Monthly Archives: September 2006

Maher Arar Gets His Apology

It may be a couple of weeks late and a dollar short, but today, Maher Arar got his apology from the RCMP for telling lies about him, getting his butt shuffled off to Syria for some illegal incarceration and nearly a year of endless terror for his family.  The apologist was RCMP Commissioner Guiliano Zaccardelli:

"I would like to take this opportunity to express to you and your wife and your children how truly sorry I am for whatever part the actions of the RCMP may have contributed to the terrible injustice you experienced and the pain you and your family endured," Zaccardelli said at a House of Commons public safety committee meeting today.

Unfortunately, Zaccardelli did not offer to resign, as he should have.  Naturally, the Public Safety Minister, Stockwell `I banged her too!` Day didn’t` do the honourable thing and fall on his sword either.

This is in keeping with the complete lack of any sense of honour that our elected representatives have shown since, oh, 1966, on either side of the border.  It was taught to us in Civics Class that politicians were honourable people who tried to do their best and when they didn’t`, the British tradition was to resign their seat. 

Today, when caught in a falsehood the politician will say it was:  a) taken out of context  b) being made more of than it really means  c) misquoted by an unscrupulous journalist  d) not current policy  e) pending litigation, so he or she cannot talk about it or  f) a youthful indiscretion.  Even if the falsehood is captured on tape, from four different angles, live, on broadcast TV, of the politico having intimate relations with a barnyard sow, yesterday, the a) thru f) excuses apply.

Resignations are never offered, as that would be the right thing to do.  So would a couple of dismissals of some Foreign Affairs Desk officers who know Arar was in custody but did jack-squat to ensure even his basic rights were even vaguely respected. 

If it were up to me, I`d have the Finance Minister cut Maher Arar and his family a nice cheque, somewhere around 4 or 5 million dollars, then have a courier drive it over to his place tomorrow afternoon.  It wouldn’t` be nearly enough, or even come close to making up for our country and our police force screwing one of our citizen over six ways to Tuesday.  At least we could make sure he never wants for anything in the realm of money.  I wouldn’t` take income tax off it either.

My only hope is still that Maher Arar forgives us.

Bin Laden Dead?

The news is somewhat confusing.  Depending on whom you listen to, Osama Bin Laden is dead from typhoid and has been for a month.  Or isn’t.  None of it has been confirmed but there is enough wild speculation on the various newsies to power a small city. 

Here’s what is known.  Osama Bin Laden is in Pakistan, up near the Afghanistan border, either dead, or deeply unhappy.  We do know he’s six foot six, probably lives in a cave and needs kidney dialysis frequently.  We know Osama Bin Laden has taken credit for the 9/11 bombings as well as stirring up anti-American sentiment. 

The likelihood of Osama Bin Laden showing up at the Lufthansa counter at Frankfurt Airport and buying a ticket to London Stanstead is slim, as his face is almost as well known as Paris Hilton or Mel Gibson.  I suspect that Bin Laden’s Frequent-Flyer miles have expired from non-use, so he’s been staying in the same approximate place for a few years. 

The Terror Trust of Dubya, Cheney, Rove and Rumsfeld have had and continue to have the tools available to reach out and touch Osama Bin Laden.  Had the Terror Trust really wanted to get Bin Laden in 2002, the trial would have been over in 2005 and our lives would have been eminently improved since.

The reason they didn’t (and have not) captured or killed Bin Laden is this: To run a war, you need a Demon.  There has to be someone you can point to as "the bad guy":  The Demon. 

Check your history.  World War I, it was the Kaiser and Germans in general.  Berlin, Ontario was renamed Waterloo, Ontario.  German Bay on Big Rideau Lake was immediately renamed Britain-Houghton Bay.  We wanted nothing "German’ in our midst as they were the bad guys. 

World War II, we demonized Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo.  Not that those three weren’t scumbags, but taking sauerkraut off the menu and shipping all residents of Japanese heritage to internment camps are not the actions of a tolerant society.  Interestingly, the belt buckle of some units of the Germany Army had the initials IHR cast into the metal, which loosely translates as With God’s Help, meaning Germany was on God’s Side.  Perhaps God was kidding that day.

In Korea, it was the Godless Communist "Chinee" Hordes swarming over the Yalu River and the 38th parallel to oppress the noble South Koreans under Syngman Rhee.  Rhee was a rabid anti-communist who made Joe McCarthy look like a Socialist florist and part-time window dresser.

Viet Nam?  Ho Chi Minh and black-pajama clad "gooks" sneaking around planting punji sticks on jungle paths.  Never mind that the US used claymore mines and defoliated about half the country, those Godless Communists wanted to unseat whoever the US had propped up on the President’s chair that week.  Even Wikipedia doesn’t have the list.  I think everyone in South Viet Nam took turns being President of South Viet Nam for a week.

The Taliban?  They were Freedom Fighters against the Godless Russian Communist Hordes.  Ask Ollie North and the CIA about that one.  Ooopsie.  Sorry, the Taliban are now bad guys.

Panama had Pineapple Head, Manuel Noriega.  He was obviously in bed with Drug Cartels.  As an aside, Noriega was never, officially, the President of Panama.  He was an ex-CIA punk and was well known as an election fixer, money launderer and founder of the "Dignity Battalions" that executed anyone who dared to oppose his reign.

Gulf War I:  Saddam who invaded plucky Kuwait was the demon.  We’ll overlook that the CIA supported Iraq in the war with Iran, as Iran was a bad guy at the time.  We’ll also overlook Kuwait executing people in public for things like not wearing a veil correctly, or stealing enough bread to keep from starving to death. 

Kosovo?  Slobodan Milosevic was ethnically cleansing the Serbs, Croatians, Muslims, Christians and everyone else, except Slobodan Milosevic.  Right? 

Rwanda?  Shhhh.  We don’t talk about that one.  Same with Somalia:  Ixnay alkingtay boutay fricaaay.

Gulf War II, Brought to you by Raytheon and Haliburton, saw Saddam as the Demon Again.  This time he was selling Weapons of Mass Destruction to Osama Bin Laden, who was determined to blow up the Wal-Mart in Cooksville, Tennessee. 

With Bin Laden probably dead, nominations for Demon are now open.  Nominees include:

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: President of Iran

Kin Jong-Il: Supreme Being of North Korea

Hugo Chavez:  Venezuelan President until the CIA overthrows him (See Salvador Allende & Chile)

Fidel Castro:  Grandfathered in since 1962

Mr. Norris Flegus, 123 Main Street, Anywhere USA.  He has the temerity to question us too much, therefore he’s a card-carrying member of the Evildoers of the Axis of Evil.

Without a Demon of some kind, the Terror Trust can’t keep us all jacked up on Paranoia and Fear.  As soon as you question the Terror Trust for things like "Evidence" or "Reason" or "Rationale" they lose power.  The last time the Terror Trust had evidence, reason and rationale was Osama Bin Laden, just after 9/11.  The rest has been smoke, mirrors, fabrications and outright lying.

The mere fact that Osama Bin Laden has possibly died of natural causes tells me that Dubya, Cheney, Rove and Rumsfeld are not serious about catching the bad guys.  They are serious about keeping power at all costs. 

Ted Turner Might Be Right

I think Ted Turner is a bit of an ass, but I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, as he does have some excellent business credentials. Face it, CNN was a damn fine idea. Turner Classic Movies and colorizing classic films, a very bad idea. Marrying Jane Fonda, a damn fine idea. Owning the Atlanta Braves, a very bad idea.

However, since he has significantly more money that I do, Ted Turner wins in the Global Rock, Scissors, Paper contest with me. Fair enough.

In an interview with Reuters, Ted scored some more points on my scorecard. As you might know, Ted Turner is outspoken. He tends to speak his mind and more than often enough backs it up with some common sense. Other people might not agree, or even like what he has to say, but at least they can say he’s got at least the beginnings of a point.

For instance, the War in Iraq: "It will go down in history, it is already being seen in history, as one of the dumbest moves that was ever made by anybody. A couple of others that come to mind were the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbour and the German invasion of Russia," Turner told the forum.

"It literally broke my heart. You don’t start wars just because you don’t like somebody. … I wouldn’t even start a war with Rupert Murdoch," Turner said, referring to his onetime cable network rival.

Iran having nukes: "They’re a sovereign state," Turner said of Iran. "We have 28,000. Why can’t they have 10? We don’t say anything about Israel — they’ve got 100 of them approximately — or India or Pakistan or Russia. And really, nobody should have them. They aren’t usable by any sane person."

The one that put it over the top for me was this quote: "Men should be barred from public office for 100 years in every part of the world. … It would be a much kinder, gentler, more intelligently run world. The men have had millions of years where we’ve been running things. We’ve screwed it up hopelessly. Let’s give it to the women."

I can’t disagree with that one Ted. Testosterone is a powerful drug that makes humans behave like stupid, tribal, chest-beating asses. One good testosterone hit and all sense leaves the brain. The little head takes over from the big head.

Testosterone causes moronic ‘me-too’ behaviors whereby all the males in the village bond together to beat the shit out of someone from another village. Testosterone causes kings, emperors and dictators to come to power, as the drug makes you want power, either societal, sexual or political power.

Mind you, without testosterone, Don LaFountaine wouldn’t have a job. Don is that voice on just about every movie trailer you’ve ever heard. He is what a voice casting director called VOG, the Voice of God. You can see Don on some of the GEICO ads. Without testosterone, Don LaFountaine would sound like a 58 year old bingo-playing, chain-smoking Cape Breton fishwife named Maureen.

Without testosterone, I wouldn’t have hair growing out of my ears, or growing on my back. This might be a good thing too.

To summarize. War in Iraq Bad. Nukes Bad. Testosterone Bad. Ted might be right.

Maher Arar's Journey

Yesterday the O’Connor Commission released its’ findings in the Maher Arar case. Most Canadians and, I suspect, all the Americans reading this wouldn’t know Maher Arar from a case of canned fancy peas. Let me explain a bit of the backstory.

Maher Arar was born in Syria and came to Canada in 1988 to avoid mandatory military service. He applied for citizenship, was duly investigated, processed and welcomed into Canada as a full citizen. On his Canadian passport, it listed his birthplace as Syria, just like mine lists Toronto.

He went to school, eventually earning a couple of degrees in engineering and computer science. Maher married a wonderful woman, Monia Mazigh and they had two children. Monia, by the way, is no slouch either. She is a Ph.d in Finance from McGill University, is from Tunisia originally, but, like Maher, a Canadian citizen.  I’ve met Monia a couple of times.  She is a remarkable person.

If you were to look at a photo of Maher and Monia, you would see two people who are chasing the Canadian dream of making a better life for themselves and their children.

On September 26th, 2002, things went very badly for Maher Arar. On a flight back from Tunisia, where he was taking a vacation, the plane stopped at JFK on its’ way to Montreal.  The passengers got off and went through US Customs. Maher was detained as it was alleged he was an associate of Abdullah Almalki. Abdullah Almalki was suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda.

Maher worked with Almalki’s brother at an Ottawa high-tech company, so yes, Maher knew Abdullah Amalki. Amalki even co-signed a rental lease for Maher Arar in 1997.

This isn’t quite as sinister as it first sounds. New immigrants (Canadian and American) usually have to have someone more financially established co-sign with them for a few years, until they have their financial feet under them. Then, you return the favor, co-signing for someone else just starting out.

The real sinister stuff was just beginning. First of all, why and how did US Immigration have a photocopy of a lease document, signed in Canada? That’s an easy one to answer: The RCMP gave it to them in the wake of 9/11.

Despite being a full Canadian Citizen, Maher Arar was held in detention, without ability to contact the Canadian Consulate in New York. He was held without access to legal services or even so much as being allowed to contact his family to say “I’m in the shit”.

US Customs extradited him to Syria on October the 7th or 8th. The first time Canada heard that one of our citizens was exported to a third country, was on October 10th 2002, when he turned up in a detention center, near Damascus, Syria.

Arar was imprisoned in Syria for 10 1/2 months, during which time he was tortured and forced to sign a false confession which purported that he had trained in Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan.

He says that he was kept in a 3-foot by 6-foot, dark, underground cell, beaten and threatened with electrocution. He was further traumatized by overhearing other prisoners being tortured. On October 5th 2003, he was released by Syria and got his ass back to Canada right quickly, not taking any flights that went through the US.

After Arar’s release, the controversy continued over his treatment by the US and over the role that Canadian police and government officials may have played in his deportation and interrogation. The United States claimed that the RCMP had provided them with a list of suspicious persons including Maher Arar.

It was also discovered that Canadian consular officials knew that Arar was in custody in the United States but did not believe that he would be deported. The Canadian government maintains that the decision to deport Arar was made by American officials alone. The Canadian Passport meant nothing. Being a Canadian Citizen meant nothing.

On September 25th 2004, the results of an internal RCMP investigation by RCMP Chief Superintendent Brian Garvie were published. Though the version released to the public was censored, the Garvie report documented several instances of impropriety by the RCMP in the Arar case, including breaking into a reporters’ house to look for leaked documents.

A lot of people yelled “bullshit” and “coverup”. So, on February 5th 2004, the Canadian government established a commission of inquiry under Dennis O’Connor, Associate Chief Justice of Ontario to investigate and report on the actions of Canadian officials.

The final report, released yesterday, categorically states that there is no evidence linking Arar to terrorist activity. The O’Connor Commission also said that the RCMP passed false information on to US authorities. Further, that the RCMP leaked untrue information to damage his reputation. The report also confirms that Maher Arar was tortured while in Syria.

As a Canadian, I am ashamed that a citizen of our country was treated this poorly by his government. Nobody will be punished, nobody will lose their jobs, nobody will catch hell for letting Maher Arar down.

I am also ashamed by the RCMP, as the O’Connor Commission report details several incidents where the RCMP did things that no reputable, honest and honourable police force would do.  Again, nobody will be punished, nobody will lose their jobs and nobody will catch hell for this kind of behavior. 

I just hope Maher Arar forgives us for letting him down.



Pretexting, Rendition and Meanings

Words are important things, as they can be illuminative, obscurative, positive or hurtful depending on how you use them. As a writer, I tend to choose words carefully, looking for the word, or combinations of words that convey as precise a meaning as I am trying to communicate.

Others, notably those in the Public Relations Industry use language as a weapon of imprecision. I tend to call those in the PR business, fartcatchers; you can divine my opinion easily. As to what the fartcatchers for Dalton McGuinty, Conrad Black and Paris Hilton may have as an opinion about me, I could care less. My opinions about those three individuals are less than flattering.

Pretexting is one of those obscurative terms. The chairperson of Hewlett-Packard was concerned about leaks coming from the board meetings. She caused a private investigation agency to be hired, who obtained the phone records of all the board members and several journalists.

Telephone records are between you and your phone company, or so we all thought. Unless a subpoena is involved, forcing your phone company to tell the cops what digits you have been calling, or the company supplies the phone, your employers has no right to the data unless you employment contract specifically says “You can ask and find out anything you want about me, any time you feel like it”. I think we both know that not too many people sign that kind of employment contract.

Pretexting is mumbling something about Federal blah blah Investigation on the phone records for Jerimiah Dingobaby. The caller hasn’t actually said they are from the FBI, but are doing everything to give the person on the other end of the call the impression that they are in a position of authority to demand the phone records of Jerimiah Dingobaby.

Faced with what appears to be “the police” the phone company gives up your records. As the pretexter, you are not going to break that illusion, so you dutifully write down the data.

In other words, you are conducting fraud. Lying. Bullshitting, whatever term you care to use. That the person or organization on the other end of the line is swallowing your story is not your concern and you are obtaining information that you do not have the right to obtain, through fraud.

If a telemarketer does it, PhoneBusters and FraudBusters get involved. If someone saying they are from a Nigerian/Saudi/Iraqi bank sends you an email does it, it is one of those lovely Internet Bank Scams.

This is really easy to understand. Pretexting is Lying to Commit Fraud. Except Pretexting sounds much nicer than Lying.

It is the same with Rendition. Rendition is defined, in law, as the surrender or handing over of persons or property from one jurisdiction or another. Extradition is a rendition, for example, unless you or I try it.

Rendition Flights are the airplane rides that certain CIA detainees have been taking. According to Amnesty International a Rendition flight starts with the stripping of the passenger naked. An adult diaper is affixed appropriately and the detainee is dressed in a disposable overall. Usually the passenger is either hooded or blindfolded, as well as handcuffed and leg shackled. The passenger might ask a few questions, but the answers are usually a billystick to the kidneys.

At some point, especially if there is a likelihood of questions being asked, the passenger is injected with something to make them sleep for several hours. Valium, Talwin and Brietal make a nice cocktail to flatten someone for a few hours: Dentists use it all the time for root canal surgery.

The now soft and floppy passenger is strapped to a gurney and loaded like a sack of turnips. Often a pair of sound-isolating headphones are taped on their heads in case they wake up. A gag is often also part of the safety briefing.

The plane flies to wherever it is going. The passenger is unloaded again on the gurney, loaded into an ambulance and taken to whatever safe house is being used that day for whatever purposes the CIA has in mind.

Using the test of “If you or I did it, what would happen?”, try this. If you scooped a person off the street into your minivan, handcuffed, shackled, blindfolded, deafened and drugged them, there would be a multi-state and province manhunt.

It is called Kidnapping. You might wind up on the 11 pm news as “The Psycho Soccer-Mom Kidnapper”.

Rendition is Kidnapping. Pretexting is Lying. What part of this do the authorities not understand?

The PR fartcatchers and the lawyers are trying to pull one over you and me. Don’t let them.



Cameras That Talk Back

This one from the Daily Mail yesterday, CCTV cameras are now being equipped with loudspeakers.  That made that vein on the side of my head pulse:

Big Brother is not only watching you – now he’s barking orders too. Britain’s first ‘talking’ CCTV cameras have arrived, publicly berating bad behaviour and shaming offenders into acting more responsibly.

The system allows control room operators who spot any anti-social acts – from dropping litter to late-night brawls – to send out a verbal warning: ‘We are watching you’.

Middlesbrough has fitted loudspeakers on seven of its 158 cameras in an experiment already being hailed as a success. Jack Bonner, who manages the system, said: ‘It is one hell of a deterrent. It’s one thing to know that there are CCTV cameras about, but it’s quite another when they loudly point out what you have just done wrong.

‘Most people are so ashamed and embarrassed at being caught they quickly slink off without further trouble."

It is estimated that there are more than 4 million surveillance cameras in Britain. These range from simple store cameras that record the cashier’s area once a second to the full zoom-pan-tilt cameras that the Police use to fight crime.  It is said that the Police CCTV cameras can look into houses in various neighbourhoods in the UK. The only restraint on the UK police is the “We don’t do that” statements of the local authorities.

Four million cameras and 60 million citizens. Orwell was only a couple of decades off.

As an experiment in tit-for-tat, the next time you see the police pulling someone over on the side of the road, why not pull out your video camera and tape the entire exchange?  Even if it is just a simple warning, put it all on tape. 

Do you want to guess how many more charges you’ll be threatened with?  Do you want to guess how fast the cuffs will come out?  Do you want to guess exactly how many times you’ll be picked up by your eyebrows and dumped in the back of a cruiser?

I object to being watched all the time.  But I object more when nobody is watching the watchers.     



Papal Outtakes

We managed to obtain this series of outtakes from the Pope’s Sunday Address.  It sounds like it was a recording off the talkback line between the recording technician and the Pope. 


Papal Address for Sunday, Take 1 in three, two one



Brothers and Sisters, those fucking towel-headed carpet jockeys are messin’ shit up.



Cut!  Your Holiness, you can’t use language like that.  Come on, Your Holiness, we’ve had this talk before….



Sorry Greg, I forgot… Let’s take it again.



Papal Address for Sunday, Take 2 in three, two one



Brothers and Sisters, I speak to you today about the threat of radical Islamic fundamentalism.  Those who embrace a universal view of God know that Mohammed was a putz.



Cut! Your Holiness, you can’t call Mohammed a putz. 



Why not?  He was a putz.  So was his brother Mike.



Your Holiness, putz is a Yiddish term, meaning prick.  You really want to call Mohammed a putz?  I mean, dude, you’re annoying Jews and Muslims in one sentence, can’t you come up with something a little softer?



Oh.  OK…Lemme see….OK.  I think I’ve got it.  Roll it



Papal Address for Sunday Take 3 in three, two one



Brothers and Sisters, I speak to you today about the threat of radical Islamic fundamentalism.  Those who embrace a universal view of God know that God wants his flock to use the peaceful means that He has given his children to reconcile their differences.  Look at the Holy Roman Catholic Church.  Over our thousands of years of existence we’ve only slaughtered a few hundred thousand unbelievers in the Crusades, the Inquisition and, of course, Northern Ireland.



Cut! Your Holiness, are you sure you want to mention the Crusades, the Inquisition and Ireland in the same sentence?  I mean, these are not the best examples of Catholic and Christian tolerance are they?



Hey are you the Pope or am I?  Dammit Greg, you want me to talk about tolerance and peace when these shitpokes are blowing up stuff all over the place?  I mean, really man.  You’re stomping on my creativity here.



Sorry Your Holiness.  It’s just that all the stuff you brought up at that University address in Regensberg is causing all kinds of mad shit with the Muslims.  They are some pissed at you and that means they’re pissed at me, man.  Can’t you do something to chill’em out?



Whaddya want me to do to chill them out?  We tried that in 1938 in Poland and see what that got us?  Bunch of fuckers…worse than goddam Presbyterians with a wild hair up their ass…



I don’t know, Your Holiness…um…how about an apology?



I am the fucking Pope you asshole!  I am infallible for shitsakes.  The Pope doesn’t apologize to nobody for nothing and don’t you forget it or you’ll be recording sermons for the Jesuits in Tierra del Fuego next week.






You should be.



It’s just, well, you know, tolerance.  I mean we’re all talking about the same God right?



Yeah, yeah, yeah…there is but one God and so and so is his prophet.  We bicker over who speaks for God but there is only one God.



What I mean is, it kinda doesn’t matter which prophet you use, Mohammed, Luke, Mark, John, or the crazy guy on the street corner right?



I’m following.  Go on…



Well if it doesn’t matter which particular spokesman you believe in, the really important thing is believing in the whole thing.  Like Bono said to me once, “You gotta believe in the whole album, not all the songs in the album”



OK I get it.  Like on their Atomic Bomb album, that cut, Original of the Species, sucks shit, but the album is really sharp.  Some good chops in there….



Yeah…that`s it.  The album, meaning God, as a whole, is great.  A true iTunes bullet.  But some of the individual tracks, like oh, Mormons, blow monkeys on Sundays. 



Yeah!  That`s a great way to put it man.



So what you gotta do is be like Bono and say that, hey, man, sorry, the album is a killer but this one track, the Muslims, isn`t as good as we wanted it to be. 



So you want me to apologize for the Muslims for being a shit track, is that what you`re saying…



Naw, it`s a little more subtle than that.  Like, what you want to do is to say you`re sorry for saying that one or two tracks ain`t so good.



So I`m not really saying I`m sorry at all that one track or two is fucked up, more like I`m saying I`m sorry for saying it out loud.  Is that it…



Yeah.  Yeah that`s it!



Fuck.  That I can do without wearing a funny hat.  Roll`em Greggy Boy.  We can knock this out in one take.



Papal Address for Sunday Take 4 in three, two one



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The pastoral visit which I recently made to Bavaria was a deep spiritual experience, bringing together personal memories linked to places well known to me and pastoral initiatives towards an effective proclamation of the Gospel for today.

I thank God for the interior joy which he made possible, and I am also grateful to all those who worked hard for the success of this pastoral visit. As is the custom, I will speak more of this during next Wednesday’s general audience.

At this time, I wish also to add that I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address at the University of Regensburg, which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims.

These in fact were a quotation from a Medieval text, which do not in any way express my personal thought.

Yesterday, the Cardinal Secretary of State published a statement in this regard in which he explained the true meaning of my words. I hope that this serves to appease hearts and to clarify the true meaning of my address, which in its totality was and is an invitation to frank and sincere dialogue, with great mutual respect.  Thank You.



We`re clear…good one!



Yeah, that ought to hold the fuckers.  Well, I`m done for the day.  Later Greg.



Later Your Holiness.