Thursday, December 18, 2014

Should We Be Surprised?


Canadians were appalled when the U.S. Senate report on torture saw the light of day. We like to think, as John Baird said, that "Canada doesn't torture anyone. Period. Period." But, like everything that comes out of the mouths of this government, that's a half truth. Linda McQuaig writes:

The Harper government has opened the door to Canadian complicity in torture. It issued a directive allowing Canadian officials to share intelligence with foreign governments in some situations, even when this could lead to torture or to the receipt of information extracted under torture.

But like so many other disgraceful things that this government has done, the Harper crew issued this directive secretly; it only came to light through the access to information law.

Rather than simply prohibiting Canadian government agencies from sharing torture-tainted information, the Harper government’s directive simply requires approval from higher-ups, specifying that the matter should be referred to the appropriate deputy minister or agency head.

And, given the fact that "higher ups" either fall into line with this government or are fired, that protection means nothing. The goal is to get the information and let others do the torturing -- which is precisely what happened with Maher Arar. Justice Dennis O'Connor rejection of that policy was scathing:

In his powerful report, Justice O’Connor found that the RCMP’s false information likely had contributed to Arar’s year-long ordeal in Syria, and recommended Canadian agencies never send foreign authorities information that could lead to torture.

That recommendation led the RCMP to revamp their information-sharing procedures.

 O’Connor’s report went further and condemned torture under any circumstances, noting that the prohibition against torture in international law is so fundamental it has acquired the status of jus cogens — a body of “higher law” that overrides all other laws or government practices.

But the Harperites' secret directive, in effect, eviscerated O'Connor's specific recommendations.  Should we be surprised?


mogs moglio said...

Yes Owen it is a shame on all Canadians when our government hides behind secrecy and in closets.

In the eighties when I traveled the world I was proud to wear the Canadian Flag on my backpack. It made me many foreign friends. No more thanks to Harper's con-ville our flag now is a target for a bullet through the head or a beheading.

Thanks Steve for being a USA right wing lap dog. I am afraid to travel now.

Owen Gray said...

As former U.N. ambassador Stephen Lewis has said, Mogs, Mr. Harper has besmirched our international reputation.

mogs moglio said...

Owen besmirched may not be strong enough let's try some synonyms:

Blacken dishonor smear discolor soil defile slander blot smudge stain...

Besmirched and all of the synonyms above Harper truly is the fool on the hill Parliament Hill that is.


lungta said...

for me
most of the change in world status
happened when harper signed us from peace-keeping into active duty in afghanistan
talibans only comment ..."we can target the canadians too"
imagine the referee of a boxing match all of a sudden all out helping one fighter
militarys all over the world took notice and will never trust us as peacekeepers again
and i still remember stockwell day being interviewed as to who was on the rendition flights going thru trenton....
poor guy doomed himself that day as a conservative
he just couldn't lie convincingly

Owen Gray said...

Our international reputation matters not a wit to Harper, Mogs.

Owen Gray said...

Since then, lungta, the lies have become increasingly blatant.

Anonymous said...

Harper is the worst entity Canadians have had to cope with, since Hitler and WW2. We went to war so, we wouldn't have an evil tyrant such as Harper governing this country.

Harper is in the lowest form of the human species, as all dictator control freaks are. Stalin, Hitler and Mussolini were all sociopaths, as Harper also is. Harper's henchmen are just as nuts as he is. They are useless, spineless, gutless wonders.

Scotian said...

Sadly, NO.

Owen Gray said...

Too, true, Scotian.

Owen Gray said...

It's unfortunate, Anon, that so many people are willing to do his bidding.

Scotian said...

This is one of those topics I watch how often I comment on because of how rage inducing and blood boiling it is for me, coming from a family with long roots in our military history, and in a military city like Halifax. Torture is never defensible, and rarely even understandable, and the latter only in punitive terms, never in positive terms. It really is that simple, and when I saw how willing the Harper government was to expose our soldiers to war crimes charges and crimes against humanity charges that was one of the most rage inducing moments of the Harperium for me.

What else can you expect from such a physical coward as Harper, the man who climbed into the closet as fast as he could abandoning his troops when the fight came close to him personally? He would crack immediately under torture and he knows it, so he assumes it will work for everyone, and so long as it isn't him on the rack he is cool with it, especially given his clear vicarious viciousness towards anyone he sees as his enemy. I suspect part of his hatred for Justin Trudeau comes from the fact that whatever else Trudeau is no physical coward and has proven that beyond question, something Harper not only never has, but when his moment came cowered in a closet.

I am not looking forward to the truth being revealed once the Harperium is removed from office on this front, it is not going to be good, but it does need to be exposed.

Owen Gray said...

One of these days someone is going to write a book about Harper the man, Scotian.

It will not be a portrait of a hero.

Askingtherightquestions said...

It is fascinating to watch the response to this report (and please remember that all the public has is a 500 page executive summary). The responses on the right in the USA have varied from condemning the "accuracy" of he report in an ad hominem way to, as Dick Cheney did on national television, condemn it but also say that he would do it all again!?!

What seems lost in all this is that we (the Allies) fought a war that at its end sought to end crimes against humanity, both with the Nuremburg Trials and international agreements. Individuals were hung for similar crimes of war.

I believe the true proof of character is the response of individuals like Cheney who have no shame when a light is finally turned on their dark souls! This must be called out for what it is. And Scotian is correct -be forever wary of the chickenhawk.

Owen Gray said...

Cheney beats the drums of war loudly, Asking. But he avoided the draft because he had "other priorities."

The report reveals exactly what his priorities are.