By Jesse Brown - Monday, April 8, 2013 - 0 Comments
Wikileaks has just dropped a data dump of 1.7 million U.S. diplomatic and intelligence cables, published on a site they call the Public Library of U.S. Diplomacy. The documents are all dated between 1973-76, and include over 200,000 items relating directly to former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Journalists and academics have begun sorting through the missives, many of which shed new light on America’s relationships with oppressive regimes in Latin America. Also of note are detailed reports on The Yom Kippur war, Israel’s 1973 conflict with Egypt and Syria. Many formerly secret memos are included.
“Formerly” secret not because of Wikileaks, but because the documents have all been publicly available at the National Archives. All that Wikileaks has done here (and by Wikileaks, it seems that we’re talking chiefly about Julian Assange, who reportedly engineered this release personally while in exile) is collect the data, put it online, organize it, alert the media to it, and make it easily searchable.
Which is a lot.
By Jesse Brown - Friday, October 12, 2012 at 12:05 PM - 0 Comments
From time to time I’ve argued that Julian Assange is an epic donkey whose ego, personal agenda, and lust for celebrity infamy supersede Wikileaks’ stated goal to “open governments.” Each time I’ve done so, I’ve been labelled an MSM (mainstream media) shill, an establishment hack working to discredit a disruptive but crucial voice. Whether these sentiments are expressed in comment sections or in emails to me, some invariably contain the phrase “We are Legion” and are signed, Anonymous.
Now, Anonymous (the amorphous Internet culture/movement often described as a “hacker group” ) has broken off with Wikileaks. Why? Because Julian Assange has opted to monetize the data he leaks. Millions of documents have been shoved behind a Wikileaks paywall. To see them, users are asked to whip out their credit cards and donate to Wikileaks (a.k.a. the Julian Assange legal defense fund). Another option is to tweet the donation form or post it to Facebook, in an attempt to take the fundraising campaign viral. It’s very tacky, it betrays Wikileaks’ mission, and it has pissed off Anonymous.
No one voice speaks for all of Anonymous, but the collective does have certain influential channels that dictate the mood of the horde. One of these, AnonymousIRC, broke with Wikileaks in a public statement:
[The Wikileaks mission] has been pushed more and more into the background, instead we only hear about Julian Assange, like he had dinner last night with Lady Gaga….The conclusion for us is that we cannot support anymore what Wikileaks has become – the One Man Julian Assange show.
By Jonathon Gatehouse - Wednesday, September 5, 2012 at 5:00 AM - 0 Comments
Wikileaks founder’s presidential supporter keeps his own country’s press on a short leash
Politics makes strange bedfellows. But even by those standards, the pairing of Julian Assange and Rafael Correa, the president of Ecuador, is a little hard to fathom. The Wikileaks founder has been holed up in the South American nation’s embassy in London since mid-June, seeking refuge from the British government’s attempts to extradite him to Sweden, where he is under police investigation for two alleged sexual assaults. Correa, a left-leaning populist, has offered him asylum, suggesting the charges—which basically boil down to Assange refusing to wear a condom—are trumped up and political. “The alleged sexual offences are not considered crimes in Latin America, or in 95 per cent of the world,” the president declared last week.
Whether or not there is a wider conspiracy to neuter the Internet muckraker is debatable. But surely someone who crusades for freedom of information and expression should be able to pick better friends. Since taking office in 2007, Correa has shut down or nationalized dozens of media outlets in Ecuador. And after tweaking the country’s libel and press laws, he has made full use of the courts to go after his critics—most infamously in a 2011 suit against an opposition newspaper that resulted in a $42-million fine and three-year jail terms for four journalists. (Under international pressure, the president later set the verdict aside and pardoned the men, although all four have since fled Ecuador.) In its most recent Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders ranked the country 104th in the world, noting a worrying uptick in physical attacks on the media as well.
“Rafael Correa is building an authoritarian system,” says Simón Pachano, a political scientist at FLACSO, a social sciences school in Quito, the Ecuadorian capital. “He doesn’t understand democracy as pluralism. He thinks all media are in opposition and that any critical position is against his government.”
By Jesse Brown - Tuesday, September 4, 2012 at 2:02 PM - 0 Comments
Anonymous data transmission, peer-to-peer file sharing, cloud-based file storage: these are three technologies.
Julian Assange, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Kim Dotcom: these are three people.
Got it? If so, you’re miles ahead of many executives, legislators, bureaucrats and police around the world. They’ve confused these dudes with the technologies they use. That’s why Julian Assange is getting even pastier as he holes up in Ecuador’s British embassy, avoiding extradition to Sweden for questioning on crimes he has yet to be charged with. That’s why Pirate Bay cofounder Gottfrid Warg has been arrested in Cambodia, facing deportation to Sweden, even though Cambodia has no extradition treaty with Sweden. That’s why MegaUpload baron Kim Dotcom had his assets frozen and New Zealand mansion seized on warrants later deemed invalid. In each case, the persecution has been literally extraordinary. Diplomatic and investigative protocols have been abandoned, laws have been twisted and abused. Whatever it takes, that’s what’s done to stop these men.
By Scaachi Koul - Thursday, August 16, 2012 at 8:53 AM - 0 Comments
Wikileaks founder is currently holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in the UK
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been offered refuge in Ecuador, but Britain has threatened to raid Ecuador’s embassy if Quito doesn’t hand him over.
Ecuadorian government has stated that a raid would be seen as a “hostile and intolerable act” and a violation of its sovereignty.
A Foreign Office spokesman said that under British law, they can give them a week’s notice before entering the embassy, and they want to find a diplomatic solution.
Update: Quito announced Thursday that they would allow Assange to stay under a type of humanitarian protection. The UK said they will not grant safe passage out of the country to Assange.
By Jesse Brown - Wednesday, August 15, 2012 at 5:46 PM - 0 Comments
Have you heard of Trapwire? It’s a formerly obscure counter-terrorist surveillance network, created by a company run by ex-CIA agents, that links together thousands of ordinary, privately owned security cameras, digitally analyzing the footage they generate and delivering it to various police departments and branches of the U.S. federal government. It’s been making headlines in the U.S. since Wikileaks exposed its existence, and online chatter has been obsessively focused on it ever since. There’s been endless analysis, opinion, misinformation and clarification (here’s a credible run-down of the story so far). Everyone from NBC to Anonymous is talking about it, but the Canadian media has yet to take notice. Which is surprising, since Trapwire is apparently live in Ottawa.
“Trapwire is in place at every HVT in NYC, DC, London, Ottawa and LA.”
In U.S. Military parlance, an HVT is a “high-value target,” like a federal government building, a military structure or a travel hub. Ottawa has lots of those, and apparently they all house cameras that are spying on Canadians and feeding the footage to Trapwire.
By Jesse Brown - Friday, April 20, 2012 at 4:21 PM - 0 Comments
Confession: I watched Julian Assange’s TV show. I promised myself I’d ignore it, but curiosity got the better of me. I wish I’d stuck with my instinct, because it annoyed me to the extent that I’m now going to compound the problem by writing about him. Sorry everybody.
Before I unburden myself, a note to Assange’s supporters: I know you feel your guy has been unfairly maligned and mocked by an international conspiracy to defame, imprison, and possibly kill him, even though he may not have broken any laws. And I think you’re probably right–he has been. But that doesn’t mean he’s not an ass.
And let’s face it, he’s such an ass. He establishes this in the first minute of the World Tomorrow, through an epically self-aggrandizing intro-montage that places Assange as some kind of messianic figurehead of both the Occupy movement and the Arab Spring. He overplays the victim card by running footage of a rabid Fox News commentator barking that the U.S. should just “illegally shoot the son of a bitch!” Let’s remember that U.S. senator Joe Lieberman called for Assange to be tried for treason against the American government, a fantastical suggestion given that Assange is not a U.S. citizen. And Lieberman came within inches of the Vice Presidency, so he’s by no means a cable news cartoon character. Lieberman’s is a much more telling clip of the actual persecution Assange faces at the hands of the powerful. But I guess it wouldn’t make for as good television.
By Alex Ballingall - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 11:24 AM - 0 Comments
WikiLeaks founder will be featured in an episode of The Simpsons and has a Russian TV show in the works
Between staining his teeth with another cup of English Breakfast tea and twiddling away the hours under house arrest in Britain, Julian Assange managed to record his lines for an upcoming episode of The Simpsons. That’s right. The controversial founder and figurehead of Wikileaks is playing himself on an episode set to air Feb. 19, which just so happens to be the show’s 500th episode. Known details of the plot are few, but one can imagine the possibilities for humour: poking fun at Assange’s cold intensity, swollen ego and status as a thorn in the hide of the American political establishment.
Voicing his character on The Simpsons isn’t the only thing Assange has been up to as he awaits the possibility of extradition to Sweden on charges of sexual misconduct. He’s also been filming a new talk show, funded by the Kremlin, to appear on English language Russia Today. (Assange is the host.) According to Reuters, Assange will lead talks with 10 “key political players, thinkers and revolutionaries.” It’s called “The World Tomorrow” and it’s slated to air in March.
By macleans.ca - Friday, January 13, 2012 at 11:27 AM - 0 Comments
U.S. army private accused of leaking documents could face life in prison
The military officer who presided over the evidentiary hearing on charges against Pfc. Bradley Manning has recommended that Manning face court martial. Manning is accused of leaking thousands of sensitive U.S. government documents to Internet whistle-blower Wikileaks. The New York Times reports the officer, Lt. Col. Paul Almanza, found “reasonable grounds” for believing that Private Manning is guilty of aiding the enemy, theft of public records and computer fraud. The recommendation now goes to senior military officers who may dismiss the charges or allow a full military trial. If convicted, Private Manning could be sentenced to imprisonment for life.
By Kristy Hutter - Wednesday, January 11, 2012 at 11:10 AM - 0 Comments
Wikileaks targets three Canadian tech firms, but now it’s the one under scrutiny
The whistle-blowing WikiLeaks has a track record of revealing explosive secrets, so when three Canadian tech ﬁrms popped up on the website, it immediately raised the question: what are they hiding? WikiLeaks latest campaign, called “The Spy Files,” is aimed at exposing the use of online surveillance technologies by telecommunications companies, police forces, governments and intelligence agencies collecting private data. The site has named Canada’s Vineyard Networks, Sandvine and AdvancedIO Systems as “Western intelligence contractors,” but so far speciﬁc ﬁles have not been published online. While the companies say they have nothing to hide, the website is already causing trouble for some British and U.S. ﬁrms.
The companies named by WikiLeaks design products—both hardware and software—that facilitate a practice called deep packet inspection, a way of ﬁltering data as it passes an inspection point within a secured or unsecured network. These programs have completely legitimate purposes, whether used to manage congested Internet trafﬁc, to diagnose potentially destructive glitches in a massive computer system, to crack dangerous organized crime rings, or to tap into an underground terror cell. But WikiLeaks is on a crusade to pinpoint the uses that a democratic government’s law-abiding citizens may not necessarily consider ethical.
In the United Kingdom, documents from several surveillance companies have been leaked onto the Spy Files website, sparking outrage. Hampshire-based Gamma Group was shown to have been providing spying programs to Hosni Mubarak’s regime in Egypt through a third party; aptly named Hidden Technologies Systems International was discovered selling its technology to Saudi Arabia’s police force; and Creativity Software has been supplying its cellular device tracking system to an Iranian mobile phone company.
By Jesse Brown - Friday, December 9, 2011 at 2:44 PM - 0 Comments
Hip hop, being a genre borne of copyright infringement, has always had a less tortured relationship with intellectual property than the rest of the music industry. Piracy and commerce coexist peacefully. The release of free street tapes and deliberately leaked singles are common teasers for an upcoming album. These “grey market” tactics have been absorbed by the rap hype machine to the point where they’re just another part of the product supply chain. It’s not some hippyish “free culture” thing either, but an effective form of marketing. In the lucrative world of hip hop, piracy is all about the Benjamins.
Try telling that to the Department of Homeland Security. Their Immigration and Customs Enforcement wing started seizing dozens of domains a year ago, wiping entire websites from the Internet based on ongoing (and unproven) copyright violation investigations (I wish I could explain to you what copyright has to do with Homeland Security, but I cannot).
By macleans.ca - Wednesday, November 2, 2011 at 2:38 PM - 1 Comment
British court rules Julian Assange should face rape allegations in Sweden
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has lost his appeal in a British court against extradition to Sweden, where he faces rape accusations. Lord Justice Thomas and Justice Ouseley on Wednesday said the 40-year-old Australian should face Swedish prosecutors about the alleged rape of one woman and sexual assault of another following his visit to Stockholm in August 2010. Assange insists the case is politically motivated. Should he successfully bring forward another appeal, he will be heard in front of the British supreme court. If he is denied the appeal, he will have to leave for Sweden within 10 days.
By macleans.ca - Monday, October 3, 2011 at 10:00 AM - 0 Comments
Saudi Arabia grants women the right to vote, U.S.-Pakistani relations deteriorate further
Steps in the right direction
The king of Saudi Arabia has granted women the right to vote, acknowledging they can make “correct opinions.” This in a place where females can’t travel without a male’s permission, and where one woman who drove, despite a ban, was sentenced to 10 lashes. King Abdullah’s decision also permits females to run for Shura Council. Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai has approved draft regulations allowing women’s shelters to remain independent from government, and receive donations without state intermediation.
It was an exciting week in space news: NASA’s Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, deployed by the space shuttle in 1991, fell from orbit. A troublemaker on Twitter, armed with some Orson Welles quotes, managed to spread rumours worldwide that UARS had fallen near Okotoks, Alta. Fortunately, it appears the satellite crashed harmlessly somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. A few days earlier, space geeks were titillated with another report: physicists think they saw neutrinos travelling faster than the speed of light, which, if conﬁrmed, would disprove Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, September 30, 2011 at 9:53 AM - 41 Comments
(This post last updated at 7:46pm)
The Supreme Court’s ruling on the Insite safe injection facility—a unanimous ruling in the facility’s favour—is here.
The Minister made a decision not to extend the exemption from the application of the federal drug laws to Insite. The effect of that decision, but for the trial judge’s interim order, would have been to prevent injection drug users from accessing the health services offered by Insite, threatening the health and indeed the lives of the potential clients. The Minister’s decision thus engages the claimants’ s. 7 interests and constitutes a limit on their s. 7 rights. Based on the information available to the Minister, this limit is not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice. It is arbitrary, undermining the very purposes of the CDSA, which include public health and safety. It is also grossly disproportionate: the potential denial of health services and the correlative increase in the risk of death and disease to injection drug users outweigh any benefit that might be derived from maintaining an absolute prohibition on possession of illegal drugs on Insite’s premises.
10:46am. Liberal health critic Hedy Fry applauds.
10:51am. The Canadian Public Health Association applauds.
11:37am. Ms. Davies raised the court’s decision in QP just now, provoking a response from Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq. Continue…
By macleans.ca - Monday, September 26, 2011 at 11:23 AM - 1 Comment
Egyptian-born engineer arrested in Kandahar, held for over 18 months
Diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks have revealed the bizarre story of a mentally ill Canadian man kept in a U.S.-run prison in Afghanistan for more than 18 months. Khaled Samy Abdallah Ismail was born in Egypt but came to Canada in 1995. He worked as a computer engineer in Ontario before losing his job and launching a series of unsuccessful human rights complaints. Ismail fell off the radar before resurfacing in Kandahar in 2006, where he was arrested outside the governor’s mansion with a suspicious bag full of electronics. Afghan police handed Ismail over to the Americans, who eventually diagnosed him as a paranoid schizophrenic. After more than a year and a half in custody, Ismail was apparently transferred back to Canada. A CBC investigation could not determine his current location.
By Jesse Brown - Wednesday, September 7, 2011 at 5:15 PM - 30 Comments
Hyper-vigilant Internet Law Prof Michael Geist seems to be the first to have combed through the latest batch of WikiLeaks diplomatic cables, searching for any document containing the words “Canada” and “copyright.” And guess what he found?
- In a 2006 cable, Industry Minister Maxime Bernier promised to leak a copy of his Canadian copyright reform bill to U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins before it was introduced in Parliament.
- In a 2007 cable, the Privy Council Office disclosed to the U.S. details of confidential mandate letters Harper had sent to new ministers, demanding that they get copyright in line with U.S. demands as soon as possible.
- In 2009, Industry Minister Tony Clement’s policy director asked U.S. officials to add Canada to their Special 301 Priority Watch List—also known as the Copyright Blacklist and the Copyright Hall of Shame. They did, placing us alongside China, Russia and Pakistan as one of the world’s worst nations when it comes to piracy and bootlegging. Continue…
By Jesse Brown - Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 12:51 PM - 41 Comments
Until last week, Julian Assange seemed to be receding from view. As he wrestled with criminal charges and a financial chokehold on donations to his cause, Wikileaks’ data releases slowed to a trickle, and nothing that emerged proved too juicy. Then, all of a sudden, Wikileaks burst open—134,000 diplomatic cables were dumped in just a few days.
This was not the tactical, deliberate approach that served Assange so well in the past. When Wikileaks began, Assange threw data online only to be disappointed by the lack of mainstream news attention. So Assange famously partnered with leading media outlets in 2010, dispersing his revelations under trusted mastheads that reassured the public that the information was authentic. Sensitive information, such as the names of confidential informants and operatives, was redacted by his mainstream media partners. (Some bristled at this characterization, preferring to call Assange a ‘source’. Whatever.) In this manner, Wikileaks dominated the headlines for months, embarrassed governments, and perhaps led to some real political change—Assange’s stated goal. Continue…
By Cigdem Iltan - Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 10:00 AM - 2 Comments
The hacker group’s hit list has grown to include Arab dictatorships and opponents of WikiLeaks
Gone, for Anonymous, are the days of aimless Internet hijinks. The hacker group, once a loosely knit group of cyber-pranksters that formed in 2003, has traded prank pizza deliveries and shock humour for high-profile attacks on authoritarian regimes. The community now attracts both political activists and hackers alike to campaigns targeting everyone from Arab dictatorships to opponents of WikiLeaks.
Last week, Anonymous carried out its latest offensive on an Arab government, when hackers swapped content on the Syrian Ministry of Defence website with a message calling on protesters to take down President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, which has killed an estimated 1,700 citizens since uprisings began five months ago. In June, the group claimed responsibility for revealing the passwords of hundreds of Bahraini, Egyptian, Moroccan and Jordanian government officials’ email accounts. And during the early stirrings of the Tunisian revolution in January, Anons (as the group’s adherents are known) created care packages that included instructions on how to conceal identities online and developed a script to help bloggers and news sources dodge a government-led phishing campaign. “It is simply impossible to list all countries that need help,” the maturing collective proclaimed on the @AnonymousIRC Twitter account on Aug. 9. “We try our best.”
Other recent targets include businesses that withdrew their services from WikiLeaks when, in December, the organization released secret diplomatic cables, and the Orlando, Fla., Chamber of Commerce, after members of the group Food Not Bombs were arrested for feeding the city’s homeless, against local laws. But the clandestine computer hacking group wasn’t always so interested in altruism. While Anons have maintained that their work is ultimately motivated by freedom of speech and anti-censorship ideals, it grew out of the notorious 4Chan message boards: an Internet repository for lolcats, anime and multiple genres of porn.
By Jesse Brown - Wednesday, July 27, 2011 at 2:47 PM - 22 Comments
Mere months ago, Julian Assange’s anonymous whistleblowing site was touted as a journalism “game-changer” that would do to news distribution what Napster did for music distribution: disrupt and democratize it.
What would this new era of transparency look like? Every online news story would include a “disclose” button to allow readers to safely dump additional info. Leaks would go local—in addition to big targets like the U.S. government or multinational banks, public school principals and gum factory foremen would also be vulnerable to being exposed. Media organizations would outsource news gathering to the public, and turn their internal efforts towards verifying, analyzing, editing and packaging compelling stories. And we wouldn’t be stuck with a douchey ideologue like Assange, either: new sites like OpenLeaks, LocalLeaks, EuroLeaks, IsraeliLeaks and HackerLeaks were popping up to poke holes in secrecy and conspiracy wherever they are found.
But let’s say that right now you had some dynamite data to dump. Who would you leak it to?
Wikileaks will accept your donation to Julian Assange’s legal defense fund, but it won’t accept your info leak. The site is currently not taking new submissions “due to re-engineering improvements“. OpenLeaks, a spinoff project by former members of Wikileaks, isn’t functional, and there’s no word on when it will be. Same with LocalLeaks, a project from the friendly folks of Anonymous. The rest have yet to gain much traction, and as for legacy media finally smartening up and offering their own secure data drops, the one major newspaper to try was practically laughed off the Internet.
The Wall Street Journal‘s Safehouse site was immediately ripped apart by security experts and transparency advocates alike. At launch, it was insecure both by technical bug (your I.P. address might be sniffed as you uploaded) and by deliberate design (the site’s terms and conditions warns leakers that the WSJ reserves the right to snitch them out to the cops whenever they feel like it). In other words, you’d have to be nuts to trust Safehouse to keep you safe, and unsurprisingly, nobody with anything good has. There has yet to be a notable revelation to come from the effort.
Perhaps I’m speaking too soon—it has been only nine months or so since Wikileaks’ notorious diplomatic cable-dumps. Or perhaps I’m simply ignorant of some truly consequential leak sites out there (it would help if I read Russian). If so, I’d love to know about them.
But if I’m right, and it’s true that in the wake of Wikileaks, nobody else has stepped up to take their place—well why on Earth not?
By Nicholas Kohler and Cathy Gulli - Thursday, June 9, 2011 at 1:00 PM - 0 Comments
A tiny Wolfe at the bathroom door, a flirty old Castro in Cuba and the Times’ new editor needs her red pen
Happy birthday, Mr. President
Turning 80 usually warrants a birthday party. But Cuban President Raúl Castro was hardly celebrated at all. It seems his advanced age is an uncomfortable reminder to many Cubans that their country’s leaders are old—and old-guard. With no young successors in place (the next in line for the job are 79 and 80), Cubans worry that economic reforms now under way will be jeopardized if either Castro or his brother Fidel, 84, take ill. Still, Castro was positively spry on his birthday, asking female reporters: “How do I look, ladies, how do I look at 80? How many old men of 60 are there who aren’t in my shape?”
Three decades after losing her son Terry to cancer, Betty Fox is ﬁghting to stay alive. The Fox family, in the spotlight ever since Terry’s Marathon of Hope across Canada in 1980, released a statement that the matriarch is “seriously ill,” but stressed she does not have cancer. Though details are scarce, she reportedly spent time at a hospice in Chilliwack, B.C. Her last major public appearance was carrying the Olympic flag during the opening ceremonies in Vancouver last year.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, May 16, 2011 at 4:17 PM - 5 Comments
According to a leaked cable from the U.S. embassy in Ottawa, the Harper government was considering its options in Afghanistan as far back as March 2009.
At a cabinet meeting in March, ministers “agreed that ‘all options are back on the table’ with respect to Canada’s military role in Afghanistan after 2011,” the March 17 cable marked secret says. The cable — among a batch of Canada-related U.S. diplomatic cables released to CBC News from whistleblower website WikiLeaks — quotes extensively from conversations held with a senior adviser from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
“It will take time for the government’s public rhetoric to catch up to this ‘new reality,’ however, requiring some ‘patience’ on the part of allies,” the senior adviser apparently told U.S. officials on March 16.
See previously: ‘The government would look at the possibility’
By macleans.ca - Monday, May 16, 2011 at 12:06 PM - 9 Comments
Despite public opposition to invasion, Canadian official promised naval and air support: WikiLeaks
At the same time as it was publicly refusing to join the U.S.-led effort of Iraq, the Canadian government was secretly promising American officials clandestine military support for the controversial invasion, a U.S. diplomatic cable obtained by CBC News from WikiLeaks reveals. On March 17, 2003, two days before U.S. warplanes started their raids on Baghdad, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien told the House of Commons that Canadian forces would stay out of what the Americans had dubbed the “coalition of the willing.” The statement was widely held as a rare assertion of foreign policy independence. But the classified U.S. cable shows that a high-ranking Canadian official was privately reassuring American and British counterparts that Canadian naval and air forces could be “discreetly” put to use during the pending U.S.-led assault on Iraq and its aftermath.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, May 13, 2011 at 10:58 AM - 33 Comments
One cable drafted by U.S. diplomats in Ottawa portrays Mr. Harper as dismissing the need for a military response to Russia over the Arctic. It includes an account from a Canadian official of a January, 2010, meeting between Mr. Harper and NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in which the PM said NATO has no role in the Arctic.
“According to PM Harper, Canada has a good working relationship with Russia with respect to the Arctic, and a NATO presence could backfire by exacerbating tensions,” the cable states. “He commented that there is no likelihood of Arctic states going to war, but that some non-Arctic members favoured a NATO role in the Arctic because it would afford them influence in an area where ‘they don’t belong.’ ”
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 6:08 PM - 7 Comments
Around the same time Mr. Harper said publicly that the post-2011 mission in Afghanistan would be a “strictly civilian mission” that would not require “any kind of military presence, other than the odd guard guarding an embassy,” he apparently indicated to the NATO secretary general privately that he was open to the possibility of a training mission.
NATO’s secretary general pressed Harper and Defence Minister Peter MacKay in a series of meetings in Ottawa in January 2010 to join its newly established training mission command in Kabul. Anders Fogh Rasmussen “sought Canadian commitment to a post-2011 role in training Afghan security forces as part of the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan,” said a cable released by WikiLeaks on Thursday. The Jan. 20, 2010, summary of the discussion from the U.S. embassy in Ottawa noted that “Harper promised that the government would look at the possibility.”
Five months later, the Foreign Affairs Minister dismissed any interest in a post-2011 training mission.
Five months after that, the Prime Minister confirmed that Canada would be pursuing a post-2011 training mission.
By Andrew Potter - Thursday, April 28, 2011 at 3:52 PM - 38 Comments
Glen McGregor has taken a break from embarrassing the heck out of Sun Media…
Glen McGregor has taken a break from embarrassing the heck out of Sun Media and is trolling through today’s Wikileaks dump of cables from US missions in Canada. He’s crowdsourcing the job and is collecting the best of them. My contribution is this cable from the US embassy in December 2009, reporting on the presentation of the sixth quarterly report to parliament on the mission in Afghanistan. From the cable’s summary (my emphases):
Signature development projects move forward, and border security dialogue between Afghanistan and Pakistan is expanding, with Canadian facilitation. The media and Parliament, however, remain more obsessed with allegations that the government ignored credible reports of abuse of Afghan detainees transferred by the Canadian Forces in 2006 to Afghan authorities (ref c), and largely ignored the mostly discouraging news in this latest report. End summary.
The concluding remarks are rather astute as well:
While the media covered the December 10 release by Minister Day, virtually all of the questioning related instead to the on-going controversy over the treatment of prisoners handed over to Afghan security forces by Canadian soldiers and what the government knew when…
The three opposition parties are united in seeking to embarrass the government over this issue and have vowed to call into session the Special Committee on Afghanistan even during the holiday recess (which began December 10), but have indicated no interest in debating the actual Canadian mission in Afghanistan and the successes – or failures – of Canada’s role as documented in the quarterly reports.