October 25, 2014 - No. 38

Harper Dictatorship's Self-Serving Anti-Terrorist Agenda

When Does a Group or an Individual
Pose a Danger to Society?

Harper Dictatorship's Self-Serving Anti-Terrorist Agenda

When Does a Group or an Individual
Pose a Danger to Society?

It is clear that there are a lot of people across the country who are very disturbed by recent events. Under such circumstances, it is not fruitful to incite passions and fuel tensions by presenting opinion as fact as the Prime Minister and his Ministers have done and continue to do, or to enact more legislation which is self-serving and destroys the standards and due process established by a civil society based on the Rule of Law, as the Prime Minister and his Ministers are planning to do. On the contrary, what needs to be done is to go into the heart of the matter and appeal to all people to draw warranted conclusions and unite on that basis. The issue is to focus on what will resolve the crisis in favour of the people and what will not. The outlook that upholds Might Makes Right and enacts legislation on a self-serving basis will not permit any problem to be sorted out. On the contrary, it exacerbates the problems which already exist. This is especially true when the outlook is racist and targets mentally ill and socially displaced people for attack in the name of high ideals.

In this context, the question has been raised of when a group or individual pose a danger to society. Linked to this is whether a group or individual have the right to preach whatever they wish. The answer is that while such a right does exist, nobody can have the right to violate the standards of human behaviour achieved by society. If a society is to be considered truly democratic, merely holding or giving an opinion cannot be considered a crime. However, when an opinion is put into practice and turned into life, it has to be closely scrutinized, not only in accordance with the prevailing economic and political system but most importantly on the basis of the accepted human standards of behaviour. For instance, should an individual hold an opinion that cannibalism is an expression of the highest form of civilized behaviour and preach such an opinion, they are free to do so. And so too those who oppose such a view must be free to do so. But as soon as such an opinion is implemented, it becomes a crime, something which has been rejected by the established standards of human behaviour, judged according to the accepted norms which guarantee due process.

In this regard, the greatest danger to the society is not posed by individuals who commit crimes, because all the mechanisms are in place to bring them to trial and hold them to account. The greatest danger is posed when governments pass laws and endorse practices which permit ministers and security agencies to act with impunity, on the basis of arbitrariness, not Rule of Law. When such laws and practices go against the standards achieved by human beings and their society and in fact constitute crimes, despite the opinion of those who enact such laws that they do not, then society faces a serious problem.

The problem is that for governments to carry out their destructive activities, they confound fact and opinion. On this basis not of fact but of their opinion, they inflame passions and spread disinformation for self-serving purposes.

For instance, when speaking to Parliament on October 23, the day after the soldier was killed in Ottawa, Harper ignored the fact that the motivation behind the attacks is yet to be established and declared them to be terrorist:

"Mr. Speaker, with regard to the events of yesterday and in recent days, a number of questions remain and will all be answered over the course of the police security investigations.

"But I can tell the House this today: the objective of both of those attacks was to spread fear and panic in our country and to interrupt the business of government."

He proceeded to treat his opinion as if it were fact to justify more legislation which suppresses the rights of the people:

"For that reason and with the belief and security that Canada is the government's primary responsibility, we have over the years passed such legislation as the Combating Terrorism Act and the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act to better protect Canadians and secure institutions.

"Last week, our Government proposed amendments to the legislation under which the Canadian Security Intelligence Service operates.

"And as you know, Mr. Speaker, in recent weeks I've been saying that our laws and police powers need to be strengthened in the area of surveillance, attention and arrest.

"They need to be much strengthened and I assure you, Mr. Speaker, that work which is already underway will be expedited."

News agency reports also corroborate that laws will be passed which take away the rights of citizens and residents on the basis of this unsubstantiated opinion presented as fact. The Canadian Press points out the Conservatives are hinting that "more powers are needed to make pre-emptive arrests following deadly attacks on soldiers in Ottawa and St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que.

"That would come in addition to long-planned legislation that would give the Canadian Security Intelligence Service more power to track terror suspects abroad and provide blanket identity protection for the agency's human sources."

CP points out that "Under existing provisions, leaving Canada to take part in terrorism abroad is a criminal offence.

"In addition, police have the power to make a preventive arrest of anyone suspected of planning a terrorist attack.

"They can also require people with information relevant to the investigation of a past or future terrorist act to appear before a judge."

This shows how dangerous it is for a group or an individual who holds opinions to go beyond advocating that their view should be considered above everything else and instead turn this opinion into law. It violates the basic principles of democracy and poses grave dangers to society. Furthermore, past experience shows that the Canadian state and its agencies have more often than not been implicated in sting operations which have incited individuals to carry out acts that they themselves, on their own, would neither think of carrying out, nor have the means to carry out. The individuals are subsequently blamed for the attacks. The state then provides itself with justification for more repressive measures, saying it stopped many more attacks thanks to its actions.

This is what the Harper government is doing. It is already criminalizing the right to conscience and is planning to ban it outright. It shows that the government has itself become extremist. It justifies its actions on the basis of replacing facts with its own opinion, reverting to the medieval practices of defamation and outlawing individuals with whom it does not agree. Once an individual is declared an outlaw, he or she is "fair game" -- that is, a target of attack.

Furthermore, it continues to uphold double standards. While condoning and practising state terrorism in the name of the war on terror, it shouts loudly that it is for rights and democracy.

For instance, it is a matter of public record that the Harper government says it wants to stop "young jihadists" from committing terrorist acts. But in the name of defending democratic values, it does nothing to stop the approximately 145 Canadians enlisted in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), some 30 from Ontario alone, despite the fact that the IDF have committed heinous crimes against the people of Gaza. Instead, the Harper government calls anyone who supports the Palestinian Resistance anti-Semitic, which is a hate crime. It has defunded organizations which support humanitarian work in Palestine. People are asking whether it will now also imprison all those who hold political opinions in favour of those who wage resistance struggles all over the world? Will those who support the people of Venezuela, Cuba, Palestine and Syria who are fighting foreign interference and terrorism now also be called terrorists?

Opinions about this or that group or individual cannot replace hard facts. The hard facts show that it is the actions of the Harper government both at home and abroad which pose the greatest danger to society at this time. The individual right to conscience must be affirmed not violated. This goes hand in hand with taking firm stands against all those who instigate or organize violence. Everything has to be looked at according to its own merit. The Government of Canada must stop declaring that the violation of rights at home and of international law abroad makes Canadians safer. Its duty is to defend the rights of all. The conception that democratic liberties have reasonable limits which are then defined on a self-serving basis is not a modern conception or standard of behaviour. Rights belong to the holder by virtue of being human. Those who trample them underfoot attack the very being of the targeted individuals, minorities and organizations and thus the very being of society itself.

The aim of legislation cannot be suppression at home and conquest abroad. This is why it is so important to take a bold stand in defence of the rights of all at this time. Let us unite all honest and sincere individuals and groups to bring about the renewal of the democratic institutions and process in a manner which upholds the rights of all and provides them with a guarantee. This is the way to guarantee the security of Canada and its peoples.

Return to top

Spying on Canadians

Harper Dictatorship Seeks to Increase Arbitrary
Powers of Warrantless Access to
Private Information with Bills C-13 and S-4

Bill C-13, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act, the Competition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act passed third reading in the House of Commons on October 20 and then passed first reading in the Senate on October 21. Also known as the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act, and informally called the cyberbullying bill, it was first introduced on November 20, 2013 by Justice Minister Peter MacKay. Great concern has been raised by the public that although the bill makes it illegal to distribute intimate images online without consent, its main thrust is to grant new powers to the police and the state to violate the right to privacy of Canadians. It would also grant immunity to telecom providers who hand over their customers' private information to authorities without a warrant.

Meanwhile, a similar piece of legislation, Bill S-4, An Act to amend the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act (Short Title: Digital Privacy Act), was referred to second reading in the House of Commons on October 20. Bill S-4 purports to "enhance online privacy" but permits internet service providers/telecom companies to hand over private information to any organization investigating a possible breach of contract. Bill S-4 was introduced in the Senate on October 16, 2013.

Recent news reports indicate the rate at which private data is being handed over to state agencies under existing laws. For example, telecommunications companies gave individual customer data to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) 18,849 times between April 2012 and March 2013. This information includes the content of voice mails and text messages, websites visited and the rough location of where a cellphone call was made, according to government data. In 99 per cent of cases, the CBSA asked for and received basic subscriber information without obtaining a warrant. Data was handed over in all but 25 cases. In 2011, three telecom providers alone disclosed information from 785,000 customer accounts.

In most cases, the telecom companies could have rejected the requests and asked that a warrant be obtained. However, Canada Border Services appears to have an agreement with telecoms whereby basic subscriber information is handed over without a warrant, news reports state.

In a May 2 Toronto Star op-ed Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa's Faculty of Law, points out that Bill C-13 will expand warrantless disclosure of subscriber information to law enforcement by including an immunity provision from any criminal or civil liability (including class action lawsuits) for companies that voluntarily disclose personal information without a warrant. The immunity provision makes it more likely that disclosures will occur without a warrant since the legal risks associated with such disclosures are removed.

Geist added that Bill S-4 proposes extending the ability to disclose subscriber information without a warrant from law enforcement to private sector organizations. The bill includes a provision that allows organizations to disclose personal information without consent (and without a court order) to any organization that is investigating a contractual breach or possible violation of any law. This applies to both past breaches or violations as well as potential future violations. The disclosure occurs in secret without the knowledge of the affected person.

Geist also pointed out that "the industry has steadfastly refused to address the lack of transparency concerns regarding its practices. Providers admit that they do not notify customers that their information has been requested, thereby denying them the ability to challenge the demand in court. Moreover, documents released earlier this year suggest that companies such as Bell have even established a law enforcement database that may provide authorities with direct access to subscriber information. The systems may create great efficiencies for law enforcement -- click, access subscriber data, and receive a bill from the telecom company -- but they suggest a system that is entirely devoid of oversight with even the Privacy Commissioner excluded from ensuring compliance with the law."

Bill C-13 and Supreme Court Ruling on Privacy Rights

Last June the Supreme Court declared that law enforcement requires a warrant to get even basic subscriber data.

"A warrantless search, such as the one that occurred in this case, is presumptively unreasonable," Justice Thomas Cromwell wrote for the majority.

"The Crown bears the burden of rebutting this presumption."

The ruling also addressed the broader constitutional issues raised in Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which protects Canadians' privacy rights from unlawful search and seizure.

"In my view, in the totality of the circumstances of this case, there is a reasonable expectation of privacy in the subscriber information," Cromwell wrote.

"The disclosure of this information will often amount to the identification of a user with intimate or sensitive activities being carried out online, usually on the understanding that these activities would be anonymous."

Return to top

Government Tracking of Protests

Newly released documents show that the federal government has tracked some 800 demonstrations across Canada and around the world since 2006, including "uneventful protests" and public university lectures.

These surveillance reports, in some cases provided by CSIS or the RCMP, were collected centrally by the Government Operations Centre, an agency ostensibly assigned to prepare the federal government's response to emergencies. Some reports on international protests were collected by Foreign Affairs, but the majority focused on domestic events, especially First Nations protests and environmental activism, the Toronto Star reports.

The documents, tabled in Parliament, indicate that the level of surveillance is not consistent with simply monitoring protests. Examples of these surveillance reports include that of a September 2013 panel discussion at Concordia University on historical colonialism and race relations in Quebec, prepared by the RCMP. Another covers a May 2012 rally in Ottawa by the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Canadian Union of Public Employees. And the list goes on: "Protests against a Canadian mining company in Brazil last September. A Montreal march and vigil for missing and murdered aboriginal women in September 2013. A public discussion in Toronto on the oilsands in August 2013. A workshop in non-violent protest methods in Montreal in October 2013. Public Safety reported a protest of 'lobster fishers' in New Brunswick in May 2013, while a shrimp allocations protest in Newfoundland was reported by Fisheries and Oceans a year later.

"Larger events that made national news -- the Idle No More movement, Occupy groups, various student protests in Montreal -- were also included in the list.

"But the Government Operations Centre received information on much smaller events, like an account of the occupation of a band administration office on the Pheasant Rump Nakota First Nation in 2011. The southern Saskatchewan community has a population of 383 people, according to government records.

"Numerous departments have contributed to the Government Operations Centre's intelligence collection, including Aboriginal Affairs, the RCMP, CSIS, and the Privy Council Office -- the bureaucrats that support the prime minister and cabinet."

Return to top

Communications Security Establishment Canada
and Spying

TML is posting below an item by OpenMedia.ca about the Communications Security Establishment Canada, one of the government agencies that is involved in spying on Canadians, in particular monitoring private electronic communications.


What Is CSEC?

Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) is Canada's national electronic intelligence agency, the Canadian counterpart to the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA).

CSEC is supposed to secretly collect electronic communications from overseas in order to advance Canadian interests -- however their actual operations are shrouded in secrecy. Even former CSEC chief John Adams recently admitted: "[t]here's no question that CSEC is very, very biased towards the less the public knows the better."

After the events of Sept. 11, 2001, the electronic-eavesdropping agency was also given unprecedented new powers to intercept the private communications of Canadians and was told to collect private information about citizens. CSEC is required to have policies in place to protect the privacy of Canadians, but it has not provided those policies to Canadians.

How Much Does CSEC Cost?

CSEC's budget has doubled in just the last 10 years. We now spend $350 million in taxpayer dollars every single year on CSEC. Taxpayers are also on the hook for over $4 billion to build and operate a new headquarters for CSEC which the CBC has called a "spy palace" and "the most expensive government building ever built."

Does CSEC Really Spy on Canadians?

Yes. Legal experts warn that CSEC uses secret ministerial authorizations to read Canadians' emails and text messages, and listen to their phone calls, when Canadians are communicating with someone outside the country. So every time you contact a friend or relative in the U.S., that communication is subject to CSEC spying.

Without these ministerial authorizations, this kind of spying on our private communications would be illegal. Sadly, the authorizations are very broad and don't even need to specify who'll be targeted or what information should be intercepted.

Using a ministerial authorization, CSEC can read the content of emails and text messages, listen to the content of phone conversations, and watch video chats. Worst of all, the authorizations are kept secret -- this spying could affect anyone, at any time, and we wouldn't even know when we've been victimized by it.

Why Are You Concerned About All This?

CSEC now has enormous power to intercept our private communications without any checks and balances or judicial oversight.

This is completely unlike the much stronger safeguards that protect us from other government spying agencies, such as CSIS and the RCMP. Those agencies need to get a judge to sign a warrant before they can monitor our communications.

Unchecked government surveillance is a big threat to our democratic freedoms. Most Canadians don't want government spies monitoring their everyday communications -- especially without any reasonable safeguards.

People Are Talking a Lot About Metadata --
What Is This and Why Is it Important?

Under top secret authorizations from the Defence Minister, CSEC is allowed to collect metadata from Canadians. Metadata is highly revealing information that's automatically created every time you send an email or text message, make a phone call, or search the Internet.

For example, if you phone a friend, the metadata would include your phone number, your friend's phone number, the time and date of the call, and the length of the conversation.

By collecting similar information on all your phone calls, texts, Internet searches, and emails, CSEC can build a detailed picture of your everyday life and your relationships with other Canadians.

Again, this widespread and hugely invasive spying is taking place without any real oversight or accountability. It's totally incompatible with Canadian democracy.

Does CSEC Share Information with Spy Agencies in Other Countries?

CSEC is a member of the "five eyes," which include spy agencies from the U.S., U.K., Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. CSEC shares information with those spy agencies -- but does not tell Canadians what information it shares, or whether this includes information it has collected about Canadians.

What Kind of Oversight Is There for CSEC?

Unlike in countries like Britain and the U.S., there is no parliamentary oversight of CSEC. Nor is there any court or committee that monitors how CSEC is collecting our private information.

The only government office responsible for reviewing CSEC is the Office of the CSEC Commissioner. This CSEC Commissioner reports to the Minister of National Defence -- so the same Minister oversees both CSEC, and the office supposedly responsible for ensuring CSEC doesn't break the law.

While CSEC itself is a huge agency, employing over 2000 people and with an annual budget of $350 million, the CSEC Commissioner's office is tiny in comparison. It has a budget of only $2 million and a staff of just eight people.

What makes things even worse is that the CSEC Commissioner does not review CSEC's spying activities before they take place. He can only look back at activities CSEC has undertaken in the past.

However the Office of the CSEC Commissioner has raised concerns about CSEC's spying on Canadians. It has repeatedly recommended that the law be amended to better protect Canadians' private communications from being spied on. Despite this, no such amendments have been enacted.

Why Is the BC Civil Liberties Association Taking the Government
to Court About CSEC?

The BCCLA's lawsuit calls on the government to come clean and state clearly who they are watching, what is being collected and how they are handling Canadians' private communications and information. The BCCLA filed this lawsuit to force the government to enact specific safeguards to protect the rights of all Canadians.

What Are Canadians Doing to Put a Stop to Illegal Spying?

OpenMedia.ca has launched a national campaign calling on all Canadians to show their support for the court challenge launched by the BCCLA. OpenMedia.ca is Canada's largest civic engagement organization that works to ensure the Internet is open, affordable, and surveillance-free.

Canadians are invited to stand with the BCCLA and show their support by speaking out at https://OpenMedia.ca/csec

OpenMedia.ca and the BCCLA are also part of a recently launched broad-based Protect Our Privacy Coalition of citizens, experts, organizations, and businesses who have come together to protect the privacy of every resident of Canada against intrusion by government entities. This Coalition now includes over 40 major organizations from right across the political spectrum -- any individual Canadians are welcome to join too. Just add your name at: http://OurPrivacy.ca

(Photos: OpenMedia.ca and BC Civil Liberties Association)

Return to top

The Case of Omar Khadr

Lawlessness of the Harper Government's
"Anti-Terrorist" Agenda

For the second time this year, a Canadian court has issued a judgement in Omar Khadr's favour and a sharp rebuke to the Harper government. In Khadr vs. Canada, October 23, 2014, a Federal Court judge has upheld Khadr's right to expand his civil lawsuit against the Canadian government, first filed in 2004. Earlier Statements of Claim focused on the events surrounding Khadr's interrogation at the hands of Canadian officials in 2003 and 2004 at Guantanamo. The new version examines the Canadian government's role from the time Khadr was captured in 2002 through to his imprisonment at Bagram prison in Afghanistan and later at Guantanamo Bay up until his repatriation to Canada in 2012.

Justice Richard Mosley approved Khadr's Amended Statement of Claim on October 23, allowing Khadr to proceed with his lawsuit against the Canadian government for conspiring with the U.S. government to torture him and breach his rights. "Whether Canada conspired with foreign officials to violate the fundamental rights of a citizen is not a trivial matter," Mosley said in his ruling. "If anything, adding conspiracy to the statement of claim clarifies the nature of the controversy between the parties and facilitates its comprehensive examination by a court."

The federal government opposed the expanded claim, arguing among other things that international law bars Khadr from naming the U.S. government in his civil action in a Canadian court. Justice Mosley dismissed this objection, and virtually all the other objections of the federal government as well. "The Defendant's argument that it will suffer prejudice that cannot be compensated with costs is not persuasive. Whether the tort of conspiracy can cover state-to-state conduct is a matter that should be decided by a judge at trial, with the full benefit of evidence and legal argument. It should not be dealt with by a motion...To avoid this prejudice, the Defendant ought to present a viable defence. It should not ask this Court to extend an overly generous interpretation under Canderel,[1] ... so as to pre-empt claims made against it."

The court also awarded costs to Khadr as a clear rebuke to the federal government. Only a handful of the government's arguments had any merit, Justice Mosley pointedly stated. By opposing the motion the government had increased the costs and delay of this complex action, which has occupied the courts for more than ten years.

Alberta Court of Appeal Orders Omar Khadr's Transfer to a Provincial Jail

In an earlier judgement, the Alberta Court of Appeal ruled on July 8 that Omar Khadr must be transferred to a provincial jail as he is serving a youth sentence, overturning the trial judge's decision to deny Khadr's writ of habeas corpus. The court agreed that the International Transfer of Offenders Act (ITOA) mandated Khadr's placement in a provincial correctional facility for adults, not in a federal penitentiary because he was given a youth sentence. The federal government had attempted to argue that the U.S. military kangaroo court had given Khadr one youth sentence and four adult sentences, with the aim of delaying Khadr's release from prison. The Appeal Court demolished the Harper government's flimsy arguments which it said seemed to be an attempt to impose a new sentence, harsher than imposed by the U.S. military kangaroo court.

Free Omar Khadr rally outside court hearing in Edmonton, September 23, 2013.

The federal government immediately applied for an injunction to prevent Khadr's transfer to a provincial facility pending appeal of the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada. Lawyer Nathan Whitling explained that the decision means that Khadr can now ask a youth court judge to order his release from prison to serve the rest of his sentence in the community, rather than appearing before the parole board. An application will soon be made to a youth court judge, and for this reason Khadr has agreed to remain at the Bowden medium security federal institution to where he has been transferred from the Edmonton maximum security institution pending his application for parole.

In its finding that Khadr should not have been placed in a federal prison, the Alberta Court of Appeal issued a strong rebuke to the Harper government, noting, "While not explicitly stated, it appears that underlying the [Attorney-General of Canada's (AGC)] position on this appeal is the view that a cumulative sentence of eight years for the five offences to which Khadr pled guilty is not sufficiently long to reflect the seriousness of the offences." In other words, the Harper government wants to substitute its own longer sentence, despite the fact that it agreed to the transfer. Under the terms of the ITOA, as the court made clear, Canada cannot lengthen a sentence of the foreign power, but only reduce it if the sentence violates Canadian law -- for example if a young offender were given a sentence longer than permitted by Canadian law.

The court also pointed out that the Harper government is in danger of falling through the thin ice on which it stands if it continues to try to circumvent its legal obligations:

"Further, were it open to the [Attorney-General of Canada] to challenge the substance of the sentence imposed by the Convening Authority, this would then open up the possibility of Khadr's challenging the substance of the verdict. His counsel might well argue that Khadr made a deal. In exchange for receiving no more than eight years for all five offences, Khadr agreed to plead guilty and give up his legal rights, including the right to contest the admissibility of certain evidence against him. And if the AGC were able to treat the sentence agreed to in the plea agreement as five concurrent sentences of eight years each, then Khadr's counsel might seek to have Khadr's guilty pleas struck on the basis not only that the plea agreement was being contravened but that the evidence against Khadr would have been excluded in a Canadian court. The legal process under which Khadr was held and the evidence elicited from him have been found to have violated both the Charter and international human rights law: Khadr I, supra at paras 3, 6, 22 - 27; Khadr II, supra at paras 16 - 18, 24 - 26.

"To take another example, one of the offences for which Khadr was charged in 2007 and pled guilty, providing material support for terrorism, is not a crime under international laws of war: Hamdan v United States, 696 F3d 1238, 1248 - 1252 (DC Cir 2012) [Hamdan II]. Though it is now an offence under the MCA [Military Commissions Act], Guantanamo detainees whose offence date, like Khadr's, preceded 2006 have had their convictions in the United States vacated on the grounds that it was not until the 2006 MCA that this offence was criminalized and the MCA does not apply retroactively: Hamdan II supra."[2]

The court's warning fell on deaf ears as far as the Harper dictatorship is concerned. In announcing that the government would seek an injunction and appeal the decision, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney stated on CHED radio news, "We do not agree that a youth sentence is appropriate for someone who is seen on video making the same type of improvised explosive devices that killed many of the 158 Canadian Armed Forces members who died in Afghanistan. That is why the Government of Canada will appeal this decision and seek a stay to ensure that he stays in federal prison where he belongs."

This statement only confirms what the court implied: the government is attempting to lengthen the sentence.

Omar Khadr has been imprisoned since his capture at the age of 15 in Afghanistan on July 27, 2002. Khadr is the only U.S. captive ever  tried for murder in the death of a soldier fighting in the illegal U.S. invasions and wars against the people of Afghanistan or Iraq. He is the first juvenile prosecuted for war crimes in modern-day history, in violation of numerous international agreements and principles which offer children special protection and mandate rehabilitation and the reintegration of child soldiers into society, not punishment.

The Harper government has yet to take a single step to provide redress for the violation of Khadr's rights that has been confirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada. Instead it is pursuing a reckless course, disregarding the rule of law, including international agreements it has signed concerning child soldiers.It is a prime example of how the Harper dictatorship invokes the threat of terrorism to cover up its violation of Canadians' rights and its contempt for the rule of law, both at home and abroad.

The Harper government is not only trying to delay Khadr's release as long as possible, it is using this case to throw mud at the judicial system to cover up its own dictatorship and use of privilege to act with impunity. The court acted to uphold a law enacted by Parliament. The perverse logic of the Harperites is that any challenge to its arbitrary and illegal decisions means that the courts are overstepping their bounds and interfering with Parliament. The Harperites are hell-bent on redefining what a democracy looks like and imposing a permanent state of exception, trying to assert once again that the law is what the Harper government declares it to be.

This spectacle of the Harper dictatorship doing everything it can to increase the sentence imposed by a kangaroo court in violation of international law and precedent regarding child soldiers and with total disregard for any conception of due process as Canadians have known it is further evidence of the extremism of the Harper dictatorship and the urgent necessity to defeat Harper.


1. Canderel Ltd. v. Canada, Supreme Court of Canada judgement.

2. Khadr v Edmonton Institution, 2014.

Return to top

In the News

Obama Accuses Himself of Terrorism

Protest against U.S. drone strikes, Multan, Pakistan, October 8, 2014.

Nearly two years ago, in November, 2012, Barack Obama made some remarks that today would seem inconceivable coming from him. The President of the United States said that "there is no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders."

Obama's statements, of course, were designed to act as cover and protection for the Zionist settler state of Israel as it launched and continues to launch violent campaigns of slaughter and extermination against the Palestinians. Thus, Obama reiterated his position by stating that the United States supported Israel in its "right to defend itself" against "missiles landing on people's homes and potentially killing civilians." This referred to the Palestinian acts of protest against the occupation of their territories by Israeli settlers.

In an article published on the Activist Post website October 6, the prolific American writer on international political issues, Brandon Turbeville, noted that "even leaving the Israeli question aside, and while neglecting to point out that, at the time of the statement, Obama's own government was involved in the bombing of Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, and had just concluded the bombing of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, one might fast forward to 2014 as the United States rains down bombs on sovereign Syrian soil."

Following its illegal and immoral attacks on the Syrian people which have produced alarming amounts of civilian casualties within only a matter of days, the United States recently announced that it is "relaxing" its policy on civilian killings in Syria. Indeed, the White House is now backing away from claims that it will only use lethal force where there is a "certainty or near certainty" that no civilians will be killed.

The reports of significant civilian casualties as a result of U.S. airstrikes in the following days were the first indication that the Obama administration was ignoring its own rules in the war on terror."

"Yet the reality is that the United States has never been worried about civilian casualties, neither during the tenure of this President or that of the last. Any pretense to the contrary is naiveté at best," writes Turbeville.

Similarly, drones are touted for their surgical precision and laser-guided targeting system, yet they have killed civilians in Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, and more notably in Pakistan, which has been the subject of over 390 covert drone strikes since 2008.

Although, according to independent investigative journalists' estimates, 710 civilians had been killed by drone attacks, Amnesty International claims the number of civilian casualties in Pakistan alone can be as high as 900. Arriving at an accurate number is extremely difficult, but when human rights groups are able to go into the affected areas and investigate individual strikes, the number of civilian casualties is always substantially higher than what was reported by the government, which counts all men of military age as enemy combatants and never identifies a single civilian among the dead men of that age range.

In other words, when civilian casualties become too obvious in the eyes of the public, or too politically damaging, the answer is to change your semantics and the wording of policy so that the casualties disappear from the radar screen of public opinion.

While any unintentional killing of Syrian civilians by the Assad government was presented to American audiences as premeditated slaughter against innocent people, American airstrikes continue to be presented as manna from heaven, designed to rid the world of Islamic terror and brutal dictators at the same time.

Palestinians, Syrians, Iraqis, Afghanis, Somalians, Yeminis, are acceptable casualties. Israelis are not. Palestinians, Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans, Somalians, and Yemenis are required to accept "missiles landing on people's homes and potentially killing civilians" without resistance. Israel can act with impunity.

Thus, Barack Obama, while setting the international standard for response to bombing a sovereign nation and killing its civilians by his statement regarding Israel's so-called safety, in essence, openly stated that the United States is guilty of terrorism, a claim that few of its victims will argue with.

Obviously, this presidential statement means very little in the way of actual policy. Hypocritical proclamations and even outright lies serve only to mask the true agenda lurking underneath. Informed observers already know this. Those who take such statements seriously have much to learn," concludes Turbeville.

Global Day of Action Against Drones, October 3, 2014.
Top to bottom: Berlin, Los Angeles, Washington, DC.

(A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann. Photos: Press TV, U. Hiksch, CodePink)

Return to top

From Africa's Richest State Under Gaddafi,
to Failed State After NATO Intervention

This week marks the three-year anniversary of the Western-backed assassination of Libya's former president, Muammar Gaddafi, and the fall of one of Africa's greatest nations.

In 1967 Colonel Gaddafi inherited one of the poorest nations in Africa; however, by the time he was assassinated, Gaddafi had turned Libya into Africa's wealthiest nation. Libya had the highest GDP per capita and life expectancy on the continent. Less people lived below the poverty line than in the Netherlands.

After NATO's intervention in 2011, Libya is now a failed state and its economy is in shambles. As the government's control slips through their fingers and into the militia fighters' hands, oil production has all but stopped.

The militias, variously local, tribal, regional, Islamist or criminal, that have plagued Libya since NATO's intervention, have recently lined up into two warring factions. Libya now has two governments, both with their own Prime Minister, parliament and army.

On one side, in the West of the country, Islamist-allied militias took over control of the capital Tripoli and other cities and set up their own government, chasing away a parliament that was elected over the summer.

On the other side, in the East of the Country, the "legitimate" government dominated by anti-Islamist politicians, exiled 1,200 kilometers away in Tobruk, no longer governs anything.

The fall of Gaddafi's administration has created all of the country's worst-case scenarios: Western embassies have all left, the South of the country has become a haven for terrorists, and the Northern coast a center of migrant trafficking. Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia have all closed their borders with Libya. This all occurs amidst a backdrop of widespread rape, assassinations and torture that complete the picture of a state that is failed to the bone.

America is clearly fed up with the two inept governments in Libya and is now backing a third force: long-time CIA asset, General Khalifa Hifter, who aims to set himself up as Libya's new dictator. Hifter, who broke with Gaddafi in the 1980s and lived for years in Langley, Virginia, close to the CIA's headquarters, where he was trained by the CIA, has taken part in numerous American regime change efforts, including the aborted attempt to overthrow Gaddafi in 1996.

In 1991 the New York Times reported that Hifter may have been one of "600 Libyan soldiers trained by American intelligence officials in sabotage and other guerrilla skills; to fit in neatly into the Reagan Administration's eagerness to topple Colonel Qaddafi."

Hifter's forces are currently vying with the Al Qaeda group Ansar al-Sharia for control of Libya's second largest city, Benghazi. Ansar al-Sharia was armed by America during the NATO campaign against Colonel Gaddafi. In yet another example of the U.S. backing terrorists backfiring, Ansar al-Sharia has recently been blamed by America for the brutal assassination of U.S. Ambassador Stevens.

Hifter is currently receiving logistical and air support from the U.S. because his faction envision a mostly secular Libya open to Western financiers, speculators, and capital.

Perhaps, Gaddafi's greatest crime, in the eyes of NATO, was his desire to put the interests of local labour above foreign capital and his quest for a strong and truly United States of Africa. In fact, in August 2011, President Obama confiscated $30 billion from Libya's Central Bank, which Gaddafi had earmarked for the establishment of the African IMF and African Central Bank.

In 2011, the West's objective was clearly not to help the Libyan people, who already had the highest standard of living in Africa, but to oust Gaddafi, install a puppet regime, and gain control of Libya's natural resources.

For over 40 years, Gaddafi promoted economic democracy and used the nationalized oil wealth to sustain progressive social welfare programs for all Libyans. Under Gaddafi's rule, Libyans enjoyed not only free health-care and free education, but also free electricity and interest-free loans. Now thanks to NATO's intervention the health-care sector is on the verge of collapse as thousands of Filipino health workers flee the country, institutions of higher education across the East of the country are shut down, and black outs are a common occurrence in once thriving Tripoli.

One group that has suffered immensely from NATO's bombing campaign is the nation's women. Unlike many other Arab nations, women in Gaddafi's Libya had the right to education, hold jobs, divorce, hold property and have an income. The United Nations Human Rights Council praised Gaddafi for his promotion of women's rights.

When the colonel seized power in 1969, few women went to university. Today, more than half of Libya's university students are women. One of the first laws Gaddafi passed in 1970 was an equal pay for equal work law.

Nowadays, the new "democratic" Libyan regime is clamping down on women's rights. The new ruling tribes are tied to traditions that are strongly patriarchal. Also, the chaotic nature of post-intervention Libyan politics has allowed free rein to extremist Islamic forces that see gender equality as a Western perversion.

Three years ago, NATO declared that the mission in Libya had been "one of the most successful in NATO history." Truth is, Western interventions have produced nothing but colossal failures in Libya, Iraq, and Syria. Lest we forget, prior to western military involvement in these three nations, they were the most modern and secular states in the Middle East and North Africa with the highest regional women's rights and standards of living.

A decade of failed military expeditions in the Middle East has left the American people in trillions of dollars of debt. However, one group has benefited immensely from the costly and deadly wars: America's Military-Industrial-Complex.

Building new military bases means billions of dollars for America's military elite. As Will Blum has pointed out, following the bombing of Iraq, the United States built new bases in Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Saudi Arabia.

Following the bombing of Afghanistan, the United States is now building military bases in Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

Following the recent bombing of Libya, the United States has built new military bases in the Seychelles, Kenya, South Sudan, Niger and Burkina Faso.

Given that Libya sits atop the strategic intersection of the African, Middle Eastern and European worlds, Western control of the nation, has always been a remarkably effective way to project power into these three regions and beyond.

NATO's military intervention may have been a resounding success for America's military elite and oil companies but for the ordinary Libyan, the military campaign may indeed go down in history as one of the greatest failures of the 21st century.

* Garikai Chengu is a research scholar at Harvard University. Contact him on garikai.chengu@gmail.com. This item was originally published October 19, 2014 on GlobalResearch.ca.

Return to top

Britain's Phantoms of the Past in Palestine

Demonstration in London, England, July 15, 2014, opposes Israeli aggression against Palestine.

It would be intellectually dishonest to reflect on the British House of Commons' vote of October 13 on a Palestinian state, without digging deeper into history. Regardless of the meaning of the non-binding motion, the parliamentary action cannot be brushed off as just another would-be country to recognize Palestine, as was the Swedish government's decision on October 3.

Unlike Sweden, and most of the 130-plus countries to effectively recognize Palestine, Britain is a party in the Middle East's most protracted conflict. In fact, if it were not for Britain, there would be no conflict, or even Israel, of which to speak. It is within this context that the British vote matters, and greatly so.

As I listened to the heated debate by British MPs that preceded the historic vote of 272 in favor and 12 against, phantoms of historic significance occupied my mind.

When my father was born in historic Palestine in 1936, he found himself in a world politically dominated by Britain. Born and raised in the now long-destroyed Palestinian village of Beit Daras - which, like the rest of historic Palestine has now become part of "Israel proper" -- he, along with his family -- were entrapped between two anomalies that greatly scarred the otherwise peaceful landscape of Palestine countryside. A Jewish colony called Tabiyya, along with a heavily fortified British police compound that was largely aimed at safeguarding the interests of the colony, subjugated Beit Daras.

The residents of the village, still unaware of the plan to dispossess them from their homeland, grew wary of the dual treachery with time. But by 1947-48, it was too late. The British-coordinated withdrawal from Palestine was aimed at creating space for a Jewish state, today's Israel. The Palestinians, for 66 years and counting, have suffered from more than homelessness and dispossession, but also a military occupation and countless massacres, ending with the most recent Israeli war on Gaza. In what Israel calls Operation Protective Edge, nearly 2,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed and five-fold more were wounded. Yet, Palestinians continue to resist, with greater ferocity than ever.

Because of this, and the fact that the British government remains a member of the ever-shrinking club of Israel's staunch supporters, the vote in the British parliament greatly matters. "Symbolic" and non-binding, it still matters. It matters because the Israeli arsenal is rife with British armaments; because the British government, despite strong protestation of its people, still behaves towards Israel as if the latter were a law-abiding state with a flawless human-rights records. It matters despite the dubious language of the motion, linking the recognition of Palestine alongside Israel to "securing a negotiated two-state solution."

But there can be no two states in a land that is already inhabited by two nations, who, despite the grossness of the occupation, are in fact interconnected geographically, demographically and in other ways as well. Israel has created irreversible realities in Palestine, and the respected MPs of the British parliament should know this.

The votes were motivated by different rationale and reasons. Some voted "yes" because they have been long-time supporters of Palestinians, others are simply fed up with Israel's behavior. But if the vote largely reflected an attempt at breathing more life into the obsolete "two-state solution" to a conflict created by the British themselves, then, the terrible British legacy in Palestine which has lasted for nearly a century will continue unabated.

British army boots walked on Palestinian soil as early as 1917, after the British army defeated Turkey, whose vast Ottoman Empire, that included Palestine, was quickly disintegrating under the combined pressure of European powers. As soon as Jerusalem was captured by British forces under the command of General Sir Edmund Allenby in December 1917, and the rest of the country by October 1918, the will of the Palestinian people fell hostage to the British Empire. The figures of how many Palestinian Arabs were killed, wounded, tortured, imprisoned and exiled by Britain since that date, until the establishment of the Israeli state in 1948, is beyond depressing.

However, Britain's integral role in the suffering of the Palestinians and the establishment of Israel was hardly a coincidental policy necessitated by the nature of its immediate colonial ambitions. It was calculated and rooted in political and diplomatic intrigues that go back to the 19th century. It was also predicated on an unmistakable element of racism, rampant in the colonial culture at the time. Its manifestations still bring shame to Britain today, which still refuses to fully and unconditionally reverse that early policy.

It is inexplicable that one century after the British involvement in Palestine, which has proved its astounding failure, the current British foreign policy is not far removed from the language and policies executed by the British Empire when Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour "promised" Palestine for a Jewish state. The Balfour Declaration is dated November 2, 1917, before Palestine was even occupied by the British, thus reflecting the sheer arrogance and disregard of Palestinians and their rights. In one of his letters at the time, Balfour so conceitedly wrote:

"For in Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country ... The four great powers are committed to Zionism, and Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long tradition, in present needs, in future hopes of far profounder import than the desire and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land. In my opinion that is right."

Encouraged by the overwhelming recent vote in favor of Palestine at the parliament (although nearly half of the MPs didn't show up or abstained), one can hardly deny the signs that both the British public and many in the country's political establishment are simply disenchanted by Israel's continued war and occupation which are the main reason behind the destabilization of the region long before the Syrian civil war and other upheavals began. Many British MPs are furious over Israel's violent, expansionist and anti-peace conduct, including those who were once strong allies of Israel. That must not be denied.

But it is hardly enough. When the British government insists on maintaining its pro-Israeli policies, and when the general attitude of those who truly hold the reins of power in London remain committed to a farce vision of two states, defending Israel and disempowering Palestinians at every turn, the Balfour vision of old will remain the real guidelines for British policy regarding Palestine.

Sixty-six years after ending its "mandate" in Palestine, Britain remains a party in a bloody conflict, where Israel is still carrying the same policies of colonial expansion, using Western -- including British -- funds, arms and political support. Only when Britain fully and completely ends its support of Israel and financing of its occupation, and works diligently and actively towards correcting the injustice imposed on the Palestinians a century ago, can one consider that a real change in British policies is finally taking hold.

Without a clear course of action to help Palestinians gain their freedom, the British vote will remain another symbolic gesture in a conflict in which military occupation, war, siege, death and destruction are very much real. And when British leaders like conservative Prime Minister David Cameron continue to parrot their unconditional support for Israel, even after the Gaza wars and massacres, one will also continue to seek even moderate proof that the Balfour legacy has truly and finally ended.

* Ramzy Baroud is a PhD scholar in People's History at the University of Exeter. He is the Managing Editor of Middle East Eye. Baroud is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story (Pluto Press, London). This item was originally posted on PalestineChronicle.com October 22, 2014.

Return to top


Read The Marxist-Leninist Daily
Website:  www.cpcml.ca   Email:  editor@cpcml.ca