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CSIS chief had no respect for Canadians or our courts.

Wikileaks cablegate release

Director Judd ascribed an “Alice in Wonderland” worldview to Canadians and their courts, whose judges have tied CSIS “in knots,” making it ever more difficult to detect and prevent terror attacks in Canada and abroad. The situation, he commented, left government security agencies on the defensive and losing public support for their effort to protect Canada and its allies.

The Director observed that CSIS was “sinking deeper and deeper into judicial processes,” making Legal Affairs the fastest growing division of his organization. Indeed, he added, legal challenges were becoming a “distraction” that could have a major “chill effect” on intelligence officials.

Judd derided recent judgments in Canada’s courts that threaten to undermine foreign government intelligence- and information-sharing with Canada. These judgments posit that Canadian authorities cannot use information that “may have been” derived from torture, and that any Canadian public official who conveys such information may be subject to criminal prosecution.

Judd credited Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s minority Conservative government for “taking it on the chin and pressing ahead” with common sense measures despite court challenges and political knocks from the opposition and interest groups. When asked to look to the future, Judd predicted that Canada would soon implement UK-like legal procedures that make intelligence available to “vetted defense lawyers who see everything the judge sees.”

I’m really not surprised by this at all. The former director of CSIS had no respect for Canadians or for rule of law in a democracy. He was on board with convicting people based on the things they say while being tortured. I wonder what his role was in the Maher Arar affair, given his view on information gained via torture?

He observed that the images would no doubt trigger “knee-jerk anti-Americanism” and “paroxysms of moral outrage, a Canadian specialty,” as well as lead to a new round of heightened pressure on the government to press for Khadr’s return to Canada. He predicted that PM Harper’s government would nonetheless continue to resist this pressure.

We (as Canadians) are already cast as terrorist enablers who get outraged by little things like torturing children and treating captured battlefield combatants as war criminals instead of as POWs. Not to worry, though, Stephen Harper has no such qualms. In Judd’s view, Harper must be more of an American than the rest of us rabble, who are unfortunate enough to be *ptui* Canadians. Canadians value equal treatment, the rule of law, and the presumption of innocence, which probably leads to our “paroxysms of moral outrage”.

That said, this Wikileaks document doesn’t surprise me. CSIS is, and always has been, dismissive of the individual rights and freedoms of Canadians. This really serves as a cautionary tale for anyone who finds themselves dealing with CSIS personnel. They are a paranoid organization. If you find yourself in CSIS’ sights, in their mind you are already guilty of something, and deserve whatever inhuman treatment third party torturers have in store for you. Just like Maher Arar.

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afghanistan

Elections: What’s the Point?

From one of the diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks:

Elections: What’s the Point?
———————

(C) In answer to a question from the RoCK and the SCR
about the credibility of the elections, AWK said democracy
was new for Afghanistan, and that people in the region did
not understand the point of having one election, let alone
two. “The people do not like change,” he said. “They think,
the President is alive, and everything is fine. Why have an
election?”

To put this in context, ‘the RoCK’ is Ben Rowswell (sic?), the Representative of Canada in Kandahar. ‘SCR’ is Afghan regional governor Tooryalai Weesa. ‘AWK’ is Kandahar Provincial Council Chief Ahmed Wali Karzai, half-brother to Afghan president Hamid Karzai, and the wealthiest narcotics dealer in Afghanistan. A New York Times article describing Ahmed’s drug connections is linked here. AWK is, not surprisingly, poo-pooing the concept of elections. Quelle surprise, given the protection having his half-brother installed as president offers, both to his position and his, er, other income stream. The comment at the end of the memo highlights in my mind what is the greatest challenge of the mission in Afghanistan:

(C) The meeting with AWK highlights one of our major
challenges in Afghanistan: how to fight corruption and
connect the people to their government, when the key
government officials are themselves corrupt. Given AWK’s
reputation for shady dealings, his recommendations for large,
costly infrastructure projects should be viewed with a
healthy dose of skepticism. Still, his observations about
the unintended consequences of how NGOs and other
international partners do their work, e.g. “poaching” of
government staff, track with some of our own concerns,
including about how to promote Afghan-led solutions. We will
continue to urge AWK to improve his own credibility gap as
well as that of the GIRoA.

The coalition governments have attempted to get Hamid Karzai to remove Ahmed Karzai from power (presumably sending him back to the US, where he used to work). President Karzai has refused, saying that the drug czar allegations remain unproven. In this memo, the coalition representatives appear resigned to the fact that they have to work with Ahmed Karzai. They urge him to “improve his own credibility gap”, whatever that means. How many other provincial leaders in Afghanistan are similarly dismissive of elections, and caught up in the narcotics economy? How many need to “improve their credibility gaps”?