Wednesday, December 30, 2009

harper Prorogues Parliament (Again)

Well, he did it. Together with our shit-for-brains Governor General, harper has prorogued parliament again. His insulting rationalization is that he can concentrate on the economy (which, you'll remember, harper has been insisting has been recovering nicely thanks to his steady hand on the tiller!) but nobody believes this.

One dead-ender harpercon bleated on the CBC comments page that proroguing is a part of our parliamentary process too. That's right imbecile. It is. When a session of parliament is felt to have done its work it is prorogued and another session is prepared. It is not a tool to be used (repeatedly!!!) to hide from the opposition.

At the end of the day though, this is a good thing. harper has sealed his political doom. This is the death-knell of the "conservative" movement in Canada. We will demonstrate to the majority of Canadians the terrible danger represented by this move. We will demonstrate the significance of this travesty.

harper is only putting off the inevitable. He is going to prison.

If harper Prorogues

Others in the blogosphere point to the even stronger rumours that harper is planning to cowardly prorogue parliament until after the fascist spectacle of the Olympics in order to avoid public accountability for his possible complicity in war crimes in Afghanistan.

This is unacceptable.

If harper does pursue this detestable course of action of course the opposition parties must join to force an election at the soonest possible opportunity when the new session of parliament opens. By his actions in Afghanistan, by his partisan leaking of documents (the secrecy of which he has argued is vital for "national security"), by his contempt for the will of the majority in parliament in refusing to hand over said documents, and by myriad other ways, harper has lost the right to any claim in this nation's confidence in his ability to govern this country.

stephen harper is clearly insane and unfit for public life.

But if parliament is suspended, we, the decent, sane majority of Canadians have to put the pressure on him and his lackeys. I should add, or clarify, that it will be the decent, sane, engaged, concerned minority that must keep the pressure on. Because while the vast majority of Canadians are intelligent, decent, sane people, only a minority are dedicated enough and informed enough to grasp the gravity of this threat to our political system and our way of life. Too many of us are lulled into a consumerist cocoon of ignorance and apathy. The dedicated minority must go out into our communities and preach to people outside the choir about the seriousness of this crisis, the horrible ramifications of allowing business-as-usual with this twisted freak harper and his gang of foaming psychopaths.

We must lay down the case for the coming election, the seriousness of the issues involved, the horrible consequences of allowing these crimes to go unpunished.

And while we're laying the groundwork for the ultimate repudiation of the political bowel-movement that is Canadian "conservatism," and for the permanent destruction of the Stupid Party of Canada, we must make every effort to let our mainstream media and political institutions know exactly how we feel about the serial travesties of business-as-usual.

The Afghanistan debacle. The world financial meltdown. Ecological collapse. Increased poverty and homelessness. Evil in Haiti. Anti-Aboriginal racism. The destruction of our public healthcare sysem. On and on it goes.

This cycle of arrogant stupidity, ... capitalist greed presenting itself as wisdom about "harsh realities" has had time enough to prove itself and it has failed.

And the most fanatical practitioners of this insanity, the so-called "Conservative Party of Canada" must be made to understand [albeit temporarily, given the limitations of their mental faculties] what detestable, freakish vermin they are. If we "liberal [sic] elitists" used to look down our noses at these morons, it was because they were such repulsively stupid, dangerously stupid morons.

We will not stop our work to transform our societies into ecologically sustainable, sane economies just because you're an oil-industry shill or an ignorant, delusional consumerist.

We will not remove equal rights for people of non-heterosexual orientations because you're a fanatical adherent to some imaginary, sex-obsessed deity or because you're a twisted closet-case.

We will not drop the call for a public inquiry into war crimes to enable your racist, imperialist blood-lust.

Your day has passed.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Child Slaves in Haiti

Say! Why don't we check in on "Haiti ... the core [of] our engagement in the Americas, as our largest program in the region," Canada's second-biggest foreign initiative after the mega-success [please note: that's sarcasm] of Afghanistan? How are Canada and Haiti doing? After all, Canada (at the behest of the United States and in cooperation with France) helped Haiti celebrate its 200th birthday in February 2004 by overthrowing its democratically-elected president, Bertrand Aristide and imposing a puppet-government.

(Technically speaking, we didn't overthrow the government. Oh my no. What Canada, France and the United States did was to "protect" Aristide from the rebels (who appeared to have come from the United States) by spiriting him out of the country. [Canada, France, and of course, the United States of America, simply didn't have the resources to face-off with these Haitian rebels! So there was never any thought of fighting them.] Of course, that thin tissue of lies is easily seen through because now that the "danger" is past, we actively oppose the return of Aristide to his own country.)

The secondary, supposedly more truthful, honourable, though legally unjustifiable, justification is that France (which used to own the country as a slave colony), the United States (which routinely overthrows democratic, populist governments in the Americas and installs corrupt, narco-torture states in their stead) and Canada (which is an all-around shameless kiss-ass to the USA and which also defends Canadian mining companies which destroy the environment and brutalize their opponents in the less "developed" parts of the world), are all TERRIBLY CONCERNED with the freedom and material conditions of the Haitian people, and overthrew Aristide because he was a "dictator" who was fraudulently elected and who maintained his regime with murderous criminal gangs who he had armed. In this capacity, Aristide brutally presided over a "failed state" that was unable to deliver the necessities of life to Haiti's suffering population.

As members of the "good countries" (as opposed, say, to the "bad countries" - [if you're confused about what the terms "good" and "bad" mean, go watch a re-run of the 1970s series "S.W.A.T." and imagine you're an 11-year old boy]) Canada, France and the USA have a "responsibility to protect" the people in impoverished, undemocratic shit-holes from their own fucked-up, dictatorial regimes. We got's to go in there to these countries and kick-out their detestable, murdering, scum-bag governments and put in puppets politicians and state institutions that can adequately service the subsistence needs of their populations.

For instance, Canada has helped Haiti by removing the sadistic Aristide and replacing him with convicted torturers and murderers who drove the human rights situation in Haiti into the ground. ... Oh, wait a second, that doesn't sound like "helping." It sounds like we made things worse for Haiti instead of better.

Oh well, at least the UN Mission for Haiti (MINUSTAH) is trying to make the country safe for democracy, by attacking the members of Aristide's political party (the largest political entity in the country) and allowing machete-wielding psychopaths to slaughter people at will. ... Um, okay, that doesn't sound too promising either.

Well, at least the rich countries of Canada, France and the United States are pooling some pocket-change together to ensure that Haitians have enough to eat right? Right? Right??? Wrong.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - It was lunchtime in one of Haiti's worst slums and Charlene Dumas was eating mud.

With food prices rising, Haiti's poorest can't afford even a daily plate of rice, and some take desperate measures to fill their bellies.

Charlene, 16 with a 1-month-old son, has come to rely on a traditional Haitian remedy for hunger pangs: cookies made of dried yellow dirt from the country's central plateau.

Okay, okay, okay. But what about the children? Won't the leaders of these three rich, powerful countries even do something about the children of Haiti? At least so that they can even fucking pretend that they ever gave a single shit about Haiti and its people?

Sadly, that brings me to the subject of today's post. It appears that the poor of Haiti have absolutely no means to feed their children and so they are handing them over to work for slightly wealthier Haitians (who turn their own children over to Hatians farther up the economic ladder themselves) where they labour as unpaid domestic servants (as in "slaves") and are subjected to physical, sexual and psychological abuse.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Poverty has forced at least 225,000 children in Haiti's cities into slavery as unpaid household servants, far more than previously thought, a report said Tuesday.

The Pan American Development Foundation's report also said some of those children — mostly young girls — suffer sexual, psychological and physical abuse while toiling in extreme hardship.

The report recommends Haiti's government and international donors focus efforts on educating the poor and expanding social services such as shelters for girls, who make up an estimated two-thirds of the child servant population.

Young servants are known as "restavek" — Haitian Creole for "stays with" — and their plight is both widely known and a source of great shame in the Caribbean nation that was founded by a slave revolt more than 200 years ago.

Researchers said the practice is so common that almost half of 257 children interviewed in the sprawling Port-au-Prince shantytown of Cite Soleil were household slaves.

This is beyond disgusting folks. It's disgusting that our governments did this. That they are continuing to do this. And that our media system tells us more about Boxing-Day shopping than about this five-years (and counting) travesty. Just further evidence that our entire political system is debased beyond repair and require root-and-branch change.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Afghanistan, Patriotism and the Olympics

I came in to Toronto on the daily turnip-truck from Hamilton a couple of days ago and I noticed all the subway station posters (sponsored at least in part by Coca-Cola) celebrating the Olympic torch and Canadian patriotism about same.

The images are pretty inane, with a torch-bearer surrounded on either side by one or two cheering Canadians. One dude has a maple-leaf painted over his face. Other people are simply pumping their fists or waving Canadian flags.

I've always thought patriotism was pretty stupid on the face of it. What? Are we supposed to imagine that Canada is awesome because GOD blessed this particular area of the world? Are we genetically superior (despite the fact that we now come from all over)?

And corporate-sponsored patriotism is a fucking joke. It's akin to all the cynical, shallow corporations that made money off the cynical, shallow Tiger Woods, slithering away now that their corporate mascot turns out to be an affront to the moronic concept called "family values." (They were fine with the obviously greedy sociopath!) Corporate patriotism is best typified by those nauseating "I am Canadian" ads shat out by Molsons right before they let themselves be purchased by hyper-US American asshole Joseph Coors. Corporate patriotism is like corporate ethics, which is to say, not a real thing at all. Coca-Cola doesn't give a shit about Canada except insofar as Canadians are relatively affluent and can buy a lot of goddamned Coke.

So what does this campaign of empty-headed banality add up to? Why are we supposed to be proud of Canada? If I have any patriotism it is for the ideals that the Canadian experiment is supposed to represent in the eyes of its inhabitants and the rest of the people of the world. A democratic, tolerant, peaceful place where the individual's human rights are respected.

And to that extent, when Canada brutalizes a country for eight years, ass-kissing the psychotic bush II regime in order to not have any problems with trucks crossing the Canada-USA border, foisting a corrupt, brutal, drug-lord government, I lose heart in my country. And when powerful evidence appears that shows that our political and military elites, at the highest levels, were repeatedly warned that we were so careless in our prisoner scoops that we were detaining scores of innocent people and turning them over to a prison system widely and credibly accused of systemtic torture, I become angry. And when some people try to argue that these detestable scum-bags are going to walk free despite deliberately trying to hide their complicity in torture, I say if that's true then this government and this system have no legitimacy.

What I don't do is slather on some red face paint in the approximation of the maple leaf and cheer like some stupid idiot when the Olympic torch is trotted across this land-mass, just because our government gave the biggest bribes to a bunch of fascists and fuckwads on the International Olympic Committee. Especially if some stupid soda-pop vendor wants me to, since it means turning off my brain, which will then make me more receptive to their soda-pop selling schemes.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Torture Apologists Show Why the Mission Failed

For all their bluster about how this is a partisan witch hunt about an issue that doesn't matter, the harpercons and their drooling nit-wit supporters are providing ample evidence for why "the mission" in Afghanistan failed.

You see, if a sane, intelligent person had committed soldiers to a country to fight an anti-democratic, fanatical religious movement that was trying to prevent that country's becoming a democratic, lawful state that respects the rights of individuals, and that sane, intelligent found out that we might be handing over scores of innocent civilians to a torturing prison system, that sane, intelligent person would want to know if this was true, because it would undermine the mission that their soldiers were fighting and dying for.

Instead, what we have here, is the harpercons and the morons shrieking about how none of this matters. This lazy, willfull blindness about who might have been tortured reveals their lack of commitment to the people of Afghanistan. If one innocent farmer has been tortured that's one too many. But according to Richard Colvin, we shipped so many innocents off to prison that the torturers themselves became irritated.

You would think that a country trying to teach another country about joining the international community and respecting the rule of law would care about respecting the Geneva Conventions.

You would think that people concerned about their own soldiers would object to anything that makes the peaceful surrender of their opponents less likely. You would think that people who scream loudly about how detestable our opponents are would want to be able to say that Canadians are better because we don't engage in detestable practices like torture.

You would think that if you're already spending only 1/10th of your total outlay on economic and democratic development, that when you spend the 9/10ths of your outlay on fighting that you can at least look after your prisoners. But according to Damian Brooks: "We're in the middle of a WAR! We can't be expected to worry about peripheral issues like the treatment of our prisoners and our adherence to the rules of war."

When serious issues of war crimes, of the abuse of the people we're supposed to be helping, of the barbarism of the government we're fighting, killing and dying for, of the pressures put on our soldiers, of the disarray and duplicity of our own government, explode before the public, that sane, reasonable people would want to get to the bottom of things. To have a full airing of the facts that would exonerate them.

But if you have a horde of stupid, thoughtless, ignorant, gutless, hypocritical fucks who are guilty of sin of war crimes or of supporting war crimes and the continued abuse of the people of Afghanistan, then obviously you're going to have what we're seeing today, the bottom third of the Canadian populace sticking their fingers in their ears shouting "Neener-neener-neener!" and their party of choice, the harpercons, leading the way with obstruction, arrogance, contempt and their own brand of idiocy.

The mission failed because the people in charge don't give a shit about the people of Afghanistan. They didn't prepare for the importance of their mission. They didn't (and don't) want to spend the money to do the job right. They don't care if we're handing over innocents to be tortured. They're demonstrably indifferent to the failures of the Karzai/Warlord government. They don't know. They don't want to know. They don't care.

To hell with them.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Childish Pranks

PMO spokesperson Dimitri Soudas on the "Yes Men" stunt:
"Time would be better used by supporting Canada's efforts to reach an agreement instead of sending out hoax press releases," Soudas wrote in an email to CBC News. "More time should be dedicated to playing a constructive role instead of childish pranks."

"Childish Pranks"? Isn't that one of the more frequently used arrows in the harpercon quiver?

Seriously, hasn't their whole approach to Copenhagen been treating it like a game of bluff? Don't these assholes dick around behind bizarre interpretations of the rules to allow them to get out of having to govern like and for responsible adults?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Wit and Wisdom of Damian Brooks

Canadian Cynic links to it here.

Damian attempts to answer his own imitation of what us peaceniks and human rights fanatics are saying:

"This just proves that we're not doing any good over there and should pull out immediately."

Well, so much for your crocodile tears on the plight of Afghan detainees. Do you honestly think Afghans will be more humanely treated by their jailors if we pull out?

As opposed to your own crocodile tears for the people of Afghanistan? It beggars belief that someone who wants keep the issue of how our prisoners were treated swept under the rug presumes to lecture others on their hypocrisy. It's your team that handed Afghans willy-nilly over to the torturers. It's your team that made it impossible for the ICRC to monitor what happened to our prisoners. It's your team that spends 9/10ths of the money in Afghanistan on the military and the other 1/1oth goes who knows where due to corruption and due to foreign contractors taking most of the aid money out of the country. If some Canadians are by now heartily sick of our adventure over there, that doesn't mean that their concern for the people of Afghanistan is less than that of somebody who wants to cover-up our complicity in the torture of Afghans. (To even have to say that is absurd!)

It's also the case that the reason this is dragging out so long with all of this parliamentary drama is because the harpercon government won't come clean with the goddamned information we're asking for.

Damian, toots, ... if there's nothing to this, ... if this can all be adequately explained, then by all means, tell your hero stephen harper to release the documents already!

Or, as Canadian Cynic put it:

But the best part is when Damian bitches and whines about all that nasty "misinformation." A good point, Damian. And you know how we might possibly solve that problem? By making public all of the unedited and unredacted documents folks are asking for.

It's a wild and crazy idea, Damian, but it would seem that the cure for misinformation is, well, actual information, so I look forward to Damian's unconditional demand for the release of all of those documents so we can damned well get to the bottom of this, once and for all.

By now it seems obvious to me that the information is toxic for the government and dead-end adherents to "the mission." That's why they're running scared.

"Colvin's just an honest whistleblower, and doesn't deserve to have his reputation smeared like this."

The government has certainly gone out of it's way to appear thuggish with Colvin. Some of the criticism of him has been unprofessional at best. It has certainly been ill-advised. Colvin supports the mission:

I volunteered to go to Afghanistan. Canada’s objectives are noble: to help bring peace, prosperity and hope to Afghans after 30 years of war and the repressions of the Taliban.

And although he wasn't the first to make these arguments, he does present two of the only cogent arguments against the former Canadian detainee policy that I've seen: that if proven deficient, it could expose Canadian soldiers to war crimes prosecution; and that it undermines our campaign for the trust of the Afghan people. I think the seriousness of both of those arguments is overstated, but they're the best ones out there and deserve to be addressed.

Wow. The seriousness of exposing Canadian soldiers to war crimes prosecution is overstated? How so? You're either exposed to war crimes prosecution or you aren't. And you're either guilty of war crimes or you aren't. And knowing the harpercon government, don't for a second think they're not going to try to make some low-level grunts take the heat for this if it comes to having to hang somebody out to dry. That's how these gutless, militaristic hypocrites operate.

And Damian, sweety? When the facts on the ground show you to have been LOSING for EIGHT FUCKING YEARS you don't get to be the one who decides what's credible and what isn't. When it comes to deciding whether the CF have the trust of the Afghan people or not I rather think that the increasing size of the insurgency, the increasing amount of area being taken over by the insurgency, the increasingly depressing position of the west and its allies, says much more than your self-satisfied drivel ever will.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

National Security, .... 'eh?

I've long been aware that stephen harper has contempt for parliament. He showed his contempt for our entire system of government last year. He's obviously got contempt for the law. And contempt for his own cabinet and caucus. And his constituency. The only thing he doesn't positively cringe at the thought of is his own contemptible self.

He's obviously got contempt for the rule of law and for our collective intelligence.

Can't "legally" give members of the Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan the unredacted Colvin memos 'eh? Even if ordered to by the majority in parliament 'eh?

"National Security" is the excuse 'eh?

Even if the members of the Committee on Afghanistan have the highest security clearances already?

Hmmm. Those must be some pretty spicy documents!

Tell you what harper, you fat, loathsome, piece of shit. When we're done frying your fat ass in parliament, or during an election, and when we DO get these documents, we're also going to find out how and why idiot civilians like Christie Blatchford were able to see things that not even parliament can demand. We'll ask to see why blustering phonies like Rick ["It wasn't me!'] Hillier get to see them.

When we find out how those top-secret-for-the-safety-of-the-nation documents got leaked, we'll add the time inflicted for leaking them to the rest of your's and Peter MacKay's jail terms.

You're going down stephen. Down, down, down. You know that, don't you?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Canuck Konstitutional Kryzezz and Tiger Woods

I've been absorbing the day's events. But I gotta hand it to the CBC. When I checked in to get the latest news and analysis of this dramatic forcing of the question of the competing powers of our various, ancient branches of government, ... what do my eyes behold as the lead story on the CBC news website??

Something about Tiger Woods.

Tiger Woods is a US-American golfer of multi-ethnic origins. He used to be the most skillful/luckiest golfer in the world for a number of years. He's a nice-looking young man, rich and famous. He married a super-model. He's had sex with numerous other women apparently. His super-model wife is pissed.

Big, fucking, deal.

I am seriously appalled.

Kady O'Malley is a valuable Canadian.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Please Read

I first posted this excerpt from this recent post. But I think it got lost in the shuffle of the reporting on General Natynczyk's about face on whether we'd actually detained and transferred that one suspect over to his Afghan abusers. The thing is, this account of CF actions in the field [dating from 2008!] ought to raise some questions about the degree of care to which the harper government made sure that our prisoners' human rights were respected.

The one guaranteed way you could make a hard-bitten Canadian duty officer blanch was to tell him that an Afghan had been taken into Canadian custody, as opposed to Afghan custody, with all the extra work THAT entailed.

In practice, the situation was avoided whenever humanly possible. Instead in late 2008 and early 2009, most detainee responsibilities were invariably handed off by Canadians to the closest thing to an Afghan authority figure that they could find nearby: police, Afghan army, a passing civilian district leader... -- who was encouraged to take over that responsibility right at the point and time of capture. Any remedy to avoid the appearance of taking them into our national custody for even a minute was pursued. Only working "jointly" with Afghans in this way would have allowed the pro-Government forces as a whole to collect detainees when they had to without triggering those national reporting and followup requirements. (It had other potential advantages from an Afghan
capacity-building and national sovereignty point of view, too, obviously.)*

Intelligence value or circumstances of capture could not serve as a consideration in which countrytook possession; there was no time, really. If Canadians took people into our custody long enough to figure out who they were authoritatively on our own, well, we'd have just made them Canadian detainees by default, regardless of how that inquiry then turned out.

Your comments?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Harper Fucks It Up Again ...

In the CBC report about General Natynczyk changing his story, stephen harper madly attempts to spin the significance of this incident into something completely irrelevant:

But Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the facts confirm what the government has been saying, that when the Canadian Forces see substantive evidence of any case of abuse, they have taken corrective action.

"That’s what they did in this case. And frankly, Gen. Natynczyk today, correcting the record on a particular point, indicates once again that the Canadian Forces — from the highest level down to the man in the trenches — act with the highest integrity at all times," Harper said.

The question (as posed by your moronic government) has been that there has not been a single credible instance of the Canadian government being aware of any of our prisoners having been tortured by the Afghan security forces. (Aside from the allegedly unreliable, forgetful Richard Colvin and his "second-hand accounts.")

Let's not forget this cryptic line from the field report:
We then photographed the individual prior to handing him over, to ensure that if the ANP did assault him, as has happened in the past, we would have a visual record of his condition.

That's why Natynzcyk tried to pretend that we hadn't actually "detained" that suspect (as the official written report claims) but that we'd only questioned that person and then let them go, whereupon the CF on the ground saw the individual caught by the Afghan government officials and beaten. Because MacKay was saying that we never handed over a detainee who was then subsequently abused. But, methinks the CF people who wrote those reports and swore to their accuracy were incensed when their work was dismissed as unreliable and meaningless and they bit back.

Now that MacKay can be shown to have known about a credible instance of prisoner abuse (or that it can now be argued that he should have known) there is no reason for him to stay in office.

I don't know why harper didn't go for the lesser crime of simply destroying incriminating documents, rather than expose his whole government to war crimes charges, but it's pretty clear that harper and company are in over their heads. They need a rest.

The prison system that they intended to construct for other felons is going to be a lot harsher than they'd like, I'm sure, but they can still get rehabilitated, learn a trade, and emerge to become productive members of society.

Dear General Natynczyk, ... You've confused me.

Hunh. No sooner do I post the results of a morning's work and I find out that it's old news.

11:50 a,m.
And here we go! The CDS is up -- and, as predicted by Colleague Fitz-Mo, he begins by citing his May 2007 statement on that whole prisoner-who-wasn't-a-prisoner transfer-that-wasn't-a-transfer controversy that showed up in the Globe this week. He's had his staff look into the incident again -- not that it hadn't been thoroughly looked into already -- who discovered new information that appeared to contradict his initial statement.

Wait, is he saying that the section commander report suggests that the individual in question was in Canadian custody before being transferred to the Afghan authorities? That's what it sounds like.
11:54 a.m.
So after getting a "bad feel" off this Afghan, and subsequently searching him, and photographing him, the Canadian military handed him over to Afghan custody "in good faith." No, he doesn't know why he didn't find out about this before today -- thus causing him to inadvertently provide incorrect information in his most recent statement -- but he's going to look into it.

Read it anyway. There's some interesting stuff at the end. (What do I think happened re: Natynczyk changing his story? I think the military police officer and the two other officers whose testimony Natynczyk directly challenged simply said that they would not stand for their professionalism to be questioned in such a brazen fashion, simply to cover the ass of the dunder-headed Peter MacKay.)

So, it turns out that when a Canadian military police officer writes in a report that a prisoner was detained by Canadians and handed over to the Afghan authorities, and this is confirmed by the sworn testimony of two other officers, ... it doesn't mean anything.

Gen. Walter Natynczyk, Canada's chief of defence staff, told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday that Canadian troops questioned the man who was picked up during operations in Zangabad. But it was the Afghans who took him into custody, Natynczyk said.

"We didn't take this person under custody," he said.
Notes from a military police officer suggest the prisoner was captured by Canadians and turned over to the Afghans, and his account is backed up by the sworn testimony of two other officers.

Natynczyk said those officers weren't on the ground in Kandahar at the time of the incident.
Nor was the military police corporal who wrote field notes about the incident, he added.
"He wasn't there at the event, he was there after," he said.

Pardon me, but what the fuck is the point of having these men write up these reports if they're to be dismissed as being "second-hand sources"?

So, how does Natynczyk know what happened?
Natynczyk said that in order to learn the truth on the ground, he spoke to the Canadian platoon commander responsible for the operation and the battalion commander at the time in Afghanistan. Both men denied their troops captured the prisoner, he said.

Of course, General Natynczyk's whole testimony is "second-hand" since we're to take his word that these unnamed field commanders disagree with the OFFICIAL story.

It's bad enough that we're not to trust what the CF says it's doing in Afghanistan in its official reports. We now have to reconcile Natynczyk's assertion:
Natynczyk said if Canadian Forces had detained the suspect, they would have brought in the military police, taken the man into close custody, moved him to Kandahar Airfield, then have him go through a medical assessment and tactical questioning.

With what this evidently military blogger writes:

The one guaranteed way you could make a hard-bitten Canadian duty officer blanch was to tell him that an Afghan had been taken into Canadian custody, as opposed to Afghan custody, with all the extra work THAT entailed.

In practice, the situation was avoided whenever humanly possible. Instead in late 2008 and early
2009, most detainee responsibilities were invariably handed off by Canadians to the closest thing to an Afghan authority figure that they could find nearby: police, Afghan army, a passing civilian district leader... -- who was encouraged to take over that responsibility right at the point and time of capture. Any remedy to avoid the appearance of taking them into our national custody for even a minute was pursued. Only working "jointly" with Afghans in this way would have allowed the pro-Government forces as a whole to collect detainees when they had to without triggering those national reporting and followup requirements. (It had other potential advantages from an Afghan capacity-building and national sovereignty point of view, too, obviously.)*

Intelligence value or circumstances of capture could not serve as a consideration in which country
took possession; there was no time, really. If Canadians took people into our custody long enough to figure out who they were authoritatively on our own, well, we'd have just made them Canadian detainees by default, regardless of how that inquiry then turned out.

So, again General Natynczyk, I'm confused. I don't know who to believe. The official story and the detailed account of buck-passing as standard operating procedure, or your own "second-hand" testimony from unnamed field commanders who you claim you spoke with.

FWIW: The blogger, "flit" who I quoted at length from above, had this to say to justify this criminally sloppy handling of prisoners:

You've got to recall, of course, that all the alternatives at the time seemed worse. Canadians did not want to run a detention cell at Kandahar Air Field -- not enough troops, bad optics -- and all that would have done in any case was defer the inevitable transfer to an Afghan authority for a time... what were we going to do otherwise, take detainees home to Canada with us?

Cry me a river. Guess what folks? If you don't want to spend the money to do the job properly, you ought not to be getting involved in the first place. Similarly, if you don't want to expose yourself to war crimes charges, it's probably best to make sure that you don't put yourself in the position where you might commit war crimes. The harpercons gave away BILLIONS in tax cuts, to no good effect to Canada's productivity or overall economic well being. Some of those billions going towards a joint-prison system with the British and the Dutch probably seems like a good idea to harper and his ilk right now.

Democracy vs. Climate Change

I'm not sure why anyone is so afraid of the economics of responding to the threat of global warming.

1. Create (in Canada) tens of thousands of jobs retro-fitting older homes with better windows, doors, insulation, alternative power sources. Build constantly improved public transit infrastructure. (The same money that goes towards auto insurance and replacement of aged vehicles can go to shiny new trains, subway trains, buses, etc.). In short: "Green Jobs."

2. Tax all those wealthy individuals and corporations who received tens of billions of dollars and most of the profits from increased productivity over the last couple of decades? Why? Because a) All they did with that money was gamble with it in the financial markets that became increasingly divorced from reality, thus bringing about the financial market's near collapse. & b) To pay for all those green jobs, and redistribute the wealth BACK to the ordinary individuals who comprise the vast majority of society.

The job is huge. But we can do anything we want. That we're stuck kow-towing to the oil and auto sectors is just testimony to the lack of vision of our political-economic system.

Oh yeah, and the "conservative" party of Canada must be destroyed.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Canadian Self-Satisfaction

Generations of Canadians have sewn little Canadian flags onto their backpacks when travelling abroad, in order to avoid being taken for US-Americans. At its most vapid, this tradition is probably inspired by nothing more than a vague, self-satisfied notion that Canadians are great and US-Americans are stupid. The more cognizant have some idea that the USA has created a lot of enemies in the world either through arrogance, imperialism or both, whereas Canada "doesn't have any enemies." (Which is a nicer way of saying that most people don't really know who the fuck we are.) Then there are Canadians who realize that if Canada is well regarded it's because of things like peace-keeping, the landmines ban, the relative impartiality on the world stage, and the reputation of being a tolerant, welcoming society.

Well, this torture thing is going to change all that, unless we do something about it. And, like I've been saying for the past few days, we CAN do something about that. But it has to be serious. Those among our politicians who have committed war crimes must be tried and punished by the Canadian justice system. And then, in the aftermath of this, the idiots who got us into this mess must GODDAMN LISTEN to those of us who knew that the Afghanistan "mission" would be a disaster if we tried to "build democracy" in a half-assed, cynical fashion.

And I've focused on this because it's the easiest way to have a huge effect on our debased political culture. This is so clear that we have two options as Canadians: Throw harper's fat ass in prison, or allow our country to go on record as being an international war criminal, aided and abetted by an apathetic populace.

But, if we choose the path of righteousness, and impose the rule of law upon a lawless government, we mustn't stop there. Fired up from our victory, we should then turn our attention to other areas where Canada's politicians disgrace this country and invite the scorn and hatred of the rest of the world:

Punish the Killers of Robert Dziekanski.

Shut-down the Alberta Tar Sands project.

Reform the Afghan "mission" (with the start being pulling Canadian troops and replacing them with UN troops from suitable Muslim countries).

Provide huge reconstruction aid to Haiti's government and CEASE AND DESIST the harrassment of Lavalas and BRING ARISTIDE BACK TO HAITI.

Condemn the dictators of Honduras.

Be a leader in the response to global warming.

Recognize and rebuild the sovereignty of the First Nations.

Monday, December 7, 2009

"Hearts and Minds" and Torturing Innocent Bystanders

There is a world where the scribblings of someone like Christie Belchforth Blatchford are meaningful. (It isn't my world. I haven't read her in like, forever. She's an idiot and a waste of my time.)

That's probably the same world where sending Canadian soldiers to fight and die for a corrupt puppet government seems like a good idea. The world where you claim to want to build a successful, functioning democracy but you spend 9/10ths of your money there on warfare and corruption (both domestic and foreign) takes away god knows how much of the remaining 1/10th.

A world where some people, as ministers in a government spending billions of dollars to (supposedly) build democracy, deliberately turn away at news that they might inadvertently be handing over innocent civilians to be tortured and perhaps killed.

When I hear news about this other world, I think that they're insane. I think that if I was the one who will eventually have the 200th Canadian soldier dead under my watch, that ONE innocent farmer being tortured and destroyed by the government my own soldiers are dying to protect would be ONE TOO MANY.

But that's just me. And the majority of Canadians. The ones who have been forced to endure this contemptible harpercon minority, brought to us by the most stupid, greedy, ignorant, deluded and perverted among the population, thanks to our archaic electoral system, our idiotic Governor General, and a debased political culture.

If we don't want to live in an insane world, we can do something about it.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Coalition Could Get Us a Public Inquiry on Torture - completed!

There are countries that pretty blatantly torture people and there are countries that at least make the effort to say that they do not torture people. And then, of course, there are countries that don't torture people period.

Canada, thanks to the harpercons, is now in the first of those categories. For legal purposes, the harpercons and their drooling-idiot supporters don't come right out and admit their complicity in torture. But at the same time, they constructed a prisoner-transfer process that was designed to provide them with plausible deniability as to what we knew about the people we handed over. At the same time they've been pretty shameless about blocking access to see what they've been doing, what they've been saying, what happened and when they knew about it. And, finally, they respond to genuine questions about Canada's adherence to its obligations under international law by yammering about how our prisoners were all vermin who deserved whatever it is they might have gotten and how people who want to ask questions are all troop-hating traitors.

I'll repeat: "Plausible deniability" is no excuse. The harpercon's attempt at being smart has back-fired. It was determined in the Tokyo War Crimes trials that if someone was in a position to know and didn't know that war crimes were being committed, then it was determined that those officials were guilty for not having made the effort to know what was going on under their watch.

There is nothing to debate here. The harpercons are guilty of war crimes. Our government is guilty of war crimes. We, as Canadians, are guilty of war crimes.

But we have a choice. We can take our country back. We can take it back from the moral deficients, the mental freaks who shriek so loudly on the internet and in our newspapers, about how torture is justified. About how the rule of law has an on/off switch. We can take our country back from these imbeciles by forcing our political-legal system to hold the harpercons to account for their crimes.

And I say we should make this point in time the moment when we made our stand because this is the way for us to get the most bang for our buck. This isn't something that can be debated ad nauseum. This isn't something that requires a lot of digging and investigating or anything. Right here, right now, we can send the whole harpercon front bench to PRISON and there is no way out of it for them.

In all honesty, global warming, our abuse of the First Nations people, and the economic crisis are bigger issues than this. But convicting harper on war crimes charges is easier than shutting-down the Tar Sands. Convicting the harpercons is simpler than reversing our policies on First Nations issues. Convicting these scumbags will be simpler than arguing for a sane economic policy. And, furthermore, putting the harpercons behind bars will make working on those other issues immeasurably easier.

Recently, the opposition parties passed a parliamentary resolution calling for a public inquiry into this issue but the govenment is not bound by the will of the representatives of a majority of the people of this country. So be it. One way to get the will of the majority's representatives imposed is to make them the government. If there is no other way to do this, then let us have the opposition introduce a measure of non-confidence in this government, and if we have to have an election on this issue, let us have it.

Let us make this an election on whether or not Canada is a nation that commits war crimes or not.

If that's what is necessary to take our country back then let us fight it on this issue. As I said, there are other concerns that Canadians have, but nothing is as clear-cut as this. Nothing is so easy to rectify as this. When it is so simple it is incumbent upon us to do what is necessary. Let this be a contest between the decent people who believe that Canada is supposed to be a decent place, and the freaks who believe that it's okay to torture as long as it happens to your enemies or you contract it out.

Doesn't our political system claim "the rule of law" as one of its fundamental values? Even if we believe this claim is a sham, we must admit that at least they agree that this pretence must be upheld if they're going to claim our respect for their authority. Well, if there is simply no way out of the fact that they committed war crimes, then there is simply no way out for them than to face the consequences. When something as blatant as this happens and they try to fob it off, they are fobbing off the basis of their own legitimacy. If we can have a fight about this, then there is no way that they can avoid defeat. And this isn't smoking a joint, or speeding on the highway, or taking a bribe even. This is TORTURE. This is INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LAW. If the rule of law should apply to governments, shouldn't it at least apply here?

Ah, but what about the Liberals? Sadly, this is the debased state of our political culture. We cannot move against the harpercons unless we agree to allow the Liberals (who violated international law in Haiti, who first got us into the Afghanistan debacle, who oversaw the first violations of human rights after 9-11/2001) to go free. Our political culture is such that we cannot go against both of these criminal gangs because enough Canadian voters support one or the other of them to make it impossible. (I was prepared, when the Liberals had a majority, to propose that the NDP work with the CPC and the BQ to investigate Liberal crimes in Haiti. To my eternal shame, I got so far as briefly circulating a petition before life and work pressures made me think that Haiti's calvary had to wait. Then, the Liberals fell, the harpercons came to power, and the moment passed.)

But we could argue this: That it is worth it to make this concession if it means destroying the harpercons, who are so toxic for Canada's political culture, if it means re-asserting that Canada is more the product of its decent citizens than of its morons and psychopaths, if it means that we get to set a precedent for future prime ministers tempted into following the USA into another such abomination, that they might get in over their heads and find themselves responsible for and liable for actions such as war crimes.

[Please note: I'm certain that given the chance the NDP could be just as lazy and callous about human rights as any other party. I'm also pretty sure that Bloq politicians are no angels when it comes to First Nations issues that conflict with Quebecois sovereignity. To their credit, the NDP has the natural intelligence and the courage to have rejected the Afghan "mission" from the get-go. But this non-immunity from corruption is just the point: Our politicians can only go as far as the Canadian people will let them go. If WE decide, as a people, that something like handing over innocent people to suspected torturers is not acceptable, and that there are consequences for doing so, then they will not do it! It's up to us to change the culture so that Canadian politicians do not debase us like this in the future!]

If there is an election, let us fight it. Afghanistan is worth an election. Torture is worth an election. Let us have an election where the big subject is whether the cynical abuse of "national security" is no big deal. Where selective leaking of documents to discredit a courageous whistle-blower is fine by us. Where dumping people as quickly as we can into the hands of murderers and rapists is what this country is all about. Where making insurgents fight all the harder against the Canadian Forces because defeat and incarceration means being castrated, blinded, crippled, or some other horror, is "supporting the troops." Where throwing billions of dollars and over one-hundred Canadian lives down a rat-hole is sound foreign policy. Let us debate this evil policy. Let us debate this evil government.

To conclude: If we do not think an election is a realistic possibility, then we MUST come up with some more viable strategy. This is the image of our country at stake here. This is whether or tax-dollars and our silence support the rape of the children of impoverished Afghan peasants at the hands of a brutal, corrupt government defended by our soldiers and our soldiers' lives.

If we decide that there's nothing that can be done, then nothing will be done. And we will be signalling that when Canada signs covenants against torture, it's meaningless. That we concede that the rule of law does not apply to our own governments. [In a case as clear as this, giving the harpercons a pass out of defeatism is stating just that.]

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Eric Margolis on Afghanistan's Torturers

Eric Margolis isn't my cup of tea. There's a reason why he's carried by fecal-brained Toronto Sun. He was a strident anti-communist and was quick to condemn the Soviet Union or People's Republic of China for their violations of human rights, but also seemed to give the United States the benefit of the doubt in its "Cold War" foreign policies. He appears, however, to be a man of principle. The lies, delusions, and monstrosities of the "War on Terror" are so obvious that Margolis has emerged as a harsh critic of US (and Canadian) actions. For this, he has now been completely mis-characterized by the half-wits on the right-wing, such as the "Small Dead Brain Cells" crowd who believe he is now an "anti-American" socialist.

In the essay: "Afghan scandal sullies Canada" I believe that Margolis has sloppily conflated the anti-Soviet Mujaheddin with the Soviet puppet allies they were fighting against.

By 1995, the anti-Communist Pashtun religious movement, the Taliban, backed by Pakistan and the Gulf Arabs, had driven the Communists from most of Afghanistan. The Afghan Communists retreated to the far north, and became part of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance. Ethnic Tajiks and Uzbeks, many of whom collaborated with the Soviet occupation in the 1980s, dominated the Alliance.
The U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001, using Russian-armed Northern Alliance soldiers to overthrow the Taliban, and install Hamid Karzai as figurehead president. Real power in Kabul was held by the Northern Alliance.

However, Margolis makes a specific accusation against one of the Northern Alliance warlords who is now a pillar of our puppet Karzai government in Kabul.

The Soviet intelligence service, KGB, created the Afghan Communist secret police agency, known as KhAD. Its mission was to liquidate or terrorize all suspected or real anti-Communists and opponents of Soviet occupation. Most prisoners arrested by KhAD were subjected to frightful, sadistic torture, particularly at Kabul's dreaded Pul-e-Charkhi Prison.

Prisoners were buried alive by bulldozers. Others were electrocuted, beaten to death, castrated and blinded.

Some 27,000-30,000 political prisoners were killed at Pul-e-Charkhi by KhAD.

Torture centres also existed in all other major cities.
Two of its strongest figures were pro-Soviet Uzbek warlord Rashid Dostum, and Tajik general Mohammed Fahim -- KhAD's former chief. Both have close links to Russian intelligence.

After 30 years of civil war, the minority Tajiks and Uzbeks had become blood enemies of the Pashtuns, Afghanistan's majority. Most Taliban are Pashtun.

Fahim and the Tajik-Uzbek-Communist Northern Alliance took over the revived secret police, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) and the prison system. In short order, the KhAD's old torturers were back in business.

Fahim does appear to have been the former chief-torturer of the pro-Soviet regime. Go read the rest of the editorial.

At the end of the day, if Margolis and I were to sit down and talk about the best form of organization for human societies that protected human rights and dignity, we'd soon come to a disagreement. But as I said above, I think he's a genuine man of principle. In trying to find the online version of that previous editorial (which I'd read in an abandoned copy of the Sun at Coffee-Time Donuts!) I also found this editorial: "Spitting on International Law" about the dehumanizing nature of torture. It's something that all of Canada's loud n' proud torture apologists should read. Or have read to them.

Prisoners taken in the dead of night to Lubyanka were systematically beaten for days with rubber hoses and clubs. There were special cold rooms were prisoners could be frozen to near death. Sleep deprivation was a favorite and most effective Cheka technique. So was near-drowning in water fouled with urine and feces.

I recall these past horrors because of what this column has long called the gradual `Sovietization’ of the United States. This shameful week, it became clear Canada is also afflicted.


Canada has always seemed to me been a haven of moderation, decency, and rule of law that managed to stay aloof from the world’s travails. That is, until the Maher Arar affair shockingly showed it could also quickly fall into police state behavior.

Arar’s despicable treatment by Canada and the US was the result of a US witch hunt, plus anti-Muslim racism, stupidity, bureaucratic cowardice and incompetence. Disturbingly, before becoming prime minister, conservative leader Stephen Harper actually branded Arar a terrorist, and backed his arrest and imprisonment.


Canada must demand a thorough US investigation, apology, and guarantee Canadians will never again become victims of the state-run criminal activity that afflicted Maher Arar. Canada’s PM Harper should advise his new best friends in Washington that Canada is not a banana republic.

Officials directly involved in the most sordid, disgraceful case in Canada’s modern history, must face justice. They are as much guilty as the torturers who beat Maher Arar mercilessly for ten months. The same applies to American officials who sent an innocent man to be nearly beaten to death and virtually buried alive in a “grave” cell measuring six feet by three.

Amen. Margolis wrote that in 2006. Before it was widely known that Canada had directly had three of its own citizens pointed out (falsely) to Syria's "intelligence" agency as terrorist suspects and allowed them to have their way with them. More than that, our "intelligence" officers sent questions to the Syrians, you know, while they were torturing them. Three Canadian citizens, Abdullah Almalki, Muayyed Nureddin, and Ahmad Abou El-Maati were BETRAYED by their own government. Their human rights were swept aside with casual bureaucratic ease by mouth-breathing cretins struggling to come up with justification for their bullshit careers. And now this smirking disregard for international law and Canada's reputation as a country that doesn't torture.

I'm not going to say that Canada was a decent nation before all of this. Our continued abuse of the First Nations is too systemic and sustained for that. But good people struggled long and hard to try to make it a decent country. And our political leaders always felt compelled to continue with the pretence that our country represented the leading values of democracy and human rights. These harpercon lunatics and scumbags are deliberately spitting on this reputation. They seek to create Canada in a different image. An ugly, stupid and evil ideal. They have gone too far. They are caught dead to rights and they are going to fail.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cheryl Gallant: A Profile in Wingnuttery

Check out this bit of crunchy badnesss:

That smiling Stepford Wife is Cheryl Gallant of the "Convicted of Complicity in Torture and Going to Prison Party of Canada."

Ms. Gallant is obviously trying to be Canada's version of the USA's own female wingnut member of a dying "conservative" movement (that'd be the imploding into fascist insanity Republican Party USA) Michelle Bachman.

What makes our Cheryl so special? Try this on for size:
Mr. Speaker, on the weekend I had an opportunity to speak to a soldier from Canadian Forces Base Petawawa who had served several rotations in Afghanistan.

He urged me not to go forth with an inquiry on this issue. He said that every time the Afghan deployment is debated in Parliament, it puts the lives of our soldiers in theatre at greater risk. He recounted that when the motion to withdraw from Afghanistan or to end the combat mission in 2011 was before Parliament, they were in a operation where they heard the insurgents on the radio saying to each other that they should kill as many Canadian soldiers as possible because we were debating this in the House of Commons and that when Canadians saw the caskets of soldiers coming off the plane it increased public pressure. They wanted the MPs to vote to get out of Afghanistan as quickly as possible.

I asked him if they listened to Al Jazeera while they were fighting at the front, so to speak, and he said, “No, ma'am. We heard this chatter on our coms”.

So they had heard Taliban talking to one another, urging each other to kill as many Canadian soldiers as possible. He credits the leader of the NDP directly for the death of his best friend as a consequence of that.

Layton's response was quite restrained:
Mr. Speaker, the hon. member suggests that every time the Afghan deployment is debated it puts soldiers at risk. However, I recall a conversation with the current Prime Minister who took the position, as I did and the whole House of Commons ultimately did, that before there could be any decision about troop deployments or any significant change to troop deployments, it was essential that it be debated and voted on by the elected representatives of the Canadian people.

One thing I know about our troops from having talked to a great many of them is that they not only understand the value of democracy and appreciate that we live in a democratic country where a debate and a vote can be held about what our brave troops are asked to do, but in many ways they also stand behind that democratic principle more than we are ever called upon to do, because they are willing to do it with their lives and that is why Canadians support them.

I would have probably taken a different tact with her. For the most part, I shall refrain from what my response would have been. One thing that I would have asked her would be shouldn't she put more of the blame for Canadian Forces' deaths on the idiot prime ministers who put them on this fool's mission, rather than on the leader of the party that saw the disaster from far off and cried out for us to avoid it?

Or does fighting and killing and dying for corrupt, brutal, unelected, thieving governments full of misogynists, drug-lords and religious fanatics, sound like the sort of thing Cheryl has always wanted the CF to do?

What a fucking dunce and what a fucking gutter political party.

P.S. I'm going to HOPE that Gallant is simply lying about her conversation and that she didn't talk to anyone. But it's possible it's true. In which case, said soldier has got to be one of the dumbest sacks of shit there is. Hey, if you're real dude, you're a stupid chump. I'd bet you five dollars that we're going to leave that country in as bad a mess as when we started, but I don't want to take your money after everything else you've suffered.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The harpercon Response to the Torture Scandal Thus Far

harpercon Government: "There's nothing in Richard Colvin's memos that indicates anything wrong. The fact that Colvin says otherwise shows he doesn't remember what he, himself wrote."

Committee on Afghanistan: "Can we see the memos?"

harpercon Government: "No."

Three generals, including the imbecile Hillier: "We've looked at the memos that the committee hasn't seen (and which, technically, we shouldn't have seen either) and we're proud to say that our behaviour, like our character, is unimpeachable."

Committee on Afghanistan: "Can we see those memos?"

harpercon Government: (Snicker!) "No." (Snicker, giggle, snort, chuckle.)

Christie Belchford and Rosie DiMoron: "Ungh-blahhhh!!!! Oannnggghhhhh." [drooling, weird eye-rolling] "HOOOOOOOT!!!!!" "EEEH! EEEEH!!!! EEEHHH!!!" "Angh!!!" [Translation: "My oh my, but aren't we two of the most scuzziest scuz-ball scuzzies that you ever did see?"]

Committee on Afghanistan: "Can we see the memos that you leaked to one of those brain dead stupid hacks?"

harpercon Government: "No."

stephen harper: "It's detestable that the Opposition is calling our brave soldiers 'torturers' and 'war criminals!' I am proud to hide stand behind the troops who are definitely not guilty of war crimes. I didn't turn those prisoners over to be, ... um, ... whatever might have happened to them! Some soldiers did! And they're NOT war criminals!"

Yeah, we've had enough of this stupid bullshit.