Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Air India Fiasco

Another million or two down the ‘turlet’ with the still-born Air India inquiry. Canada’s first brush with terrorism, if you don’t count Indian massacres and the Fenian raiders, Air India saw the bombing of two commercial flights by Sikh extremists living in Canada. The subsequent RCMP investigation took a number of years and identified a handful of perpetrators one of whom spent time in jail, one shot to death by Indian police and the others released when the crown’s case against them fell to bits after ‘witnesses’ developed amnesia or remembered everything backward.

As a sop to the outraged families of the dead, the Canadian government instituted a ‘judicial inquiry’ into the matter. The ‘inquiry’ has now come cropper on the reef of CSIS’ ‘national security’. The judge has threatened to abort the inquiry if he doesn’t get more cooperation from Canada’s cloak and dagger department. Of late they’ve given him steady amounts of blackened documentation.

The ‘security’ process strikes me as stupid for a number of reasons.

First there’s the process itself. Somebody thought it was a good idea to pay somebody in CSIS to sit editing documents in ebony. Hopefully they’ve read ‘Catch 22' and can do a Yossarian edit in equally creative ways. Given the obvious value of the documentation, this could not be left to any mere clerk. No it’s probably a couple of 6 digit boys engaged in this enterprise. “Just say no”, an excellent advisor in matters of the heart and a common-sensical approach to releasing secret documents. Say no, a judicial appeal would clarify the matter. As it is, there are significant costs so far and a judicial appeal still might be the best solution.

A second point that comes to mind is “What’s being protected?” The Airliner went down almost 20 years ago. The investigation took up the next 15. Now I know we’re pretty good in Canada, and maybe there are Indian or Sikh sources that are still valuable enough to protect - give ‘em a code name and remove identifying info and get on with it. There are Mounties involved - damn straight, and that might be the third part of the problem.

Whatever Mounties were involved in the investigation have probably been ‘outed’ already at the aborted trial’s voir dire level. Somebody knows who they are and, even if sworn to secrecy, those Sikhs who walked know. Besides their careers are drawing down, would they still be in the field? Only if they’d screwed up.

Then there’s CSIS itself. Supposedly a ‘civilian’ agency it’s full of the best intelligence Canada’s got, namely superannuated Mounties. They may have given up the serge for tweeds and a ‘deerslayer’, but the mentality under that hat is every bit the same. Probably even worse, insofar as they don’t have any Gennelmen Rankers to answer for and to. And we have a pretty good idea of how high elected officials rate in the eyes of the horsey set. This point alone is probably more at the root of the non-cooperation than anything else. You can bet your yellow-striped jodphurs that, if there was a government to embarrass, those documents would have been double-spaced and white-out free. They’re covering up the mess they made in a previous existence.

Prime Minister Harper should do some housecleaning at CSIS as well as the RCMP. There are some good civilian jobs for his conservative hacks there too.

In a sequel to this sad tale. It turnsout that Mr. Harper's government are stonewalling the opposition Liberals about a related issues (appointing law 'n order Judges, and extending the powers ofsecurity services)) by beating them around the head and ears about one of their MPs who is related by marriagwe to a person of interest to the inquiry. Mr. Harper, apparently doesn't want to get to the bottomof Air India bcause he's backing CSIS, and claims the Liberals don't want to do it because it might embarrass them.

If it hadn't, and didn't and doesn't and won't, cost so much taxpayers' money, this would be a farce.

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