Archive for June, 2009

Emergency Wiretaps

A provision in our Criminal Code allows Police the ability to wiretap a person(s) without their knowledge, or without having to inform them of the tap, once the investigation is completed. However, the provision is for ’emergency use’ where lives are believed to be in ‘immediate danger’.

CBC News has learned that McMynn’s case is just one of at least 267 cases between 2000 and 2008 where major police forces across the country used warrant-less wiretaps. ( CBC News )

Personally, I happen to agree with the need of an emergency provision, so that Police can act in order to save a life, or lives. However, there still needs to be some form of accountability, to insure that the provision is being properly used, and not for other purposes.

Certainly we want to act, when speed is essential in protecting lives. However, what about property or inconvenience? Should that also be included as just cause to by pass the legal system?

I don’t think so.

And yet, that is what is at the heart of this matter. How can we, the people, or those in charge of the Police, even know if such instances are proper or not, if there is no record keeping, no passing along of information? While it is nice to think that every law enforcement officer is honest, true, and dedicated, free of personal bias, the simple truth is, they are human, just like everyone else. They have prejudices, they have bias leanings, and yes, they too act out of anger, out of irrational fear at times, so they do need to be held accountable.

It is that accountability that makes our society different from a Dictatorship, or Tyranical Ruler. We are at War, with those forces that would like to see our society crumble, but you know, the greatest threat is coming from within, not from them. It is our fear that is driving us to ignore the very principles that set us apart, and when you blur the lines that much, you give the enemy exactly what they seek.

The end of our society.

Laws exist for the protection of everyone in our society, not just a select few who are born of the right religion, have the right skin color, and have the right view or opinion. Laws are for those who disagree, who are willing to accept that others may have a point, or that they are at least allowed to voice them, openly & free from retribution.

Those are the principles that founded this country, that are its backbone for being.

Emergency Powers are needed, but we still need to have procedures, to maybe detail better how and when such powers can be used, and also, to insure that each time they are used, there is proper documentation, & records. Not so we can just punish abusers of the system, but in an effort to refine and make the rules perform better.

Without the data, you can’t say how many lives were saved, or not. You can’t determine what methods worked or didn’t, in saving lives, if you don’t know how Police got to that point.  This is about Democracy, about being held accountable, yet it seems, we try to duck that, by using sensationalism stories to illustrate a point, either for or against.

Instead of promising accountability, as Stephen Harper does, let us, for a change, actually BE ACCOUNTABLE.

Harper’s Goons have retaken the lead in the Political Polls, not because of anything they have done, but due to the indecision of the Opposition Parties, especially the Liberals under Ignatieff.  Frankly, Politics is becoming a joke, no better than Used Car Salesmen or some Product Hawker on television.

Asked which party they would support if a federal election were held tomorrow, 34.8 per cent of respondents said they would cast their ballots for Stephen Harper’s Tories, while 32.6 per cent opted for Ignatieff‘s Liberals, EKOS said. ( CBC News )

I wonder what goes on in the minds of those who advise Political leaders?

Sure, maybe people don’t want an election now, in which case, why create a situation where one might be expected? How is that going to get my support? How is that going to translate into me wanting to support you down the road, when you are only using that ‘threat‘ to garner support for your pet policy?

Harper has shown he is not the ideal choice among Canadians, but gets his sorry ass re-elected because the Opposition cannot get it’s own act together. If the Harper Tories are dismantling this country, are incapable of managing its finances, then force the issue, and be man/woman enough to stand your ground.

If we want less attack ads, then how about we actually stand for what we say, for what we claim to believe in?

If the EI plans of the government are wrong, if their economic policy is wrong, if their environmental policy is wrong, THEN WHY ARE YOU SUPPORTING THEM, MR. Ignatieff? MR. Layton?

People want decisions, not platitudes or posturing. We want leaders WHO WILL ACT, and not those who will compromise their principles, to avoid what maybe an unpleasent or inconvenient election call.

It is the JOB of the Leaders to make their cases, and if you are so unsure of your policies, of garnering my support for them, then perhaps instead of bluster, instead of bluff, YOU ADJUST YOUR POLICIES.

In other words, Mr. Ignatieff, Ms. May, Mr. Layton, CONVINCE ME I SHOULD SUPPORT YOU & YOUR PARTY WITH CONVICTION, NOT HOT AIR, NOT EMPTY THREATS.

The Terrorist Card.

Everyone has heard about the ‘race card’ or the ‘religion card’ when used to attack a difference of opinion. Some claim it is racist to oppose someone of an ethnic origin, or that it is anti religious to object to religious groups that interfere in political issues. And then there is the ‘Terrorist Card’ that governments like George Bush played with extreme deftness, and dexterity.  Stephen Harper & his band of thugs are also pretty good at using it too.

It took a Supreme Court order to bring back a Canadian citizen from the Sudan. Took a public enquiry to get Arar an apology from the RCMP along with a cash settlement. It has taken a Court Order to also slap the wrists of the Government for its raid on a SUSPECTED TERRORIST HARKET.  Also a Court Order to bring back another Canadian Citizen who has been held in Gitmo since 2002, which is being appealed by Harper.

In a 24-page decision released Tuesday, Justice Simon Noel says the May 12 raid violated the Charter rights of Mohamed Harkat, an Algerian refugee whom the Canadian Security Intelligence Service accuses of having ties to terrorist organizations. ( CBC News )

Federal lawyers filed an appeal in Ottawa Tuesday of a court ruling that ordered the government to seek Omar Khadr’s return to Canada from Guantanamo Bay. ( CBC News )

It isn’t just the story that worries me, but the comments for each of these two stories, that detail the excesses of our Government, and it’s UNWILLINGNESS to protect our basic civil rights.

To begin with, all of the cases I have listed, Arar, Harknett, etc. are cases WHERE NO ACTUAL PROOF OF TERRORISM HAS BEEN FOUND. Even in the case of Khadr, a kid at the time, has no real evidence that proves he threw a grenade or not. In fact, evidence has been found, that shows that the suspicions against Arar were wrong, and that the one’s against the man in the Sudan were baseless.

In the case of Harknett, again, he has not been convicted, but is a  SUSPECT OUT ON BAIL.  The fact that he is under certain conditions, does not alter the simple fact, that he is not convicted of any crime.

YET PEOPLE ALREADY ARE WANTING TO END HIS LIFE, CLAIMING BLEEDING HEART Liberals ARE BENDING OVER TO PROTECT MURDERS & TERRORISTS.

Truth is, that until you know if a person is a murder, or a terrorist, and can prove it, you are delaing with an innocent person. That is the basics of our legal system, and yet so many seem intent on not just convicting these people, but demanding they be incarcerated or killed, without knowing the truth.

In fact, the Government prosecuting these individuals REFUSE to disclose the evidence against them, citing bogus National Security Issues. I mean come on, since when did SECRET TRIALS ever be DEMOCRATIC?   And how does opposing such tactics, make me a bleeding heart Liberal?

I believe in LAW, and being a minority, my life hangs on those RULES OF LAW. To listen to those complaining about insuring that Justice is followed is scary, because that is what leads to dictatorship, to anarchy. It is what HITLER DID IN GERMANY and these people need a reminder of just how that worked out.

I do not know if Harknett is guilty or innocent, nor do I know if Khadr is guilty or innocent, and it should be left up to a COURT OF LAW TO DECIDE NOT STEPHEN HARPER.  That is what makes this a democracy, the rights of individuals to be held above the rights of dictators, of Governments.   It may not be perfect, and yes, some who are guilty get away with their crimes, but what about those who are innocent?

Is it really better to have your mail opened without your knowledge? Is it really okay to not have any privacy on your internet journey?  All to supposedly catch a bad buy? How about being held in Prison for 3 1/2 years without seeing a court room based soley on someone’s suspicion that you are a bad person?

How would YOU feel if YOU were that person, and the sole reason you are being held is because your last name is FINKLESTEIN or because your skin color is BLACK, or you were seen leaving a MOSQUE?

Think about that, before you condemn Arar, Khadr, or Harknett.  Think about it, before you consider whether, or not, Stephen Harper is the kind of despot you want running your country?

THINK ABOUT IT FIRST, ABOUT WHAT IF SOME IMPERFECTION YOU HAVE, LIKE A BIG NOSE, A DIFFERENT SOUNDING LAST NAME, OR A DIFFERENT RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION, BECOMES OUT OF FASHION TOMORROW & YOU ARE ACCUSED OF BEING WHAT YOU AREN’T. ALL BECAUSE OF SOME SUPPOSED SUSPICION.

 THINK ABOUT IT.

Stephen Harper & his so called Conservatives are moving forwards, to force Internet Service Providers to keep substantial records on their customers, and more importantly, to require them to provide that information at ANY request of Law Enforcement. ( see my post  Without A Warrant )

At the same time, we have the RCMP under the gun, for the tazer death of a man at Vancouver Airport, where it now appears, that the officers involved PLANNED on using the Tazer, WITHOUT BEING AT THE SCENE. ( more on this from CBC News )

The fact is, that without proper oversight, we are asking for abuse to take place. I believe strongly in Law & Order, but I also believe in Democracy too. The two can exist together, but only when abuses are dealt with in a fair and open manner. Democracy isn’t about secrecy, or about ignoring criminal acts. It is about protecting everyone from false accusations, from wrongful actions by those put in charge of dealing with misbehavior.

The track record of the RCMP has not been very good, nor has the record of CSIS either been exactly model. Just look at the two high profile cases that exist, in regards to terrorists. We have Arar who was taken in a USA Airport, and based on improper information from CSIS & RCMP was deported to Syria, where he was tortured.

The head of the RCMP had to apologize, and it cost the taxpayer’s about 9 million dollars, and is still causing grief for Mr. Arar.

Then we have the man who went to the Sudan to attend his mother’s funeral, who has spent a year bunking at the Canadian Embassy, because once again, the RCMP & CSIS screwed up and he was detained, tortured in the Sudan, and the Harper Government refused to return his passport, so he could come home.

It has taken a Supreme Court Order to force a resolution in that situation.

In Vancouver a man was tasered, and died at the Airport from it. The public enquiry has now found out, that the plan to taser him, was discussed before the officers were even on the scene, despite their testimony to the contrary. In short, they LIED UNDER OATH.

Yet we are being asked to give these same groups, that have screwed up rather seriously, the ability to gather information on anyone they believe is a terrorist, is a criminal, WITHOUT OVERSIGHT.

Recent events have proven, that as much as one would like to trust in them, it is clear that we can’t. It is obvious that we NEED to have oversight into the actions of our law enforcement personnel, and agents, AT ALL TIMES IN ORDER TO MINIMIZE ABUSE.

When things are taken private, bad things happen. Abuses become common, and this proposed ISP law, is a good example of what should NOT BE ENACTED. It is dangerous, not in that it will catch any terrorists, catch any criminals, but that it will generate more abuse of  innocent people.

I believe in Law & Order, but I believe in DEMOCRACY MORE. The Harper Government by its proposed laws to force ISPs to secure more data on its subscribers, and to make all that data easily available to any law enforcement agency, without a warrant, is a dangerous step, that leads to tyranny, & dictatorship. I may want the criminals locked up, but not at the price of innocent people being ruined for life, like Mr. Arar has had happen to him.

Without a Warrant

The Harper Government continues to follow the path of George W. Bush & Adolph Hitler, with their assault on the freedoms of Citizens. From secret hearings, to secret prisons, to unrestricted police powers, this Gestapo Like Regime uses modern phrases, to justify the elimination of basic civil rights for the people of  Canada.

The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions.

So the saying goes, and this isn’t about having good intentions, the new ISP law being proposed by Herr Harper is designed to give unlimited powers to Police, under the guise of bringing to Justice, Child Pornographers & Terrorists. The double whammy impact mantra, to make you forget that the Rule of Law needs to be applied to everyone, including criminals.

Install and maintain “intercept-capable” equipment on their networks.

Provide police with “timely access” to personal information about subscribers, including names, address and internet addresses, without the need for a warrant. ( CBC News )

Let me be clear, I have NO PROBLEM with the Police being allowed to obtain such information, or of it even being kept for them.  PROVIDING THEY HAVE A WARRANT!.

I respect and value our law enforcement agencies, but let us be honest here. Abuse of power exists, and without JUDICIAL OVERSIGHT, can run amock. I mean look at the administrative warrants issue, where the FBI ADMITS TO THOUSANDS OF ABUSES OF THAT PROCESS ALONE.  And what about the damage it does to the innocent?

Sure the argument that police need to move quickly is a good one, phony 99.9% of the time though. There is simply no way, that intercept messages require immediate action, nor is it even possible for anyone to monitor such messages 24/7 so the odds of intercepting a dangerous call, that would prevent a terrorist attack or would prevent a child from being abused, becomes nil.

YES over time, such monitoring can provide sufficient evidence to thwart attacks, abuse, but the key here, IS OVER TIME.  If they have time, they have time to obtain a judicial search warrant. EVEN IF THEY DON’T HAVE TIME THEY NEED A WARRANT.

This isn’t some dictatorship, we have laws to protect our civil rights, and under Stephen Harper, those laws are slowly being taken away. He can be the greatest economiz whiz in the world, the best at solving our financial crisis, can be super at improving industry in Canada, in even protecting the environment, but when you take away basic human rights, wehn you weaken the very protection of society, you aren’t fit to be in Government.

The Gestapo kicked doors down, spirited away people in the middle of the night, and how is that any different today? Ask Arar how it felt, to be grabbed off a plane, to have your own country conspire to label you a terrorist, and then do nothing to help, until you were in a prison, being tortured.  Ask the guy in the Sudan who required a Supreme Court Ruling to force his government to let him come home, after being tortured and labelled a terrorist, without cause.

Then ask yourself, what if that now happens here, by the RCMP or the Calgary Police?

What Stephen Harper is doing, is making us no better, than the terrorists he claims to be protecting us from, or from the criminals who break the laws. It is our LAWS that make us different, that is why we are under assaut from people like Osama.  To become like them, will not give us Victory, but make us just like they are, evil and dangerous.

While the goal today, is to thwart terrorists, and to root out abusers of children, what will it be tomorrow? The Jews in 1930 Germany didn’t think it was a bad idea to give the Police such powers, and it turned out, that the plan wasn’t to protect the German nation, but to further the mad  goals of Hitler, to eradicate a race, he blamed for his failures.

Bush used the same scheme, to further his own ambitions, to get re-elected and to thwart honest opposition to his plans of getting even with Saadam Hussein. In the process he’s helped tear the Middle East further apart, not to mention the enormous strain he put on the US Economy.

The reason we have the need to apply to a Judge, to get a Warrant is because, when we didn’t have those rules, there were too many abuses and Police did exceed their authority. Personal vendetta’s were settled, and innocent people were prosecuted, and persecuted

HARPER WANTS TO RETURN TO THOSE DAYS TO STAY IN POWER, JUST AS GEORGE BUSH DID.