The Harper government’s Bill C-51, or Anti-Terrorism Act, has been in the public domain for over a month. Long enough for us to know that it subverts basic principles of constitutional law, assaults rights of free speech and free assembly, and is viciously anti-democratic.
An unprecedented torrent of criticism has been directed against this bill as the government rushes it through Parliament. This has included stern or at least sceptical editorials in all the major newspapers; an open letter, signed by four former Prime Ministers and five former Supreme Court judges, denouncing the bill for exposing Canadians to major violations of their rights; and another letter, signed by a hundred Canadian law professors, explaining the dangers it poses to justice and legality.
As its critics have shown, the bill isn’t really about terrorism: it’s about smearing other activities by association—and then suppressing them in ways that would formerly have been flagrantly illegal. The bill targets, among others, people who defend the treaty rights of First Nations, people who oppose tar sands, fracking, and bitumen-carrying pipelines as threats to health and the environment, and people who urge that international law be peacefully applied to ending Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories. (Members of this latter group include significant numbers of Canadian Jews.)
But the Anti-Terrorism Act is more mortally dangerous to Canadian democracy than even these indications would suggest. A central section of the act empowers CSIS agents to obtain judicial warrants—on mere suspicion, with no requirement for supporting evidence—that will allow them to supplement other disruptive actions against purported enemies of Harperland with acts that directly violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and other Canadian laws.
The only constraints placed on this legalized law-breaking are that CSIS agents shall not “(a) cause, intentionally or by criminal negligence, death or bodily harm to an individual; (b) wilfully attempt in any manner to obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of justice; or (c) violate the sexual integrity of an individual.”
The second of these prohibitions—occurring in the midst of a bill that seeks systematically to obstruct citizens in the exercise of their rights, pervert justice, and defeat democracy—might tempt one to believe that there is a satirist at work within the Department of Justice. (Note, however, that CSIS agents can obstruct, pervert and defeat to their hearts’ content, so long as they do so haphazardly, rather than “wilfully.”)
But the first and third clauses amount to an authorization of torture.
On February 16, Matthew Behrens observed that these clauses recall “the bone-chilling justification of torture” in the infamous memos of George W. Bush’s Justice Department. He pertinently asked what the Canadian government knows, if it “actually feels the need to spell out such a prohibition, […] about illicit CSIS practices behind closed doors….”1 On February 17, two prominent legal experts, Clayton Ruby and Nader R. Hasan, remarked that the “limited exclusions” in these clauses “leave CSIS with incredibly expansive powers, including water boarding, inflicting pain (torture) or causing psychological harm to an individual.”2
Like the Bush torture memos, Harper’s Anti-Terrorism Act is attempting to legitimize forbidden practices. Bush’s lawyers argued that interrogation methods producing pain below the level of “organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death” were legal—as were methods producing purely mental suffering, unless they resulted in “significant psychological harm […] lasting for months or even years.”3 Harper’s legislation prohibits acts of the kind that created an international scandal when the torture practices of Abu Graib, Bagram and Guantánamo became public. But as Ruby and Hasan recognize, in so doing it is tacitly declaring acts of torture that fall below that horrifying threshold to be permissible.
Most of the torture methods applied in the black sites of the American gulag during the so-called War on Terror would be permitted to CSIS under Harper’s Anti-Terrorism Act. Among these methods are sleep deprivation and sensory deprivation (both of which induce psychosis, without of course leaving physical marks), stress-position torture and waterboarding (which again leave no marks of “bodily harm”), and techniques of beating and pressure-point torture that produce excruciating pain without leaving visible traces.4
As to what CSIS does behind closed doors, we know enough to be able to say that this agency is already seriously off its leash. CSIS agents were involved in interrogating Afghan prisoners from early 2002 until 2007 or later, a period during which the American and Afghan agencies with which they collaborated were systematically torturing detainees. We know from journalists Jim Bronskill and Murray Brewster that one of the Kandahar interrogation sites used by CSIS, “work[ing] alongside the American CIA and in close co-operation with Canada’s secretive, elite JTF-2 commandos,” was a “secluded base”—this seems a polite way of saying ‘secret torture facility’—“known as Graceland.”5
American torturers seem to have enjoyed giving names of this sort to their black sites: the secret facility outside the Guantánamo prison where three prisoners were tortured to death on the night of June 9, 2006 is called “Penny Lane.”6 (Think about the lyrics to Paul Simon’s “Graceland” and the Beatles’ “Penny Lane”: you’ll understand that these interrogators are sick puppies indeed.)7
But these are the people that Jack Hooper, Assistant and then Deputy Director of CSIS Operations from 2002 until 2007, wanted his agents to emulate. He told his men, “If you’re going to run with the big dogs, you’d better learn to piss in the high grass.”8
We know already that Stephen Harper doesn’t flinch from covering up high-level Canadian responsibility for torture in Afghanistan. In November 2009, the Toronto Star quoted a former senior NATO public affairs official as saying that flagrantly false denials about Canadian complicity in the torture of Afghan detainees had been scripted by Harper and his PMO, “which was running the public affairs aspect of Canadian engagement in Afghanistan with a 6,000-mile screwdriver.”9 And we’ve not forgotten that a month later Mr. Harper prorogued Parliament in order to shut down a parliamentary committee that was hearing evidence on the subject.
But on October 22 of last year, when a deranged gunman murdered Corporal Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial and then tried to run amok on Parliament Hill, Mr. Harper was less brave. While some members of his caucus prepared to defend themselves and their parliamentary colleagues with anything that came to hand, he hid in a closet.
It seems that Mr. Harper would now like us all to share the emotion he felt in that closet—if not by quivering at the mention of ISIS jihadis, then, soon enough, by shaking in our boots at the thought of CSIS toughs kicking down doors at midnight.
Canadians need to tell this government, and this prime minister, that we are not intimidated on either count.
We are ashamed by his lies over high-level Canadian complicity in torture in Afghanistan.
We will not tolerate his attempt to institutionalize torture in Canada.
About the author: Michael Keefer, who is Professor Emeritus at the University of Guelph, is a graduate of the Royal Military College of Canada, a former President of the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English, a member of the Seriously Free Speech Committee, and an associate member of Independent Jewish Voices Canada.
3 Jay S. Bybee, “Memorandum for Alberto R. Gonzales, Counsel to the President, Re: Standards of Conduct for Interrogation under 18 U.S.C. §§ 2340-2340A (August 1, 2002),” in David Cole, ed., The Torture Memos (New York: New Press, 2009), p. 41.
4 See Alfred W. McCoy, A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror (New York: Owl Books, 2006).
7 Some relevant lines from “Graceland”: “Everybody sees you’re blown apart / Everybody sees the wind blow / In Graceland, in Graceland / I’m going to Graceland / For reasons I cannot explain / There’s some part of me wants to see / Graceland….” And from “Penny Lane”: “In Penny Lane there is a barber selling photographs / Of every head he’s had the pleasure to know / … / Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes….”
8 Quoted by Michelle Shephard, Guantanamo’s Child: The Untold Story of Omar Khadr (Mississauga: John Wiley, 2008), p. 57.
Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection, Public Domain & Pinterest.
Donate to Support Us
We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics, and international relations.
BALTOPS 16 is a military exercise now taking place between June 3 and June 18 in the Baltic Sea region which is in close proximity to Russia. The U.S. Naval Institute (www.usni.org) released an article titled ‘Analysis: Larger NATO Baltic Sea Exercise Sends Important Message to Russia’ stated what BALTOPS 16 will consist of:Over the next three weeks BALTOPS 16 will draw together some 6,000 personnel, 45 warships, and 60 aircraft from 17 nations, including the United States, Germany, the U.K., the Netherlands, along with the littoral states of the Baltic States who are NATO members (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, ...
Exclusive: The U.S. government and the mainstream media rushed to judgment again, blaming the Syrian government for a new poison-gas attack and ignoring other possibilities, reports Robert Parry.
With the latest hasty judgment about Tuesday’s poison-gas deaths in a rebel-held area of northern Syria, the mainstream U.S. news media once more reveals itself to be a threat to responsible journalism and to the future of humanity. Again, we see the troubling pattern of verdict first, investigation later, even when that behavior can lead to a dangerous war escalation and many more deaths.
Before a careful evaluation of the evidence about Tuesday’s tragedy ...
Here are before-and-after pictures, at https://twitter.com/MAL0mt/status/701077438525263873/photo/1, of what the U.S. government has achieved, in the Middle East:What’s especially interesting there, is that in all of these missions, except for Iraq, the U.S. was doing it with the key participation of the Saud family, the royals who own Saudi Arabia, and who are the world’s largest buyers of American weaponry. Since Barack Obama came into the White House, the operations — Libya, Yemen, and Syria — have been, to a large extent, joint operations with the Sauds. ‘We’ are now working more closely with ‘our’ ‘friends’, even than ‘we’ were under George W. Bush.As President Obama instructed his military, ...
Many articles in the US press have speculated at length in an attempt to define a new ideology called “Putinism.” The pieces serve as an attempt to fit Putin into an outdated Cold War narrative, as if some new ideology in the Russian Federation is playing the role that Marxism-Leninism once played in the Soviet Union, though the current Russian constitution forbids this.The notable leaders of history are rarely ideologues. History judges people mainly by what they achieve, not what they write or say. As Chinese President Xi Jinping recently put it: “The worth of any plan is in its ...
On January 17, Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada (parliament) passed the bill No. 4128 on new amendments regarding the subordination (denomination) of religious organizations and the procedure of state registration of religious organizations with the status of legal entities. The relevant law No. 2673-VIII was signed by President Poroshenko on January 28 and came into force on January 31, 2019.Though the bill was designed to simplify the process of changing the religious subordination of a religious community, it actually introduces a new, more complicated scheme of registration and reregistration for religious organizations of all confessions including Protestants.So, reregistration becomes not just a ...
The incoming Ukrainian president will have to turn some attention to history, because the outgoing one has just made a hero of a long-dead Ukrainian fascist. By conferring the highest state honor of “Hero of Ukraine” upon Stepan Bandera (1909-1959) on January 22, Viktor Yushchenko provoked protests from the chief rabbi of Ukraine, the president of Poland, and many of his own citizens. It is no wonder. Bandera aimed to make of Ukraine a one-party fascist dictatorship without national minorities. During World War II, his followers killed many Poles and Jews. Why would President Yushchenko, the leader of the democratic ...
What is global politics? It is when a white man sends a black man 20.000 km. far away from home to kill a yellow man, while at home this white man is living on the land occupied from a red man From 1989 onward, as a consequence of the dissolution of the bipolar world in global politics, Security Studies as an academic discipline re-born again its political importance. From the very traditional point of view, it was only the national-state to be considered as the reference object of the security issue that was usually to be obtained by military power and diplomatic ...
Recommended alternative reading list on the Yugoslav studies not used by mainstream corporative Western mass-media and top Western universities dealing with global security, world politics and international relations. Reading proposed readers below you can complete picture on the Yugoslav studies out of the official Western approach.March Pogrom 2004 Book and Photo EvidenceKOSOVSKA GOLGOTA Intervju 198820 Principal Misconceptions on Kosovo IssueThe Srebrenica Massacre Evidence Context Politics Edward S Herman Phillip CorwinLista Diane Budisavljevic 1941 Do 1945 by Владислав Б. Сотировић/Vladislav B. SotirovićJosip Broz Tito Bez Maske! by Владислав Б. Сотировић/Vladislav B. SotirovićHayden Mass Killings and Images of Genocide in Bosnia by ...
Paul Atwood, a Senior Lecturer in American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston, provides a concise summary of the history that informs North Korea’s “relations with the United States” and “drives its determination never to submit to any American diktat”.
Excerpts from Atwood’s summary are here used as a framework, with other sources where indicated.
Atwood notes it is an American “myth” that the “North Korean Army suddenly attacked without warning, overwhelming surprised ROK defenders.” In fact, the North/South border “had been progressively militarized and there had been numerous cross border incursions by both sides going back to 1949.”
Part of what ...
On the evening of April 6 the U.S. military fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at an airbase in Syria. The bombing was a “response” to the alleged chemical weapons attack by the Assad government, which critics of the American deep state and the US imperial agenda have called a false flag attack.
The U.S. assault, which was done without congressional approval, marks a complete reversal of Trump’s campaign trail anti-interventionist claims as well as his condemnation of previous US presidents’—Bush and Obama’s –military actions in countries like Syria and Iraq.
As Think Progress reports, this action marks a “dramatic reversal from Trump’s position ...
Headlines and commentary across both Eastern and Western media have mainly focused on the Catalan independence referendum and the actions of Spanish police and the Spanish government's attempts to disrupt polls.However, little is being said about what the real implications of Catalan independence may be. What do those politicians in Catalonia in favor of independence seek to do with it should they succeed? Will they create a Catalonia that serves the best interests of the people? Or serve the EU and NATO more efficiently and eagerly than a united Spain ever could?There are 5 points those following this conflict should ...
“There was no battle and no resistance (and no Egyptians). The first conquerors killed from eighty to a hundred Arabs [including] women and children. The children were killed by smashing of their skulls with sticks. Is it possible to shout about Deir Yassin and be silent about something much worse?”For the first time ever, a letter quoting one of the Israeli soldiers who were part of the Al-Dawayima massacre in October 1948 is published in full.On Friday, February 5th 2016, Haaretz published an article in Hebrew by Israeli historian Yair Auron, which covers one of the biggest massacres of 1948. The ...
Brzezinski’s death at 89 years of age has generated a load of propaganda and disinformation, all of which serves one interest group or another or the myths that people find satisfying. I am not an expert on Brzezinski, and this is not an apology for him. He was a Cold Warrior, as essentially was everyone in Washington during the Soviet era.For 12 years Brzezinski was my colleague at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where I occupied the William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy. When I was elected to that chair, CSIS was a part of Georgetown University. ...
According to Inside Syria Media Center military sources in Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), SDF-Kurds will join the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) as “Northern Syria Protection units” after the establishment of the federal system in Syria.A Rojava official and the joint chief of defense in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava), Rezan Gilo stated that the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have no problem joining the Syrian army if a federal state is awarded in northern Syria (Kurdish autonomous territories as part of the federal Syria). They are now in process of considering the possibility of joining the SAA.“There is no problem for our ...
Destroyed Serbian Orthodox church in Kosovo by local Muslim Albanians after 1999In 2000, when George W. Bush was elected president in a controversial and hotly disputed election, all the experts and pundits predicted that there would be a philosophical sea change in US foreign policy in the Balkans, and in Kosovo in particular. In my 2000 analysis of the election of Bush and US foreign policy in Kosovo, however, I concluded that the George W. Bush Administration represented the same old same old and business as usual. In my viewpoint, absolutely nothing would change in the US foreign policy stance ...
Unless We Learn Our History, We’re Doomed to Repeat ItPreface: I am a patriotic American who loves my country. I was born here, and lived here my entire life.So why do I frequently point out America’s warts? Because – as the Founding Fathers and Supreme Court judges have explained – we can only make America better if we honestly examine her shortcomings. After all:“Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”Only when Americans can honestly look at our weaknesses can we become stronger. If we fail to do so, history will repeat …While Americans rightly condemn the Nazis as monstrous people, ...
This article by Professor James Tracy first published in August 2015 is of particular relevance in relation to the “fake news” campaign directed against the alternative and independent media.In a bitter irony, the media coverup of the CIA’s covert support to Al Qaeda and the ISIS is instrumented by the CIA which also oversees the mainstream media.Since the end of World War Two the Central Intelligence Agency has been a major force in US and foreign news media, exerting considerable influence over what the public sees, hears and reads on a regular basis. CIA publicists and journalists alike will assert they have few, ...
North Korea cheered this month when a man with a knife and a history of violent behavior slashed the face of Mark Lippert, the U.S. ambassador to South Korea. The attack in Seoul was “a knife shower of justice,” North Korea said, praising it as “deserved punishment for warmonger United States.”
If that sounds mean-spirited, consider this: For years, North Korea has taught schoolchildren to bayonet effigies of U.S. soldiers. Under its young dictator, Kim Jong Un, the government has suggested it was prepared to nuke Washington, Austin and Southern California. More than 40 years ago, Kim Il Sung, the “Great ...
World War II started, at least as far as the “European Theatre” was concerned, with the German army steamrolling over Poland in September, 1939. About six months later, even more spectacular victories followed, this time over the Benelux Countries and France. By the summer of 1940, Germany looked invincible and predestined to rule the European continent indefinitely. (Great Britain admittedly refused to throw in the towel, but could not hope to win the war on its own, and had to fear that Hitler would soon turn his attention to Gibraltar, Egypt, and/or other jewels in the crown of the British ...
Key facts about Kosovo’s Islamic Albanian minority of Serbia and the century long drive by Islamic extremists to exterminate Kosovo Serbs from that region:
1389—Muslims defeat Christian Serb defenders in Kosovo, depopulate the area and invite mountain tribe of Albanians, in exchange for converting to Islam, to take over pillaged land from Serbs.
1594—Sinan Pasha, an ethnic Albanian, who was a commander in the Ottoman Turkish Empire, burned the relics of St. Sava at Vracar, Belgrade. St. Sava is the Saint that brought Serbs into Christianity.
1878—Albanian nationalist leaders meet in Prizren, known as the First League of Prizren, to announce the creation ...
Provoking the Russian Bear: NATO is “Cannon Fodder” for the American Empire
Another Dangerous Rush to Judgment in Syria
America’s Recent Achievements in the Middle East
“Putinism” in American History
Serious Drawbacks in Ukraine’s Adopted ‘Church’ Bill
A Fascist Hero in “Democratic” Kiev
Westphalian Foundations of Modern International Relations, Global Politics and Global Security
Can You Imagine? Readers on Еx-Yugoslavia
Endless Atrocities: The US Role In Creating The North Korean Fortress-State
Trump Bombs Syria and Obliterates His Anti-Interventionist Promises
Catalan Independence: 5 Things to Think About
‘Barbarism by an Educated and Cultured People’ — Dawayima Massacre was Worse than Deir Yassin
Zbigniew Brzezinski – War Criminal Supreme
Kurdish Intentions to Join SAA: Secret Deal against the U.S.?
The Bush Administration’s Foreign Policy in Kosovo
Secret History: The U.S. Supported and Inspired the Nazis
The CIA and the Media: 50 Facts the World Needs to Know
The U.S. War Crime North Korea won’t Forget
The Battle of Moscow (December 1941): Turning Point of WWII
Kosovo: Key Dates in the Century Long Goal to Create a Greater Albania
FOLLOW US ON OUR SOCIAL PLATFORMS
Publish your articles on global politics, history, and international relations online & advertise your website for a moderate charging fee at www.global-politics.eu (contact: email@example.com). For more details see the Submission section on our website. We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We mainly rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics, and international relations. Follow us on our social platforms!