Friday, October 30, 2009

Wire Tap & Grill

Once upon a time, procedural dramas involving the courts and police made quite a large deal about the importance of warrants and probable cause in seeking the power to surveil members of the public. There were all those messy notions like privacy and freedom of assembly, due process and civil rights to cope with. And we were led to believe that those essential liberties and the checks on their abuse were a good thing. We expected to be able to live our lives without fear of intrusion by agents of government and law enforcement prying into our affairs. And there were layers of process and accountability to meet before those rights would be breached. It all fell under the notions of the freedom that we laid claim to and advertised on t-shirts. Those were the ideas we cherished, that were supposed to separate us from the barbarians that we were sure lived everywhere else.

But then, everything changed when a handful of madmen highjacked some planes and ran them into a couple of tall buildings. Terrorism in America was no longer the sole purview of white power militia types of the Timothy McVeigh ilk or doctor murdering "christian pro-life" gangsters. For the first time North America felt truly vulnerable and there was a grand shitting of the collective pants.

Now the received wisdom from those charged to
serve & protect has shifted. Oh screaming Jeeziz we're all gonna die if they can't sniff through your Inbox and have a listen to your calls. Warrants, why, seeking warrants would let the TERRAHISTS WIN on account of nashnull scoority 'n such.

In its annual report Wednesday, the Security Intelligence Review Committee says CSIS's "ability to perform certain investigative procedures will be constrained" until the government enacts new laws.

The review committee reports to Parliament each year on the activities of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

The government has tabled legislation that would require telecommunications service providers to include intercept capabilities in their networks, making it easier for CSIS to gain access to emails and phone conversations. It would also allow authorities to obtain information about subscribers and their mobile devices without a warrant.

Hey, what could possibly go wrong with that scenario? Warrants, heh, warrants are so pre-911. It isn't like you're important or like your rights matter and besides all those crybabies like Jennifer Stoddart are probably Liberals anyway.

The committee acknowledges that Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart has argued against the so-called "lawful access" legislation, saying it "raises fundamental issues for rights such as privacy and the ability to communicate freely."

Thanks goodness for stalwart public servants like Peter Van Loan and the Conservative Party of Law & Order Special Puddings Unit.

Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan welcomed the spy watchdog's position on the telecommunications monitoring bill working its way through Parliament.

"Our government has introduced legislation to update the tools our law enforcement and national security agencies need to prevent threats to our national security, including terrorism.

Because after all, the Police State is for your own good and besides, to quote Van Loan's doppelganger, "Respeck mah authoritah!" It isn't as though the sweeping new take on personal privacy and individual security could be misused by a grasping and power hungry political party. And let's not forget the hundreds and hundreds of Canadians killed right here at home, every year, by evil doing terror guys. There are evil doing terror guys killing lots of Canadians here at home every year... right? Pervasive, ongoing threats, need sweeping new powers... right?

Well call me crazy but I checked with our old pal Google and stopped by the dubious
Wikipedia to check out this terror threat business. Here's what they have listed for terror attacks in Canada over the last 25 years.

1 dead after a guy doused himself in gasoline and blew himself to ratcrap in a Timmy's. While there's no indication that it was a political attack, he did decide to go off in a public toilet so we could maybe call it a suicide bombing. He managed one fatality, his own. Here's what the top cop on scene told the

"He's not a strap-on al-Qaeda bomber guy," Staff-Sgt. Cole said. "It sounds to me like a guy who either wanted to do a torch job or commit suicide."

1 injured in an explosion at a Langley, BC townhouse. Apparently a bomb was left on the doorstep in a gift bag. According to the
CBC the bomb may have been placed by teenagers. Police have discovered no motive, no claims of responsibility and made no arrests. Seemingly a random act though the victim was a Campus for Christ proselytizer. Apparently the victim had just moved into the area and was already moving out. Maybe it was a religious assault or maybe not.


17 arrested for plotting ludicrous terror attacks in an RCMP sting/entrapment investigation. That's the big one kids, that's the one all the trouser soaked authoritarians are going to point to. There have been a few confessions now, these hapless doinks were evidently going to blow up all manner of things and that's why the RCMP mole was busy buying them supplies and encouraging them along. The proceedings against these dumb buggers have been somewhat sketchy with prosecution playing fast and loose with due process to make a high profile case stick. How many did these wannabe barbarians slaughter? Not a one.

1990 - 2005

26 people shot, 14 women dead at Ecole Polytechnique. This was certainly an act of misogynistic hatred and an attempt to terrorize but it was not part of an organized political attack. It was the work of a lone, sick mind.

1986 - 1988

Air India bombing kills 329. This was the largest terror attack in Canadian history and one of the largest ever carried out at the time. There were arrests made, people were imprisoned after a long and controversial legal process. This atrocity took place almost a quarter century age and has not been repeated. Somehow we didn't need blanket wire tapping of the public to prevent further violence by the people behind this, by far the worst brush with domestic terrorism that Canada has faced.


CSIS and the Conservatives are rubbing their little hands together trying to whip up enough fear to get their way. The simple fact is that conventional law enforcement has managed pretty well to date. Canada is not, has not been and doesn't seem likely to become a hotbed of terrorist violence. There just isn't any evidence that warrants (heh) doing away with our rights and freedoms in the name of protecting our rights and freedoms. But its the minority Conservatives and their online enablers, the same cranks that whine and cry about a nanny state when it comes to looking after folks, who are eager to establish a police state. Priorities, I suppose.

Well Canada has a new chief spook, one
Richard Fadden and he's doing his damnedest to convince us that we're on the verge of exploding from teh terrahs. Like ohmigawd, run away!

“Almost any attempt to fight terrorism by the government is portrayed as an overreaction or an assault on liberty. It is a peculiar position, given that terrorism is the ultimate attack on liberties,” Fadden told an Ottawa conference of about 300 security and intelligence specialists.

I'd argue that terrorism is a base and heinous political tactic. The use of random violence to sow fear and intimidate is not a noble pursuit and I don't think it is an especially effective way of bringing about social, cultural or political change. On the same tack I'd argue that stripping liberties and privacy, quashing freedom of speech and assembly is not how one protects freedom, it is how one enacts the tyranny of a fascistic police state. Unwarranted wiretapping, unfettered access to email, web traffic and identity information with no judicial oversight or probable cause... my gawd, maybe he's right and we're a bunch of babies. Yoo Ess Ay, Yoo Ess Ay... um, sorry, got carried away there. But let's let Mr Fadden reframe reality for us as he calls for this "more mature and nuanced debate".

In advocating for a more mature, nuanced debate on national security, Fadden directed his harshest comments at news media, a “loose partnership of single-issue NGOs, advocacy journalists and lawyers,” and Canadians who naively believe, “our charm and the Maple Leaf on our backpacks are all that we need to protect us.

Holy shit, he did not just go there... oh yes he did. Wow. All those jihadifaggotpinkoterrorlovers that dare keep a critical eye on the good and kind folk at CSIS when they just want to quietly disappear your rights, they're naive. The fools. Look at the sterling record of fairness and quality service to Canadians, especially the pinker ones, that we've come to expect from our spooks and spies. I get the feeling this is the sort of guy who'd see Martin Luther King Jr. as a rabble rousing traitor. But here's the thing about this disingenuous play for the abrogation of our rights, Fadden is playing the fear card and he's dealing from the bottom of the deck. He's angling to do away with
domestic protections of privacy by invoking fear of travel overseas. 'Cos nobody around here gives a crap if I have a maple leaf on my back pack.

We're protected by a lot of laws and by tiered levels of policing and security forces. We have a national police force, a national secret spy agency, various provincial police forces, we have municipal and regional police, we have border police and military, we have coast guards hell we have a lot of police and security agencies looking out for us. We aren't naive, we aren't relying on a flag or a leaf or a prayer to protect us. We expect the people that we pay to be professionals. We expect them to do their jobs within the letter of the law. We shouldn't need to be protected from the security apparatus of our law enforcement. The reason that NGOs, writers and advocacy groups are watching the dealings of people like Fadden is because the agencies that are charged with our security have proven untrustworthy, they've made every effort to evade the limitations imposed on them by civilian government. And now they're asking for
permission to exceed those sensible limits placed upon them.

“Why … are those accused of terrorist offences often portrayed in media as quasi-folk heroes, despite the harsh statements of numerous judges? Why are they always photographed with their children, given tender-hearted profiles, and more or less taken at their word when they accuse CSIS or other government agencies of abusing them?

Quasi-folk heroes? Perhaps he means Maher Arar, I'm not sure but I don't recall seeing many laudatory portrayals of accused terrorists. Mind you, accusation is not the same as conviction and what Fadden really wants to know is why we aren't all demonizing these people, stripping them of their humanity so that when our society sanctions their abuse, we can have tea and biscuits and feel okay. Because if they're portrayed as people, right or wrong, flawed and fallible, then our internal moral voices will scream out when we see them brutalized, disappeared or shipped off to third party proxy torturers.

Instead, he said, accused terrorists are routinely portrayed as too unsophisticated, ill-prepared or youthful to actually commit such heinous acts. That theme, “permeates a fair amount of the coverage of those charged in the Toronto plot.

Bullshit. Let's play guess the illegally imprisoned young man! I'm going to guess that Fadden is talking about Omar Khadr. There are serious questions surrounding the events that led to his capture as a child soldier. And we are signatories to the Geneva Conventions and the amendments that outlaw the imprisonment of child soldiers in shit holes like Gitmo. It is the media's job to question and to report every side of a story. When brainwashed children are made pawns in the conflicts of villains and warlords, they are victims too.

It seems that Fadden is trying to weave a multi-car pile up out of a fender bender. Certainly, terrorism is a concern but it is not an issue that justifies the extreme changes that the Cons and their new CSIS Director are asking for. We really are letting the terrorists win if we allow our freedoms and liberties to be stripped in the name of security. Fadden needs to remember what the words freedom and rights mean. This is security theatre taken to a dark place. Fadden is asking for the tools of despotism and we can't allow such weapons to fall into the hands of politicians and their pets.


pogge said...

It's hard to see Fadden's speech along with SIRC's statement as anything other than a planned offensive on behalf of Bill C-47. The bill, aka the Technical Assistance for Law Enforcement in the 21st Century Act, came up for second reading earlier this week. Michael Geist characterized the Liberal reaction to it as "what took you so long" so it's liable to be difficult to stop.

Lindsay Stewart said...

Yeah it seems they're all on the same page when it comes to tinkering with liberty for the paranoia industrial complex.

Lindsay Stewart said...

In this case though, kudos to the NDP for trying to rein in the zeal of the big boys for snooping through the public's privates.

sooey said...

If I'm understanding him correctly, Richard McFadden has just declared the Canadian public as enemy number one in the fight against terrorism.

Which makes Richard McFadden, a nut.

Dr.Dawg said...

What was the stuff about showing pictures of "terrorists" with their kids?

I think I know, but what do folks here think?

double nickel said...

@Sooey: Fadden.

sooey said...

Hm... I wonder why he dropped the "Mc"...

Doesn't want anyone to know about his Irish past, perhaps?

Metro said...

Surely not. Everybody knows the Irish are a peace-loving people. Especially the ones with the "For the Struggle" tip jars on their NYC bars.

Fadden is a conservative hack, and as to be expected, a disingeuous fraud. Don't these people have any honest, forthright members whose views won't creep out the entire nation?

Sorry ... Silly question.

sooey said...

No kidding. I'm thinking by the end of his term we'll have lawyers specializing in a whole new legal arena: Protecting Canadians from Richard Fadden.

James Bow said...

You missed one, believe it or not. While not a terrorist act in and of itself, it was a serious terrorist threat to place a bomb on the Toronto subway in 1985. The group was Armenian, and was acting in retribution to the Canadian arrest of three individuals who had attacked the Turkish embassy in Ottawa in March of that year, killing a security guard.

You can read more about it here:

Boris said...

What Fadden doesn't say, is that terror threats to Canadians increased when Canada decided to adopt US foreign policy as its own. As long as we're willing to join the US in their global fuckups, we're also susceptible to blowback. Maybe not to the same extent as the US, but all the same it keeps the nuts happy because they have their great struggle and get to feel all assertive and manly.

Edstock said...

CSIS recruits through KPMG. Isn't that warm and fuzzy?

pierre poutine said...

What was the stuff about showing pictures of "terrorists" with their kids?

Rightly or wrongly, I took it as an indirect reference to Charkaoui, whom Fadden specifically referenced in his speech and whose release must gall CSIS higher-ups to no end.

For example, see

What's your take?

Lindsay Stewart said...

I was thinking Abdelrazik myself as i suspect (well I'm pretty darn sure, since he reposted the pic) that that's who the eminent Dr. Dawg is referring to.