor-General. I am suggesting you should feel free to say, “No.” I believe, speaking as an ordinary citizen, that you are well within your rights to tell the Prime Minister that there will be no election until the order to produce documents has been dealt with to the satisfaction of the House.

    Go, Habs, Go.

    Yours sincerely

    Neil Kitson

    Saturday, May 8, 2010

    Deepwater Public Relations

    Using images and language to corrupt thought.

    "The inflated style is itself a kind of euphemism. A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outlines and covering up all the details. The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns, as it were instinctively, to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink. In our age there is no such thing as "keeping out of politics." All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia. When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer. I should expect to find--this is a guess which I have not sufficient knowledge to verify--that the German, Russian and Italian languages have all deteriorated in the last ten or fifteen years as a result of dictatorship.

    "But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation, even among people who should and do know better. The debased language that I have been discussing is in some ways very convenient."

    George Orwell
    Politics and the English Language

    Interesting facts from the Deepwater Horizon Unified Response Command Official Website:

    By the Numbers to Date:
    Personnel were quickly deployed and more than 10,000 are currently responding to protect the shoreline and wildlife.

    More than 270 vessels are responding on site, including skimmers, tugs, barges, and recovery vessels to assist in containment and cleanup efforts—in addition to dozens of aircraft, remotely operated vehicles, and multiple mobile offshore drilling units.

    Approximately 923,000 of feet of boom (regular and sorbent) have been deployed to contain the spill—and 1.3 million feet are available.

    Nearly 2.1 million gallons of an oil-water mix have been recovered.

    More than 290,000 gallons of dispersant have been deployed. More than 185,000 gallons are available.

    10 staging areas have been set up to protect vital shoreline in all potentially affected Gulf Coast states (Biloxi, Miss., Panama City, Fla., Pensacola, Fla., Pascagoula, Miss., Dauphin Island, Ala., Port Sulphur, La., Shell Beach, La., Slidell, La., Port Fourchon, La., Venice, La.).

    Interesting Facts Completely Absent from the Deepwater Horizon Unified Response Command Official Website:

    Upper limit of oil discharged from Deepwater Horizon explosion and leak.

    Identity of "dispersant". Is it a detergent, like Tide? What happens to "dispersed" oil?

    Tests of blowout preventers conducted at depths equivalent to Deepwater Horizon.

    Wednesday, May 5, 2010

    Five years later...

    Canada's Military Involvement in Afghanistan
    Why aren't we having a national debate?
    By Paul Weinberg
    Global Research, August 31, 2005
    In a season of extreme heat and parliamentary vacations, there's barely a murmur among the political classes about Canadian soldiers hooking up with a failed American-led coalition of counter-insurgents in the volatile Kandahar region of southwest Afghanistan.

    But those closely following on-the-ground developments in Afghanistan are astonished that Canadians have sent their military into a stepped-up mission the aims of which have not been debated. They also worry that our military doesn't truly understand the nature of the conflagration.

    The latter issue is the concern of Dr Seddiq Weera, a Canadian peace educator who was born in Afghanistan and is currently stationed in Kabul advising the Afghan Ministry of Education and the National Independent Commission on Strengthening Peace (INCSP) in Afghanistan.
    Many Afghans, not just the Taliban, have been infuriated by outside forces occupying their country.

    He finds General Rick Hillier's comment that Canadian troops will be targeting "detestable murderers" and "scumbags" a dangerous simplification of Afghanistan's political situation. It's not just the Taliban who are opposing foreign troops, Weera argues. Locals in the country's south and east have been infuriated by the performance of outside forces in their areas.
    "Some people have stories of unjustified bombings, harsh treatment during house searches, wrongful imprisonment, mislabeling as al Qaeda, and so on. Also, lately, many members of the former Northern Alliance who have lost power express dissatisfaction or act in such a way that threatens security," he notes in a May 2005 discussion for INCSP.

    There are many reasons why members of the above groups openly oppose the presence of US and international forces, he writes. "Many Afghans, especially villagers, are confused about the role and aims of these foreign troops."

    Peggy Mason, former UN disarmament ambassador, thinks Canada should maintain some distance from the US-led sorties.

    Speaking from Kabul by phone, Weera, who is affiliated with McMaster's Centre for Peace Studies, says "[Hillier] focuses on a good-guy, bad-guy approach that does not reflect the realities. There's a large number of discontented people, and many groups have at least some legitimate concerns, and there is a very small number of spoilers who exploit these unhappy people. One needs to isolate the spoilers by addressing the discontent of theses people and groups through dialogue and reconciliation."

    But Peggy Mason, Canada's former ambassador for disarmament and arms control affairs at the United Nations, wonders if there is any chance of actually defeating Taliban forces through search-and-destroy missions. More terrorists, she says, have been found internationally through "the hard slogging of information-sharing and policing efforts" than by the US-led forces, who have failed to root out remnants of the former Taliban government and their al Qaeda allies.
    "If you look at where the big arrests have been made, the military has not been particularly successful. I think there is a tacit recognition of that by the Americans," she says.
    Mason also argues that Canada, with its peacekeeping experience, should maintain "some distance" from the American-dominated sortie. The US strategy of overwhelming force, insensitivity to civilian casualties and deal-making with local warlords has not contributed to an improved security situation.

    And she can't understand why Canada was so willing to jump onboard Operation Enduring Freedom rather than wait until later next year when a NATO-led International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) peacemaking force in Kabul, of which Canadians have been a part, will be charged with providing stability for all of Afghanistan.
    "There is a serious possibility that we will actually end up capturing people, so we have to be concerned about complicity in torture," says Michael Byers.

    "The war fighting has to end, period. And you have to get into this other mode [assisting peacemaking]. Canada is playing both roles, which is not helpful," says Mason.
    One critic of the Canadian Kandahar mission from academe, Michael Byers, a lawyer and a Canada research chair in the political science department at the University of British Columbia, notes that the Canadian military is essentially returning to the combat role it played in January 2002, when it sent the Joint Task Force 2 commandos to Afghanistan.
    At that time, human rights advocates like Byers raised concerns about Canadian soldiers handing over prisoners of war to American soldiers after US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld stated that the Geneva Convention would not apply to alleged perpetrators and sympathizers of the September 11 terrorist actions.

    "Since then, the justification of torture in some cases by US government lawyers, as well as horrific revelations from US-run prisons at Abu Ghraib and Bagram should have given Canadian officials pause when considering new requests to send Canadian soldiers into the US-led coalition," says Byers.

    "There is a serious possibility that we will actually end up capturing people, so we have to be concerned about complicity in torture," he says.
    "Canadian soldiers anywhere in the world are legally obligated to follow both the Canadian Charter of Rights And Freedoms and the international 1984 Convention Against Torture," Byers explains.

    These requirements may be put to the test when Canadian soldiers in Kandahar hand over prisoners to the fledgling Afghan forces, whose members have been cited for abusing civilians, extorting from businesses and kidnapping locals for ransom and even sexual purposes, says a Human Rights Watch official. Thousands of Afghanis have been arrested and detained during the insurgency. "We have been saying that the coalition forces have to work harder at actually monitoring the behaviour of the people they are working with," says John Sifton at the New-York-based HRW.

    The Department of National Defence has stated that the rules of engagement for the Kandahar mission must be kept secret for security purposes.

    Major Darren Steele of the Department of National Defence says he has difficulty commenting on reports associating the US-led coalition with abuse of civilians or torture. "I can't speak to that. How much of that is simply impressions and what people are reading into it?"

    Steele says he expects Canadian soldiers to be engaged in reconstruction and peace-building work in Kandahar, as they have been under NATO in Kabul. "Once ISAF merges with the US-led Enduring Freedom coalition force next year," he says, "Canadian troops will be part of a multinational brigade."

    "There is a continuity between the two missions," Steele says. " We are aware that the situation will be different in Kandahar and is going to be dangerous for many reasons. I would suggest that you take a look at the drug trade. That is a very significant risk and danger."
    However, Steele also says that only about 250 Canadian soldiers will be part of a provincial reconstruction team (development work) and at least another 1000 members of the Canadian Forces will join US counterparts in patrols and security work.

    Peace activists might have been shocked to hear NDP leader Jack Layton defend General Hillier's aggressive statements, but Layton says he was merely attempting to explain the general's remarks about "scumbags" in light of the London bombing, rather than supporting them. "I certainly never made any high praise of General Hillier when he referred to killing people. I was never asked about that quote."

    In fact, he and his party are keen on having a national debate about the mission's altered mandate when MPs return to Parliament. NDP MP and defence critic Bill Blaikie adds that he does not agree with a DND statement that the rules of engagement for the Kandahar mission must be kept secret for security purposes. "I don't think that's a decision for the minister of defence to make, and if he wants to say it's something we can't know about, then he has to make that case."

    Meanwhile, Sifton is skeptical that proposed dialogues with the disgruntled will succeed until the government of Hamid Karzai and its NATO backers come to grips with who is backing the attacks by the Taliban and other forces. "The solution would be a combination of pressuring leaders who take part in the violence as well as the Pakistani and even potentially the Iranian agents who fund the insurgents," Sifton says.
    Paul Weinberg is a Toronto based freelance journalist. This story first appeared in NOW magazine.

    Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre for Research on Globalization. The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article.To become a Member of Global ResearchThe CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author's copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of "fair use" in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than "fair use" you must request permission from the copyright owner.For media inquiries:© Copyright Paul Weinberg, Global Research, 2005 The url address of this article is:
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    "Walking backward into battle"

    "Walking backward into battle: How Canada’s civilian and military deep integrationists took us to war"

    Chris Shaw

    Briarpatch Magazine

    May 5, 2010

    Excellent groundwork for a judicial inquiry desperately needed to hold the guys at the top - who got us into this mess - accountable, and save Canadian Forces from themselves.

    Tuesday, May 4, 2010

    Canada's call to arms

    An Open Letter to Jack Layton
    May 2, 2010

    Subject: New Democrats to the Prime Minister: You can't run from torture allegations
    Date: Fri Apr 30 14:58:39 PDT 2010

    Dear Jack,

    I appreciate your e-mail, and I also appreciate that the NDP were concerned about this matter from the very beginning, particularly Dawn Black’s questions to Gordon O’Connor in early 2006 which are a matter of public record in Hansard. I also like Jack Harris as NDP Defence critic.

    I absolutely agree with the position that the House order to produce documents is one of fundamental importance, the supremacy of Parliament over the Crown. I’m not very worried that the Conservatives are going to call an election on this issue – is Harper going to offer a John Yoo-like pseudo-legal opinion that the Magna Carta is “quaint”? Of course he’s not a lawyer, as is painfully obvious, and he’s getting a little more erratic now that his government is fraying not just at the edges, but everywhere.

    My reason for writing is to make a case that the documents disaster is one of three themes that should be combined into one. First, is the inquiry into what exactly has happened and may still be happening to prisoners taken by Canadian troops in Afghanistan. Apart from the supremacy of Parliament issue, I’m asking you to support a judicial inquiry, which as Justice O’Connor showed, can be conducted almost entirely in public, with certain materials heard in camera. That would solve the government’s alleged fear that it might compromise national security, as defined by Section 38 of the Canada Evidence Act, of which Sections 38.01 and 38.02 should probably be repealed, given their overall uselessness except for the intimidation of civil servants.

    Second, is that the Minister of National Defence has just announced that General Andrew Leslie is going to conduct a review of Department of National Defence operations, as “Chief of Transformation” – it sounds like something from Harry Potter. The question is, transforming into what? Canadian citizens should be part of any review of the Department of National Defence, particularly about what we want it to do, what our role in NATO should be, and how closely we want our military to be involved with the American, given the appalling performance of the American military in Iraq and Afghanistan, and repeated government obfuscation behind the screen of “sensitive international relations”. You know, I for one don’t think protecting “sensitive international relations” includes protecting criminal behaviour on the part of our allies. As you might know, the Supreme Court had something to say about that as well [2008 SCC 28]:

    “The principles of international law and comity of nations, which normally require that Canadian officials operating abroad comply with local law and which might otherwise preclude application of the Charter to Canadian officials acting abroad, do not extend to participation in processes that violate Canada’s binding international human rights obligations.”

    Third, there is the ugly unfinished business of Somalia, and secrets that may still be lurking that should now, after the Afghanistan debacle, be flushed out for once and all. I note in passing that before it was aborted, the Somalia Inquiry encountered massive resistance from the Department of National Defence (does this sound familiar?) and there was serious evidence of attempts to shred documents (destruction of evidence), that I fear might occur again ‘inadvertently” in General Leslie’s proposed “transformation”, or might already have occurred. As noted by the Somalia Inquiry Commission:

    “Many of the leaders called before us to discuss their roles in the various phases of the deployment refused to acknowledge error. When pressed, they blamed their subordinates who, in turn, cast responsibility upon those below them. They assumed this posture reluctantly - but there is no honour to be found here - only after their initial claims, that the root of many of the most serious problems resided with "a few bad apples", proved hollow.
    “We can only hope that Somalia represents the nadir of the fortunes of the Canadian Forces. There seems to be little room to slide lower. One thing is certain, however: left uncorrected, the problems that surfaced in the desert in Somalia and in the boardrooms at National Defence Headquarters will continue to spawn military ignominy. The victim will be Canada and its international reputation.”

    I believe ignominy has arrived. I also believe Canada needs the Canadian Forces, proud and capable of course, but accountable to Canadians citizens and independent of creeping encroachment by NATO.

    Yours sincerely,

    Neil Kitson

    Sunday, May 2, 2010

    "I didn't know, I didn't see, I don't recall..."

    So we're still dealing with people trying to smear Richard Colvin. That includes Christie Blatchford and Tim Powers at the Globe and Mail. The major objection seems to be that Buchan and Grant didn't get equal time in the press, compared to Colvin. According to Ms. Blatchford, the evidence presented refuted Mr. Colvin's.

    I thought that was very unlikely, given the LiveBlog of the event by Karina Roman of the CBC, but to make sure (the CBC being closet Liberals), I went back through the fabulous resources of Parliament on the internet, to see it, the whole freaking thing. Here it is:

    AFGH Meeting No. 7
    Centre Block - 253-D
    Event Date
    Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010
    03:31 PM - 05:20 PM
    1 Hour 49 Minutes
    Actual Start Time
    Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010 03:31 PM
    Actual End Time
    Wednesday, Apr 28, 2010 05:20 PM
    Actual Duration
    1 Hour 49 Minutes
    Meeting No. 7 AFGH - Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan

    Nothing, nothing at all, refutes anything said by Mr. Colvin. Mr. Buchan as far as I can see contradicted himself by saying there was nothing in his multitudinous contacts with various august Afghan authorities that would have led him to believe that Canadian prisoners transferred to Afghan custody were subject to the abusive conditions that were, by his own admission Standard Operating Procedure for Afghan prisons extending, if I heard Mr. Buchan correctly, back to the time of Alexander (the Great, not Chris), but he didn't hear anything specific, and on review of records that neither the Afghanistan Committee nor the Canadian public can see, didn't see anything specific either.

    It was in fact very mysterious to Mr. Buchan that Graeme Smith of the Globe and Mail, a person of no official position, turned up evidence of abuse, but then the allegations were promptly investigated, found to be true, and led to a new "transfer agreement" which was much more robust than the first agreement, the question of whether either agreement was worth anything at all being unasked, and the answer obvious. Neither agreement was worth anything, just like the Brits' "Memorandum of Understanding" wasn't worth anything, either.

    Neither Mr. Buchan, in his descriptions of plans for prisoners made at DND, nor General Grant, in his supervision of transfers on the ground during his time in Afghanistan, gave any indication of having read the Third Geneva Convention (or the Fourth) which Theatre Standing Order 321A states is the standard for Canadian Forces in Afghanistan, and which the Bulletin of the Secretary-General of the United Nations (of August 12, 1999, exactly 50 years after said Geneva Conventions were signed, by Canada and the United States if not Afghanistan) says is the standard for UN forces in the field whether peace-keeping or peace-enforcing (Section 1.1). Article 12 of that much undiscussed Convention, particularly before the Afghanistan Committee, states:

    Art 12. Prisoners of war are in the hands of the enemy Power, but not of the individuals or military units who have captured them. Irrespective of the individual responsibilities that may exist, the Detaining Power is responsible for the treatment given them.

    Prisoners of war may only be transferred by the Detaining Power to a Power which is a party to the Convention and after the Detaining Power has satisfied itself of the willingness and ability of such transferee Power to apply the Convention. When prisoners of war are transferred under such circumstances, responsibility for the application of the Convention rests on the Power accepting them while they are in its custody.

    Nevertheless, if that Power fails to carry out the provisions of the Convention in any important respect, the Power by whom the prisoners of war were transferred shall, upon being notified by the Protecting Power, take effective measures to correct the situation or shall request the return of the prisoners of war. Such requests must be complied with.

    Now, to me, a citizen, that looks a lot like due diligence. Even if we accept that the Government of Afghanistan is legitimate and has actually signed up for the Statute of Rome, and really meant to honour its agreements with the Canadian military, we - the "Detaining Power" - are obliged - the onus is on us - to satisfy ourselves of the ability and willingness of the "Accepting Power" to apply the Convention.

    And we did that, did we? Oh, come on. Pull the other one. Conditions in Afghan prisoners were known. Canada had the onus to satisfy itself that Afghanistan could apply the Convention to any transferred prisoners. Hello? Where is the evidence for such due diligence? A piece of paper signed by Hillier and some other guy? Mr. Buchan made it clear that Afghan prisoner conditions weren't going to change overnight. Therefore transfer was always illegal, was it not?

    If that isn't enough evidence we have the Department of National Defence "Campaign Against Terrorism Detainee Transfer Log", which although redacted, and after May 2006, obliterated, makes clear that Canadian troops believed they were obligated to report all prisoners taken to the Central Tracing Agency of the ICRC, as they are obligated to do under the Third Geneva Convention. The troops on the ground knew the law and the right thing to do. Where were Mr. Buchan and General Grant?

    Finally - I mean, I could go on for as long as those two guys went on - two guys who gave every impression of covering their asses, having watched the whole thing Ms. Blatchford, and in startling contrast to Richard Colvin who has everything to lose and nothing to gain in his tetimony before the same committee - General Grant tells us that the "Canadian chain of command" was "not interested" in caring for prisoners in our own facilities. Since when does the Canadian military make Canadian foreign policy? And does the Canadian chain of command get to decide whether it complies with the Third Geneva Convention, or even reads it? Who, if anybody, brought up the Geneva Conventions at the DND policy sessions regarding prisoners that Mr. Buchan attended in 2005? Is it under the redactions?

    As far as I'm concerned the appearance of Buchan and Grant made Mr. Colvin's testimony more rather than less compelling, and the need for a judicial inquiry even more urgent than it already is. What I don't understand is why Ms. Blatchford and Mr. Powers, among many others, seem to regard the weight Mr. Buchan's and General Grant's evidence to be equal to that of Mr. Colvin's, based on the time they spent before the committee. Had the press been in attendance with the requisite subsequent coverage desired by Ms. Blatchford and fellow government apologists, the same obvious and unfavourable comparisons with Mr. Colvin's testimony would have been inevitable.

    People were hung at Nuremberg for not knowing the difference between right and wrong, and a guy from Rwanda was just put away for 25 years for war crimes by Quebec Superior Court. International law is not "a framework for discussion." I give the last word to the Secretary-General's Bulletin:

    Section 4
    Violations of international humanitarian law
    In case of violations of international humanitarian law,
    members of the military personnel of a United Nations force
    are subject to prosecution in their national courts.