Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Inability to Connect the Dots

That appears to be what makes our media so naturally able to filter uncomfortable facts from their day-to-day reporting.

Certainly there's some conscious thinking going on in the total absence of coverage on Haiti between 2004 and right before this year's earthquake tragedy.

But there's also this tendency we all have to believe that nothing is connected. This leads to some absurd inabilities to draw conclusions.

1. stephen harper was facing serious allegations of war crimes in Afghanistan and he prorogued parliament to shut-down the committee's inquiries. Our newsmedia can't connect the dots to see that suppressing evidence and blocking testimony and obstructing inquiries and defying parliament must mean that harper is guilty of war crimes. It's all reported on as if it's some partisan game rather than a battle for the soul of our country.

2. Canadian households are increasingly indebted and the retiring "Baby Boomers" are continuing to have to shell-out to assist their adult children. (It's true, you can ask the Certified General Accountants Association of Canada [CGA-Canada] or Investors Group -- though the CGA-Canada will tell you that it's because Canadian households need to hire accountants to manage their money and IG says it's because Canadians don't have the investor's savvy that IG can provide to help them invest better. Neither group seems too preoccupied by the reality of stagnant or falling wages for increasingly insecure employment as a culprit.) We're all living way beyond our means. At the same time, there were fervid hopes that Canadian consumers would continue to spend extravagently at Christmas time or we'd be back in a recessionary spiral.

There seems to be an inability to connect the dots and see that the economy depends upon continued spending by indebted households and is therefore completely unsustainable.

3. Canadian politicians are the bought-and-paid-for servants of a rapacious, inhuman capitalist elite. Participation in the system is pointless because it is irredeemably corrupt. We don't matter to these people. So, let's stand in front of a government building holding signs two-weeks from now in order to register our anger about some subject. And let's spread the word about what's really happening so that other people will stand with us holding signs and eventually our leaders will give in under the enormous pressure.

Look, either the system is hopeless and needs a complete transformation before anything can be accomplished or it isn't hopeless and it's simply a question of what strategies and tactics and what level of involvement.

But if the enemy are a bunch of murderous psychopaths (and they might be) simply petitioning them isn't going to do any good.


Gene said...

I think there's a price to pay for connecting the dots. Media people, not the corrupt owners, but the ones slaving under them, like all of us little people, need to eat & survive in this increasingly ugly world.

thwap said...

I agree. And we have to get serious about changing that.

Patrick Ross said...

Talk about a failure to connect the dots.

Thwatsy, who was in government when the prisoner transfer agreement under which the torture occured was negotiated and signed?

Whose Minister of National Defense was involved in the negotiation of that document?

Most importantly, when the extent to which that agreement was inadequate was revealed, who amended the agreement?

Connecting the dots is generally much easier when you don't ignore them.

thwap said...


Wow! Here's the third-rate brain piping up!

We're to imagine (i suppose) that harper is defying parliament to protect the honour of Paul Martin?

You know, it's nobody's fault but your own that you haven't been keeping up.


Patrick Ross said...

"We're to imagine (i suppose) that harper is defying parliament to protect the honour of Paul Martin?"


Whoever said that?

No, not at all. Harper evidently has no interest in bowing to a duplicitous Official Opposition who seem bound and determined to tar Harper with their fuck-up.

A little history lesson for you, thwapsy: who negotiated the prisoner transfer agreement under which the torture of Afghan detainees took pace?

Who did that?

thwap said...

You imbecile. I'd already conceded that the 2005 agreement had been a product of the Liberal government.

Mr. Mullethead, what is your point? The agreement was pretty much negotiated and signed by the neocon hero Rick Hillier. More importantly, the evidence harper is trying to block took place under his watch. The problems mentioned in the evidence being blocked are still going on.

Better get those whiffs of Flaherty's butt-crack while you can Mr. Asshole-Mullet. His whole government is going down.

Anonymous said...

Every why has a wherefore.........................................

Patrick Ross said...

Sigh. Speaking of imbeciles....

Let's compare the approach of each party to the Detainee Transfer File, and see if we can't get to what you're so clearly afraid of: the truth of the matter.

Paul Martin's Liberal government, throughout the 2002-05 period, received warnings from Canadian diplomats that torture was rife with torture.

On May 27, 2005, Minister of Defense Bill Graham “authorized the Canadian Forces to seek arrangements with relevant authorities on the transfer of detainees."

On June 10, 2005, Prime Minister Paul Martin reviews a framework agreement coming out of negotiations and approves it.

In December 2005, Bill Graham instructs General Rick Hillier to sign the document on Canada's behalf.

That was the Liberal approach. Yes, Hillier was involved in the negotiations. Yes, Hillier signed the agreement. But he did so under the Liberal government's authorization and instructions.

Moving along.

The Conservative Party approach: when the Conservative government began to receive reports that detainees that had been handed over by Canadian forces in Afghanistan were being tortured, they evidently initially doubted the reports.

Considering that Al Qaida and the Taliban have both instructed their fighters to claim they're tortured even if they aren't, this is actually reasonable.

Regardless, the Conservative government investigates the matter, concludes that abuses have occurred, and negotiates a new prison transfer agreement that allows Canadian soldiers to continue monitoring the treatment of any detainees they hand over to Afghan authorities.

Having been dealt a poor hand by the Liberals (and if anyone in this situation is a "war criminal", it's the Martin government), the Conservatives cleaned up the mess.

You evidently want to ignore all these facts, and apparently the best response you can muster is mocking someone's hair?

Well, I guess you only work with what you have available. And when you're not playing with a full hand of cards, well that kind of speaks for itself.

(And by the way, Thwapsy, I challenge you to learn what a mullet actually is.)

thwap said...



You haven't figured it out, have you?

In your twisted, partisan mind, the harpercons have been withholding evidence, smearing public servants, defying parliament, all to be prevented from an investigation of actions that would show them to be blameless?

"The Conservative Party approach: when the Conservative government began to receive reports that detainees that had been handed over by Canadian forces in Afghanistan were being tortured, they evidently initially doubted the reports.

Considering that Al Qaida and the Taliban have both instructed their fighters to claim they're tortured even if they aren't, this is actually reasonable.


Yeah, and considering the fact that both the USA and the Afghanistan government routinely practice torture, you're kind of in a pickle aren't you?


The conservatives said that there was not a single solitary verifiable report of a prisoner being abused by the Afghan authorities, and then, when the field report describing the CF people taking back a prisoner from the Afghan after they began beating him "as had happened in the past," the conservatives' response is to stop attending the Afghanistan Committee's meetings and to then prorogue parliament.

Now, somebody with half a fucking brain, or a smidgen of honesty, would admit that something stinks here.

If your hero harper and his government are innocent, then let's see the goddamned evidence!

Neither the Liberals or the harpercons have covered themselves in glory here, but your team appears to be shitting its pants at the thought of having to have their behaviour investigated, whereas the Liberals feel confident enough to call for a public inquiry.

Given your plodding efforts to spin this away, I'd say the Libs have probably done their homework and they think that their actions can hold up to scrutiny, whereas your team obviously doesn't.

Patrick Ross said...

"In your twisted, partisan mind, the harpercons have been withholding evidence, smearing public servants, defying parliament, all to be prevented from an investigation of actions that would show them to be blameless?"

No, Thwapsy, you still aren't getting it. The Conservatives have been withholding documents from a duplicitous Official Opposition that is determined -- no matter what -- to smear them with their scandal.

Was John McCallum on the CBC accusing the Conservatives of a war crime or was he not?

When he got on the Charles Adler program, and was asked about his own party's conduct in regards to Afghan detainees, he was far less brazen, and simply tried to deflect blame away from himself.

That should tell you something, but I think we all know it doesn't. Even if it does, you'll never admit it.

"Yeah, and considering the fact that both the USA and the Afghanistan government routinely practice torture, you're kind of in a pickle aren't you?"

Nope. Not at all.

After all, when the Conservative government finally decided that the complaints were credible, they acted in the proper manner: they re-negotiated the prison transfer agreement to allow for post-transfer monitoring of the treatment of detainees.

Something, as you will recall, that the Liberal PTA lacked.

Something that, by the way, tells the whole part of the story that really matters.

no_blah_blah_blah said...

The simplest solution would be to establish an independent public inquiry into the matter. Investigate everything that has been done by the Canadian governments (Liberal and Conservative) and military since 2001. Regardless of who is guilty, the simple fact is that Canada is interfering with another country. Afghan lives are at stake. Canadians are at risk.

The greater issue is the amount of Parliamentary oversight that is necessary for such military missions. Surely, Members of Parliament can be trusted with sensitive information dealing with national security. (Heck, Ministers are MPs too.)

no_blah_blah_blah said...

I should also note that regardless of the intentions of the Opposition (genuine concern for Afghans, or just politics as Patrick is suggesting), Parliament has passed motions demanding the release of relevant documents and the establishment of a public inquiry. The executive should not be ignoring the legislative.

Intentions can always be debated, but actions are what really matter at the end of the day.

thwap said...

Well No blah,

What Mullet-Man is unable to explain is just why the harpercons should be so terrified of an honest inquiry.

To read the moron, harper is defying parliament to prevent the Liberals from being exposed as war criminals.

Such are the insane conclusions one can reach when they're dishonest, stupid hacks.

The sloppy records and disregard for proper procedures Colvin complained about are still S.O.P. at the present time.

Patrick Ross said...

"The simplest solution would be to establish an independent public inquiry into the matter. Investigate everything that has been done by the Canadian governments (Liberal and Conservative) and military since 2001."

As a matter of fact, I actually agree with that.

The problem with the overall situation is that the opposition seems absolutely intent on turning such an inquiry into an absolute circus -- especially the Liberal Party.

In the face of this circus atmosphere, we need to ask ourselves some serious questions.

Starting with: do we place a publication ban on the proceedings?

Personally, I normally oppose publication bans on public inquiries. But when the media is doing absolutely no back-checking on the story -- even into known and quickly demonstrable facts -- it raises legitimate questions about whether or not the media can be trusted for an even-handed presentation of this story.

Bring on an inquiry. Seriously. But there had damn well better be mechanisms in place to prevent the Liberal Party from trying to spin their direct complicity in the matter into the sitting government somehow being responsible for that.

thwap said...

If your team of idiots wasn't pissing in their pants at the thought of having their behaviour investigated they would have suggested something like that.

But all the allegations about the harpercons instructions that nothing be written on paper, that the CF hand over prisoners as quickly as possible to the first breathing Afghan government authority (so as to be able to pretend they'd never detained them), the refusal to adequately inform the ICRC or even NATO partners about their prisoners, their stated desire to not have unpleasant truths expressed by diplomatic personnel, all of this doesn't look good and so we have the pathetic circus we saw in December.

Patrick Ross said...


No, Thwapsy, you've still got it wrong.

Stephen Harper can look both ways up the street and see which way the traffic's coming.

Let's review.

Coming up one lane we have a deceitful Official Opposition that seems bound and determined to tar the Conservatives for something they're at fault for in the first place.

Coming up the other lane we have a non-fact checking, timeline-omitting partisan media that seems content to allow them to do that.

You can be embittered that Stephen Harper won't step out into that traffic if you like. Personally I don't fault him for it because he is not obligated to allow war criminals to frame him for their crimes.

thwap said...


Simple question fuckhead: Who ignored those 16 e-mails from Richard Colvin, the harpercons or the Liberals?

Observation: Your criticisms of the Liberals are well taken. (Your insane gibberish about the NDP and the BQ being "war criminals" ain't.) I despise the Liberals. I also despise the harpercons.

It's time you grabbed a fucking clue: BOTH parties are run (and supported by) witless fools and assholes. The "mission" in Afghanistan was doomed to failure because the USA is run by corrupt corporate-imperialists, NATO is made up of the USA and a bunch of lick-spittles, and the UN is a cowed institution comprised of representatives of the world's biggest ego-maniacs.

Regarding your blow-hardery about how the harpercons have cleaned up the mess left by the Liberals, <a href="http://thwapschoolyard.blogspot.com/2009/12/please-read.html>please read</a> ( http://thwapschoolyard.blogspot.com/2009/12/please-read.html if the html code fucks up.)

We don't know what's been going on in Afghanistan, agreements or no agreements, because there's a blanket of secrecy, topped by a spread-sheet of delusions and lies, on anything that's going on there.

You can keep repeating yourself if it pleases you, but if our war criminal PM has nothing to hide, then he's got nothing to fear.

If he's afraid (and the fat-fuck is afraid) then he's got something to hide.

Now fuck-off and grow-up some.

Patrick Ross said...

I've also read into some of the back story behind the Richard Colvin emails, and it's amusing that you left out the numerous incidents Colvin referred to which turned out to be bogus.

Those of us who have looked a little deeper into that have found precisely what I've aluded to previously -- in some cases, Taliban fighters claiming to be tortured when they hadn't been.

That kind of thing makes it difficult to take each and every claim of torture seriously.

Of course, if the Liberals had concluded a proper prison transfer agreement with the Afghan authorities, we could have been monitoring the treatment of Afghan detainees all along.

This wouldn't account for the numerous chain of command failures that resulted in some cases of detainee abuse not being reported to command staff, let alone to the Ministry of National Defense.

Could the Conservatives be accused of allowing an environment in which phony claims of torture are commonplace to cloud their judgement in regard to the Colvin emails?

It's a matter of opinion, but I'd actually say "yes". A failure in judgement isn't sufficient mens rea for a war crime.

Could structural failures in the chain of command have left the government in the dark about reports of prisoner abuse?

We can confirm that this is the case.

That the government and Canadian Forces were deprived of the necessary ability to monitor the treatment of Afghan detainees speaks volumes to the conduct of the previous government.

They had the same reports the Conservatives did, and had them over a long period of time. Yet they still went ahead and negotiated this agreement that led to these abuses in the first place.

The amusing thing, Thwapsy, is that I can take a look at the way my party handled this and say "well, OK. This could have been handled a lot better. This is where the mistakes were made."

Whereas, you look at the conduct of the side you're supporting, and say "so what if they're to blame? I demand that Stephen Harper take the blame for the Liberal Party's fuck-up."

Well, I hate to disappoint you, Thwapsy, but Harper's not going to do it. If you don't like it, that's just too sad for you.

Patrick Ross said...

Just one other thing, Thwapsy:

You call these "schoolyard taunts"?


This kind of nonsense only qualifies when you have the upper hand. We've clearly seen at this point that you don't.

I'm reading you calling me a "shithead", and all I can think is "oh, dear. He's telling me my head is made of shit. Is that his argument?"

Schoolyard taunting for beginners, Thwapsy: you win the argument, then you taunt.

Otherwise you just look like a moron who can't argue worth a crap.

thwap said...

You're such a contemptible oaf. You keep repeating the same goddamned thing every fucking time as if it matters.

I'm prepared to call both the Libs and the harpercons war criminals.

You, appear to be so wedded to your bankrupt ideology and your partisan interests that you're now blaming "the troops" for harper's failures.


Patrick Ross said...

It's rule #1 of Ministerial accountability, Thwapsy: the Minister cannot be blamed for what the Minister does not know.

Someone constantly looking for the biggest atrocity to blame Harper for -- regarless of whether or not it's true -- clearly will never understand this.

Also, in case you didn't notice, Thwapsy, I didn't blame the troops. I blamed structural failures in the chain of command.

Those are process failures, not failures on behalf of the troops themselves.

Get a grip.

thwap said...


You're now fabricating the meaning of ministerial responsibility.

And now you're babbling about process failures, as if these can occur without the actions of the people involved with the process.

Listen fuckhead, you're incapable of grasping that when the USA tortures its prisoners, the Kabul regime tortures its prisoners, it's entirely irrelevant that insurgents make false claims of torture. When a respected, ranking diplomat makes these warnings, it was the harpercon's responsibility to investigate them.

Instead, they deny, deny, deny, lie, lie, lie, obstruct, obstruct, obstruct.

You might be too debased and gutless to call this what it is, but I can't accommodate you.

BTW: You can comfort yourself with the notion that my insults to you are some admission that I have no argument, but, actually, I just find you repulsive and stupid.

If you don't like that you can bugger off.

Patrick Ross said...


No, not at all.

It's a basic, foundational logical tenet of Ministerial accountability:

How is the Minister to be responsible for something they are not told about?

(By the way, Thwapsy, how do you think we know how many of the incidents Colvin reported were bogus? Think about that.)

No, Thwapsy, I think it's just important that you understand: you're beneath me. Your insults mean one thing to me and one thing alone:

They're admissions of defeat. And they don't even pass for good insults.

no_blah_blah_blah said...

Mr. Colvin was not the only source of warnings. Other groups, such as the Red Cross and Amnesty International, were citing their worries publicly. Canadian soldiers have also been known to step in and protect detainees in "interrogations" that were getting out of hand, and this was also reported in the media.


The whole mess bears a mild resemblance to the infamous cargo bay door problem of the DC-10. This led to an explosive decompression event above Detroit, where only skilled piloting saved the plane.

McDonnell Douglas made minor fixes to the doors and recommended new procedures, and nothing of note happened for a few years despite other incidents of lock failure afterward (without leading to explosive decompression). Then, another incident of explosive decompression occurred, this time leading to a crash, killing 346 people.

The problem was that McDonnell Douglas was sure that it had fixed the system without actually making sure that it was the case. It ignored other reported failures and warnings from their own engineers, at least until people finally died.


The Conservatives improved upon the Liberal's transfer agreement and then declared it fixed. Right now, it seems that the Conservatives have are doing the same thing as McDonnell Douglas, ignoring rumblings and warnings of problems for years because nothing "very bad" has definitively occurred.

Since people were/are at risk, much greater oversight was needed when the Conservatives revised the transfer agreement and when McDonnell Douglas "fixed" the cargo doors of the DC-10. The plane crash could have been prevented by looking into warning signs that occurred after the fix had been made.

It's not too late for a public inquiry to be called to look into the system from 2001 to present. Regardless of Opposition motivation, a motion calling for such has been passed.

Refusing to do so is just blindly hoping that all is well. It worked fine for McDonnell Douglas until March 1974. How many tens of thousands of flights were flown before the catastrophe occurred? People don't remember the successful flights. People just remember the cargo door problem that could have been prevented had someone in charge at McDonnell Douglas cared enough about the passengers.

Patrick Ross said...

"Canadian soldiers have also been known to step in and protect detainees in 'interrogations' that were getting out of hand, and this was also reported in the media."

This very much was the case, that Canadian soldiers were stepping in to protect detainees who were at greater risk of abuse.

But reports of this in the media? Not that I can find. Not prior to 2007.

Moreover, reports of these incidents were often not reaching senior command, and most definitely don't seem to have reached the Ministry of National Defense.

The MacDonnell-Douglas metaphor seems fitting to me, with one minor detail:

It wasn't only the Conservative party that underestimated the seriousness of these warnings.

Part of this problem, in my view, stems from a lack of a standing policy on prisoner transfers, and a poor rationale behind designing such systems.

It seems that, to date, the idea has been to wait until incidents are reported, then assess them. A much better approach is to assess risk, then negotiate these agreements based on that risk assessment.

The idea should be that the agreement will account for those risks.

The Liberals clearly didn't do that when they negotiated the original PTA, and the Conservatives waited too long to adopt this approach for themselves.

The bulk of the blame lies with the Paul Martin government, but the Conservative government carries a share of the blame.

The key word being a "share" of the blame. Not "the blame", like Thwapsy would like to assign to them.

thwap said...