Saturday, August 11, 2007

Canadian Military Spying on Peace Activist?

From Canadian Military Keeping Tabs on Peace Activists?

As the article makes very clear, there is nothing unusual about government employees or representatives attending presentations relevant to their work. That isn't what the problem is:

"It was clear that somebody had been tasked by the Canadian military to sit in on the session,” Staples said in an interview with IPS. “My problem is that the military initially denied it. Governments send staff to attend meetings all the time to prepare briefings — there is nothing wrong with that. It’s when they deny it and hide it that it becomes something more nefarious."

So, the Canadian military could have avoided this public relations disaster by simply being upfront about the fact that they were listening to what Mr. Staples had to say. Instead, they launched into a keystone kops surveillance program that was extended by one Lft. Col. Jamie Robertson:

Steven Staples’ talk was on the Americanisation of the Canadian military. We have public affairs officers and representatives from National Defence, which normally attend conferences and compile information. We will summarise what is happening at conferences, but we don’t engage in monitoring. That is not the job of the Department. As public affairs officers, we need to be aware of factual information and trends in the policy debate. In this instance, the debate has been politicised. (italics added.)

Think for a moment about how it might be possible for any debate on the military to not be politicized. Not content with that bit of incoherent babbling, Robertson added:

We have a robust media environment. We want to engage as openly as possible. Everyone is allowed to speak to the media on the Afghanistan mission. In this case, journalists are raising conspiracy theories that are completely of context

Do tell?

In other news, ... I'll hop over to the Parliamentary web pages to see if "Canada's Incompetent Government" has gotten back to the NDP's Dawn Black about where General Hillier got the authority to block access to information about Canada's prisoners in Afghanistan ...

Nope. Can't find anything.

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