Thursday, December 29, 2011


(apologies for the belated nature of this report; the issues, however, remain urgent, so see at the bottom what you can do to help)


In the early morning hours of October 26, an Ottawa communiqué was produced by the RCMP’s home-grown Crisis Management Cell (Al Qaeda is not the only disreputable and shady organization that organizes itself with cell structures). The communiqué warned of an impending evolving situation at the Prime Minister’s Office and called on Special Operations as well as Ottawa Police to attend to the scene.

The cause of the crisis, apparently, had to do with “anti-torture” protesters who were set to gather that morning at 9:30 am. While the special bulletin did not explain the whys and wherefores, it would have been obvious to anyone who had been in the city for the previous three days, during which copious amounts of crime scene tape had appeared, accompanied by evidence flags and hooded “detainees,” at a variety of Canadian government agencies and private corporations complicit in torture.

Members of the Crisis Management Cell were also concerned, no doubt, with the banner headline of that morning’s Ottawa Citizen, which revealed that just-released internal RCMP documents indicated that the Mounties knew that the alleged case against Ottawa engineer Abdullah Almalki was completely unfounded. Yet the Mounties nonetheless made up dangerously inflammatory allegations about him that resulted in 22 months of torture in a Syrian dungeon. No one in the institution has been held to account. (for more on those memos see )

Indeed, October marked three years since the release of a report based on the highly secretive and biased Iacobucci Inquiry, which, despite its major structural faults (the three men at the inquiry’s focus were not allowed to attend the completely secret process), nonetheless found that Canada was complicit in the men’s torture. Despite a subsequent Parliamentary committee’s recommendations, and a vote by the majority of the House of Commons calling for an apology, compensation, and accountability, Prime Minister Harper, as well as the complicit institutions and individuals, have failed to comply with that vote and simply do the right thing.

Hence, public pressure to jump-start a process of accountability to mark that anniversary sprang into action, and for three days, members of Crime Scene Investigation: Ottawa (CSI Ottawa), a fully realized subsidiary of Stop Canadian Involvement in Torture, had been showing up at dozens of locations, reading aloud damning documents from federal inquiries, court decisions, and independent research that focused both on the cases of three Canadians targeted for torture – Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati, and Muayyed Nereddin – as well as the larger pattern of complicity in torture that has ruined the lives of countless Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and refugees.

And so individuals dressed in orange jumpsuits and black hoods, accompanied by others in CSI jackets and one booming sound system, set out to mark the city’s numerous shameful connections to torture. The first day began during the bitterly cold and damp morning rush hour on Monday, October 24 in the city’s east end where, after the group members parked their vehicles in the massive St. Laurent shopping centre parking lot, they headed out on the torture trail leading to the RCMP.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Canada’s Secret Trial Cases Built on Torture

(this story originally appeared at
By Matthew Behrens

Four years after the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously found them unconstitutional, secret hearing “security certificates” are still in use, with a number of Muslim men fighting unseen allegations while under threat of deportation to torture.
Security certificates have long been used by Canada’s scandal-plagued spy agency CSIS (the Canadian Security Intelligence Service) to tar refugees and permanent residents as national security threats without having to explain their alleged case. Those detained under the process are never charged, and subjected to lower standards than those applying to any citizen facing similar accusations. Indeed, the law governing the procedure allows for the introduction of any piece of information “even if it is inadmissible in a court of law.”
For the past decade, five Muslim men – dubbed the Secret Trial Five – have endured this Kafkaesque process both behind bars and under humiliating house arrest. Last month, the release of two formerly classified documents indicates that the national security secrecy claims that form the bedrock of these cases have in fact served as a cover for illegal and unethical acts by CSIS.
Indeed, the documents reveal the secret trial regime relies almost entirely on information gleaned from torture. A 2008 letter written by Jim Judd, then head of CSIS, bemoans legislative changes then being proposed that, in raising the bar on the admissibility of information possibly extracted under torture, “could render unsustainable the current security certificate proceedings.”
The CSIS memo does not comment on the ethics or legality of using information gleaned from torture; rather, it speaks to whether or not that information can somehow be corroborated. Judd claims that CSIS must maintain relations with countries that have poor human rights records as part of its so-called counter-terrorism efforts, and he shudders that with a proposed amendment on torture, “a Court could require CSIS to certify that all intelligence gathered in support of Certificates was done without resort to torture. This would almost certainly result in the Security Certificates regime falling into disuse as a consequence of its unworkability.”
Judd adds that a Court could render inadmissible “any and all information provided by agencies in countries whose human rights records are in question – of which there are many.” This scenario could arise, the memo continues, because “much” of the information put forward by CSIS in these cases “corroborates, or is corroborated, by [words blacked out, but clearly implying derived from torture], which under this interpretation of the amendment may no longer be admissible.”

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

RCMP's Own Docs Reveal Case Against Almalki Racist, Unfounded

Three Years After Finding of Canadian Complicity in Torture, Silence Lingers in Ottawa.
By Matthew Behrens
(this story originally appeared at

Three years after a secretive federal inquiry found that numerous agencies of the Canadian government were complicit in his torture, Ottawa’s Abdullah Almalki held a press conference on Parliament Hill October 25, where he released shocking documents to prove the alleged case against him was completely unfounded and based on racism.

Almalki, who was detained, interrogated, and tortured for 22 months in a Syrian dungeon, has sought answers to many questions since his return to Canada. Why was he targeted? How could agencies of his own government fabricate a case against him and then send questions to his Syrian torturers? He had hoped to participate in the Iacobucci Inquiry struck in 2007 to investigate both his case and those of Ahmad El Maati and Muayyed Nureddin, also tortured with Canadian complicity, but all three were completely shut out of the process, along with their lawyers, the public, and the media.

The Iacobucci report, released in October 2008, found, among other conclusions, that “several of the Canadian officials involved in the decision to send questions for Mr. Almalki were aware that doing so created a serious risk that Mr. Almalki would be tortured.” It also found “Some of the RCMP members involved in the decision to send questions for Mr. Almalki displayed a dismissive attitude towards the issue of human rights and the possibility of torture.”

The report cleared the three men of the serious allegations that had been created about them by CSIS and the RCMP, noting that in the case of Mr. Almalki, a description of him as an “imminent threat” to national security was not only “inflammatory, inaccurate, and lacking investigative foundation,” it was in fact meant to describe someone else.

But the damning findings of the Iacobucci inquiry did not provide a sufficient enough explanation both for what happened and why it occurred, and certainly failed to lay proper blame and seek accountability.

Since that time, Almalki has sifted through many pages of documents he received under freedom of access to information, and was shocked to discover what he found.

“Ten years ago, I never thought that one day I would be standing and speaking publicly about racism,” Almalki says. “I think I had the grace of not experiencing racism in my life before.”
The occasion for his comments was the October 25 release of RCMP internal documents from 2001. About three weeks after the attacks of September 11, 2001, the RCMP sent a dangerous, inflammatory memo to Syria and the intelligence agencies of numerous other countries suggesting Almalki was an “imminent threat” to the public safety and security of Canada. Yet that same day, the RCMP’s own assessment showed he was not a threat at all. “O Div. task force are presently finding it difficult to establish anything on him other than the fact that he is an arab running around,” the document reads.

“It is not only heartbreaking and extremely disappointing to see that the biggest police force in Canada is racist,” Almalki says. “It is rather disgusting and outrageous when you see that this would lead to making up and fabricating accusations about a person that resulted in torture and illegal detention.

“Racism blinds people, impairs their judgment, shrinks their cognitive abilities, and diminishes moral values. Racism stinks and stings.”

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Taking Liberties: The Ever-Changing Imperatives of "National Security"

(This is the first in a series of columns at on “national security” and civil liberties in Canada and abroad that seeks to focus on specific cases as well as the overall framework in which serious human rights abuses have been justified in the name of security.)

By Matthew Behrens

Just after Thanksgiving, Montreal’s Westin Hotel played host to a gathering of high-powered Federal Court judges, NGO heads, lawyers, academics, and members of Canada’s torture-complicit spy service, CSIS. Coming together under the predictably dry title “Terrorism, Law and Democracy: 10 years after 9/11,” the conference sought to determine “whether Canadian law has successfully preserved fundamental rights and values of substantive and procedural justice while at the same time contributing to anti-terrorism.”
This collegial-sounding gathering – entrance to which was restricted to those who could shell out the $895 entrance fee – appears to have been one of those periodic gabfests where elite representatives determine the responsible manner in which the rest of us will perceive terms like “terrorism” and “national security”. Importantly, attendees were safely insulated from the most compelling voices of the past ten years: those who have been victimized by numerous conference participants. The latter included judges who have presided over secret hearings, spies whose organization falsely labels individuals security threats, and academics who produce papers defending arbitrary detention.
Indeed, Canadians Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati, and Muayyed Nureddin, who three years ago this month were found by a secretive federal inquiry to have been tortured with the complicity of Canadian government agencies, including CSIS, were not on any of the panels. Nor were Abousfian Abdelrazik and Omar Khadr, both tortured with CSIS complicity. Benamar Benatta, an Algerian refugee rendered to torture by Canadian hands on September 12, 2001, wasn’t there to talk about how his Charter rights had been violated either, nor were Adil Charkaoui and Hassan Almrei, whose bogus secret trial security certificates were finally quashed after a decade-long struggle. Mohammad Mahjoub, Mahmoud Jaballah, and Mohamed Harkat, who are still facing deportation to torture without being able to see the secret “case” against them, were similarly absent.
Each of those individuals was more than capable of delivering an eloquent assessment of the conference theme – indeed, the names and stories of those who have suffered a fundamental denial of rights at the hands of Canadian authorities in the past decade could fill volumes. But conference organizers instead brought in CSIS Assistant Director of Intelligence Raymond Boisvert, and former CSIS Director Jim Judd (who in one Wikileaks-released document laments Canadians’ “paroxysms of moral outrage” over the human rights abuses committed by his organization).
It must have been an odd sight to witness those CSIS veterans sharing a polite panel discussion with critics of human rights abuses such as of Amnesty International Canada’s Alex Neve, and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association’s Nathalie des Rosiers. One wonders if either of them directly challenged the CSIS men, perhaps asking why there has been no apology, no compensation, and no systemic changes in CSIS to prevent the kind of torture suffered not only by the abovementioned men, but by numerous others. Equally important, did conference organizers and participants consider the manner in which the scandal-plagued CSIS is accorded a significant degree of legitimization and acceptance by having its heavyweights appearing at such a gathering? Or that those who have been targeted, such as Maher Arar or Adil Charkoui, suffer an equal degree of de-legitimization by not inviting them onto the agenda?
As with any important political issue, who sits at the table of such conferences generally determines the scope of the discussion. In this instance, the absence of key voices raises significant issues about how the never-defined term “national security” is framed, filtered, and ultimately understood in this country. Such a closed, circular world logically produces a Canadian military that names First Nations advocates threats to national security and explains why the Canadian financial intelligence unit FINTRAC was found recently to have tarred environmentalists and animal rights activists as terrorists in their online tutorials.
In a similar vein, it will come as no surprise to rabble readers that most mainstream media outlets buy into such narrow narratives. Most reporters assigned to the national security beat are not physically embedded within the RCMP and CSIS in the way those covering the occupation of Afghanistan seem to become stenographers for the Canadian military. But they tend to write as if they were, buying the assumptions created and sustained by those who benefit most from them while generally ignoring the fact that these agencies have a historical profile that reads “pathological liar”.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Suncor/PetroCanada Must Stop Fueling Syrian Repression

"Some of the dead, who include children, were also mutilated either before or after death in particularly grotesque ways apparently intended to strike terror into the families to whom their corpses were returned." – Amnesty International, August 30, 2011

Although the Canadian government has instituted sanctions against the Syrian regime, the oil and gas sector, which earns the regime about $3 billion per year, remains untouched by Canadian sanctions.

Take Action, Contact both Suncor/PetroCanada executives and your MPs and demand that Suncor/PetroCanada leave Syria immediately

The atrocities no longer garner media attention, but over 3,000 Syrian people have been murdered by the Assad regime since peaceful demonstrations began earlier this year. Over 12,000 have been imprisoned, with untold numbers tortured to death (including children). Although Canadian oil giant Suncor/PetroCanada left Libya soon after the crackdown on protests there, the oil giant has refused to leave Syria, even though its operations financially support the Syrian regime. According to Human Rights Watch, "Under Syrian law the government is the major shareholder in the oil and gas sector through its ownership of the Syrian National Gas and Syrian National Oil companies [now replaced by the General Petroleum Corporation (GPC)]. These two companies have a 50 percent share in every oil and gas project in Syria."

In March 2010, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated that the Syrian government earns around €2.1 billion (about CND$3 billion) from oil and gas per year.

Given that 50% of all profits from oil and gas operations in Syria are shared with the Syrian regime, Suncor/PetroCanada's continued presence there is a major vote of confidence in brutality, torture, and mass murder.

Amnesty International reported earlier this month that "The sharp rise in the number of reported deaths in custody has been one of the most shocking features of the government’s bloody crackdown on the protests. No less than 88 such deaths have been reported to Amnesty International as occurring during the period from 1 April and 15 August 2011, a figure for four and a half months which is already many times higher than the yearly average over recent years. In at least 52 of these cases, there is evidence that torture caused or contributed to the deaths, a concern exacerbated by reports of widespread torture in detention centres in recent months. Some of the dead, who include children, were also mutilated either before or after death in particularly grotesque ways apparently intended to strike terror into the families to whom their corpses were returned."

Asked about the role that Suncor is playing in the brutal repression in Syria, Suncor/PetroCanada CEO Richard L. George told The Current (CBC Radio) on August 19th, "We're actually not connected to the Assad regime in any way. ... We operate with a partner in Syria, the General Petroleum Corporation, which is a state corporation." (

But being partners with the state-owned General Petroleum Corporation (GPC) does tie Suncor/PetroCanada to the regime. The state corporation reports directly to the Syrian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Sufian Allaw. In any case, there is no effective distance between state, regime and government in Syria. Suncor/PetroCanada works in alliance with the Syrian regime.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

CSI Ottawa: Ending Canadian Involvement in Torture

CSI Ottawa: Ending Canadian Involvement in Torture
October 24-26, 2011

Join us for three days of public witness, vigils, speakouts, and walks throughout Ottawa as we shine a spotlight on Canadian institutions, public and private, that are complicit in the torture of human beings. Details of getting involved are at the bottom of this email.

Quite simply, because the Government of Canada condones torture, and there are crime scenes throughout the city where evidence of this complicity has been found by courts, judicial inquiries, and other venues. Examples of such institutions include the RCMP, CSIS, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Dept. of Justice, and the War Department. Secrecy has repeatedly been invoked to prevent further evidence of such complicity from entering the public sphere, and those who have made criminal decisions leading to torture have not been charged and held to account.

Clearly, yellow crime scene tape needs to go up all over the city.

October 21 will mark three years since a secretive federal inquiry found the government of Canada complicit in the torture of Canadians Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati and Muayyed Nureddin. Yet the government refuses to accept the findings of its own inquiry, an inquiry in which only its side of the complicity in torture was heard, an inquiry in which none of those who were tortured, nor their lawyers, nor the public, nor the media were allowed to attend. And even with the cards stacked so much in favour of the government, the government was found to be complicit. Now that these three men seek an apology, compensation, and accountability, the government questions the fact that they have been tortured.

October will also mark 28 months since a report from the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security of the House of Commons called for an immediate apology for all thee men, along with compensation "for the suffering they endured and the difficulties they encountered." The committee released a report that also called on the federal government to "do everything necessary to correct misinformation that may exist in records administered by national security agencies in Canada or abroad with respect to" the three men and their family members.
(full report: )

Importantly, the Committee called on "the Government of Canada [to] issue a clear ministerial directive against torture and the use of information obtained from torture for all departments and agencies responsible for national security. The ministerial directive must clearly state that the exchange of information with countries is prohibited when there is a credible risk that it could lead, or contribute, to the use of torture."

On December 3, 2009, that report and its recommendations were endorsed by the majority of the House of Commons. The Harper government refused to act on the will of the majority of the House of Commons.

The rationale behind CSI Ottawa: Ending Canadian Involvement in Torture is to place renewed focus on federal institutions in Ottawa that are complicit in the torture of Canadian citizens, refugees, and immigrants, as well as citizens of countries occupied by Canadian forces. While Canada’s broader complicity in torture will provide an educational backdrop for the week’s events, the specific demands will be:

the federal government's acknowledgement of and implementation of the Standing Committee’s recommendations;
that the Harper government act immediately on the December, 2009 majority vote of the House of Commons endorsing that report;
the full release of all documents related to these cases to the men and their lawyers;
acts of accountability to ensure such actions never again occur.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Support the Return to Canada of Two Canadian Citizen Children and their Libyan Refugee Parents and Siblings Who Were Deported in 2008 and Whose Father

The Benhmuda family fled to Canada from Libya in July 2000 to seek safety from the Gaddafi regime. They built a life here, worked hard and went to school and contributed to the community. Two more children were born to the family, Omar and Adam. However, after 8 years here they were ordered to return and, despite the risk of persecution and torture under the Gaddafi regime, were sent back to Libya in 2008. The three years that have followed have been an intensely difficult journey of jail and torture for the father, as well as hellish living conditions in Tripoli and in a Maltese refugee camp for the whole family.

In February, 2011, The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) produced a detailed report that called on Canada to resettle the Benhmuda family in the country they call their own: Canada. UNHCR said they are at risk in Libya and do not have adequate security and integration prospects in Malta.

Since that time, no action has been taken by the Canadian government to bring the Benhmuda family home.

The Benhmuda family need your support to come home to Canada. More detailed information on their case is below, including a link to an interview with the family on CBC’s The Current, along with suggestions on what you can do to help, including letter writing, financial support, and more.


“If we receive an application from that family I can assure the House that it will be given every humanitarian consideration, and indeed dealt with on an accelerated basis." Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, June 23, 2011, House of Commons, in response to a question about whether he will take immediate steps to resettle the Benhmuda family in Canada.

Minister Kenney needs to hear from the voices of people across the country who will encourage him to do the right thing and return this family to Canada.

We are calling on the Canadian government to immediately bring the family to Canada, where they have well-developed roots, and so the children can resume their schooling without further disruption to their already traumatized lives.

Despite incredibly "Weak Case," Hassan Diab Forced to Keep Resisting Extradition to France

July 12, 2011 – Dr Hassan Diab is a Canadian university professor fighting for his freedom, and for his life. The French government wants him to face trial for what they allege is Dr. Diab’s involvement in a 1980 bombing that killed four people. If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.

There’s only one problem. Dr. Diab’s fingerprints don’t match the suspect’s. His palm prints do not match. The physical description does not match. The handwriting does not match. The allegations against him have been found “weak”, “suspect,” and “confusing” by a Canadian judge. That same judge concluded June 6 that “the case presented by the Republic of France against Mr. Diab is a weak case; the prospects of conviction in the context of a fair trial, seem unlikely.”

With such a strong defence, one would think Dr. Diab would be breathing easy. Instead, he is strapped to a GPS monitoring bracelet for which he must pay $2,000 a month (a new version of the Dickensian debtors’ prison, in which your freedom is now dependent on your ability to pay the state’s surveillance costs), barred from leaving his home without a court-approved monitor, and faced with a curfew worse than that imposed on most 10-year-olds. He cannot teach, his home is frequently invaded by RCMP agents, and he lives with the unimaginable stress that he might spend the rest of his life in a small French jail cell.

How could such an outrage occur? Under Canada’s extradition law, the duty of a Canadian court and the Minister of Justice is, first and foremost, to the government seeking an individual. That individual no longer enjoys the rights that are supposed to be accorded everyone else in this country facing the deprivation of their liberty. Canadian standards of evidence are thrown out the window. The case against the individual is presumed to be reliable, regardless of how many inaccuracies, errors, omissions, and contradictions are contained within it. One cannot present evidence to show one’s innocence, and the requesting state need not present any evidence of that innocence.

The deck is clearly stacked yet, as the Supreme Court of Canada has found, extradition is, in the end, not a legal issue, but a political decision: is the government of Canada willing to risk its relations with one of its extradition partners, or is it willing to sacrifice one of its citizens (or a refugee or permanent resident who is also sought) in the name of maintaining happy diplomacy?

In all extradition cases, the argument goes, an individual sought by another country can “sort out the mess” upon their arrival in a foreign jail. It is a process fraught with danger: a foreign government can carry out a persecution by proxy using the extradition law, claiming it has a case against a political pain in the neck living in Canada, presenting what amounts to a “prima facie” case without needing to vouch for the case’s accuracy.

In the Diab case, the French government seems intent on “solving” the mystery of the 1980 bombing at any cost, even if that means nabbing someone who appears to be the victim of mistaken identity. Their main piece of evidence is an “expert” handwriting report by someone who has a degree in biology and forensics and who only took 21 hours of training in expert handwriting analysis.

What was known as the Bisotti report was subject to a great deal of scrutiny during the extradition hearing, including three blistering critiques by internationally renowned handwriting experts. Indeed, the government of Canada declared that the case all came down to the handwriting, though it took numerous kicks at the can in coming to this very weak conclusion. In fact, both France and the Attorney General withdrew previous handwriting reports when it was revealed that they were based on handwriting samples that were not even written by Dr. Diab..
“Although I could not conclude it was manifestly unreliable, it was nonetheless highly susceptible to criticism and impeachment,” Judge Maranger wrote of the handwriting evidence. Indeed, he went on, “evidence presented on behalf of the person sought has largely served to substantially undermine the French report; it has been shown to be evidence that is susceptible to a great deal of criticism and attack.
“The Bisotti report has been shown to be based on some questionable methods and on an analysis that seems very problematic. The use of two completely separate signatures, i.e. Hassan Diab’s and an illegible fictitious signature, as a means of doing handwriting comparison analysis seems illogical…I found the French expert report convoluted, very confusing, with conclusions that are suspect. Despite this view, I cannot say that it is evidence that should be completely rejected as “manifestly unreliable”.

It’s not just the weak handwriting evidence that is problematic. Maranger wrote that he accepted the Canadian government position that “there is no responsibility upon a requesting state to provide full disclosure of all of its evidence.” Hence, 10 witnesses can testify that an individual was not at the scene of the crime, but someone’s life in Canada could be uprooted and ruined because of the fact that the French, or any other government, can cook up a case that suits their needs and exclude exonerating evidence.

Maranger also notes that the Record of the case (ROC) as originally presented by France — in French, a language Dr. Diab does not speak – was “replete with seemingly disconnected information….while providing some conventional evidence, [it] also contained a great deal of argument, hypothesis, conjecture, and references to information received, without describing the source of that information or the circumstances upon which it was received.”

This, in essence, is secret, “unsourced” information. Where did it come from? Was torture involved?

The ROC also includes information that it gleaned from “a series of reports and newspaper articles,” hardly the stuff that would normally be accepted in a court (but which is normally included against individuals stigmatized by the Canadian government, such as refugees and, in the past decade, Muslims facing secret hearing security certificates and Tamils fleeing genocide.)

Diab’s lawyers raised nine specific issues of misrepresentations including omissions, inaccuracies, and contradictions in the French case, all of which they said amounted to an abuse of process. Maranger found there was an “air of reality” to the arguments put forward by Diab’s legal team, but in the end, he again dismissed them.

Indeed, Maranager bends over backwards to honour the French case, despite making statements such as “Although it was a blatant error requiring an explanation, I cannot find that it constitutes a complete failure of due diligence,” and concluding elsewhere that a problem in the record “was an inadvertent error.” How would he know? And more importantly, how can such problems be so easily dismissed in favour of the requesting state? In another instance, Maranger says “this was clearly a mistake on the part of the requesting authority that should have been corrected.” But it wasn’t. Verbal slap on the wrist to the French, an extra set of leg irons for Dr. Diab.

Under extradition law, Maranger says, there is “a presumption that evidence contained in the ROC is reliable.” So much for the presumption of innocence that is supposed to belong to the person sought.

Maranager found Diab’s defence was “compelling, and forcefully argued,” but that in the end, this did not matter, adding “to use standards of admissibility derived from Canadian criminal law…runs afoul of the governing statute.”

And so, like an Alabama judge convicting Rosa Parks for sitting in the front of the bus (the old “the law is the law and we cannot stray from it” approach that has sustained too many injustices to recount here), Judge Maranger offered up Hassan Diab as a sacrificial lamb on the altar of good relations with the French government. While washing his hands of any responsibility for this decision, he attempted to temper the view of him as a rubber stamp by stating that although he believes that the case was weak, “it matters not that I hold this view. The law is clear that in such circumstances a committal order is mandated.”

But Maranager’s bold statement is not backed up by the facts or the law, and contradicts the quotation he borrows from the Chief Justice of Canada’s Supreme Court, who wrote in the leading extradition case: “I take it as axiomatic that a person could not be committed for trial for an offence in Canada if the evidence is so manifestly unreliable that it would be unsafe to rest a verdict upon it. It follows that if a judge on an extradition hearing concludes that the evidence is manifestly unreliable, the judge should not order extradition.”

Hence, Maranger on the one hand says there is a strong likelihood that the French, in a fair trial, would not secure a conviction given a fair trial – and there is clearly no guarantee of a fair French trial for Dr. Diab – but on the other, draws a conclusion that is completely opposite to a higher court judge’s direction in extradition cases. If the case for “manifest unreliability” is that a conviction would likely not be registered, it is difficult to understand how Maranger can say that the case against Dr. Diab – which he admits is too weak for a conviction – is not manifestly unreliable.

In addition, as Diab’s lawyer, Donald Bayne, pointed out subsequent to the ruling, if the case had been heard in British Columbia, Diab would be a free man today, for their courts rule differently than Ontario courts on extradition cases.

“The British Columbia Court of Appeal decided there ought not to be an extradition if that is the nature of the extradition case, so Dr. Diab today would be walking a free man in Vancouver had this case been conducted there and in Ontario he is behind bars,” Bayne said. “That is a situation that is simply untenable in Canada, that Canadians are subjected to totally different standards depending on where they live. I would suspect that would attract the attention of the Supreme Court of Canada.”

While some have asked why Dr. Diab doesn’t simply throw in the towel and go to France and “sort out the mess,” the answer is simple: France has been criticized by the international community and is currently before the European Court of Human Rights for violating Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights – the fair trial right –for running terrorist trials based on secret, anonymous intelligence.” In addition, why should someone give up their life in Canada and risk spending years fighting in another country, especially given the slipshod "case" against them?

The Diab case is a wake-up call for everyone in Canada, for the ease with which an everyday regular life can be disrupted by such a case is frightening. While Dr. Diab is launching an appeal that could very well go to the Supreme Court, he and his partner, Rania Tfaily, have a long struggle ahead of them.

Individuals concerned about the ease with which basic human rights can so suddenly disappear in these cases can get involved on many levels:

1. Write to the Minister of Justice, Robert Nicholson, and urge him to stop Dr. Diab's extradition. Email:

2. Help ease the huge financial burden carried by Hassan and Rania. We are seeking 100 individuals who can pledge $20 or more a month for the rest of the year to help pay the cost of the GPS monitoring. If you are willing to be a proud supporter of Hassan's right not to be subject to detention if he cannot afford the cost of state surveillance, please email us at OR visit

3. Sign the statement "A Shock to Our Conscience and an Affront to Liberty" (located at

To sign, simply send an email to letting us know that you wish to sign

4. Help organize an event in your community about Hassan's case and the extradition law.

5. Post details about the injustices in Hassan's case on your facebook or myspace

6. Write to newspapers and to journalists about Hassan's case and the unfairness of Canada's extradition law

More info: Justice for Hassan Diab committee

(report from Matthew Behrens of the Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada,

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Resisting Canada's War Economy and Weapons Industry

June 22, 2011 – Two days before the now-former Senate page Brigette DePape spoke the truth about Canada’s political climate—that we need to build resistance outside of the lifeless chambers of Parliament—her message was already being enacted by a group of war resisters who put together a lengthy June 1st civil resistance action at the CANSEC weapons bazaar.

The protest was not just about CANSEC – Canada’s largest annual weapons fair – but the whole war economy itself. It’s one to which both the majority Tories and the official opposition NDP are devoted, a $23 billion splurge that includes orders of 1,000 new smart bombs at $100,000 apiece. These come complete with the names of Libyan citizens on the receiving end, under the euphemism of collateral damage. If you are homeless tonight, needing shelter from male violence, on a boil-water alert on a First Nations reserve, awaiting health care, locked out of daycare, or suffering from the other maladies affecting Canada, think of what each of those $100,000 smart bombs could have done if they had been turned into smart funds for social needs.

That is the choice of an almost unanimous Parliament, and the message came through loud and clear when everyone save Green Party MP Elizabeth May voted to extend the Canadian bombing of the Libyan people (a most convenient focus for a make- work War Dept. that, drawing down its forces in Afghanistan, needs an excuse to keep bringing in the big bucks). People who view the NDP as a traditional voice for peace – a record certainly not borne out by the facts (see, in the same way that Canada’s mythological status as a peacekeeper cannot stand the scrutiny of its own history – may have been surprised to see the official opposition voting to bomb other human beings (with a few caveats thrown in, of course!). But one can imagine NDP strategists with their eyes on the next election telling their members they must appear to be a “responsible” government in waiting, and idealistic notions like rejecting murder from the air must be discarded. Those are for irrelevant fourth place opposition parties. When you have your eye on eventually getting elected, you have to be prepared to kill with your $23 billion arsenal.

Arming Your Arsenal
And that’s where CANSEC comes in. It’s where you go to get the tools for your arsenal; where foreign governments can sample Canadian weapons systems and components; where paranoid border control enthusiasts can find new means of stopping refugees from finding safety and asylum; and where police forces can sample the latest tools of repression. Whether you are a diplomatic staff member of Syria or Libya or a member of the bloated Canadian War Dept., the free pass through the gates is available for you.
Interestingly, though, Members of Parliament do not have such easy access. Elizabeth May – even though her party’s stand on military spending is slightly less atrocious than the rest – was unable to gain access, something which she later told the rally outside of the weapons bazaar symbolized the manner in which militarism shuts down democracy.

Access was also denied to the members of Spring Nuremberg Action Group, a loose knit coalition that tried to enter the grounds with copies of the Nuremberg Principles as well as dozens of international treaties and covenants that the group showed in a 22-page document were violated by the very existence of a weapons bazaar whose vendors and participants aided and abetted the commission of crimes against peace and crimes against humanity.

The June 1 Rally and Direct Action
June 1st was a warm and humid day in Ottawa, and by 6 am, large number of Ottawa police and private security roamed the grounds searching out the protesters. Scads of 10-foot fencing completely surrounded the huge Lansdowne Park exhibition grounds, and every vehicle entering was being checked for a special pass. By 8 am, the nuisance of democracy was present at the three main Bank Street entrances to Lansdowne, with Raging Grannies, Nowar/paix, Homes not Bombs, and Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade members, among others, handing out copies of the Nuremberg Principles to CANSEC attendees, encouraging them to read and then sign a pledge to abide by them, a move which could force them to end their role in profiting from the waging of wars of aggression.

Inside, sniper rifles, attack helicopters, hellfire missiles, and other weapons of war were on display in an exhibition that featured a keynote address from Canada’s top warlord, Walt Natynczyk (who won a special medal for commanding occupation forces in the war against and occupation of Iraq that many continue to believe Canada was not a part of). Warlord Natynczyk declared, perhaps in reference to the fact that CANSEC is controversial, that the greatest weapon for Canadian soldiers is “an open hand and a smile,” something Libyan civilians who were murdered by a NATO bombing on the weekend never saw, because the Canadian warlord running the show overseas said they were in fact part of a key “command and control node”.

Again, the euphemisms are everywhere. Command and control nodes, collateral damage, tool kits. We do not hear about bloodshed, about limbs torn off, eyes burned out, eardrums exploded, the things that happen 10,000 feet below when Canadian pilots “release” their weapons.

An extensive rally organized by Voice of Women and Physicians for Global Survival featured Raging Grannies songs, speeches from numerous CANSEC opponents, a reading out of the names of victims of war, and poetry about the distance between the individuals who press the buttons launching drone attacks and the consequences of those actions.

A Die-in Leads to Direct Action
Then a die-in was held, during which participants, their chalked outlines drawn on the sidewalk and driveway entrance to CANSEC, were reminded that though, in their role as the victims of a bombing raid, they had been in school or hospital or attending a wedding, the Pentagon and War Dept. press releases would state that they were suspected al-Qaeda militants, and only if news got out about their murder would restrained expressions of regret be issued with the caveat that the “enemy”, or “them,” always put civilians in harm’s way. (The placement of Canada’s War Department right in downtown Ottawa on a major thoroughfare, next to the always busy shipping centre a mere 50 feet across the street, is of course different—we do not have the enemy’s “different morality,” we are not barbaric beasts.)

Groups at the entrances to CANSEC had spent four hours handing out the Nuremberg Principles, inviting attendees to sign on and work towards ending their complicity in the preparation for war. Many CANSEC-ees simply refused to see the faces of the protesters or the pictures of the victims. Others replied with the standard “I’m good,” while some tried to speed their way through, straining not to see the protesters with the same effort they they refuse to see the victims of their products. We must be invisible. Why would anyone oppose what they do for a living?

Similarly, the whole concept of Nuremberg, a cornerstone of international law following the Second World War, was treated like a quaint concept, perhaps even something invented by the group of 70-100 people who spent the day at the protest. Indeed, “The Nuremberg principles, as they call them,” was how one TV reporter described what the SNAG group were carrying. Perhaps an unintended reference to something no one else wanted to see – that there ARE laws, albeit written by the victors of wars, that are supposed to aid in ending the international war system, but which are signed onto and then ignored or blatantly defied.

As the SNAG folks made their way to the south fence entrance following the die-in, the gate quickly closed and the group sat in front of the gate. People sang anti-war songs, and while an effort to speak with a CANSEC representative proved fruitless – he refused to talk or even take our documentation, saying it was all a big speech – police threatened the group with arrest for blocking a gate which they had already closed.

When it appeared we were not moving, police came and placed their own lock on the gate. One down, more to go, and so the group moved north to another gate, where large numbers of delegates headed for the Bank Street restaurants for lunch. Larger numbers of police showed up and formed a phalanx that tried to prevent us from closing off that entrance or from entering.

A small group wandered further north to a gate where there were only two private security and, getting onto the grounds such that the moveable fence could not be closed, created yet another “situation evolving,” as it was described on police walkie talkies. More resisters showed up and prevented a bus of CANSEC visitors from getting in, and bit by bit more police came through and formed a new line. Again, threats of arrest were made, but as before, the police eventually backed off.

The group continued going from fence to fence for over two hours, eventually concluding that ironically, it was CANSEC itself that day that found itself in prison, behind the bars of its own making. As a final act, the group stated that if they could not get onto the grounds with the Nuremberg Principles and other international laws, they would at least get their documents onto the grounds, and with that, one by one, the 22-page documents were placed underneath the fence on the hot asphalt, where the wind picked up and started blowing copies about.

No Laws Can be Allowed on the Grounds!
Worried CANSEC organizers scurried about, not in the interest of cleaning the environment of litter, for the military is the single largest polluter on the planet – but perhaps more because they still did not want their folks to see what was here. One CANSEC organizer said he would present this material to his bosses (though it was not clear if this would be done in the spirit of “I kept this from the exhibitors” or “Perhaps we should consider the fact we may one day be in the docket of an international war crimes tribunal, just like the German industrialists of yesteryear”).

Like Brigette DePape, resisters at CANSEC were pretty much dismissed by the respectable organs of the media as a cute nuisance. Everyone has the right, of course, to protest, we are told in a patronizing fashion. But that same attitude will no doubt change as larger numbers of people who believe and act on the fact that war is a crime, that war is stupid (in the words of Voice of Women founder Kay MacPherson) and that war is terrorism, organize to end the CANSEC bazaar.

Unsurprisingly, since early June and the subsequent House of Commons call to extend war, no apologies or regrets have emerged from CANSEC exhibitors about the role of their products in illegal activities that kill people.

And following last weekend’s attack on a Libyan apartment building, there do not appear to have been any NDP press conferences featuring former anti-war punk rockers who are now MPs saying they are having second thoughts about supporting this bombing campaign.

CANSEC 2012 is already being planned at a remote new location near the Ottawa airport. The war industry has not paused. And neither should we.

Plans are already underway to have larger numbers of folks trained in nonviolence to confront the warmakers in 2012. From members of Homes not Bombs and Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade and Nowar/paix to Quakers and Raging Grannies and Radical Relics, the nonviolent conspiracy for an end to war is growing.

For more information, contact

And just as importantly, stay informed on Canada’s role in the weapons industry by subscribing to Press for Conversion, and visit their website at

(report from Matthew Behrens of Homes not Bombs and the Spring Nuremberg Action Group.)
Homes not Bombs
PO Box 2020, 57 Foster Street
Perth, ON K7H 1R0

Monday, May 16, 2011

Canada's massive military budget is off the table in federal election

|Among many substantive issues not discussed during campaign 2011 is the $23 billion Canada now spends on war, a massive investment that all three major federal parties will maintain if elected.
Add in the ongoing costs of the Afghanistan war plus undisclosed funding for Canada's bombardment of Libya (well over 200 aerial bombing runs and aerial "sorties" to date), and the $23 billion figure may run higher.
To put this in perspective, slightly more than $63 million a day is spent on Canada's war machine. That's the daily equivalent of 420 affordable housing units or 3,000 four-year full-tuition grants for university students. Over the course of a month, that's 13,000 affordable housing units and 90,000 students going to university without massive debt load.
It is in this context that politicians preaching fiscal restraint and support for burdened families continue proffering blind allegiance to a well-funded institution whose leadership, past and present, has always been clear: in the words of former General Rick Hillier, their role is to kill people.
While many young people join the military because they believe they're contributing to society (in addition to those who simply need the income or an education), there are other ways for them to live out those aspirations without having to pick up a gun and face the choice of killing or being killed.
But those other choices are not part of the dominant parties' platforms. (By contrast, the Green Party would reduce war spending to the then historically high 2005 levels, the Bloc has criticized high war spending but is not specific in its plans, and the Communist Party would reduce military spending by 75 per cent).
In the case of the NDP, it's likely that many supporters are unaware of their party's willingness to choose guns over butter. After all, the NDP is traditionally seen as the place where anti-war activists park their vote, and the strongest anti-war statements usually come from its MPs, who often speak at peace rallies. But most NDP MPs have long accepted the framework of ever increasing amounts of war funding.

The NDP endorsed a 2002 Parliamentary Committee's call for increasing military spending a full 50 per cent (which would mean $28 billion per year by the end of 2010, and we're almost there). That was the same year NDP MPs began joining their colleagues in a unique indoctrination program called the Canadian Forces Parliamentary Program, which "embeds" MPs in war training exercises where, according to a report in Canadian Parliamentary Review, they "learn how the equipment works, they train with the troops, and they deploy with their units on operations. Parliamentarians are integrated into the unit by wearing the same uniform, living on bases, eating in messes, using CF facilities and equipment."
In May 2005, the NDP supported the Paul Martin 2005 Liberal budget. Hailed as Canada's "First NDP budget," it sported the largest military spending increase in 20 years, making Canada's war budget higher than at any time since the end of World War II.
When the infamous NDP-Liberal-Bloc coalition came together in December 2008, the issue of withdrawal from Afghanistan was suddenly "off the table." And as NATO generals recently called for increased bombing of Libya despite rising civilian casualties, there was silence from the campaign trail.
Shortly after my concerns were posted on Jack Layton's Facebook page, I received a phone call from the NDP's Ottawa-based "war room," a thoroughly insulting moniker to anyone who has actually experienced the horror of war as civilian or soldier (why not a "torture room" or a "pillage room" to make further light of those subjects?). A campaign worker, to his credit, wanted to dialogue, but noted that if Jack Layton were to discuss military cuts, he would be hurt in mainstream media coverage and by the perceptions of "average Canadians."
While this line did not surprise me -- it is used by every political party facing the choice of taking a principled stand or following backroom advisers wholly insulated from the electorate -- it certainly is not in sync with this spring's Leger Marketing report that revealed almost 60 per cent of those polled declared "Canada should take a peace dividend and cut back on military spending to focus on other more pressing social issues at home." Despite a decade of endless military propaganda, "Red Friday" support the troops rallies, yellow ribbons, and a seriously weak Canadian peace movement, such numbers are remarkable.
Those numbers have not changed substantively in over a decade: a 2000 Maclean's poll found 75 per cent of Canadians chose housing over updating the military, with only 19 per cent favouring the latter. This followed the military's mythic "decade of darkness," the Chretien years of massive social program cuts that barely touched military spending, which never dipped below $10 billion. Indeed, the mid-1990s saw reports on military warehouses overflowing with weaponry, and between 1980 and 2000, Canada invested over a quarter of a trillion dollars in war.
As Canadian bombers prepared to unleash their fury on Yugoslavia in 1999, the Globe and Mail reported that "The Canadian Forces can hurl more raw firepower at a potential enemy today than they could during the Persian Gulf War... Since the gulf war, all three services have increased their 'combat capability' (the wherewithal to inflict heavy damage on the enemy), said Major-General Kenneth Pennie, director-general of strategic planning for the Canadian Forces. The equipment includes new frigates for the navy, armoured vehicles for the army and high-tech 'smart' bombs for the air force. Given the improved accuracy, Gen. Pennie said, 'we find that some conventional weapons can be more useful than nuclear weapons.'"
At that time, homelessness had recently been declared a national emergency, and while then Liberal war minister Art Eggleton was asked how Canada could afford the bombing of Yugoslavia, he replied "It's obviously something that the government of Canada will cover." Yet a week later, the Toronto Star reported "(Federal minister responsible for homelessness) Bradshaw's spokesperson said yesterday there are no plans to put more money into affordable housing."
This is a problem with historic roots: there's always money for war, regardless of how bare the cupboard might be. The refusal to challenge a Canadian institution and ask fundamental questions about why it is needed, and how it fails to contribute to a civil society, is frustrating to say the least.
And so, despite the perception of the NDP as a natural choice for voters concerned about peace, the NDP simply proposes moving the chess pieces around without asking why we're still playing the same old deadly game. Indeed, we are reassured that the NDP opposes the F-35 fighter jets. Fair enough. But that money would instead be spent on the navy's warships, the same ones on which numerous NDP MPs have found themselves embedded over the past decade.
While this sounds like a benign alternative, it ignores the fact that Canadian warships have contributed more misery than the Canadian bombings missions of the past 25 years. Indeed, during the 1990s, Canada's navy spent over $1 billion in the enforcement of devastating sanctions that killed over 1.5 million Iraqi people. In the 2003 invasion of Iraq that myth-makers have tried to convince us Canada was not involved in, the Canadian Navy played a key role in escorting the U.S. warships launching cruise missiles and bombing runs. There are few clearer examples of aiding and abetting the murder of Iraqis than this.
Canadian warships are also dangerous. The HMCS Fredericton, for example, the "Stalker of the Seas," boasts weapons which fire 4,500 rounds of ammunition a minute, Harpoon missiles that can "deliver" a 227 kg warhead to a range in excess of 130 km and a Bofors gun, "capable of firing 2.4 kg shells at a rate of 220 rounds/min at a range of more than 17 km." Not most people's idea of peaceful conflict resolution.
But pointing out such things fails to burst the NDP's bubble. They would put the military to work on "peacekeeping" and humanitarian relief, helping after disasters, and flood cleanup. But those are all civilian functions that one need not have training in the art of killing to perform.
"We need to support our military," my local NDP candidate pleads, a phrase used ad nauseum that reduces one of Canada's best-funded federal programs to the status of a fragile flower whose petals could fall off at any moment. Can we not look forward to the day when "need to support" is used in support of daycare, women's programs, education, an end to poverty?
While space does not allow an exploration of the myth of Canada's potential for peacekeeping -- something which was always a cleverly disguised bit of cover for the west's Cold War aims -- it is important to point out as well that the NDP's proposal to use the military to do the work that used to be handled in conflict zones by NGOs makes the latter's work all the more difficult, since it blurs the distinction between armed parties and civil society, putting NGO workers at risk.
After pointing out all these reasons why I could not support the NDP, my friend at the NDP war room pleaded with me for my support. How can I vote for bloodshed and misery, I asked, whether it is delivered from the skies, from a warship, or through the hunger that millions will suffer to pay for all this?
Ultimately, it comes down to a choice: will we continue to choose the path of the gun, so successful that over 100 million lives were lost as a result during the 20th century (which excludes the millions who died because all the funds they needed to sustain life were sent to the war departments of the world)? Or will we seek another way? So far, those with any hope of forming the next government have made their unfortunate choices clear.
Matthew Behrens is an Ontario social justice advocate and freelance writer.

A Quarter Century of Protesting Canada’s Weapons Fairs: Come to CANSEC protests June 1 in Ottawa.

(An exploration of some of the history leading to the nonviolent direct actions planned June 1 in Ottawa)

On June 1, groups of people who have in past years stood in protest outside the gates of Ottawa’s Lansdowne Park, home to Canada’s largest weapons bazaar, will attempt to go inside, carrying with them the Nuremberg Principles. The nonviolent direct action, organized by the likes of Homes not Bombs, the Raging Grannies, the Radical Relics, and the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade, is working under the banner of Spring Nuremberg Action Group (SNAG).

SNAG’s proposition is simple: the Nuremberg Principles, which arose as a means of trying to develop an international legal order that would prevent the kinds of crimes that occurred during the Second World War, should be applied today as a means of shutting down Canada’s war industries, which are aiding and abetting crimes against peace and crimes against humanity. Canada’s own Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Program states: “A person is considered complicit if, while aware of the commission of war crimes or crimes against humanity, the person contributes directly or indirectly to their occurrence.”

It’s not a new idea. At the end of May, 1989, Canada’s largest weapons fair, ARMX89, was confronted by the most dangerous threat faced by the merchants of death: democracy. Democracy came in the form of a large rally of some 3,000 people who came to Lansdowne Park, followed the next morning by a blockade of all entrances that saw almost 200 people arrested and thrown into detention. It was a welcome harvest of resistance that had grown from the seeds planted by a small group of candle-holding vigillers who had previously gathered in 1987.

While many of us sat chained together both at the Ottawa police station and then at the detention centre, weapons dealers from apartheid South Africa, torture regimes in Latin America, and dictatorships from around the globe, including China, were present. (Indeed, equipment similar to that used in the Tiananman Square massacre was on display at ARMX89). The basis for the nonviolent civil disobedience was clear: such weapons bazaars clearly violated Canada’s war crimes act, and Brian Mulroney and Joe Clark would be subpoenaed to testify at our trial.

Needless to say, the threat of us turning our trial into a legal referendum on the weapons trade was too much too handle, and charges were dropped against all of us within two weeks. Ottawa City Council passed a resolution banning such weapons shows on municipal property, and ARMX went looking for a new home for 1991. It thought it found one in Carp, a small community outside of Ottawa, but when members of the now defunct Alliance for Nonviolent Action and the still thriving Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade publicly stated that the 5 police cells in Carp would in no way be a match for the even greater numbers of nonviolent resisters who would come to shut down the show, ARMX 91 was cancelled.

The show came back in 1993, retitled “Peacekeeping 93”, but again large numbers, unimpressed with the Orwellian name change, came and resisted. Eventually, the show was condemned to a Washington, DC hotel, kicked out of the country. Since that time, a few small groups have carried on with the anti-war work that is necessary to create a peaceful society, their numbers occasionally enlarged in reaction to international events such as the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Among those groups, Homes not Bombs has continually organized rallies and nonviolent direct actions at Canada’s leading weapons manufacturers, and the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade has faithfully documented the criminal behaviour of such corporations for over two decades both on its website and its excellent newsletter, Press for Conversion.

But the weapons industry, like any plague, never rests, and slowly started coming back in the form of CANSEC, which for a number of years has been a showcase not only for weapons dealers promoting horrific means of killing people, but also high-tech surveillance and control systems designed to be used against demonstrators seeking democracy, refugees seeking sanctuary, and peoples seeking their national liberation. Since 2003, demonstrations organized by a variety of groups have occurred at CANSEC.

This year, for the first time in a long while, though, there will be an attempt to confront CANSEC with nonviolent resistance in the form of an attempt to enter the grounds and determine whether or not those inside will publicly sign their adherence to the Nuremberg principles, which prohibit the preparation and organization for wars of aggression.

Anyone even remotely familiar with Iraq, Afghanistan, and the other wars of aggression that have been waged this past decade by the U.S., Britain, and Canada with the technology of Lockheed Martin, L-3 Communications, Northrup Grumman, and so many others, can safely deduce that Nuremberg’s legacy has been ignored (perhaps in large measure because, viewed in perspective, Nuremberg was a form of victors’ justice, not applied to the crimes committed by Allied forces. This despite the statement from US Chief Prosecutor at Nuremberg, Justice Robert Jackson, who stated “while this law is first applied against German aggressors, the law includes, and if it is to serve a useful purpose it must condemn aggression by any other nations, including those which sit here now in judgment."

(Notably, former US Secretary of War Robert McNamara fessed up to Allied criminality in the film Fog of War, in which he stated “[General Curtis] LeMay said if we’d lost the war, we’d all have been tried as war criminals. LeMay recognized that what he was doing [ie, firebombing Japanese cities] would be thought immoral if his side had lost. But what makes it immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win?”)

Since their proclamation in the late 1940s, so-called Western Nations have violated the Nuremberg Principles with the saturation bombings of countries around the globe, the development and implementation of torture states, and the genocidal use of economic sanctions against the people of Iraq, among many others crimes.

While previous German executives of a number of companies at CANSEC (Krupp, Flick) were in the dock at the Nuremberg Trials, others have contributed to crimes that have not, unfortunately, been officially condemned because they have been committed by the winning sides in fights that are usually lopsided to begin with. Most of the CANSEC exhibitors, like the rest of the world, had full knowledge about the questionable pretexts used by the Bush administration in the 2003 act of aggressive war and subsequent horrors committed against the people of Iraq (as well as the devastating sanctions that claimed the lives of over 1 million people). The millions murdered in Southeast Asia, in Korea, throughout Latin America, and so many other parts of the globe in the name of fighting communism and fighting terrorism also fit into this picture.

When a group of Homes not Bombs and Catholic Worker resisters attempted to get members of the Canadian military to sign on to the Nuremberg Principles in 2003, during Canada’s participation in the war against Iraq (yes, Canada WAS a part of that!), we ended up in the jug. The group, Spring Nuremberg Action Group, had tried to throw a snag into military operations, and for the better part of a day CFB Downsview was on lockdown, hiding out from the forces of democracy.

In 2011, SNAG has been resurrected and will be the organizing principle behind nonviolent actions June 1 at CANSEC. It’s an opportunity to connect what is built and sold in Canada with the crimes we see daily across the globe.

It is safe to assume, for example, that the regimes massacring the citizens seeking democracy in the Middle East will be at CANSEC. It is a show open to all diplomats in Ottawa, as well as all NATO militaries.

In 1989, then Toronto city councillor Jack Layton got on one of the school buses taking demonstrators to Ottawa, leading songs as he played guitar there and back. Some 22 years later, he is now the official opposition leader, complementing a governing party that makes for a House of Commons in which no sincere anti-war sentiments will be expressed for four years (unless, of course, we can get them to changer their dangerous direction)

With opposition and government in agreement—war is the best way to solve society’s problems, and that is why Canada will continue to spend $23 billion annually on its military, the largest use of federal discretionary funding– it obviously falls to the citizens of this nation to take things into our own hands. Nonviolent action is a form of direct democracy: when leaders not only fail to act, but by their silence are complicit in these crimes, it is our obligation, under the Nuremberg Principles, to not look the other way, to inquire, to speak out, to protest, and to resist.

Justice Robert Jackson, who was chief prosecutor for the US at Nuremberg, said that “one who has committed criminal acts may not take refuge in superior orders nor in the doctrine that his crimes were acts of states." In his opening comments, he also noted “The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant, and so devastating, that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated.”

While the deliberate nuclear bombing of two civilian Japanese cities, as well as the firebombing of cities that were designed to create massive firestorms, murdering hundreds of thousands of civilians, were surely war crimes committed by Allied powers, those crimes did not end in 1945. In fact, they continue to the present day, whether the targeting of dikes in Vietnam by US bombers and the dropping of tonnes of napalm on a poor peasant society, the deliberate targeting of civilian infrastructure in Iraq (including the power grid, knowing this would increase mortality because it would shut down water cleaning facilities), the use of depleted uranium-coated weapons, and a host of other crimes. That list grows longer when considering the ill-treatment of war’s victims, whether those taken into prison and tortured, refugees who are blocked at every point from seeking asylum, and those who are literally starved to death while the world spends trillions on the types of killing machines that will be displayed at CANSEC.

This is the conversation we hope to have with those at CANSEC on June 1. It will be but one step in the ongoing struggle to ensure that the needs of people everywhere – clean water, food, housing, daycare, education, health care, safety from violence, etc. – are met, rather than flushed down the rathole of military spending, a cruel and calculated crime which robs the hungry and the poor at the outset and then murders them from the air and on the ground when they rise up to say they will no longer tolerate such inequality.

To join us in Ottawa for the direct action, for the rally and ongoing vigils, and for further information, contact

For further information, visit and also visit

If you would like to make a contribution to the costs borne by those organizing to close CANSEC, cheques can be made out to Homes not Bombs, marked CANSEC in the memo portion of the cheque, and mailed to PO Box 2020, 57 Foster Street, Perth, ON K7H 1R0. Those funds will help defray the costs of out of town travelers coming to Ottawa, bail and related legal costs, and the organization of events for 2012.

(report from Matthew Behrens of Homes not Bombs,

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Will CSIS Require “Dream Ban” for Canadian Muslims?

New Secret Report Alleges to Have Found a Link Between Muslim Dreaming and “Extremism”
April 8, 2011 -- The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the spy agency tasked with protecting the never-defined “national security” of Canadians, may well have come upon the ultimate terror-fighting strategy: banning the dreams of Muslims.

CSIS, a national agency which regularly terrorizes members of the Muslim community with unannounced home and workplace visits, threats of jail, deportation, and prevention of family reunification, has for quite a few years produced reams of reports on what it thinks could affect the “security” of Canadians.

The latest secret “intelligence assessment” (pardon the oxymoron) is called “The Role of Dreams in the Justification of Jihad,” obtained under the Access to Information Act by the National Post. The 6-page, largely blacked out document, states in its summary that “Dream interpretation is closely tied to religious belief in Islam. Islamist extremists often report having dreams about the Prophet Muhammad or fellow mujahideen. Dreams about religious figures can inspire extremists to act.”

Hence, in its simple-as-abc, connect-the-dots approach, CSIS appears to have come up with a genius bit of pre-crime-think straight out of a Tom Cruise thriller. While much of the report has been redacted, it is clear that investigations of Muslim dreaming could open a new front in Canada’s war on terror.

While it is unclear whether Muslims will now have to keep dream journals that can be accessed by CSIS agents (if you have nothing to hide in your dreams, why would you want your dream journal kept private?), this new approach to spying on Canada’s Muslim communities seems to build on longstanding CSIS practices that have more to do with the practices of carnival soothsayers and crystal ball prognosticators than with anything remotely resembling reality.

While it is true that various agencies of the federal government are engaged in crime-think research – it was revealed in early March that the Canadian War Dept. is researching mind-scanning technology in the hope that “this ability can be used by members of the military and the security forces to isolate adversaries prior to commission of actions” – CSIS has long preferred to rely on feelings, intuition, stereotypes, and other unscientific methods when the facts simply won’t add up. Indeed, the whole raison d’etre of security certificates, the measure by which refugees and immigrants can be indefinitely detained based on secret allegations, is the idea that individuals may in the past, could at present, or may at some point in the future pose some kind of threat. The basis for such a conclusion, of course, is secret, as it cannot withstand public scrutiny.
Typical of CSIS attitudes are comments regularly found in the reports of its toothless oversight body, the Security intelligence Review Committee (SIRC), which in the past raised questions, for example, "about some beliefs the Service has about the nature of the threat. We are of the opinion that these beliefs are sometimes overdrawn."

SIRC found that in one CSIS case, "information put forward was more than a decade old and the information adduced was derived from one source's 'feelings.'” Another finding was that "One source's speculation was quoted. Some assertions that the target engaged in 'suspicious activities' appeared to us to be misleading or exaggerated."

"For another person targeted, [CSIS] failed to include in the affidavit significant information of which it was aware which contradicts its own position on the person,” SIRC found in another instance. In yet another case, a hyperactive CSIS treated as a threat activity something that "seemed to be routine diplomatic behaviour," while in another case, "with little corroborating information, CSIS ascribed intelligence gathering motives to apparently normal consular contacts."

On more than one occasion, the CSIS oversight body has stated that the government needs the best possible national security advice “unencumbered by unfounded speculation."

Yet it is precisely on unfounded speculation that CSIS builds its dreamworld of national security threats. This has been evident in the false naming as imminent threats a series of Canadian citizens who were tortured as a result of CSIS and RCMP targeting, the unsubstantiated allegations that have been used for years on secret trial security certificate cases, the naming of individuals to no-fly lists, and the refusal to grant security clearance to individuals working for the federal government.

In the last instance, perhaps the most famous case involved that of diplomat Bhupindar Liddar, who had been deemed a security risk by CSIS. That claim was unambiguously rejected in a September, 2005 SIRC report that found CSIS "purposefully misled" its oversight agency in an attempt to "suppress information that was embarrassing to the Service."

"I wish that such events never occur again," Paule Gauthier, former chairwoman of SIRC, wrote. The report found "there is no reliable evidence that supports a conclusion that Mr. Liddar may engage in activities that would constitute a threat to the security of Canada." She said CSIS undertook an "inaccurate and misleading" investigation that produced "unqualified, alarming" findings that relied on "uncorroborated and/or unreliable sources."

"I find that many of the conclusions concerning Mr. Liddar . . . result from the transfer of suspicions about a person who would support Arab causes," she wrote.

More recently, CSIS and its fellow paranoid spooks in the Integrated Threat Assessment Centre developed a report called "Lone-Wolf Attacks: A Developing Islamist Extremist Strategy?" A Lone Wolf is described as someone “inspired by a terrorist ideology or organization to conduct attacks, but acts independently, without established ties or accountability.” They ascribe these attacks to the philosophy of “Leaderless resistance,” and then state that the internet is “helpful to an individual who may be preparing to conduct a lone-wolf attack, providing ideological motivation, encouragement, justification.”

"Lone wolves are difficult to identify because they do not join terrorist groups or associate with other known extremists," they conclude. If you read between the lines, this means that pretty much anyone can now be a suspect.

One wonders if wolves, who do populate the Arctic, are the metaphoric inspiration for another CSIS report that conjures up images of abominable snowmen coming south with the global warming threat. “The Canadian Arctic: Threat from Terrorists and Extremists,” discusses how the Arctic might become, according to a Canadian Press report from earlier this year, “a conduit for international or domestic radicals.”

If we keep going in this direction, it may not be too long before Jonah the terrorist may be coming in the belly of a whale via the Arctic Circle. Polar bears may soon be equipped with anthrax tablets. There is no end to the terror that may be wreaked by the things out there trying to get at us in here! Perhaps Canadians should all move to Texas to be safer. But even then, the threat of a rogue asteroid, launched by Martians (from the RED, Communist planet) could signal the rise of a new Bolshevist threat (coming from the cold Siberian plains). For those who work at CSIS, it is getting just so scary out there. People may laugh at her now, but maybe former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin can help stop this????

While CSIS is having nightmares, there is still the problem posed by the dreams of Muslims. On the third page of its secret report, CSIS declares “Dreams provide a inspirational (sic) component of the world of the jihadist. Jihadists receive divine guidance of future events and see the legitimacy of their actions in their dreams.”

CSIS then concludes that among those who have been “reported” to have experienced significant dreams of jihad are Osama bin Laden, Zacarias Moussaoui (the so-called 20th hijacker), shoebomber Richard Reid, Mullah Omar, and Iraqi Abu Musab Al Zarqawi.
Of course, CSIS has no more interviewed these men than it has the individuals about whom they claim to know the thought processes in security certificate cases. Yet the report is one more example of making a whole community suspect in the eyes of their neighbours, a practice that CSIS continues to engage in, with serious human rights consequences, from its Ottawa bunker.

What are we to make of this? Maybe by keeping Muslims up at night, we will prevent their dreams, and therefore prevent attacks. Perhaps everyone who lives next door to a Muslim individual or family could as their patriotic duty play that funky music LOUD all night long?
All of these threat assessments are incredibly convenient for CSIS: by constantly throwing threat assessments against the wall in the hope that something will stick, they detract from the real threat posed to the security of people in this country: the actions of federal agencies like CSIS, the RCMP and others who continue to profile and unjustly target whole communities, often leading to serious crimes, including complicity in torture.

(report from Matthew Behrens of the Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada)

What you can do:

1. Sign the statement calling for the abolition of secret trials in Canada at

2. Support our work: Donations can made out to Homes not Bombs and mailed to PO Box 2020, 57 Foster Street, Perth, ON K7H 1R0

3. Support the talented filmmakers putting together a major documentary on secret trials in Canada:

4. Attend the October CSI: Ottawa Crime Scene demonstrations focused on ending Canadian involvement in torture. These nonviolent gatherings will name and spotlight Ottawa-based agencies and corporations complicit in torture, mark them as crime scenes, and carry out the investigations necessary to ensure accountability, system change, and compensation for victims of their actions.