Friday, May 18, 2007

The Secret of PSEP*

How does today's news about the Conservatives' "chaos manual" compare to previous attempts at silencing dissent? This has been running in my head all day and I have some observations. The most obvious example is the one the Opposition brought up -- Watergate. Does Richard Nixon compare to Stephen Harper? I wouldn't quite go that far, but consider the following:

Researching Watergate and its associated scandals a few years back, I thought Nixon took the cake with his infamous "enemies' list" which included such luminaries as Daniel Schorr, Paul Newman and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI). Then came the story of how Donald Segretti double-crossed the 1972 Edmund Muskie campaign in what infamously became known as "ratfucking".

Then one realizes a lot of the trouble started in 1971, a year before the break-in when the US Supreme Court issued a famous ruling that permitted the publication of the "Pentagon Papers" leaked by Danny Ellsberg. They had been commissioned by Bob McNamara under Johnson but Nixon thought they posed a serious national security risk. In fact they were all about past history and how Presidents in a line dating back to Truman -- yes, Truman -- lied about American involvement in Vietnam.

It's no coincidence the enemies' list was drafted just months after the Supreme's decision. Watergate may have been clumsily executed but it was a master plan to destroy democracy in America. Thank God it didn't work.

Here we are in 2007. And we find out what has been suspected for weeks: The Conservatives, being a minority, also have a minority on committees and while they have every incentive to work with the left have no intention of doing so and never had. So the only way they can keep the opposition from asking questions is to stall witnesses who are against Harper while coaching those who support him. By any stretch of the imagination, counselling witnesses beforehand -- especially those who have been sub poenaed -- is contempt of Parliament.

The Government has photo-op announcements before tabling legislation as though they are faites accomplis. Also, contempt of Parliament.

Cabinet meetings are never announced in advance. Contempt for a free press and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Even visits by foreign dignitaries are almost never announced unless they're from one of the countries that have nuclear weapons. Mostly trade issues are discussed, but why should Canadians be kept in the dark about building ties with our friends as well as our enemies?

Now naturally, the Conservatives claim that the Opposition is stalling passage of key legislation such as the crime bill. However in a minority situation I thought it is the role of the Opposition to make legislation better -- it's one of the few times the Prime Minister doesn't have a blank cheque. So how is it that the Cons know what the Opposition is planning even before they do? Why else would there be a chaos manual?

What's next? Stockwell Day, the Public Security Minister, calls the RCMP to wiretap the three opposition leaders' phones? Hey, no need -- the Communications Security Establishment probably already does, as well as every other phone in Canada; and by extension the planet with the Echelon project. Although since Canadian law prohibits domestic espionage the CSE can always claim it's the CIA that spies on Canada while the CIA claims it's the CSE that spies on America.

And on it goes. "Public Security and Emergency Preparedness"? Or Public Safety Canada or whatever they're calling it these days? How about giving it a non-whitewashed name, say the Department of Keeping Canadians in Fear and Hating Muslims, Aboriginals and All Other Non-Whites into Perpetuity?

* This is a pun, of course, on the 1982 Don Bluth animated classic The Secret of NIMH -- NIMH being an acronym for the US National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland. PSEP is the Canadian Department of Public Security and Emergency Preparedness -- in other words, the anti-terrorist wing.

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