Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Propaganda, disguised as a report.

The US State Department's Country Reports On Terrorism has received some direct attention from the media in the past couple of days. It is a report required by the US Congress on or before April 30th of each year detailing the known threats, suspected terrorist organizations and countries which harbour or allow the free movement of terrorist groups or individuals.

Canada did not fare well in the 2005 report. In the chapter 5 Western Hemisphere Overview, the State Department provides the following:

Terrorists have capitalized on liberal Canadian immigration and asylum
policies to enjoy safe haven, raise funds, arrange logistical support, and plan terrorist attacks. The domestic terror legislation Canada passed after September 11, 2001 was used for only one prosecution and will expire in 2006.
Pretty damning stuff - if it were true. But, look closely at the attempt to connect Canadian immigration policy with the events of September 11, 2001. Despite the fact that the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon were planned and executed inside the United States by foreign nationals legally resident in the US under their immigration laws Canada is held out as having unacceptable (to the Bush administration) immigration and asylum policies.

The report goes on to discuss Maher Arar, and blames a media outcry for a reaction by the Canadian government which may hamper intelligence sharing. There is no mention that Canada condemns, (or used to), extraordinary rendition, something to which Maher Arar can speak with authority and first-hand knowledge.

The report goes on to describe the situation surrounding Ahmed Ressam, the so-called "Millenium Bomber", and the fact that he was captured with falsified Canadian travel documents. While he was indeed discovered by a US immigration agent at Port Angeles, Washington, there is no mention that it was the RCMP who positively identified Ressam. Of course, there is absolutely no mention of the fact that Ressam's subsequent interrogation and trial testimony prompted the CIA to write a report on August 6, 2001 entitled "Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US" which George W. Bush and Condoleeza Rice promptly ignored.

The report goes on to describe other known terrorists in Canada and gives the impression that they are at large and undetected. That is a propaganda technique known as Excluding The Middle, because it simply isn't true. The report lists:

Mohammed Mahjoub, member of Vanguards of Conquest, a radical wing of Egyptian Islamic Jihad;
Mahmud Jaballah, senior member of the Egyptian Islamic terrorist organization al-Jihad and al-Qaida;
Hassan Al Merei, suspected al-Qaida member;
Mohammed Harkat, suspected al-Qaida member; and
Adil Charkaoui, suspected al-Qaida member.

What the report doesn't tell you is that Mahjoub, Jaballah, Al Marei and Harkat are all being held in detention under Canadian government security certificates. Charkaoui was released but is required to wear an electronic leg-bracelet and is under police supervision.

If there is anything telling in this report it is that the State Department document has perpetuated a Bush administration habit - cherry-picking information to suit their own ends. The trick of Excluding The Middle is present throughout the portions referring to Canada which leads one to believe that the entire report is written in the same specious manner. Given that, it is near worthless.

There is another curious piece of information out there. The US State Department report seems to lack anything truly revealing. In fact, it looks like it was written in Canada - by the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service. This presentation by Jim Judd, Director Canadian Security Intelligence Service Senate Committee on Anti-terrorism Act, issued on March 7, 2005, contains virtually the same information with respect to anti-terrorism. While it's not identical, the CSIS document doesn't go into detail on detention of suspects because it's audience already understands that. The editors of the US report apparently missed that.

The thing is a piece of political manipulation, not to be confused with facts.

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