Monday, January 25, 2010

Check and Mate. We've Been Played as the Media Became Pawns

“There is no great genius without some touch of madness.” (Senaca, Roman philosopher)

Man have we been played. With the media as pawns for the Harper team, Canadian citizens didn't stand a chance.

I've been a little alarmed with the number of press releases today, all appearing to be somewhat unrelated. There was the predicted spin and subterfuge, but when you lay everything out, it suggests a very different picture. They are not unrelated after all, but pieces of a much larger puzzle. I'm going to lay it all out for you and you can be the judge.

It certainly explains why Harper is so smug these days, and his MPs can afford to be rude to their constituents.

When Harper first decided to prorogue Parliament, everyone with an IQ above 12 knew it was about the detainee issue. The media suggested it would take the heat off it for awhile and the Conservatives said that once the Olympics were over we could get back to it.

The chessboard would just be put away for awhile. But while we were at our rallies, bemoaning the loss of our democracy; Harper's team snuck in and moved some of the pieces.

Before they cheated this is how our team looked, with our star players

1. We had Richard Colvin's testimony.
2. We had the Military police Commission confirming his testimony
3. We had Amnesty International and others confirming his testimony.
4. We had ambassadors and diplomats confirming his story.
5. We had the Opposition calling for a full public inquiry.
6. We knew that Peter MacKay's story was so full of holes there was nothing left.
7. We had a parliamentary motion that could legally bind Stephen Harper to hand over all memos unredacted.
8. We had the International Criminal Courts who were ready to step in if the government refused to hold a full public inquiry.

We were looking pretty good. But wait, not so fast. Here's how this now looks:

1. We had Richard Colvin's testimony

Initially there were 22 subpoenas handed out to individuals, requesting that they testify before the Military Police Complaints Commission, but the Harper government informed each and every one of them, that if they did honour the subpoenas they would be charged under the 'secrets act'. This knocked out everyone but the courageous Richard Colvin.

But what do we learn today?

Diplomat-whistleblower says he faces government reprisal
Murray Brewster
The Canadian Press
January 25, 2010

OTTAWA—A lawyer for the whistle-blower in the Afghan detainee issue says Richard Colvin has a "reasonable belief" that the Conservative government is retaliating against him for his damaging torture testimony late last year. Colvin is entitled to legal representations as a federal civil servant who was summoned to testify about his work in Afghanistan ... But the Conservative government has not agreed to any additional funding despite the ongoing Military Police Complaints Commission Investigation.

OK. that's one down but we've still got seven left.

2. We had the Military police Commission confirming his testimony

Just before proroguing Parliament Harper announced that he would not be renewing the contract for Peter Tinsley, the Military complaints commissioner. And as James Travers put it: This holiday, pity the poor watchdog:

Peter Tinsley is howling that pushing him out of the job will effectively kneecap the already crippled inquiry into claims that Afghans tortured prisoners.

Now lets look at another story Today.

Ottawa names interim RCMP watchdog Lack of experience with Mounties raises skepticism of estate lawyer with ties to Tories. So if he can blatantly name a Conservative insider as the RCMP watchdog, what's to prevent him from naming another Conservative insider to the Military Complaints Commission? If the inquiry is already crippled this would effectively kill it Off.

Two down but we've still got six chess pieces left.

3. We had Amnesty International and others confirming his testimony.

This links to yet another story I posted on: Jason Kenney and the NGO Monitor on a Rampage to Destroy Humanitarian Organizations Canadians shouldn't be surprised to learn of other NGOs who are in Kenney's cross hairs. Groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, for starters. If a new organization NGOM or NGO Monitor, headed up by the extremist Gerald Steinberg, has it's way, they will definitely be next.

This world-view is behind the single-minded commitment to weakening some of the world's most respected human rights and civil society groups such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, B'Tselem and the New Israel
OK. So Jason Kenney defunds Amnesty International in Canada (Oxfam may also be in trouble if this report is true). We've still got five plays left.

4. We had ambassadors and diplomats confirming his story.

Despite this impressive and unprecedented show of support, the Conservatives dismissed it, adding more public suspicion, but nothing there we can use without an inquiry.

We're down to four.

5. We had the Opposition calling for a full public inquiry.

Harper prorogued Parliament, so all the work done to date has been erased and everything will have to start anew, but with no witnesses or commissioner; good luck with that.

6. We knew that Peter MacKay's story was so full of holes there was nothing left.

Enter Ari Fleischer, George Bush's 'get out of jail free card' From a previous posting; Are we Now Discovering Why Harper Hired Ari Fleischer?

Liz and Dick Cheney, Bill Bennett, Ari Fleischer, and countless other commentators have saturated the public airwaves of late ever since the Obama Administration decided to make public the Bush torture memos. "I think the decision is disgusting," Ari Fleischer, President George W. Bush's first press secretary, told the Huffington Post. "It's amazing to me that the people who kept us safe may now become the people our government prosecutes. There are plenty of real criminals out there -- it would be nice if the Justice Department went after them ... this is a witch hunt."

Peter Mackay: “I am very proud of the fact that we have dedicated soldiers, civil servants, individuals who are working closely with the government of Afghanistan, as challenging as that is, to see that we improve its capacity. We will continue to do so. That is the real work that is being done. This is a witch hunt.”

With Ari Fleischer and Dick Cheney's wife directing the spin, Peter MacKay is untouchable. That leaves us with two.

7. We had a parliamentary motion that could legally bind Stephen Harper to hand over all memos unredacted

As I posted before: Precedent Suggests That Harper May Lose his Bid to Bury Evidence
Parliamentary privilege: A SCOC precedent?

Let's assume the current standoff between Parliament and the Harper government over those Afghan detainee documents does wind up in court. Unlike Australia's top court, the Supreme Court of Canada has never ruled on Parliament's power to compel the government to produce documents. But Canada's top court has looked at the question of parliamentary privilege in two recent-ish cases....

Now from one of today's headlines Harper Tories put their stamp on judiciary More than one-third of full-time federal judges appointed by Conservatives.

This doesn't give them control of the judiciary but a few more warm bodies to keep things tied up in court until hell freezes over.

8. We had the International Criminal Courts who were ready to step in if the government refused to hold a full public inquiry.

Investigations are already underway at the International Criminal Court.

Could Canadians be charged with war crimes? If public inquiry not called, Canadians may be charged at International Criminal Court, By Jeff Davis, December 16, 2009: With the government refusing to start a public inquiry and the International Criminal Court having launched a "preliminary" investigation into the Afghan detainee issue, law experts say there is a very real chance Canadian officials could be charged with war crimes.

He can't ignore the ICC, right? Guess again. From a completely unrelated story, there is one comment that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

Fundamental Shifts to Canadian Foreign Policy do NOT Represent Canadian Values

The Government's Newspeak, Recent changes to the language of Canadian foreign policy represent a fundamental shift in how the country presents itself to
the world. Adrian Bradbury, Founder and Executive Director, Athletes for Africa and Football for Good, December 02, 2009

It is a curious feeling to wake up one morning and have the focus of your career banished from your government’s vernacular. But this is what recently happened ... An internal DFAIT email was leaked this summer which outlined a series of shifts in the language of Canadian foreign policy. These changes were politically directed, coming from Foreign Affairs Minister Cannon’s office.

The terms "gender equality," "child soldiers," "international humanitarian law," "good governance," "human security," "public diplomacy" and "The Responsibility to Protect" have been blacklisted from government parlance.

These terms were once championed by Canada, are in wide use around the world, and represent a wide range of international norms and precedent. Make no mistake, these semantic changes represent fundamental shifts to Canadian foreign policy. Each of the banned or altered terms carry with it significant policy implications, most related to the international human rights agenda.

... The shift from the term International Humanitarian Law (IHL) to simply International Law, not only blurs two entirely different concepts, but abandons the legal mechanisms developed to protect the rights of civilians, women, and children, aid workers, and prisoners of war, rather than states, in armed conflict. IHL also underlies the International Criminal Court, which Canada was instrumental in founding. Are we abandoning the ICC as well?



  1. Thanks for a great read. See and http://www.treekings for our take, more information, and what you can do about it.

  2. Good post Emily, keep connecting the dots.