A McCarthyist suppression of dissent is precisely what The Walrus is advocating with Justin Ling's full-throated call, in “Why Google Has a Responsibility to Fight Fake News” (The Walrus, January 5, 2018), for Google to put a prominent Canadian political-commentary website, the Centre for Research on Globalization, out of existence.Read More
This essay examines two waves of neo-McCarthyist attacks on free speech and academic freedom: the 1990s campaign against “political correctness,” and (in greater detail) contemporary attempts to silence human rights activists who call for the application of international law in support of Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation and oppression. Resistance here takes the primary form of analytical understanding of the motives involved, of the parallel rhetorical inversions deployed in both cases, and of the political and legal tactics being used in the current attempt to reconfigure human rights solidarity as a form of “new antisemitism” (and hence as hate speech). Since the author has been closely involved in resisting both forms of neo-McCarthyism, the essay draws repeatedly on his own past interventions.Read More
[O]ur kitchen windows looked north across the leaded rooftops—among which, just over a hundred metres away, was the roof of the Bataclan music hall, in which on the evening of November 13, 2015, eighty-nine people were massacred by terrorist gunmen, and a larger number grievously injured.Read More
“The so-called War on Terror is a criminal fraud, designed to frighten Americans and the citizens of its allies into supporting systematic violations of international law. It was from the outset Islamophobic both in intention and in the wars of aggression it has been used to justify,” said Prof. Michael Keefer in an exclusive interview with Fars News Agency.Read More
First published in Global Outlook 13 (Annual 2009): 62-64.
One of the Toronto 18—a youth who was just seventeen when he was arrested in June 2006, and therefore cannot be publicly named—was found guilty of terrorism by Ontario Superior Court Justice John Sproat in a Brampton courthouse on September 25, 2008. This judgment raises questions of the most urgent kind about the impact of Canada's post-9/11 anti-terrorism legislation on civil and human rights in this country.
University of Toronto law professor Kent Roach predicted in 2003 that the Anti-terrorism Act (Bill C-36), which was introduced in Parliament in October 2001 and proclaimed on Christmas Eve of that year, was bound to result in a discriminatory application of security powers. He noted that the federal government, despite its 'hollow' claims that the Anti-terrorism Act promoted human rights, “resisted calls to commit itself in the act to non-discrimination in the administration of the many new powers given to police and prosecutors.”1
Professor Roach correctly identified this act as unnecessary, since “the failure of September 11 was one of law enforcement, not of the criminal law,” and Canada's existing Criminal Code was entirely capable of dealing with terrorist attacks like those of 9/11.2 He memorably described the act as a panicked politicization of the Criminal Code, an “expansion of the criminal law” that was not principled, but rather “political, symbolic, and somewhat cynical.”3 It should be understood, Roach suggested, within a larger process of recent ad hoc and reactive additions to criminal law, in the course of which “The law of first-degree murder has been expanded through piecemeal changes driven by politics, media attention, advocacy by interest groups representing victims and the police, and a desire to denounce horrible acts of violence”—even at the expense of more basic concerns for “coherence within the code or respect for fundamental principles of criminal law.” This process of expansion turns law towards narrative, so that its judgments serve “to memorialize terrible crimes.”4
One of the more striking deficiencies of The 9/11 Commission Report is its habit of repeatedly allowing forensic analysis (or a pretence of it) to be overwhelmed by breathlessly memorializing narrative. As a result, the Report reads like a sensationalist novel—sharing with examples of that genre like Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code the related properties of being feebly researched, over-written, and palpably implausible.5 But if impulses toward narrative and memorializing can help to reduce forensic discourse to obfuscation, is there reason to fear a similarly negative impact on the discourses of criminal law?
Professor Roach thinks so. He claims that “The new narrative and memorial style in the criminal law helps explain why the Anti-terrorism Act requires the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a terrorist activity was committed 'in whole or in part for a political, religious or ideological purpose, objective, or cause.'”6 This concern with the broad motive, as opposed to the specific intention to harm, goes against a long-standing principle of common-law tradition: as the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed in a 1997 decision, “it does not matter to society, in its efforts to secure social peace and order, what an accused's motive was, but only what the accused intended to do.”7
As Roach warned in 2003, the Anti-terrorism Act's emphasis on motive “undercuts the notion of a liberal criminal law that inquires only into the mind of the accused, as opposed to his or her heart. The requirement for proof of political or religious motive will make the politics and religion of suspects a fundamental issue in terrorism trials. [....] Terrorism trials in Canada will be political and religious trials.”8
While on the one hand the Anti-terrorism Act instructs police, prosecutors and judges to focus on this broad category of political or religious motive, on the other hand it systematically undercuts the traditional common-law concentration on criminal intent. This tendency is evident in the act's newly defined offences relating to the financing of terrorism: as law professor Kevin Davis suggests, these could be used to convict a restaurant owner “for serving customers who he knows are in the habit of making contributions to terrorist groups.”9
However, it is in its definition of offences of facilitating terrorism that the Anti-terrorism Act most distinctly subverts traditional Canadian legal standards. The act provides for up to ten years' imprisonment for any person who “knowingly participates in or contributes to, directly or indirectly, any activity of a terrorist group for the purpose of enhancing the ability of the terrorist group to facilitate or carry out a terrorist activity.”10 Participating in or contributing to terrorist activities can be a matter of giving or receiving 'training'—or, more loosely, any kind of association with a group labelled as terrorist. As Roach observes, the act directs Canadian courts “to consider whether a person 'frequently associated with any of the persons who constitute the terrorist group' or uses words or symbols associated with the terrorist group.” As though this drift into guilt-by-association were not loose enough, the act then specifies that it is not necessary that “any particular terrorist activity was foreseen or planned at the time it was facilitated.”11
As Professor Roach's comment makes clear, the act at this point enters the terrain of Franz Kafka:
It seems impossible to knowingly facilitate a terrorist activity when you do not know that “any particular terrorist activity was foreseen or planned at the time it was facilitated.” [....] The accused would still, however, be convicted and punished for knowing facilitation of a terrorist activity when, in fact, the person did not know about the terrorist activity.12
* * * *
The September 25th judgment of Ontario Superior Court Justice John Sproat participates fully in the Kafkaesque absurdity of the Anti-terrorism Act that it was his duty to apply.
Judge Sproat fund Mubin Shaikh “to be a truthful and generally reliable witness” whose credibility was not seriously shaken by the defence; not surprisingly, given this degree of gullibility, Sproat also concluded that evidence the Toronto 18 existed as a terrorist group was “overwhelming.”
As the Canadian Press reported,
Sproat rejected defence arguments that two camps organized by the alleged ringleaders were simply a religious retreat or recreational in nature. Sproat noted participants, including the accused, marched, played paintball games, shot a 9-mm handgun, and heard lectures on waging war on the West during a camp north of Toronto in December 2005. “It is inconceivable to me that by the end of the camp there was any doubt about its purpose,” the judge said. Sproat was adamant the young man [...] was aware of the group's murderous intentions and did his part to help by shoplifting walkie-talkies and camping supplies. “He had a full appreciation of the nature of the terrorist group.”13
But the evidence heard by the court would lead most rational people to a very different conclusion. As the New York Times reported, the camps “that the police described as terrorist training sessions” were characterized by prosecution witnesses “as recreational or religious retreats,” and Mubin Shaikh testified that he choreographed scenes in the videotapes he made of these two camps.14 The 9-mm pistol of course belonged to Shaikh, who acknowledged that he bought ammunition and fired the gun in front of participants in one of the camps,15 and the shoplifting was done at Shaikh's instigation.16
Shaikh himself was adamant that the accused ought to be acquitted: in July 2008 he insisted to reporters that the youth had no inkling of any nefarious purposes: “'I knew the purpose of the camp. I can tell you the accused was not told,' said Mr. Shaikh. [....] He said the youth believed the camp was for religious purposes.”17 Following Judge Sproat's judgment, Shaikh continued to insist to journalists, “as he did during his testimony, [that] the youth did not know what the group was up to. 'I don't believe he's a terrorist. I don't believe he should have been put through what he was put through, but that's our system.' Shaikh said.”18
We have, then, a truly bizarre legal judgment, in which the magnifying lens of police entrapment and 'war-on-terror' paranoia swells a shoplifter—whose petty crimes were instigated by a highly paid CSIS-RCMP informant—into a terrorist. The principal crown witness is accepted as “truthful and generally reliable” when his testimony supports the conclusion that a dangerous terrorist group actually existed—but that assessment appears effortlessly to coexist with the judge's bland acceptance of crown prosecutor John Neader's charge that when Mubin Shaikh's testimony exculpated the accused he was “fabricating evidence.”19 The logic of this is perhaps easier to accept once we have come to understand, thanks to the Anti-terrorism Act, that it is possible to “knowingly facilitate” a terrorist activity about which one knows nothing.
* * * *
Common-law tradition demands two things to secure a criminal conviction: a guilty deed (or actus reus), and evidence that the act was done knowingly, with criminal intention or a guilty mind (mens rea). The Anti-terrorism Act's dismissal of the mens rea requirement is a wholesale betrayal of democratic jurisprudence.
But as “national security expert” Wesley Wark of the Munk Centre for International Studies has said of the decision in this case, “so far, so good.”20 In other words, the purpose of the law is to secure convictions, at whatever cost to the principles of justice.
In Franz Kafka's haunting parable “Before the Law,” a man who has spent his life vainly seeking admission at the gate of the Law perceives, as his senses fail, a radiance streaming from the entrance that is about to be shut in his face by a brutal and tyrannical door-keeper.21 (What is the source of this radiance: the clear light of Justice? Or does it come rather from fires being lit in a new form of witch-hunt—one no less cowardly and irrational than the original?)
Integrating this parable into his novel The Trial, Kafka made it part of a dialogue between his innocent but doomed protagonist “K.” and the prison chaplain, who tells him that the authority of the parable's door-keeper must be accepted—not necessarily as true, but as necessary: for “to doubt his integrity is to doubt the Law itself.”
“A melancholy conclusion,” K. responds. “It turns lying into a universal principle.”22
1 Kent Roach, September 11: Consequences for Canada (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003), p. 17.
2 See Roach, p. 23: “Had the September 11 terrorists planned their crimes in Canada and had the law enforcement officials been aware of their activities, the existing law would have allowed them to be charged and convicted of serious crimes” before the would-be perpetrators had actually carried out a single violent act.
3 Ibid., p. 24.
4 Ibid., p. 25.
5 For thorough assessments of the Report's substantive deficiencies, see David Ray Griffin, The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions (Northampton, MA: Olive Branch Press, 2005); and Griffin, 9/11 Contradictions: An Open Letter to Congress and the Press (Northampton, MA: Olive Branch Press, 2008).
6 Roach, September 11: Consequences for Canada, p. 25, quoting Criminal Code, s. 83.01 (1)(b)(i)(A).
7 Ibid., p. 26, quoting United States v. Dynar,  2 SCR 462 at para. 81, 115 CCC (3d) 481. In the same note, Roach quotes the opinion of K. Kittichaisaree that “A motive is generally irrelevant in criminal law, except at the sentencing stage” (International Criminal Law [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001], p. 92; see Roach, pp. 212-13).
8 Ibid., p. 27.
9 Kevin Davis. “Cutting Off the Flow of Funds to Terrorists,” in R. Daniels, P. Maclem, and K. Roach, eds., The Security of Freedom (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001), pp. 301, 303; quoted in Roach, September 11, p. 39. For evidence that Islamic financial, charity and banking systems have been both routinely misunderstood and unfairly targeted by western intelligence agencies, see economist R. T. Naylor's brilliant study Satanic Purses: Money, Myth, and Misinformation in the War on Terror (Montréal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2006), pp. 137 ff.
10 Criminal Code, s. 83.18, quoted by Roach, September 11, p. 42.
11 Roach, pp. 43, 44.
12 Ibid., p. 44.
13 “Evidence of terror group 'overwhelming,' judge rules in finding youth guilty,” Canadian Press (25 September 2008), http://canadianpress.google.com/article/AleqM5gWT-16g3nlt6sz3xdOyPDcfpqCMg.
14 Ian Austen, “Man Guilty in Canada Terror Plot,” New York Times (25 September 2008), http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/26/world/americas/26canada.html.
15 “Evidence of terror group 'overwhelming'.”
16 See Joseph Brean, “'We weren't there picking daisies',” National Post (11 June 2008), http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=580018. Brean quotes Shaikh as testifying that “when he discussed 'acquiring' camping gear with the group, it meant 'to quote unquote take unlawfully items in support of camping. Unlawfully. Not through legal purchases.'”
17 Shannon Kari, “Star witness says Toronto 18 youth should go free,” National Post (3 July 2008), http://www.nationalpost.com/news/canada/story.html?id=630123.
18 “Evidence of terror group 'overwhelming'.”
19 Melissa Leong, “Key witness's story changed, Crown charges,” National Post (25 June 2008), http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=610976.
20 “Evidence of terror group 'overwhelming'.”
21 Franz Kafka, “Before the Law,” in The Penal Colony: Stories and Short Pieces, trans. Willa and Edwin Muir (1948; rpt. New York: Schocken Books, 1970), pp. 148-50.
22 Kafka, The Trial, trans. Willa and Edwin Muir (1935; rpt. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1974), p. 243.
First published in Global Outlook 13 (Annual 2009): 60-62.
The conclusions I arrived at in my article “The Toronto 18 Frame-Up: Fraud and Fear-Mongering in the 'War on Terror',” written in May 2008, have if anything been reinforced by subsequent events. I described a prosecution case that rests upon the entrapment activities of two moles instructed and lavishly paid by the the RCMP: one of them, by his own account a serious drug addict, received some $377,000, while the other, a spendthrift with what a close associate described as a habit of embellishing the truth, was paid $4.1 million. Their job, in return, was to create the appearance of a gang of terrorists with some paramilitary training, and the further appearance that this gang was trying to lay its hands on quantities of fertilizer to make ammonium nitrate-fuel oil (ANFO) bombs.
In July 2008 the first mole, Mubin Shaikh, decided he had sold himself short and requested a further $2.4 million from the RCMP—in return for promises of “no more media interviews, no more drug use, and no book or movie deals.”1 In the mean time, in June 2008, it emerged that the RCMP used a third mole as well—one Qari Kifayatullah, who claimed expertise with ANFO explosives. Thomas Walkom writes that the RCMP has shown no interest in interviewing or arresting this man—for the very good reason, one might suppose, that he was acting under RCMP supervision. It is not yet known how much his services may have cost, or what his relationship was to another man, “identified in court only as Talib,” who also contributed to the frame-up. As Walkom notes, Talib “explained, in a conversation recorded by police, how his team of cocaine addicts used stolen identities to defraud banks in small cities like Kitchener.” He seems, like Kifayatullah, to have enjoyed immunity from arrest: “There is no record [...] of the RCMP moving to shut down Talib's ongoing and apparently lucrative bank fraud schemes.”2
I also described in my article what I called the narrative framing of the case. The motif of ANFO bombs—a project that police agents furthered and almost certainly originated as well3—identified the accused as 'home-grown terrorists' in the manner of Timothy McVeigh; while the motif of beheading—set into motion by a police synopsis of accusations, and given added currency by the police mole Mubin Shaikh—linked the accused with the barbaric 'terrorist international' of arch-beheader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. This narrative framing gave shape to a nightmare sense of mortal danger—posed by men and boys who are at once 'home-grown' and at the same time terrifyingly 'other', since their deepest loyalty is supposedly to a barbaric radicalism that seeks to transplant the violence of faraway countries into our own civic space.
A different kind of narrative framing is now at work in the timing of the prosecutions: these cases are moving into court in conjunction with the trial in Ottawa of Momin Khawaja, arrested four years ago on charged of having supplied bomb detonator know-how to a UK terrorist cell. Five people have been convicted in Britain as members of the cell Khawaja is accused of having assisted, and our government may be hoping for synergy between Khawaja's case and the Toronto 18 trials: a conviction in the former might be expected to make the Crown's arguments in the latter more persuasive.
However, another 'War on Terror' case involving a Canadian citizen has also simultaneously been moving toward trial. The alleged child-soldier Omar Khadr, who has been illegally detained in the US prison at Guantánamo since 2002, when he was fifteen, and repeatedly tortured, will be on trial for his life this autumn before an illegally constituted Military Commission. This case has become a major scandal both in Canada and internationally: our Supreme Court has ruled that CSIS agents and Foreign Affairs officials who participated in interrogating Khadr at Guantánamo in 2003 were acting in a manner “contrary to Canada's binding international obligations,”4 and the Harper government's refusal to intervene on Khadr's behalf and repatriate him is a much more serious violation of Canadian law and of Canadian treaty obligations under the UN Convention Against Torture (Article 12) and the Geneva Conventions (III, Article 130, and IV, Article 146).5
On August 8, 2008, Khadr's lawyers launched a lawsuit in the Federal Court of Canada against Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Foreign Affairs Minister David Emerson, CSIS Director Jim Judd and RCMP Commissioner William Elliott, asking a judge to order the government to live up to its legal and treaty obligations and repatriate Khadr. Harper's response was breathtaking in its moral obtuseness:
“This predictable,” said Kory Teneycke, the Prime Minister's director of communications. “It's an attempt by Mr. Khadr's lawyers to avoid a trial on the charges of murder in violation of the laws of the war, attempted murder in violation of the laws of the war, conspiracy providing material support for terrorism and spying.”6
Setting aside the ignorance of Teneycke's repeated reference to “the laws of the war” rather than “the laws of war” (it could possibly be a sub-editor at the National Post rather than the PM's flack who thinks that each war has its own laws, and doesn't know that there's just one set of international conventions that applies to all wars), this banal repetition of the Gitmo charge sheet is an affront to civilized values. Canada's Prime Minister is telling us, quite directly, that he regards a Military Commission kangaroo-court as legitimate, that he holds Canada's binding obligations under international law in contempt, and that, above and beyond the laws governing appropriate treatment of children accused of crimes, he fails to see how sheerly idiotic it is to accuse a fifteen-year-old of “providing material support for terrorism and spying.”
The contextual framing of the trials of those among the Toronto 18 whose charges have not been stayed may therefore, if anything, help the Canadian public to recognize the fragility of the government's evidence—and the fact that sleep-deprivation torture is no less disgraceful in Toronto than in Guantánamo. A wider contextualizing still may help us to understand more fully what is at stake, in terms of the principles of democratic jurisprudence, in these and similar 'terror trials'.
* * * *
We can learn something about the current threat to democratic jurisprudence by reflecting on a uniquely western European and early American experience—the witch-craze that between the end of the fifteenth century and the late seventeenth century intermittently convulsed whole regions of Germany and France, with lesser outbreaks in Scotland, England, and England's American colonies. Its relevance resides in the fact that the 'War on Terror' reproduces with uncanny exactitude not just the key structures of the western European witch-hunts, but also their political function.
The witch-hunts were animated by a conviction that society was under attack by a demonic conspiracy: Satan was said to have assembled a vast network of people who had sworn allegiance to him at secret assemblies, and who were wreaking havoc under his direction, causing crop failures and other 'natural' disasters, outbreaks of disease, and the deaths of children and cattle. Alarmingly, the alleged participants in this conspiracy were often normal, even upstanding members of the community: a large majority of those who were arrested, tortured, and judicially murdered during the witch-hunts were powerless and vulnerable women, but the victims also included municipal councillors, merchants, and landowners.
Although the discourses of the witch-hunts incorporated elements of popular culture, there is overwhelming evidence that the witch-stereotype was constructed by lawyers and theologians. And whether by accident or design, the witch-hunts helped to stifle dissent among the labouring classes, which had increasingly taken the form of quasi-messianic insurrections (among them the German Peasants' Revolt of 1525). The anthropologist Marvin Harris, who noted this connection more than thirty years ago, wrote that the “witch mania [...] shifted responsibility for the crisis of late Medieval society from both Church and state to imaginary demons in human form [...]. The clergy and nobility emerged as the great protectors of mankind against an enemy who was omnipresent but difficult to detect.”7
Harris observed that in contrast to movements of protest, which gave the poor, if only briefly, a sense of solidarity, dignity, and common purpose, the witch mania “dispersed and fragmented all the latent energies of protest. It demobilized the poor and the dispossessed, [...] made everyone fearful, heightened everyone's insecurity, made everyone feel helpless and dependent on the governing classes[...].”8 It amounted to a sixteenth-century form of 'false-flag' deception.
Early modern legal systems influenced by Roman law incorporated torture as a standard means of acquiring evidence in criminal cases. But the witch-craze led to a greatly expanded reliance upon torture, together with a general relaxation of standards of evidence. Membership in the secret society of witches was defined by jurists as a crimen exceptum, a crime so far removed from normal wickedness as to require a corresponding extremism in the investigative and judicial responses to the threat.9 Because Satan, the central co-conspirator, was unavailable for questioning, and because the evidence of guilt by association with him was, by definition, spectral in nature, torture became the principal source of evidence. The result was a cascading proliferation of accusations. And since rules of evidence were relaxed, few of the accused escaped conviction.
The analogies with the post-9/11 'War on Terror' are obvious enough. Once again, by accident or design, a powerful movement of dissent—in this case, the international mobilization against neoliberal globalization that produced mass demonstrations in Seattle, Québec, Genoa and elsewhere between the late 1990s and 2001—has been stifled.10 And once again, the sense of agency and solidarity that fed organized opposition to an exploitative elite has been deflected and dispersed by a demonizing fantasy—a “myth of universal terrorism”11—about a terrifying otherness whose instruments hate us for what is good in us and seek to destroy our central institutions.
That fantasy has legitimized rampant Islamophobia, as well as a powerful deployment of the state's agencies of repression. It has also led to a fearful acceptance of claims that these forces of repression are our only defence against 'terror'. The demonizing fantasy has legitimized, in the United States, an effective abandonment of the rights of citizens once protected by the Constitution and Bill of Rights,12 and in Canada and elsewhere it has resulted in the passing of 'Terror Laws' that relax normal rules of evidence and permit claims of 'national security' to trump the long-established rights of defendants to know the evidence against them and cross-examine accusers in open court.
Do we need to be reminded that one central motive of post-Enlightenment democratic jurisprudence has been to prevent arbitrary infringements of what we now recognize as essential human rights? The Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution, for example, is a barrier against torture: it protects citizens from being coerced into self-incrimination—by means including what US police, borrowing a term from the witch-hunt torturers, call the “third degree.”13 In the Khawaja case, the judge's decision to admit hearsay evidence14 has thrown open the door to evidence that could be derived from torture in other countries, or otherwise tainted.
* * * *
At one key point, the analogies I have been pursuing break down. There never was any such thing in early modern Europe as a conspiracy of witches; Satan, its organizer, exists only in human imaginings; and the 'crimes' for which many thousands of people died never happened. In contrast, the terrorist atrocities of 9/11, and of the bombings in Bali, Madrid, and London, were very real indeed.
But although the crimes of 9/11 are horrifyingly real, and although Islamist extremists with an appetite for unconstrained violence do exist, we know the official narratives about 9/11 to be systematically false. The evidence we have is unequivocal: the attacks can only have been organized by groups within the state apparatus. Given the consequences for the democratic rule of law, it is all the more important to establish, through further patient and scrupulous research, a public understanding of the actual sequence of events that will be as wide and deep as possible.
Under the regency of George W. Bush, the American state appears to have adopted a theory of governance, most definitively propounded by the Nazi jurist Carl Schmitt, according to which the defining characteristic of sovereign power is ts self-exemption from the laws it applies to its subjects.15 Schmitt's doctrine of a “sovereign exemption” stands in direct opposition to democracy; it also symmetrically complements the witch-hunt doctrine of the crimen exceptum. The state declares certain crimes so appalling that anyone accused of them is denied the normal protections of the law—while on the other hand, the people who punish such crimes are exempted from obedience to the laws they administer and enforce.
Canadians need to ensure that in this country no-one is denied the full protection—under democratic jurisprudence—of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That means repealing the 'Terror Laws' passed by a panicked Parliament in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.16 At the same time we should ensure that the RCMP and CSIS do not quietly grant themselves a “sovereign exemption” from any inquiry into the means by which they fabricated the demonizing fantasies of the Toronto 18 case.
1 Michael Friscolanti, “'Toronto 18' informant Mubin Shaikh ups his price,” Maclean's Magazine (23 July 2008), http://www.macleans.ca/canada/national/article.jsp?content=20080723_115512_115512&page=1.
3 See Walkom, “Two more odd characters”: “According to informer Mubin Shaikh, Kifayatullah was the man who advised an alleged terrorist ringleader about the virtue of truck bombs. Indeed, Shaikh said that it was from Kifayatullah that he first heard mention of ammonium nitrate, or fertilizer.”
4 Supreme Court of Canada, Canada (Justice) v. Khadr (28 May 2008); quoted by Lawyers Against the War, “Release and repatriation of Omar Khadr, Canadian citizen imprisoned in Guantánamo Bay” (Letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Attorney General Robert Nicholson, Minister of Foreign Affairs David Emerson, Minister of National Defence Peter MacKay, 30 July 2008), available at www.lawyersagainstthewar.org.
5 For details, see Lawyers Against the War, “Release and repatriation of Omar Khadr.”
6 David Akin, Khadr sues Harper over repatriation,” National Post (9 August 2008): A5.
7 Marvin Harris, Cows, Pigs, Wars and Witches: The Riddles of Culture (New York: Random House, 1974), pp. 237-38. Ken Couesbouc briefly noted the relevance of this book to the 'War on Terror' in “The New Witchcraft: Marvin Harris on the Roots of the War on Terror,” CounterPunch (11 October 2006), http://www.counterpunch.org/kouesbouc10112006.html. For another approach to these issues, see Robert Rapley, Witch Hunts: From Salem to Guantánamo Bay (Montréal and Kingston: Queen's-McGill University Press, 2007).
8 Harris, p. 239.
9 See Wolfgang Behringer, Witchcraft Persecutions in Bavaria: Popular Magic, Religious Zealotry and Reasons of State in Early Modern Europe, trans. J. C. Grayson and David Lederer (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), pp. 215, 230-32, 312.
10 In late September 2001 the editor of The New Republic declared that if a planned protest against the IMF and World Bank took place in Washington DC, the anti-globalization movement would, “in the eyes of the nation, have joined the terrorists in a united front”; and US trade representative Robert Zoellick identified 'intellectual connections' between al Qaeda and anti-globalization demonstrators (Peter Beinart, “Sidelines,” The New Republic [24 September 2001]; quoted from Corey Robin, Fear: The History of a Political Idea [Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2004], pp. 188-89.) Corey Robin adds that “Antiglobalization activists and intellectuals quickly felt the power of such rhetoric: many, including the AFL-CIO, stayed away from the [Washington] protest, and the movement has since fallen into abeyance” (Fear, p. 188).
11 The term is from Emmanuel Todd, Après l'empire: Essai sur la décomposition du système américain (2002; 2nd ed. Paris: Gallimard, 2004), ch. 1: “Le mythe du terrorisme universel.”
12 See Naomi Wolf, The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot (White River Junction, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2007); and Sherwood Ross, “Is America Fascist?” Scoop Independent News (10 August 2008), http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0808/S00119.htm.
13 See Margreta de Grazia, “Sanctioning Voice: Quotation Marks, the Abolition of Torture, and the Fifth Amendment,” in Martha Woodmansee and Peter Jaszi, eds., The Construction of Authorship (Durham: Duke University Press, 1994), pp. 281-302.
14 Ian MacLeod, “Judge allows hearsay evidence in Khawaja trial,” National Post (24 July 2008).
15 For an account of Schmitt's theory, see Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998), pp. 15-29.
16 See Kent Roach, September 11: Consequences for Canada (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003).
My essay on “The Toronto 18 Frame-Up” was written in May 2008, but not published until more than a year later in Global Outlook 13 (Annual 2009): 52-59. It was followed by two shorter updates, “Further Reflections on the 'Toronto 18' Case: 'Terror Law' and the 'Crimen Exceptum',” and “The Toronto 18: A Second Update,” which were written in July 2008 and October 2008 respectively, and published with it in Global Outlook 13.
On June 2, 2006 the arrests of seventeen Muslim men and youths in Toronto on terrorism charges made headlines around the world (as did that of an eighteenth suspect, a fortnight later). The accusations against them were indeed spectacular: according to the Toronto police, this terrorist cell had been planning bombing attacks against the Houses of Parliament, the CN Tower, the headquarters of CSIS (the Canadian Security Intelligence Service) and the CBC—and also, most sensationally, they had allegedly intended, after storming the Parliament buildings, to behead Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
And yet any careful reader of the news stories which followed these arrests could not help but be struck by a number of anomalies. The case was represented as a major triumph of police and intelligence work, and the dangers involved were underlined by massive paramilitary theatrics at the arraignment hearings in the Toronto suburb of Brampton, including grim-faced snipers on rooftops, and helicopters thumping overhead.
But how were we to interpret these theatrics? Did Canadian intelligence agencies really anticipate that squads of heavily armed terrorists might descend on the Brampton courthouse in a desperate Robin-Hood style attempt to free their captured comrades? Or would it be cynical to think that the state was trying to panic the Canadian media and the public at large with this graphic demonstration of how terrified we should all be—if not of the handcuffed prisoners, then certainly of hypothetical shadowy accomplices who remained at liberty? The logic is clear: if the brave and clever men who dress like ninjas, carry big big automatic weapons and work in intelligence are worried, then the rest of us ought to be gob-smacked with fear.
This message appears to have got through quite widely—not least to an American versifier on the Buzzflash website who proposed ironically that his compatriots should stop worrying about building a fence along their southern border to stop Mexican immigration, given what seemed more urgent problems to the north:
Putting up a Mexican fence
May not be the best defense.
Let's build one near Toronto
And get it finished pronto.1
No-one, presumably, had told him about the existence of Lake Ontario.
Snipers and helicopters notwithstanding, there turned out to be a bizarre disjunction between the material resources the arrested group (if it was a group) possessed, and what the Toronto police and RCMP claimed were their goals. For the arsenal of weaponry revealed by the arresting officers was distinctly unimpressive. In addition to five pairs of boots, it consisted of “six flashlights, one walkie-talkie, one voltmeter, eight D-cell batteries, a cell phone, a circuit board, a computer hard drive, one barbecue grill, a set of barbecue tongs, a wooden door with 21 bullet marks and a 9 mm hand gun.”2
Oh yes—and centrally displayed, a bag of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, as evidence that the group had intended to emulate Timothy McVeigh's purported feat of destroying the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City with an ammonium nitrate fuel oil (ANFO) truck bomb.3 Not that any of the accused had actually been in possession of that or any other bag of ammonium nitrate fertilizer—much less fuel oil, or an appropriately configured truck in which to mix the two, or a detonating device—in the absence of which ammonium nitrate makes plants grow, but won't blow anything up, not even the headquarters of CSIS. Yet one or possibly more of the accused had apparently been lured by a police agent into making a purchase order of a large quantity of ammonium nitrate, and had accepted delivery of some quantity of a harmless substitute chemical, at which point the police swooped.
Most media outlets found nothing worthy of comment either in the extreme sketchiness of the accused terrorists' equipment or in the evident fact that the government's case against them rested on entrapment. Not merely had the idea of obtaining ammonium nitrate apparently been suggested to one or more members of the group by a police mole (who conveniently was also an agricultural engineer by profession, and thus able to place an order for a significant quantity of the substance), but the only weapon the group was accused of possessing, a 9 mm pistol, turns out to have been the property of another police mole—who seems also to have been responsible for organizing camping and paint-balling excursions into the Ontario countryside that he subsequently represented as having been terrorist training camps.
The knowledge of military tactics or even of simple camping that he imparted would seem to have been of dubious value: much of the group's time during their major winter 'training camp' in December 2005 appears to have been spent huddling in a local Tim Horton's donut shop trying to stay warm.
Of parallel significance is the information, based on surveillance of the group, that police released to the media: it indicates that one or more of them didn't know who the current Canadian prime minister is, much less where to find him. There seems to be no sign, moreover, that any of the accused had thought about how much damage an ANFO truck bomb might be able to inflict upon the massive reinforced concrete footings of the CN Tower. (The short answer is: none whatsoever.)
But however unimpressive much of the evidence made public by state authorities might appear to be, its narrative framing was very effective indeed.
The motif of decapitation was headlined in many accounts of the arrests.4 Although one might think that the manner in which this motif was deployed ought to have prompted a pause for critical reflection, the general media response was wholly uncritical.
The thought of decapitation by Islamist terrorists evokes the most lurid misdeed of the arch-terrorist Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi—who for several years (until, that is, the narrative of his extinction became more useful to American authorities than stories of how he ran the Iraqi resistance more of less single-handed on behalf of al Qaeda) was represented by the Pentagon's fabulists as a demonic Scarlet Pimpernel: that “demmed elusive” one-legged Jordanian was here, there, and everywhere,5 demonstrating a truly devilish capacity to carry out near-simultaneous operations in far-distant places, and committing crimes that there is good reason to suspect may in fact have been perpetrated by American special forces.6
In the spring of 2004, a fortnight after revelations about the torture and murder of Iraqi prisoners by their American interrogators at Abu Graib were headlined throughout the American and world media, Zarqawi very conveniently videotaped himself beheading an American captive, Nicholas Berg. It would be an understatement to call this videotape problematic. Berg, who had been arrested by American forces, was acknowledged as having been in their custody shortly before his death; in the videotape he is wearing American orange prison overalls, while a plastic chair in the background closely resembles chairs that appear in Abu Graib torture photographs. Cries of anguish were dubbed onto the tape, but Berg was clearly already dead when he was beheaded.7 Zarqawi, his executioner, whom the CIA described as having an artificial leg, is vigorously bipedal, and speaks Arabic without his known Jordanian accent. In brief, the video appears to be a black operations product, and Berg a victim of the same people who ordered the Abu Graib atrocities.
The reason for the Zarqawi video's manufacture seems obvious. It abruptly reversed the valences of news stories about torture and executions, making an American the hapless victim, and a brutal Islamist terrorist the perpetrator. And it allowed media pundits to argue that, whatever the lapses of a few 'bad apples' on their side, their adversaries were wholly barbaric. Meanwhile, damning evidence of the direct responsibility of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and other senior officials for systematic torture and murder in the American gulag could be flushed down the memory hole.
In the case of the Toronto 18, the beheading motif strengthened associations with al Qaeda and international terrorism by linking the accused with Zarqawi—even though, behind the headlines, it appeared that beheading Stephen Harper was not a crime any of them had actually proposed to carry out, but rather something an imaginative police officer had speculated in a synopsis of accusations one of them would be likely to want to do.8 In the event, “no criminal charges to this effect were ever actually laid”9—though Mubin Shaikh, one of the two police moles, helped keep the beheading motif in circulations when he told PBS Frontline that the plans of the accused included “[s]torming Parliament, kidnapping, like holding hostage the MPs, beheading them one by one, unless Canadian troops are pulled out of Afghanistan and Muslim prisoners are released from prisons in Canada.”10
The outlines of an interpretive framework—or what I would prefer to call, with full awareness of the ambiguity, a framing narrative—were thus in place. Like Timothy McVeigh, whose method of attacks they are accused of wanting to imitate, the Toronto 18 are constructed for us as 'home-grown terrorists'; but the association with Zarqawi's most sensational supposed crime makes them at the same time barbarous outsiders, with spiritual loyalties to the largely mythical Islamist terrorist international11 for which his name is a metonymy. The links to both key aspects of this framework, we can observe, are provided by the police: the first through entrapment, and the second through mere supposition.
Only some time after the arrests did the elaborateness of the entrapment scheme become apparent. Early reports made much of an alleged 'training camp' session the group conducted in Washago, Ontario in December 2005—the principal organizer of which turned out to have been Mubin Shaikh, who was paid $77,000 by the RCMP for his services in setting the group up for arrest, and who, when he went public on July 13th to speak of his role to the media, declared that he was owed a further $300,000.12 As an army cadet from the age of 13 to 19 with the Canadian Armed Forces, Shaikh had received some weapons training and would have learned the rudiments of infantry tactics. Although a publication ban on evidence in this case prevents us from knowing in any detail what kinds of paramilitary expertise the group is accused of having possessed, he was presumably its principal source.
In October 2006, details were revealed of the role played by a second mole, an agricultural engineer, in what CBC News called “a sophisticated sting operation.” His function was to provide “evidence to the authorities that the conspirators had material that they thought could be used to make bombs,” and unnamed sources informed CBC News that his degree in agricultural engineering “could have given the alleged conspirators access to much larger quantities of ammonium nitrate than they could have purchased at ordinary retail outlets.”13
In February 2007, it emerged that the RCMP had paid this second mole fully $4.1 million for his services. The Mounties helpfully provided Maclean's Magazine with a set of 'secret' memos in order to make clear what their thinking had been. These memos showed, according to Maclean's, that by mid-April 2006 “authorities had grown increasingly desperate, convinced that the group was on the brink of building a bomb.” If the RCMP truly believed this, then their ensuing behaviour is so bizarre as to defy explanation. One might suppose that if they had information from Mubin Shaikh that the group he had 'infiltrated' (to give as polite as possible a spin to his activities) was nearly capable of making bombing attacks, had formulated a plan “of renting three 14-foot U-Haul vans packed with explosives, parking them at strategic locations, and remotely triggering the explosives,” and had actually got so far as setting a date for the attack,14 then the Mounties might reasonably think about making some arrests.
Instead of doing so, the RCMP made contact on April 29, 2006 with a CSIS informant—a Canadian-born man from “a prominent Egyptian family” who had received most of his secondary and university education in Cairo, returning to Canada in 2000 “with degrees in agriculture and business.” This high-minded citizen initially requested $15 million as compensation for infiltrating the alleged terrorist group and offering them his expertise, but was bargained down to $4.1 million; by mid-May, the RCMP had given him “the legal authority to 'knowingly facilitate a terrorist activity' in the name of cracking the case.” His job, according to the Maclean's report, “was to provide suspects with credit cards and help them purchase large quantities of what they believed to be ammonium nitrate, the same chemical used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.”15 In other words, his job was to make possible a purchase that the supposed terrorists would not otherwise have had the resources for—and might indeed not even have contemplated without his intervention.
Let's see what the evidence—at least what we've been allowed to know of it—adds up to. One of the accused is alleged by Mubin Shaikh to have experimented with a home-made detonator;16 the same man is also said to have had contacts with Islamist radicals from the US. Apart from this alleged detonator, the only item more dangerous than barbecue tongs that the group possessed or had access to was Mubin Shaikh's own 9 mm pistol.
And what of the purported group's alleged bomb-making expertise? One might well suspect that the RCMP was if anything concerned by their lack of any such expertise, and did not themselves believe Shaikh's story that the group was “on the brink” of being able to carry out terrorist bombing attacks. Why else would the Mounties spend $4.1 million to hire an agricultural engineer, already tested as a CSIS informant, who could tell some witless member or members of the group how to make an ANFO truck bomb, enable a purchase of ammonium nitrate through his professional accreditation, give them credit cards so they could actually put a purchase order through—and also, it turns out, provide them with warehouse space for storage of the substance, in a building conveniently located a hundred yards from the RCMP's Newmarket headquarters?17
At its senior levels, the RCMP is both a scandalously corrupt and a scandalously politicized organization. Evidence of corruption can be found in the recent disgraceful rip-off by senior officers of the RCMP's own pension fund.18 The force's politicization was made apparent in its unprecedented intervention in the 2006 federal election campaign: midway through the campaign, the RCMP launched a corruption investigation into the office of Liberal Finance Minister Ralph Goodale, hitherto a highly respected politician.19 Goodale and his staff were exonerated in February 2007, but in the mean time the empty investigation had fueled opposition parties' accusations of government corruption and tipped the election into the hands of Stephen Harper's Conservatives.
One may then suspect that the RCMP's 'desperation' in mid-April 2006 had less to do with apprehension of an actual terrorist threat than it did with senior officers' awareness that while Mubin Shaikh was shepherding his group toward arrest, the evidence he had been able to produce amounted to little more than gossip and idle chatter of the kind that had first attracted CSIS agents to the internet chat-room postings of Fahim Ahmad and Zakaria Amara, who became labeled as leaders of the terror plot.20 The Canadian Supreme Court was scheduled to hear a case “involving how evidence was heard in anti-terrorism cases” in the second week of June 2006: is it altogether a coincidence that the high-priced and urgent labours of the second mole made it possible for the RCMP to make a mass terrorism arrest a week before this hearing?21
* * * *
Perhaps we should a closer look at these two police moles. What, first, could have induced the parents of Toronto area youths—who in some cases were only fifteen at the time of their arrest—to permit them to take part in camping and paint-balling events organized by Mubin Shaikh?
By the time Shaikh took up employment as an RCMP mole, he had become a figure of some prominence in Toronto's Muslim community. He was active in 2005 in campaigning for legitimation by the Ontario government of sharia family adjudication courts—to the point that some members of the Muslim community urged him to desist. More important, one might guess, was his work at the Masjid El Noor mosque as a “conflict resolution specialist,” and his service under Liberal MP Alan Tonks as Multiculturalism Chair of the York South-Weston Federal Liberal Association. The riding association's website notes his training in “Alternate Dispute Resolution through the Faculty of Law, University of Windsor,” his interest in comparative religious studies, and his response to “the conflicts that rage in our world”—which was to dedicate himself “to inter-faith harmony and mutual respect for human rights as the only way forward towards peace and stability in our society.” The website also mentions his involvement throughout his teen years in the Canadian Army Cadets, where he rose to be Warrant Officer, Drill Sergeant Major, and Staff Instructor,22 and would thus have had substantial experience in supervising activities of a quasi-military nature for younger teenage boys.
This seems, in short, the kind of young man that parents would have no qualms about their teenage sons associating with—though the first two sentences of the web-page's description of him might, in retrospect, prompt rueful reflection: “Traveller, philosopher, theologian, Mubin Shaikh is not your ordinary Torontonian. At first look, one might think they've encountered an extremist but on second take, you realize you've been had!”23
Shaikh appears to have encouraged his young associates to make precisely this mistake—and for reasons that may have been less pure than the respect for Islamic law and love for his country that he represented to the media as his motives. The Liberal Party website neglects to mention that his past history includes a significant involvement with hard drugs, though as Shaikh acknowledged to Maclean's Magazine in September 2007, he has in the very recent past been a serious cocaine addict. By his own account, as transmitted by the Maclean's journalist, Shaikh was in his younger days “a partier, a pot-smoking tough guy who liked to drop LSD,” but he “quit cold turkey and rededicated himself to Islam” after high school. In 2006, however, “the burden of being Canada's most famous mole became too much to bear. And when it did, he turned not to God, but to hard drugs”:
“I spent some money on it, money that I shouldn't have spent,” he admits. “The stress of my involvement was so great. Nobody has been through the situation that I have been through, and because of its impact and importance and significance—that is one hell of a weight to realize is on your head. It got so bad for me, it just broke me. It just broke me.”24
Shaikh claimed that as a result of the stress he faced after publicly revealing himself as a mole in the Toronto 18 arrests, “I got back into my old friends, and I started doing s--t again.”25
Several aspects of this story, as passed on by Maclean's, raise interesting questions. First, quitting drug use 'cold turkey' after high school is suggestive, not of marijuana and LSD use, but of addiction to an opiate like cocaine or heroin. In drug argot, 'doing shit' normally refers to these latter drugs, so when Shaikh explains his cocaine addiction as resulting from renewed contact with 'old friends' who facilitated his “doing shit again,” he appears to be confessing to a return to an earlier cocaine addiction.26
One might well doubt the reliability of Shaikh's indications of time. He told the Maclean's journalist, presumably in early September 2007, that he hadn't touched cocaine “for a few months.” But Shaikh also told Maclean's that
he bought “a couple thousand dollars” worth of cocaine over a six-month span, and before long, a few casual snorts had ballooned into a full-blown habit. “There were a couple of times when I got real scared because my heart rate started blasting up and I had to call an ambulance,” he says. “I started realizing: 'Oh my God, what have I gotten myself into?'”
He finally phoned his RCMP handlers and told them the truth. They checked him into rehab.27
Because addicts are notoriously unreliable about details relating to their illness, the defendants' lawyers will no doubt want to know when Mubin Shaikh had to call ambulances, and when he was checked into rehab. Was he telling the Maclean's journalist that his cocaine use lasted just six months? (In that case there's a minor contradiction between saying he used cocaine from mid-July 2006 until mid-February 2007, and saying in early September 2007 that he'd been clean “for a few months”: nearly seven months is more than “a few.”) Or was he saying that he became a serious addict only in February 2007 and used cocaine in about June of that year? In either case, can his claim that renewed addiction was caused only by the stresses of July 2006 be credited?
Shaikh is insistent that his history of drug use in no way invalidates his reliability as a witness: “They are going to say: 'You did drugs.' Okay, fine, I did drugs after the investigation. How does that affect at all what happened during the investigation? Zero.”28 During his late teens, however, Shaikh appears to have been heavily involved at the same time with drugs and with his army cadet service: it might be an exaggeration to say that the two were intrinsically linked for him, but they were certainly concurrent interests. It seems possible that his return to army-cadet-type activities in the course of his work as a mole may have been as responsible as any stresses resulting from that work for prompting his renewed addiction to cocaine.
Shaikh's drug addiction raises two further questions. First, although by his own account he himself initiated contacts with the police, it invites speculation as to whether his prior and possibly continuing involvement with drugs made him vulnerable to police manipulation. And secondly, as Edward Sapiano, one of the defence attorneys, has stated, “It provides extreme motivation for him to fabricate. A cocaine addict, what does he need? Cocaine. What does he need for cocaine? Money. What's this guy getting from the police? Money. Based on what? The quality and size of his information.”29
Even the most hostile of interpreters might be willing to acknowledge that Mubin Shaikh's behaviour has been marked by some flickers of integrity: he has, for example, maintained that two of the adult suspects, Jahmaal James and Stephen Chand, ought to be set free.30 (Small recompense, one might say, for the long months of imprisonment, much of it in psychologically damaging solitary confinement, that they and the other suspects have endured, not to mention their financial losses and loss of reputation.)
But the second mole appears to be, more simply, a scoundrel. This informant, whose identity is known to Maclean's Magazine and the Globe and Mail (but not published, since he is in a witness protection program), worked for Air Canada as a flight attendant for two years following his return to this country in 2000. He then launched a catering business, which failed. According to the Globe and Mail, “Records show his parents filed bankruptcy papers in 2003, declaring $4,000 in assets and $26,000 in liabilities. The son, who looked to have run up his parents' bills, tried to sweet-talk creditors into letting the family pay back something less than 100 cents on every dollar. The application was denied.”31
He then sought to launch an import-export business, but his partner in the plan “pulled out, citing his young partner's tendency to embellish. 'For example, if you'd ask him how things were going [financially], he'd say they were great, but you could see a few days later that he was short of money,' the former business partner said.”32 The informant did manage to start up two other businesses, one aimed at “help[ing] new immigrants adjust to life in Canada,” and the other a travel agency, which the RCMP, perhaps seeking to justify the very substantial payment it made to him for “loss of business,” described as “'expanding' and showing 'signs of future success.'”33
One may be permitted to doubt this assessment, given the accounts by the mole's own friends of his impracticality and extravagance. “He taught me so much,” one of them enthused. “He would go ahead with an idea that wouldn't work just to show you that it wouldn't work.”34 And his fondness for lavish expenditures may have worked to the detriment of his travel agency's cash flow. According to the Globe and Mail, “a couple of days after Christmas in 2005 ... the informant was trying to describe to a friend one of his favourite restaurants in the world. Realizing he couldn't do it justice with words, he decided—on the spot—to take his friend there.” On the next day, he and his friend flew to South America, ate at the special restaurant “twice in one day,” and had what the friend described as “an amazing time.”35
Maclean's Magazine offers a parallel anecdote of the informant's love of “the good life”: “Hotel suites. Tennis games. Fine dining. He and his friend once flew to Poland—for the day—just to eat duck. 'You don't understand how much he loves food,' says the friend, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. 'If you tell him there is good food in Fiji, he'll go.”36 Perhaps not surprisingly, “By the time the RCMP came asking for help, the man was more than “188,000 in debt, including a whopping $20,000 worth of unpaid credit card bills.”37
The government's case rests, then, upon the efforts and testimony of two men, one of them a drug addict whose attempts to cure himself by recourse to religious fundamentalism has not been conspicuously successful, and the other a wastrel with what his own business associates identified as a tendency to embellish. Without the work of Mubin Shaikh, it's arguable that nothing that could plausibly be identified as a “Toronto 18” group would have existed; and it seems clear that only the entrepreneurial intervention of the second mole made it possible to claim that members of the group were seriously planning acts of terrorism.
* * * *
Most journalists who covered the Toronto 18 story in its early phases found nothing out of the ordinary in the fact that after their arrests the men and youths were subjected to sleep-deprivation torture—confined in brightly illuminated isolation cells and woken every half-hour by authorities obviously desperate for evidence.38 Nor were they able to remember that three years previously another large group of Toronto Muslims had been arrested on suspicion of plotting similarly lurid acts of terrorism, which had turned out to be no more than products of the active imaginations of RCMP and CSIS officers, Toronto police detectives, and Immigration Canada officials. In that case, an investigation called Project Thread (and re-named “Project Threadbare” by skeptics) led to twenty-four men being arrested as members of an al Qaeda sleeper cell with plans to destroy the CN Tower, blow up the Pickering nuclear power plant, and set off a radioactive dirty bomb. The allegations were eventually dropped, and no charges were laid. And yet the men were held in maximum security detention for months, no statements of exoneration were issued, and seventeen of them were deported, in a manner marked by flagrant illegalities, to countries where the mere suspicion of terrorist affiliations could have very dangerous consequences.39
The prosecution case against the Toronto 18 appears to be collapsing in a parallel manner. In September 2007, having already stayed charges against three of the four juveniles charged in the case, the Crown abruptly halted the preliminary hearing midway through Mubin Shaikh's testimony (before he could be cross-examined), and announced that the case would proceed directly to trial. As Thomas Walkom wrote, defence lawyers were furious:
The whole reason for a preliminary hearing is to determine whether there is enough evidence to warrant trial and, more important, to give the defence a chance to hear the Crown's case. Defence lawyers say they made concessions in return for the right to cross-examine witnesses like Shaikh. Now they won't have a chance to test his widely publicized allegations until the trial.40
In another equally remarkable development in mid-April 2008, the Crown stayed charges against four of the adult suspects, thus acknowledging that it had no case against them (while still making them sign peace bonds with rigorous curfew and bail conditions). One of the four, Qayyum Abdul Jamal, who was forty-three at the time of the arrests, had been represented in court documents as the ringleader of the terrorist group. The proceedings against him turn out to be what he thought they were at the moment of his arrest—“a terrible mistake.”41
It appears we're now dealing with the Toronto 11—or rather, if we remember Mubin Shaikh's insistence that another two of the accused, Jahmaal James and Steven Chand, are innocent, with what will soon be the Toronto 9. Eight men and a boy, then, were planning to blow up and storm all those buildings, and behead all those politicians.
Andrew Mitrovica has commented in the Toronto Star that “The case is imploding.” He writes with due scorn of academic “security experts,” one of whom had told CBC Radio “that the police had necessarily cast their net wide and had likely ensnared a few blameless individuals along the way”:
That the police and spies have retreated into silence while these so-called experts do their bidding publicly is not particularly surprising. But their silence and the evaporating charges are instructive for a number of important reasons.
It says much about the sorry state of Canada's security intelligence infrastructure and the sometimes incestuous relationship between that powerful and largely anonymous apparatus and some compliant members of the media who regurgitated the state-cleansed allegations and effectively branded these men terrorists.
It also speaks to the need for Ottawa to finally dispense with the tired rhetoric that these security agencies are doing a fine job, and acknowledge the fact that our intelligence service, CSIS, and the RCMP have a long and disagreeable record of falsely accusing citizens of being terrorists.42
There is good reason then to suspect that the charges against the Toronto 18 are wholly fraudulent—that even if one or two of them are 'terrorists', they may belong to that category in much the same sense as do the Pakistani-American father and son in Lodi, California who, after being set up by a lavishly paid agent provocateur, were talked by FBI interrogators into confessing that they had attended an al Qaeda camp in Pakistan (or perhaps Afghanistan or Kashmir) which they located variously on a mountaintop and in an underground chamber where a thousand jihadis from around the world practised pole-vaulting.43
Or perhaps one or two of them might be compared to the dreaded “Miami Seven,” members of an oddly un-secretive “Sons of David” cult who are accused of having conspired with al Qaeda to conduct terror attacks “even bigger than September 11” against targets like Chicago's Sears Tower: the men, who had no visible means of carrying out such attacks, actually committed nothing worse than the thought-crime of swearing allegiance to al Qaeda—an oath that was administered by their FBI agent provocateur.44
One begins to notice how regularly these much-hyped terror threats dissolve into mist and confusion. The vaunted “UK poison cell” whose members planned to murder thousands of Londoners with ricin turned out not to be a terrorist conspiracy at all.45 The “red mercury plot” ended with another embarrassing but largely unpublicized acquittal: the 'terrorists', as John Lettice writes, “had been accused of an imaginary plot to produce an imaginary radioactive 'dirty' bomb using an imaginary substance.”46 The deployment of two hundred and fifty London policemen to shut down an equally imaginary chemical bomb factory in Forest Gate resulted only in the near-murder of a man who, though otherwise innocent, was indeed both Muslim and bearded.47 No less asinine was the huge international stir in August 2006 over a purported “liquid bomb plot”: most of the alleged plane bombers possessed no passports and only one had an airline ticket, and the bombs that someone in Pakistan had been tortured into saying they planned to make in aircraft toilets are a technical absurdity.48
Even in cases where large-scale terrorist atrocities have been perpetrated, there are serious doubts about the official accounts of what occurred. Take 9/11, Lockerbie, Madrid, Bali, London: in each case the official story of who perpetrated the crime is demonstrably a propaganda construct, and in each case there are lines of evidence which point to the conclusion that these were acts of state terrorism.
* * * *
The spectre of Islamist terrorism so successfully invoked by governments and the corporate media in the English-speaking world is perhaps especially alarming because of the spatio-temporal dislocations it implies. People who typically feel no distinct connection with, or responsibility for, conflicts in faraway places—even those stirred up or initiated by their own governments—find the more or less tranquil continuity of their lives threatened by the possibility that their familiar civic landscapes could be suddenly transformed into scenes of ruin and carnage. This experiential dislocation, involving a fear that safely distant horrors might unpredictably translate themselves into one's own most intimate space, is compounded by the thought that the appalling transposition would be carried out by people who are our fellow-citizens—but also, in secret, deadly enemies.
What the venomously dehistoricized ideology of the “war on terror” suggests is that religious and ethnic otherness must be, in the special case of Muslims, an ineradicable stain: immigrants of this kind, even if they have appeared, while retaining marks of otherness in their cultural or religious practices, to have attained complete social integration in the host country, are fatally susceptible to reversions into the radical otherness of their distant ancestral homelands—which are understood as places marked, in George W. Bush's memorable inanity, by a perverse inclination to “hate us for our freedoms.”
In the immediate wake of the arrests of June 2, 2006, Stephen Harper echoed this Bushian fatuity, declaring that “As at other times in our history, we are a target, because of who we are and how we live, our society, our diversity and our values—values such as freedom, democracy and the rule of law.”49
The reality is of course quite different. The fraudulent and spurious 'war on terror', which is actually a war of terror, has led, as R. T. Naylor wrote in a book published in 2006, “to a set of legal atrocities in which the main evidence against the accused consists of media gossip, claims by 'national security experts' with ethnopolitical axes to grind, and fables spun by informants bribed or coerced into testifying.”50 Naylor might have been predicting the Toronto 18 case.
James Clark responds directly to Harper's empty rhetoric in an acerbic comment on the staying of charges in mid-April 2008:
How ironic that the values our political leaders claim they are protecting in supporting the prosecution of these men are the very same rights that have been sacrificed in the process. The men who have just been released—and effectively found innocent—have lost nearly two years of their lives and will likely suffer for years to come as they struggle to fully clear their names.
But that doesn't seem to matter to the Crown, whose supporters justify these tactics by evoking images of 9/11. The threat to Canadian society is not a bunch of Muslim boys playing paintball; it's an ideologically driven government willing to curtail our civil liberties.51
Perhaps it's time to turn a critical eye on the fear-mongers who have tried to separate us from such foundational principles of democratic jurisprudence as the presumption of innocence, the right of the accused to be fully informed of the charges and the evidence being used to support those charges, the right to cross-examine the accusers in open court, and finally, the obligation of the state to make known evidence in its possession that exonerates the accused.
And while we're at it, shall we also stop subsidizing Mubin Shaikh's drug dealers and the gluttonous fantasies of his fellow mole? I can think of better uses for my tax dollars.
It seems more and more obvious, as the prosecution's case unravels, that the “Toronto 18” case has been a propaganda operation concocted to shore up the fraudulent post-9/11 psyop of the 'war on terror'. The imminent collapse of the case will provide Canadians with an opportunity for reining in the political elites of all the major parties who have consented to Canadian participation in that fraud, both in Afghanistan and at home.
1 Tony Peyser, “17 Canadian Terror Suspects Arrested,” Buzzflash.com (5 June 2006), http://www.buzzflash.com/peyser/0606/pey06156.html.
2 Marjaleena Repo, “Canada: A Galloping Police State?” Centre for Research on Globalization (19 June 2006), http://www.globalresearch.ca/index/php?context=viewArticle&code=REP20060619&articleid=2668.
3 The terrorist atrocity for which McVeigh was convicted and executed killed 169 people, 19 of them children. In May 1995, retired Brigadier General Benton K. Partin, a USAF explosives expert, distributed to members of Congress a report, “Bomb Damage Analysis of Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building,” in which he concluded that McVeigh's truck bomb could have inflicted only superficial damage on the building, whose partial collapse was caused rather by “explosives carefully placed at four critical junctures on supporting columns within the building.” There is other evidence that the attack involved state operatives and state foreknowledge: see David Hoffmann, The Oklahoma City Bombing and the Politics of Terror (Venice, California: Feral House, 1998). Hoffmann reprints Partin's report at pp. 461-74; the text is also widely available on the internet.
5 The hero of Baroness Orczy's romance The Scarlet Pimpernel, set in the period of revolutionary terror following the French Revolution, is an apparently effete and foppish English aristocrat whose boldness and mastery of disguise enables him to rescue many of his French counterparts from the guillotine; my reference here is to a silly little rhyme he recites mocking the vain efforts of the French authorities to capture him.
6 For an illuminating analysis of the Zarqawi phenomenon, see Michel Chossudovsky, America's 'War on Terrorism' (Pincourt, Québec: Global Research, 2005), pp. 171-97; and his articles “Who is behind 'Al Qaeda in Iraq'? Pentagon acknowledges fabricating a 'Zarqawi Legend',” Centre for Research on Globalization (18 April 2006), http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&codeCHO20060418&articleid=2275; and “Who was Abu Musab al Zarqawi?” Centre for Research on Globalization (8 June 2006), http://www.globalresearch.ca./index.php?context=viewArticle&code=CHO20060608&articleid=2604.
7 Accounts of this disgusting snuff video agree that there was no spray of blood when the unfortunate Berg was decapitated. (Viewers of Kurosawa's classic film Ran may remember the beheading near the end of that film, which is marked by a spray of blood upon the wall—thus shockingly imitating the natural effect of blood pressure in a living body. Those who have seen the wretched recent Hollywood extravaganza 300 may remember, as a counter-example, the beheading by a Persian horseman of one of the leather-jock-strap-clad Spartans—whose headless corpse, in what one might read as a perverse homage to the Zarqawi video, emits not a drop of blood before toppling.)
8 See John Chuckman, “Terror in Toronto or Tempest in a Teapot: Canada's Chatroom Jihadis,” CounterPunch (10-11 June 2006), http://www.counterpunch.org/chuckman06102006.html; and Bruce Campion-Smith and Michelle Shepard, “Plan to 'behead' PM” Brampton court hears of plot to storm Parliament Hill and take politicians hostage,” Toronto Star (7 June 2006), available at http://www.yayacanada.com/toronto_torstar_chand_military.html. (The Yayacanada.com website lists parallels to the Toronto 18 entrapment: see “The Toronto 'Terrorist' Arrests: A rundown of related news reports,” http://www.yayacanada.com/toronto_terrorist_arrests_03-06-06.html.)
9 Omar el Akkad and Colin Freeze, “Online leaks get around publication ban: Case against 17 terrorism suspects becomes inadvertently public,” Globe and Mail (2 June 2007): A17.
10 “Canada: The Cell Next Door,” reported by Linden McIntyre, PBS Frontline (July 2006), http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/about/episodes/602_transcript.html. There appears to have been some confusion in news reports as to which parliament was to be stormed. According to Jackie Bannion, “The Radical Informant,” PBS Frontline (July 2006), http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/canada602/shaikh.html, Shaikh indicated that “the group talked about storming the provincial parliament in Toronto, holding MPs [or rather, MPPs, members of the provincial parliament] hostage, then beheading them one by one.” Provincial MPPs, of course, have no say in matters of foreign policy like Canada's involvement in the occupation of Afghanistan.
11 The distinguished Canadian economist R. T. Naylor writes in Satanic Purses: Money, Myth, and Misinformation in the War on Terror (Montréal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2006), p. 8, that “the al-Qa'idah legend must be one of the most useful political fantasies in history—since it has so little concrete substance, it can be (and has been) transmogrified and transplanted more or less at will to support agendas (many of them ugly) in virtually any and all corners of the world.”
12 See Michelle Shepard, “Informer wanted to protect Canada,” Toronto Star (14 July 2006), http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&call_pageid=971358637177&c=Article&cid=1152827412841; and Sonya Fateh, Greg McArthur, and Scott Roberts, “The Making of a Terror Mole,” Globe and Mail (14 July 2006), A1; available online at “The Infamous Mubin Shaikh Revealed as Mole in Terrorism Plot,” SAFspace (14 July 2006), http://www.safiyyah.ca/wordpress/?p=275.
13 “2nd mole played key role in bomb plot probe,” CBC News (13 October 2006), http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2006/10/13/second-person.html.
14 Michael Friscolanti, “The four-million dollar rat: A star Muslim informant who helped bring down the Toronto Eighteen,” Maclean's Magazine (7 February 2007), http://www.macleans.ca/article.jsp?content=20070212_140696_140696&source=srch.
15 Friscolanti, “The four-million dollar rat.”
16 See Jackie Bannion, “The Radical Informant.”
18 See Kady O'Malley and Chris Selby, “RCMP scandal deepens: Officers allege highest levels of force involved in coverup of pension fraud,” Maclean's Magazine (29 March 2007), http://www.macleans.ca/canada/national/article.jsp?content=20070329_091523_3204; and David Hutton, “PCMP Pension Scandal: How to Stop the Rot,” The Hill Times (30 April 2007), available online at Fair: Federal Accountability Initiative for Reform, http://fairwhistleblower.ca/news/articles/2007-04-30_rcmp_pension_scandal_how_to_stop_the_rot.html.
19 See Jack Aubry, “RCMP had 'negative' impact on Liberal campaign,” National Post (31 March 2008), http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=412828; Richard Brennan, “Greens seek probe into RCMP action,” Toronto Star (11 April 2008), http://www.thestar.com/News/Canada/article/413524; and Guy Charron, “Canada: Report whitewashes federal police's intervention,” World Socialist Web Site (22 May 2008), http://www.wsws.org/articles/2008/may2008/rcmpm22.sthml.
20 See Omar el Akkad and Greg McArthur, “A grand existence among Muslims on-line: Behind the Toronto terror case,” Globe and Mail (19 August 2006), A4-A5.
21 “Canada Muslims condemn alleged bomb plot,” CNN.com (5 June 2006), http://edition.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/americas/06/04/canada.terror/. This article quotes defence attorney Rocco Galati, who after noting the timing of the arrests is quoted as suggesting that “these men are being rounded up as part of a political move to affect the [Supreme Court] judges.”
22 See “Multiculturalism Chair,” York South-Weston Federal Liberal Riding Association (2008), http://yorksouth-westonraon.ca/liberal/federal/multicultural.html. The information on this web page has remained substantially unchanged since the spring of 2006.
24 Michael Friscolanti, “The Informant, Mubin Shaikh: The Mounties' man in the the Toronto terror bust admits a cocaine habit,” Maclean's Magazine (10 September 2007), http://www.macleans.ca/canada/features/article.jsp?content=20070910_109132_109132.
26 According to Jackie Bannion, “The Radical Informant,” Shaikh told CBC reporter Linden McIntyre “that he took all kinds of drugs” in high school.
29 Quoted by Michael Friscolanti, “The Informant, Mubin Shaikh.”
31 Omar el Akkad and Colin Freeze, “Police had second mole in terror plot: Informant expected to be key witness,” Globe and Mail (14 October 2006), A1, A4; quoted from p. A4.
33 Michael Friscolanti, “The four-million dollar rat.”
35 Omar el Akkad and Colin Freeze, “Police had a second mole,” A4.
36 Friscolanti, “The four-million dollar rat.”
38 Repo, “Canada: A Galloping Police State?”
39 See “Project Threadbare: One Year Anniversary of Predawn Raid,” Upping the Anti (6 August 2004), http://auto_sol.tao.ca/node/794; and also the Threadbare website at http://www.projectthreadbare.tyo.ca.
41 “Former bomb plot suspect thought arrest was a terrible mistake,” CBC News (16 April 2008), http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2008/04/16/jamal-invu.html.
43 Alexander Cockburn, “The War on Terror on the Lodi Front,” CounterPunch (1 May 2006), http://www.counterpunch.org/cockburn05012006.html. See also Veena Dubai and Sunaina Maira, “'Witch-hunt' in Lodi, California,” Not In Our Name (23 June 2005), http://www.notinourname.net/detentions/lodi-23jun05.htm.
44 One of the men also took a photograph of the Miami FBI headquarters—using a camera supplied to him by the FBI agent. See Bill van Auken, “Miami 'terror' arrests—a government provocation,” World Socialist Web Site (24 June 2006), http://www.wsws.org/articles/2006/jun2006/miam-j24.shtml; and Tony Karon, “The Miami Seven: How Serious Was the Threat,” Time (23 June 2006), http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1207412,00.html.
45 See George Smith, Ph.D., “UK Terror Trial Finds no Terror,” National Security Notes: Global Security.org (11 April 2005), http//www.globalsecurity.org/nsn-050411.htm.
46 John Lettice, “Amazing terror weapons: the imaginary suitcase nuke,” The Register (31 July 2006), http://www.theregister.com/2006/07/31/red_mercury_trial.
47 John Lettice, “Homebrew chemical terror bombs, hype or horror?” The Register (4 June 2006), http://www.theregister.com/2006/06/04/chemical_bioterror_analysis/; and “Drowning in data—complexity's threat to terror investigations,” The Register (6 July 2006), http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/07.06/_90_days_terror_law_analysis/.
48 Thomas C. Greene, “Mass murder in the skies: Was the plot feasible?” The Register (17 August 2006), http://www.theregister.com/2006/08/17/flying_toilet_terror_labs/; Craig Murray, “The UK Terror Plot: What's Really Going On?” CounterPunch (17 August 2006), http://www.counterpunch.org/murray08172006.html; James Petras, “The Liquid Bomb Hoax: The Larger Implications,” Centre for Research on Globalization (25 August 2006), http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=PET20060825&articleid=3069.
49 “Canada Muslims condemn alleged bomb plot,” CNN.com (5 June 2006), http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/americas/06/04/canada.terror/.
50 Naylor, Satanic Purses, p. 11.
This essay originated as a conference presentation: “The New Canadian Government and 'War-on-Terror' Immigration Policies,” Indigeneity and Immigration: Greifswald Canadian Studies Conference, Institut für Anglistik/Amerikanistik, Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Universität, Greifswalk, Germany, 16-18 June 2006. A version of it was published under the present title by the Centre for Research on Globalization (12 December 2006), http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=KEE20061212&articleid=4137. The final text appeared in What is Your Place? Indigeneity and Immigration in Canada, ed. Hartmut Lutz, with Thomas Rafico Ruiz (Beiträge zur Kanadistik, Band 14, Schrisftenreihe der Gesellschaft für Kanada-Studien, Augsburg: Wißner-Verlag, 2007), pp. 169-90.
1. Some key terms
Three terms are at play in the situation I wish to analyze. The first is a new Canadian government whose leader has espoused positions more right-wing than those of any prime minister in living memory—but is for the moment constrained to some degree by his party's minority position in parliament. The second is the unhappy fact that Canada is at war in Asia: as a result of commitments to the Bush regime's 'War on Terror' which the Canadian parliament has never been given the opportunity to vote upon, some 2,300 Canadian troops are currently engaged in offensive operations in southern Afghanistan—where, as the noisily simple-minded General Rick Hillier, the current Chief of the Defense Staff, has declared, their function is not peace-keeping (the primary traditional role of Canada's military) but bringing the lives of “detestable murderers and scumbags” to abrupt and violent ends.1
Who, precisely, is so “detestable” as to deserve such an end? By whom, in whose country, and by what right are such determinations arrived at? These are not questions that trouble General Hillier's sleep, though they might well bother more ethically oriented people, as well as those who believe that in a democracy policy decisions should be made by elected officials rather than by military officers2—not to mention the larger collectivity of Canadian tax-payers, who by mid-2006 had ponied up $1.8 billion to pay for our part of the occupation of Afghanistan.
The third term at play here is immigration policy—which, as I wish to show through consideration of our governing class's current treatment of one immigrant minority, Canada's Muslim community, and also one current aspect of its treatment of that other minority whose members are neither immigrants nor the descendants of immigrants, but aboriginal, appears to have been seriously deformed by a determination to convince the Canadian population of the rightness and necessity of our participation in George W. Bush's “long war.”
What might seem an unexpected conjoining of distinct issues of immigration and indigeneity makes sense, I would argue, both conceptually and ethically. A recognition of their linkage is evident in recurrent expressions of sympathy by native elders for the plight of Algerian and Palestinian refugees further victimized by deportation orders,3 and likewise in the support announced by the Canadian Islamic Congress in May 2006 for the Six Nations land reclamation campaign near Caledonia, Ontario.4 The logic involved is not difficult. From the longue durée perspective of indigenous peoples the rest of us—setter colony Canadians—are all immigrants, and the laws and administrative practices we direct toward Onkwehonweh or First Nations people and toward more recent arrivals make up a single continuum of what one might call 'the policy of immigrants about immigration.'
Such a perspective, to the extent that we can rise to it, may help us avoid the the ethical obliquities of much contemporary discourse on immigration—in which, for example, the descendants of refugees or of illegal immigrants call for the exclusion of refugees and the hunting down and deportation of illegal immigrants, or in which people whose right to the land they occupy may be dubious at best invoke principles of right to exclude both native people and would-be immigrants from any share of it.5
2. Multiculturalism and the politics of immigration
Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's proclamation of multiculturalism as official government policy in 1971 inaugurated a period in which immigrant communities in Canada have tended more often than not to give a preponderance of their votes to candidates of the federal Liberal Party. There may be some irony to this, since the policy was not fully enshrined in law until the passage of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act by Brian Mulroney's Progressive Conservative government in 1988. But immigrant communities have not wholly forgotten that the Trudeau Liberals who inaugurated multiculturalism were likewise responsible for a shift in immigration policies leading to the abandonment of previous openly racist admission criteria (and their replacement, one might add, by criteria of social class).6 The persistence of this memory has no doubt been assisted by the enduring presence of racist anti-immigration sentiment in the parties of the right—most distinctly within the Reform Party, which many Canadians suspect underwent no more than cosmetic changes when it absorbed the struggling remnants of Mulroney's old party to form the new (no longer 'progressive' even in name) Conservative Party.
How has current Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper sought to maneuver within a situation in which the votes of immigrant communities, both European and non-European, are recognized as a determining factor in many urban ridings across the country, and hence potentially decisive in his pursuit of a parliamentary majority in the next election?
He has, in brief, tried to distance himself from his party's (and his own) sometimes openly disgraceful past record on immigration issues, to take advantage of the failure of Paul Martin's Liberal government to abolish an unintelligent and widely resented “Right-of-Landing Fee” on new immigrants, and to make use of potentially divisive issues like gay marriage as a means of appealing to 'social conservative' elements within immigrant communities. He has at the same time played to exclusionary and racist tendencies within his most reliable block of supporters (former Reform Party members and residents of predominantly white rural communities) by cancelling the previous government's commitment to a large-scale infrastructure program for native communities, and by treating refugee claimants and illegal immigrants with the utmost severity. (The latter tactic carries the risk of backfiring in such vigorously multicultural cities as Toronto and Vancouver—but only, Conservative strategists hope, in ridings where the Tories already run too distant a third to the New Democratic Party and the Liberals for it to make any difference to their electoral fortunes.)
Two currently ongoing events permit us to define more closely the orientation of this government in relation to immigration issues—and perhaps more generally as well. One is the occupation since February 2006 of contested land at Caledonia, near Hamilton, Ontario, by people of the Six Nations Haudenosaunee (a situation that may help to remind Canadians that a nation which developed out of colonial settler colonies has large unpaid ethical and material obligations to the indigenous peoples whose lands we have not ceased to appropriate and whose cultures we continue to violate). The other is the arrest on June 2, 2006 in Toronto of eighteen Canadian Muslim men and youths on charges of plotting terrorist atrocities. Both, as it happens, are plausibly connected to Canada's participation in the Bush regime's fraudulent and spurious 'War on Terror.'
Analysis of these unfolding events in relation to the faultlines evident in Stephen Harper's positions on immigration will suggest, I think, that a government more deeply subservient to the dictates of American geopolitics than were the Liberals of Jean Chrétien or Paul Martin is finding it convenient to exacerbate intercommunal hostilities involving both Onkwehonweh or First Nations people and Canadian Muslims. But before proceeding to this analysis, I should explain my reasons for applying what may have seemed disconcertingly strong adjectives to George W. Bush's 'War on Terror.'
3. Faking the 'War on Terror'
The 'War on Terror' is spurious because there is strong evidence that the events to which it is purportedly a response—the terrorist atrocities of September 11, 2001—were orchestrated not by Osama bin Laden (whose partisans or minions served, however, as useful patsies), but rather by high-placed elements within the United States government. There are several converging lines of evidence: taken separately, they cry out for investigation; taken together, they appear seriously incriminating.7
There have been substantial developments during the past year in the assessment of material, photographic and testimonial evidence relating to the collapses of the three towers of the World Trade Center (the 47-storey WTC 7 as well as the 110-storey Twin Towers). These include scientifically informed analyses which demonstrate the physical impossibility of the official account of the Twin Towers' collapse,8 analyses of statements by fire department personnel and by survivors that there were numerous secondary explosions in the buildings in the interval between the airplane crashes and the collapses,9 video and photographic evidence that structural steel in the South Tower was being cut and melted by thermate charges during the final minutes before the tower's collapse,10 videos and photographs of the collapses of the towers in which “squibs” (explosive horizontal ejections of dust and debris) are visible well below the lines of collapse,11 and laboratory analyses of structural steel from the towers which point to its having been cut by thermate charges.12
Controlled demolition of course implies foreknowledge of the attacks as well as a complex pattern of organization—some aspects of which were made visible by Michael Ruppert, whose book Crossing the Rubicon revealed that the US air defence system was effectively disabled on 9/11 by a network of air-defence and anti-terrorism exercises that transferred most of the available interceptor aircraft out of the northeastern US to Alaska and Alberta, and for a crucial period that morning left the military air traffic controllers responsible for deploying the remaining jet fighters unable to determine which of the many apparently hijacked aircraft appearing on their radar screens were real, and which blips were merely part of a response-to-multiple-hijackings exercise.13 The likelihood that al Qaeda operatives could have organized the demolitions in the World Trade Center complex (whose security was contracted to Securacom, a company with close Bush family connections),14 as well as somehow coordinating airliner hijackings with what amounted to a planned disabling of the air defence system, is close to nil.
Add to this the destruction of material evidence at the WTC site, the extreme reluctance of the Bush administration to permit any inquiry into the events of 9/11, and the well-established fact—mendaciously denied by senior members of the administration—that foreign intelligence services, having evidently penetrated different parts of the 9/11 planning, gave them detailed advance warnings, and a pattern emerges that cries out for criminal investigation. Searching analyses of these issues, as well as of many features of the attacks, the ensuing cover-up, and the underlying geopolitics, have been published by Michel Chossudovsky and other researchers,15 and the theologian and ethicist David Ray Griffin has produced magisterial summations of the evidence pointing to the Bush administration's implication in the events of 9/11.16
The 'War on Terror' is fraudulent, then, because its purported and actual goals are systematically at variance. Only in the most nakedly Orwellian sense can one claim that a project which began with apparent false-flag terrorist attacks that killed some three thousand people on American soil, and has since involved wars of aggression that have killed and maimed well over 25,000 American soldiers—not to mention killing scores of thousands of Afghans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and exposing millions of their fellow citizens to the murderous and ineradicable toxicity of depleted uranium—is in any sense concerned with enhancing the security of Americans, or of anyone else. The pretexts used to legitimize the invasion of Iraq have without exception been exposed as lies and disinformation17—an embarrassing fact that has not prevented the Bush administration, with the supine or active collaboration of the corporate media, and, to their shame, the diplomatic support of western countries including Britain, France, Germany and Canada, from constructing a parallel set of lies and deceptions to legitimize an apparently imminent attack upon Iran.18
It is less widely appreciated that the invasion of Afghanistan was likewise carried out under false pretexts. Planned and threatened months before 9/11, this act of aggression was carried out for geopolitical reasons enunciated more than a year earlier by the Project for a New American Century, a pressure group whose key members have all held high office in the Bush administration.19 It should be of some interest to Canadians to know that in September 2001 the United States rejected offers of the Afghani Taliban regime to deliver Osama bin Laden to Pakistan for trial there;20 to know that opium production, which the Taliban had nearly eliminated in the provinces it controlled, bounced back to a new high once the US-backed warlords of the Northern Alliance came to power;21 and to learn that the appalling oppression of Afghan women by reactionary theocrats that the Bush regime adopted as an ex post facto reason for its invasion appears not to have significantly diminished under the Karzai regime.22 Canadians might also be intrigued to discover that in June 2006 a journalist who wondered about the absence of any mention of 9/11 on Bin Laden's FBI Most Wanted listing was informed by Rex Tomb, the FBI's Chief of Investigative Publicity, that the reason for this absence “is because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11.”23 This looks rather like an acknowledgment that the so-called “Bin Laden confession video” released by the US in December 2001, and widely represented as justifying the attack on Afghanistan, is in fact not authentic.24
The 'War on Terror' is also fraudulent because while purporting, as Bush himself has declared, to confer upon others what Americans “wish for ourselves—safety from violence, the rewards of liberty, and the hope for a better life,”25 his administration has in fact sought through false-flag terrorism and shameless propaganda and disinformation to frighten Americans into supporting a resource-war geopolitics of unconstrained aggression. Concomitants of this endless warfare include the devolution of what is now called the “homeland” in the direction of a one-party state,26 a deliberate voiding of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, and a parallel extinction of international human rights law whose visible embodiment is an archipelago of prisons and torture houses extending from Guantanamo Bay to Abu Graib and Bagram.27
4. Harper on Immigration
This, I would contend, is the unhappy context within which we must consider contemporary Canadian discourses on the subject of immigration. Let's begin by considering the views of Prime Minister Stephen Harper on the matter. Harper counts among his formative influences the writings of the American right-wing intellectual Peter Brimelow, whose books include Alien Nation: Common Sense About America's Immigration Disaster (1995).28 As recently as 2001 Harper gave voice to opinions that seem recognizably connected to Brimelow's alarmist vision of a country losing its cultural (read racial) identity in a swamp of ethnic otherness: on January 26th of that year, Harper declared in an interview with Kevin Michael Grace that
West of Winnipeg, the ridings the Liberals hold are dominated by people who are either recent Asian immigrants or recent immigrants from eastern Canada: people who live in ghettos, and who are not integrated into western Canadian society.29
Interviewed a year later by the same congenially right-wing journalist, Harper sought to re-state his views in more acceptable terms. Declaring himself “pro-immigration on principle,” he attacked the refugee screening process as “a boondoggle” that “threatens national security” as well as “the integrity of the immigration system”:
I've been saying for years that the most important thing is that the country make its own immigration selection and that this policy be consistent with Canadians' views. A refugee determination system that has effectively created a backdoor immigration system that bypasses legal channels in unacceptable. And we need to tighten that system. But [...] I don't want it said that I'm anti-immigration. I'm very supportive of [a] significant [level of] immigration and always have been. 30
This is interestingly coded language. A proportion of the people recently admitted to Canada under existing refugee determination processes have been, among francophones, Algerians, Moroccans and Haitians; and among the larger anglo- or allophone group, Central Americans, Palestinians, South Asians (especially Sri Lankan Tamils) and Africans (among them a substantial number of Somalis). The notion, post-9/11, that such people might threaten “national security” would seem to be a coded allusion to the fact that many of them are Muslims. Those Canadians with whose views Harper thinks refugee policy should be made consistent are presumably people of European origin, of narrowly Christian or Jewish faith, and of racist predisposition: the fact that growing numbers of Canadians are none of the above (and might in addition vote for parties of the centre-left) evidently dismays him.
A similar coding was apparent in an interim policy document released by Harper's Conservative Party in 2004, which as a journalist from Now Magazine commented, “refers darkly to focusing on attracting immigrants who can best integrate into the 'Canadian fabric' (read mostly white, mostly Europeans).”31 But at the same time, the Conservatives were seeking to attract the votes of recent immigrants, declaring on the party's website that “The Conservative Party will fight for immigrants. We will work to ensure earlier recognition of foreign credentials and prior work experience.”32
During the Winter 2006 election campaign Harper reached out to immigrant communities by pledging to immediately cut the $975 Right-of-Landing Fee by half, and then to further reduce it “as the fiscal situation allows,” and by claiming that the social values of immigrants are also those of his party: “Hard working New Canadians bring to Canada a strong work ethic, a commitment to family life, an appreciation of higher education, and a respect for law and order.... These are Canadian values, these are Conservative values, and these are values that we will bring to a new Conservative government.”33 Harper also sought to gain traction from long-standing complaints that foreign professional qualifications are only grudgingly accepted in Canada by proposing the creation of a new federal agency to facilitate the process—a proposal that some commentators found disingenuous, since it stood in evident contradiction to his otherwise sweeping support for increasing the provinces' autonomy in their areas of jurisdiction.34
Once in power, Harper began, as he had promised, to deport illegal workers. Among them, most notoriously, were Portuguese tradesmen doing skilled labour in the Toronto construction industry, some of whom had been in Canada for more than a decade and had school-aged children—people, one might say, with a commitment to precisely those work-ethic and heterosexual-family values Harper had extolled during the election campaign. A commentator at the ViveleCanada.ca website remarked in early April 2006 on the political stupidity of the deportations:
Harper could have turned the presence of these illegal workers into a political coup that eroded the Liberal hold over the immigrant vote. It was Liberal [immigration] policy that so drastically favoured rich over poor [...]. Saying that policy was so flawed that a general amnesty for illegal workers was needed as long as they came forward and registered would have done a lot to increase the Conservative vote in the immigrant community.35
But the Harper government has consistently refused to implement an amnesty for illegal workers,36 and two further incidents in April 2006 showed that it was prepared to defy normal civilities in its pursuit of illegal immigrants. On April 27, a brother and sister were forcibly removed from Dante Alighieri Academy in Toronto by immigration officials and taken out to the sidewalk where, as an angry school official remarked, “there was a van waiting with their parent—their mother waiting to be deported.” On the following day, two girls, aged seven and fourteen, were removed from St. Jude School in Toronto by officials who then telephoned their mother, an illegal immigrant from Costa Rica, “and threatened to take them away if she did not turn up within half an hour.” Toronto School Board trustees and Toronto-area members of Parliament responded with outrage to these police-state tactics. Faced with Liberal MP Andrew Telegdi's reasonable demand that he “instruct his officials that schools are for learning and are off limits for the purpose of immigration enforcement,” Minister of Public Safety Stockwell Day replied obliquely that the matter would be reviewed, adding that “This is not a normal process or procedure nor do we want to see it become that.”37
Day's choice of adjective is telling, given that normal considerations of political advantage seem not to be at play in these events. It would appear that a different kind of political calculus is being applied, one in which intercommunal tensions are being deliberately aroused in the hope of political gain. But only if we have not been sufficiently attending to the treatment of Canada's Muslim immigrant communities—and to the treatment of Canada's non-immigrant communities, its First Nations peoples—will such developments strike us as wholly new.
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, it was widely reported in the American press—incorrectly, as it happens—that members of Mohammed Atta's supposed team of hijackers had entered the US through Canada. Faced with American calls for the tightening of border crossings (which could obviously hurt our export economy), the government of Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien passed anti-terrorism legislation,38 deported numbers of Algerian and Palestinian refugees,39 stepped up the practice of locking suspected Islamist activists away on so-called “security certificates,” which entitle the state to hold suspects indefinitely without trial,40 and collaborated in the arrests, “rendition” to foreign prisons, and torture of Canadian citizens who had aroused the suspicions of the gum-shoed incompetents of the RCMP and of CSIS, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (principally, it seems, by being Muslims).
In the most notorious such case, Ottawa engineer Maher Arar was arrested in New York in September 2002 while returning to Canada from a family holiday in Tunisia, and was flown by the CIA to Syria, where he was tortured and held in solitary confinement for ten months. The false information that led to his arrest was provided to the FBI by the RCMP, which had put Arar and his wife Dr. Monia Mazigh on an al Qaeda watch-list, and which continued to slander him even after his release.41
A further regressive move was the implementation, on December 29, 2004, of the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement, according to which the two countries recognize each other as safe third countries for refugee claimants and oblige refugees to seek protection in the first of the two countries they enter. As a result, Canada now turns away one-third of the refugee claimants who arrive at our borders, throwing large numbers of them upon the mercies of a US asylum system many aspects of which, as a report published by the Harvard Law School remarks, “violate international legal standards.”42
5. “Home-grown terrorists”
On June 2, 2006 the arrests of eighteen Muslim men and youths in Toronto on terrorism charges made headlines around the world. And yet any careful reader of the news stories which followed these arrests could not help but be struck by a number of anomalies. The case was represented as a major triumph of police and intelligence work, and the dangers involved were underlined by massive paramilitary theatrics at the arraignment hearings, including grim-faced snipers-on-rooftops, and helicopters thumping overhead. But how were we to interpret these theatrics? Did Canadian intelligence agencies really anticipate that squads of heavily armed terrorists might descend on the Brampton courthouse in a desperate Robin-Hood style attempt to free their captured comrades? Or would it be cynical to think that the state was trying to panic the Canadian media and the public at large with this graphic demonstration of how terrified we should all be—if not of the handcuffed prisoners, then certainly of their shadowy accomplices. The logic is clear: if the brave and clever men who dress like ninjas, carry big automatic weapons and work in intelligence are worried, then the rest of us ought to be gob-smacked with fear.
This message appears to have got through quite widely—not least to an American versifier on the Buzzflash website who proposed ironically that his compatriots should stop worrying about building a fence along their southern border to stop Mexican immigration, given what seemed more urgent problems to the north:
Putting up a Mexican fence
May not be the best defense.
Let's build one nearToronto
And get it finished pronto.43
No-one, presumably, had told him about the existence of Lake Ontario.
Snipers and helicopters notwithstanding, there turned out to be a bizarre disjunction between the material resources the arrested group (if it was a group) possessed, and what the Toronto police claimed were their goals: blowing up the Houses of Parliament, the CN Tower, the headquarters of CSIS (the Canadian Security Intelligence Service) and the CBC, and beheading Stephen Harper. For the arsenals of weaponry revealed by the arresting officers were distinctly unimpressive. In addition to five pairs of boots, they consisted of “six flashlights, one walkie-talkie, one voltmeter, eight D-cell batteries, a cell phone, a circuit board, a computer hard drive, one barbecue grill, a set of barbecue tongs, a wooden door with 21 bullet marks and a 9 mm hand gun.”44
Oh yes—and centrally displayed, a bag of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, as evidence that the group had intended to emulate Timothy McVeigh's feat of destroying the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City with an ammonium nitrate fuel oil (ANFO) truck bomb.45 Not that any of the accused had actually been in possession of that or any other bag of ammonium nitrate fertilizer—much less fuel oil, or an appropriately configured truck in which to mix the two, or a detonating device—in the absence of which ammonium nitrate makes plants grow, but won't blow anything up, not even the headquarters of CSIS. Yet one or possibly more of the accused had been lured by a police agent into making a purchase order of a large quantity of ammonium nitrate, and had accepted delivery of some quantity of a harmless substitute chemical, at which point the police swooped.
Most media outlets found nothing worthy of comment either in the entrapment of the accused or in the extreme sketchiness of the accused terrorists' equipment. But the motif of decapitation, which was headlined in most accounts of the arrests,46 ought to have prompted a pause for critical reflection. This motif evokes the most lurid misdeed of the arch-terrorist Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi—who for several years (until, that is, a narrative of his extinction seemed more useful than stories of how he ran the Iraqi resistance more or less single-handedly on behalf of al Qaeda) was represented by the Pentagon's fabulists as a demonic Scarlet Pimpernel: that “demmed elusive” one-legged Jordanian was here, there, and everywhere.47
In the spring of 2004, a fortnight after revelations about the torture and murder of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Graib were headlined throughout the American media, Zarqawi very conveniently videotaped himself beheading an American captive, Nicholas Berg. It would be an understatement to call this videotape problematic. Berg, who had been arrested by American forces, was acknowledged as having been in their custody shortly before his death; in the videotape he is wearing American orange prison overalls, while a plastic chair in the background closely resembles chairs that appear in Abu Graib torture photographs. Cries of anguish were dubbed onto the tape, but Berg was clearly already dead when he was beheaded. Zarqawi, his executioner, whom the CIA described as having an artificial leg, is vigorously bipedal, and speaks Arabic without his known Jordanian accent. In brief, the video appears to be a black-operations product, and Berg a victim of the same people who ordered the Abu Graib atrocities.
The reason for the Zarqawi video's manufacture seems obvious. It abruptly reversed the valences of news about torture and executions, making an American the hapless victim and a brutal terrorist the perpetrator. And it allowed media pundits to argue that whatever the lapses of a few 'bad apples' on their side, their adversaries were wholly barbaric. Meanwhile, damning evidence of the responsibility of Bush, Rumsfeld and other senior officials for systematic torture in the American gulag could be flushed down the memory hole.
In the case of the Toronto 18, the beheading motif strengthened associations with al Qaeda by linking the accused with Zarqawi—even though, behind the headlines, it appeared that beheading Stephen Harper was not a crime any of them had actually proposed to carry out, but rather something an imaginative police officer had speculated in a synopsis of accusations one of them would be likely to want to do.48
The outlines of an interpretive framework—or framing narrative, if you like—were thus in place. Like McVeigh, whose method and object of attacks they are accused of wanting to imitate, the Toronto 18 are constructed for us as 'home-grown terrorists'; but the association with Zarqawi's most sensational supposed crime makes them at the same time barbaric outsiders, with spiritual loyalties to the Islamist terrorist international for which his name is a metonymy. The links to both key aspects of this framework, we can observe, are provided by the police: the first through entrapment, and the second through mere supposition.
Only some time after the arrests did the elaborateness of the entrapment scheme become apparent. Early reports made much of an alleged “training camp” session the group conducted in Washago, Ontario in December 2005—one of the leaders of which, Mubin Shaikh, turned out to have been a CSIS mole, who has received $77,000 for his services and claims to be owed a further $300,000.49 Shaikh seems to have taken some care to establish his 'cover' role, agitating so noisily for the acceptance of sharia courts in Canada that fellow Muslims urged him to desist. Yet as multicultural chair of Liberal MP Alan Tonks' York South-Weston riding association, he let the mask slip: according to the association's website, this “Traveller, philosopher, theologian ... is not your ordinary Torontonian. At first look, one might think they've encountered an extremist but on second take, you realize you've been had!”50 It would appear that whatever technical expertise the Toronto 18 possessed was also provided by the government: a second mole, an agricultural engineer, “provided evidence to authorities that the conspirators had material they thought could be used to make bombs.”51
Most journalists who covered the story found nothing out of the ordinary in the fact that after their arrests the men and youths were subjected to sleep deprivation torture—confined in brightly illuminated isolation cells and woken every half-hour—by authorities obviously desperate for evidence.52 Nor were they able to remember that three years previously another large group of Toronto Muslims had been arrested on suspicion of plotting similarly lurid acts of terrorism—which had turned out to be no more than products of the active imaginations of RCMP and CSIS agents, Toronto police detectives, and Immigration Canada officials. In that case, an investigation called Project Thread (and re-named “Project Threadbare” by skeptics) led to twenty-four men being arrested as members of an al Qaeda sleeper cell with plans to destroy the CN Tower, blow up the Pickering nuclear power plant, and set off a radioactive dirty bomb. The allegations were eventually dropped, and no charges were laid. And yet the men were held in maximum security detention for months, no statements of exoneration were issued, and seventeen of them were deported, in a manner marked by flagrant illegalities, to countries where the mere suspicion of terrorist affiliations could have very dangerous consequences.53
There may be good reason to suspect that the Toronto 18 are “terrorists” in much the same sense as were the father and son in Lodi, California who, after being set up by a lavishly paid agent provocateur, were talked by FBI interrogators into confessing they had attended an al Qaeda camp in Pakistan (or perhaps Afghanistan or Kashmir) which they located variously on a mountaintop and in an underground chamber where a thousand jihadis from around the world practised pole-vaulting.54 Or perhaps they could be compared to the infamous “Miami Seven,” members of an oddly unsecretive “Sons of David” cult who are accused of having conspired with al Qaeda to conduct terror attacks “even bigger than September 11” against targets like Chicago's Sears Tower: the men, who had no visible means of carrying out such attacks, actually committed nothing worse than the thought-crime of swearing allegiance to al Qaeda—an oath that was administered by their FBI agent provocateur.55
One begins to note how regularly these much-hyped terror threats dissolve into mist and confusion. The vaunted “UK poison cell” whose members planned to murder thousands of Londoners with ricin turned out not to be a terrorist conspiracy after all.56 The “red mercury plot” ended with another embarrassing but largely unpublicized acquittal: the 'terrorists', as John Lettice writes, “had been accused of an imaginary plot to produce an imaginary radioactive 'dirty' bomb using an imaginary substance.”57 The deployment of two hundred and fifty London policemen to shut down an equally imaginary chemical bomb factory in Forest Gate resulted only in the near-murder of a man who, though otherwise innocent, was indeed both Muslim and bearded.58 No less asinine was the huge international stir in August 2006 over a purported “liquid bomb plot”: most of the alleged plane bombers possessed no passports and only one had an airline ticket, and the bombs that someone in Pakistan had been tortured into saying they planned to make in aircraft toilets are a technical absurdity.59
Even in cases in which large-scale terrorist atrocities have been perpetrated, there are serious doubts about the official accounts of what occurred. The London bombings of July 7, 2005, for example, are said to have been carried out by suicide bombers—a story that is contradicted by the testimony of survivors that the explosions blew the floors of the underground carriages upward from below.60 If the bombs were not carried onto the carriages, but detonated from beneath, then the purported Islamist fanatics said to have been responsible for these appalling crimes cannot have been the actual mass murderers.
6. The Caledonia standoff: sisters of Antigone
The spectre of terrorism so successfully invoked by governments and the corporate media in the English-speaking world is perhaps especially alarming because of the spatiotemporal dislocations it implies. People who typically feel no distinct connection with or responsibility for conflicts in faraway places—even those stirred up or initiated by their own governments—find the more or less tranquil continuity of their lives threatened by the possibility that their familiar civic landscapes could be suddenly transformed into scenes of ruin and carnage. This experiential dislocation, involving a fear that safely distant horrors might unpredictably translate themselves into one's own most intimate space, is compounded by the thought that the appalling transposition would be carries out by people who are our fellow citizens—but also, in secret, deadly enemies. What the venomously de-historicized ideology of the “war on terror” suggests is that religious and ethnic otherness must be, in the special case of Muslims, an ineradicable stain: immigrants of this kind, even if they have appeared, while retaining marks of otherness in their cultural and religious practices, to be moving towards social integration in the host country, are fatally susceptible to reversions into the radical otherness of their distant ancestral homelands—which are understood as places marked, in George W. Bush's memorable inanity, but a perverse inclination to “hate us for our freedoms.”
A precisely inverse pattern of spatiotemporal dislocation is set in motion—no doubt less violently, but with a cumulative force that should not be underestimated—by the conflicts arising out of First Nations land claims. The issues are typically intensely localized—involving, in the case of the Caledonia dispute, little more than three hundred acres of land. But they carry a powerful historical charge, and much wider spatial—and ethical—implications. The persistence of the Six Nations Haudenosaunee in asserting their title to the lands of the so-called Haldimand Tract—the land six miles on either side of the Grand River from its mouth to its source which was formally granted to them in 1784 in recognition of the fact that their alliance with the British during the American War of Independence had cost them their ancestral lands in New York State—serves as a standing rebuke to the fact that over the past two centuries “this territory was steadily whittled away by encroaching white settlers and squatters, and by deliberate land confiscations by federal and provincial governments”—to the point that “the Six Nations reserve near Caledonia now encompasses a mere 5% of the 950,000 acres originally granted to them.”61 There is little doubt about the flagrant illegality of most of the processes through which the Haudenosaunee were divested of their land: a people with whom the Crown had made formal treaties of alliance, and who in the War of 1812 had been instrumental in frustrating the American conquest of Canada, had an alien system of governance imposed on them by force, and were denied recourse to any form of legal redress when they sought to resist this imposition and the dispossession that accompanied and motivated it.
The Six Nations are not seeking to reclaim the land now occupied by the cities of Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge, Ontario, and many smaller communities, or to expel white Ontarians from their farms and houses in the Grand River watershed. But on February 28, 2006, after the developer Henco began construction of a housing estate on misappropriated farmland adjoining their reserve, they decided to repossess the so-called Douglas Creek estate. The ensuing standoff over this apparently local issue62 brings into focus some of the foundational inequities of Canada's settler-culture legal regime. The problem is again one of an incomplete assimilation—though in this case what it exposes is the enduring hypocrisy and racism of the immigrant culture, as well as the slow violence of a perverted legality that it has inflicted upon its one-time allies.
If the paranoid distorting lens of the “war on terror” projects monstrosity onto an imperfectly assimilated Muslim immigrant minority, the mirror that the Caledonia standoff holds up to the would-be assimilationist immigrant majority shows with pitiless clarity where the actual monstrosity resides. If the Haudenosaunee would only consent to the complete assimilation that the settler culture has attempted to force upon them, ever since it acquired the power to do so—a consent which would mean disappearing, as a collectivity, from history—then this mirror might be removed and the unflattering image it returns to us might be dissipated. (Is this perhaps why Canadian governments have sought to impose on the Onkwehonweh a system of private and individual, rather than collective and national, title to land? The theft of the Haldimand Tract lands is an undoubted wrong to the Six Nations, but what claim for justice and recompense could any individual native person make in response to that wrong?)
The Harper government has seemed willing to let the Caledonia situation drift toward intercommunal violence. Its only visible action on the subject—beyond grudgingly indicating in November 2006 a willingness to talk with the Ontario government about possibly paying some share of the the $40-million cost of policing the standoff—has been to intervene at the United Nations to block the passage of a Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.63 In contrast, the Ontario Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty attempted in mid-June to defuse the crisis by purchasing the contested land from the developer and declaring its intention to hold it in trust.64 This, of course, does not amount to a resolution of the matter.
As Six Nations elder Hazel Hill declared in an eloquent message she sent to the local newspapers in Grand River and Caledonia in April 2006, what is at issue is not merely a question of land ownership, or a jurisdictional dispute, but a conflict between two laws, one that has served oppression and another higher law:
It's not about militancy but about believing in who we are as a people, standing together as one, in accordance with the Kaienerekowah for we have been under the thumb of the oppressors for far too long.
It's not about disrespecting the OPP [Ontario Provincial Police] and the laws of Canada, but more importantly about respecting our own law, the only true law in Creation, the Universal Law given to us by the Peacemaker and Gigonsaseh and upholding our responsibilities as individuals in accordance with that law.
It's not about claiming the land, because we know that we hold title to it.
It's not about an occupation, but about asserting our jurisdiction.
We have been accused of inciting a war, and yet who are the ones with the guns, threatening to come in and remove our women and children. To arrest and make criminals out of us. Who are the ones who have helicopters flying overhead, and an abundance of police presence....65
Part of this declaration's power comes from the claim, formulated by Six Nations women elders Katinies and Kahentinetha in relation to another issue involving environmental degradation in the Haldimand Tract, that the Canadian Constitution itself concedes a place for the Six Nations' Kaianereh'ko:wa or Great Law: “According to Section 109 of the British North America Act 1867, indigenous peoples' 'prior interests' supersede that of Canada and its provinces. According to Section 132 Indian title can only be surrendered through a treaty made with the sovereign constitutional people of the nation with a clear question and a clear majority. This never happened.”66
Between these two systems of law there is also a radical disjunction, a différend.67 For as Katinies and Kahentinetha also write, “According to Wampum 44 of our law, the Kaianereh'ko:wa/Great Law, the Women are the 'progenitors of the soil' of the Rotinonhsonnion:we. We are the Caretakers of the land, water and air of Turtle Island. As the trustees, we are obligated to preserve and protect the land's integrity for the future generation.”68 Concepts of this kind are only beginning, very hesitantly, and in a manner not wholly free from hypocrisy, to enter the constitutional discourses of the Canadian confederation.
Yet unexpectedly, perhaps, one discovers within the central traditions brought to this country by the immigrants themselves something very much like the radical disjunction that these women elders identify. The voices of Hazel Hill, and of Katinies and Kahentinetha Horn, are the voice of Antigone, who in Sophocles' great tragedy proclaims to Creon, the ruler of Thebes, that his civic law—his proclamation against the burial of Polynices, the son of Oedipus who had died in leading an assault upon his own city—itself violated another greater law. As Antigone tells Creon, in response to his ruling that Polynice's corpse is to be left for dogs and birds to devour,
It wasn't Zeus, not in the least
who made this proclamation—not to me.
Nor did that Justice, dwelling with the gods
beneath the earth, ordain such laws for men.
Nor did I think your edict had such force
that you, a mere mortal, could override the gods,
the great unwritten, unshakable traditions.
They are alive, not just today or yesterday:
They live forever, from the first of time....69
Another kind of sister of Antigone can be recognized in Dr. Monia Mazigh, the wife of Maher Arar, whose tenacious campaigning on behalf of her husband was largely responsible for the growing public pressure that led to his release from “the coffin-sized dungeon”70 in which he had effectively been buried alive in a Syrian military prison.
In Sophocles' play Antigone has already given due burial rites to Eteocles, the brother who died defending the city. She then refuses to accept the tyrannical judgment of Creon that her other brother Polynices, who made war upon the city, must be denied human burial and relegated to the category of carrion—which is the category as well of what Giorgio Agamben, borrowing the term from Roman law, has called homo sacer: those who can make no claim upon the law because they are denied recognition as being fully human.71
Creon punishes Antigone's defiant act of giving due rites to the unburied dead by committing a further symmetrical violation of the great law to which she appealed: he condemns her to be entombed alive. Antigone escapes from this condition of living death by committing suicide—an act promptly imitated both by her lover, Creon's son Haemon, and then by Creon's wife Eurydice. One might say that Monia Mazigh redistributed the terms of this myth: defying arbitrary descriptions of her husband and herself as enemies of the state, and rejecting the legitimacy of their relegation to the status of homo sacer, she succeeded, like a more steadfast Orpheus with another Eurydice, in rescuing her husband from the living entombment he had endured for ten months.
What these aboriginal or immigrant sisters of Antigone are telling us is, at the very least, that we have been guided by a radically deficient sense of justice in our applications of law. They are also telling us, I believe, that insofar as our system of law contains elements that contradict the constitutive principles of justice—elements that permit us, for example, to legitimize past acts of land seizure as faits accomplis, or to cast aside civil rights on the grounds of a pretended emergency—then that system must be reformed. The patterns of events out of which their voices have arisen should also alert us to problems having to do with our sovereignty as people who claim to make, and re-shape, our own legal and political regime. For one of the more alarming features of the Arar case was the revelation that the RCMP routinely shares its raw data (suspicions, paid slander, malicious gossip, the lot) with American secret police agencies;72 and one of the more disturbing events during the Caledonia standoff was the capture by Six Nations activists of American Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents carrying out surveillance, with the full collaboration of the OPP, within Canada, and on Six Nations land.73
Judith Butler has suggested that the limit for which Antigone stands is “the trace of an alternate legality that haunts the conscious, public sphere as its scandalous future.”74 What Butler is proposing, Slavoj Zizek writes, is that “Antigone undermines the existing symbolic order not simply from its radical outside, but from a utopian standpoint aiming at its radical rearticulation.” She may be “publicly assuming an uninhabitable position, a position for which there is no place in the public space,” yet she is not doing so “a priori, but only with regard to the way this space is structured now, in historically contingent and specific conditions.”75
Isn't it time we began changing these contingencies?
1 On 29 August 2005, Janet M. Eaton and Janis Alton, Co-Chairs of Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, complained to Prime Minister Paul Martin of General Hillier's “swaggering, offensive and militaristic language”: “To refer to the [Afghan] enemy as he did as 'detestable murderers and scumbags' who detest our freedoms, society and liberties and to then ever that the job of the Canadian Forces is 'to be able to kill people' is at odds with our sensibilities and cultural sensitivities as Canadians, with our core public policy values and with our foreign policy tradition.” See “Voice of Women on General Hillier's Abusive Language,” Canadian Action Party (10 September 2005), www.canadianactionparty.ca/MainPages/News.asp?Type=TRUE&ID=531&Language=English. For an acerbic comment on the new aggressive reorientation of Canada's military presence in Afghanistan, see the editorial “We're from Canada. We're here to kill you,” Canadian Spectator (11 February 2006), http://canadianspectator.ca/stuff/We're%20here%20to%20kill%20you.html.
2 A recent Reuters article gives evidence of an apparent transfer of policy-making power from civilian authorities to Hillier and his subordinates in National Defence Headquarters. Canada's commitment of troops to Afghanistan was scheduled to end by early 2007. But after “senior Canadian military officials” declared in March 2006 that “the NATO mission would have to last at least a decade,” Foreign Minister Peter MacKay “conceded the schedule for the return of the troops was now unclear. 'The (military commanders) ... have indicated this is going to be a longer term commitment than was perhaps originally intended as far as the troop deployment,' MacKay said.” See David Ljunggren, “Canada troops could stay longer in Afghanistan,” Reuters (6 March 2006), http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N06282602.htm.
3 This sympathy is no doubt linked to acknowledgments by Onkwehonweh or First Nations elders of historical continuities between Western European crusades against Muslim powers and subsequent projects of transatlantic conquest and settlement. See, for example, Leroy Little Bear's remarks in the Ipperwash Public Inquiry: Indigenous Knowledge Forum, pp. 29-30 (14 October 2004), http://www.ipperwashinquiry.ca/policy_part/meetings/pdf/Indigenous_Knowledge_Forum_Oct.14.2004.pdf; and Doreen Silversmith, “Message from the Onkwehonweh [Six Nations] to the United Nations,” 1 May 2006; available at Autonomy & Solidarity (5 May 2006), http://auto_sol.tao.ca/node/view/2051.
4 “Islamic Congress Supports Six Nations Land Reclamation,” DailyMuslims.com (19 May 2006), http://www.muslimsweekly.com/index2php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1963&itemid=343&pop=1&page=0. This press release recognized a parallel between a situation “in which aboriginal peoples are systematically being denied their birthright,” and the theft of Palestinians' land “by the Israeli occupying power that denies them justice through unilateral expropriations and by refusing to negotiate in good faith....”
5 I am myself descended on my father's side from refugees: the widow and the elder son of a New Jersey farmer who had died defending Long Island from the army of George Washington. I am not sure by what right George III's colonial administration gave them title in 1790 to Anishinaabe land in what became the town of Thorold in the Niagara peninsula.
6 Despite residual elements of racism in the process, applicants for landed immigrant status under multiculturalism have been assessed primarily on the basis of their ability to make immediate contributions to the Canadian economy. During the 1980s it became possible for wealthy foreigners to purchase citizenship by investing $250,000 or more in a business that would employ Canadians. Class had previously been part of immigration criteria—sometimes in an inverse sense, as when at certain times in the first half of the twentieth century applicants from central and eastern Europe were accepted only if they could show calloused hands that would identify them as manual labourers.
7 The following account of this evidence overlaps at some points with my recent essay “Into the Ring with Counterpunch on 9/11: How Alexander Cockburn, Otherwise So Bright, Blanks Out on 9/11 Evidence,” available at Scholars for 9/11 Truth (4 November 2006), http://www.st911.org.
8 See for example “MIT Engineer [Jeff King] Disputes Theory of the WTC Collapse—Part 1,” Youtube (4 January 2007), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8W-t57xnZg; as well as articles by Frank Legge, Gordon Ross, and Kevin Ryan in the first two issues of the Journal of 9/11 Studies (June and August 2006), and Steven E. Jones, “Why Indeed Did the World Trade Center Buildings Completely Collapse?” Journal of 9/11 Studies 3 (September 2006): 1-48, http://www.st911.org.
9 See David Ray Griffin, “Explosive Testimony: Revelations about the Twin Towers in the 9/11 Oral Histories,” 911 Truth.org (18 January 2006), www.911truth.org/article.php?story=20060118104223192; and Graeme MacQueen, “118 Witnesses: The Firefighters' Testimony to Explosions in the Twin Towers,” Journal of 9/11 Studies 2 (August 2006): 47-106.
10 See “Shot from street level of South Tower collapsing,” Camera Planet (2 min. 49 sec., posted 24 February 2003), http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2991254740145858863&q=cameraplanet+9%2F11; and also photographs reproduced by Jones in “Why Indeed...?”
11 Squibs are visible in photographs and videos of the collapses reproduced by Dylan Avery, Dir., Loose Change (2006), available at http://www.st911.org; Dustin Mugford, Dir., September 11 Revisited: Were Explosives Used to Bring Down the Buildings? (2006), http://www.911revisited.com; also available at http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4194796183168750014; and In the Wake Productions, 911 Mysteries: Part 1, Demolitions (2006), http://www.911weknow.com/911-mysteries-movie.html.
12 See J.R. Barnett, R.R. Biederman, and R.D. Sisson, Jr., “An Initial Microstructural Analysis of A36 Steel from WTC Building 7,” Journal of the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society 53/12:18 (2001); cited by Jones, “Why Indeed...?” Jones's own laboratory analysis of steel samples from the Twin Towers is forthcoming.
13 Michael C. Ruppert, Crossing the Rubicon (Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers, 2004), pp. 308-436. See also Nafeez Mossideq Ahmed, The War on Truth (Northampton, MA: Olive Branch Press, 2005), pp. 267-91, 304-16.
14 Securacom's CEO from 1999 to January 2002 was Wirt D. Walker III, a cousin of President Bush—whose younger brother Marvin P. Bush was also a principal in the company from 1993 to 2000. See David Ray Griffin, The New Pearl Harbor (2nd ed.; Northampton, MA: Olive Branch Press, 2004), p. 180.
15 Michel Chossudovsky, War and Globalization: The Truth Behind September 11 (Shanty Bay, ON: Global Outlook, 2002); The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order (2nd ed.; Shanty Bay, ON: Global Outlook, 2003); America's “War on Terrorism” (Pincourt, PQ: Global Research, 2005). See also Paul Thompson, The Terror Timeline (New York: HarperCollins, 2004); Nafeez Mossadeq Ahmed, The War on Truth; Webster G. Tarpley, 9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made in USA (2nd ed.; Joshua Tree, CA: Tree of Life Books, 2006); and Paul Zarembka, ed., The Hidden History of 9-11-2001 (New York: Elsevier, 2006).
16 Griffin's The New Pearl Harbor is cited in note 14; see also The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions (Northampton, MA: Olive Branch Press, 2005); and Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11 (Philadelphia: Westminster John Know Press, 2006).
17 See Michel Chossudovsky, America's “War on Terrorism”; Milan Rai, War Plan Iraq (London and New York: Verso, 2002); Nafeez Mossadeq Ahmed, Behind the War on Terror (Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers, 2003); Dilip Hiro, Secrets and Lies (New York: Nation Books, 2004); Naomi Klein et al., No War: America's Real Business in Iraq (London: Gibson Square Books, 2005); William R. Clark, Petrodollar Warfare (Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers, 2005).
18 See Seymor M. Hersh, “The Coming Wars: What the Pentagon can now do in secret,” The New Yorker (24-31 January 2005), http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/?050124fa_fact, and “The Iran Plans: Would President Bush go to war to stop Tehran from getting the bomb?” The New Yorker (17 April 2006), http://www.newyorker.com/printables/fact/060417fa_fact; Michael Keefer, “Petrodollars and Nuclear Weapons Proliferation: Understanding the Planned Attack on Iran,” Centre for Research on Globalization (10 February 2006), http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=KEE20060210&articleid=1936; and Jorge Hirsch, “Nuclear Strike on Iran is Still on the Agenda,” Antiwar.com (16 October 2006), http://antiwar.com/Hirsch/.
19 See Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquié, Forbidden Truth, trans. Lisa Rounds et al. (New York: Thunder's Mouth Press/Nation Books, 2002).
20 Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, “How Bush Was Offered Bin Laden and Blew It: Give Him an 'F' in the War on Terror,” Counterpunch (1 November 2004), http://www.counterpunch.org/cockburn11012004.html.
21 See Chossudovsky, America's “War on Terrorism,” pp. 224-36.
22 See “On the Situation of Afghan Women,” Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), http://www.rawa.org/wom-view.htm; and Marc Herold, “Afghanistan as an empty space: The perfect Neo-Colonial state of the 21st century, part one,” Cursor.org, http://www.cursor.org/stories/emptyspace.html.
23 Ed Haas, “FBI says, 'No hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11,” Muckraker Report (10 June 2006), http://www.teamliberty.net/id267.html#_ftn1. For the spin machine's wholly inadequate response to this embarrassment, see Dan Eggen, “Bin Laden, Most Wanted for Embassy Bombings?” The Washington Post (28 August 2006), http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/27/AR2006082700687.html.
24 For a judicious analysis of the myth-making surrounding Osama bin Laden, see R.T. Naylor, Satanic Purses: Money, Myth, and Misinformation in the War on Terror (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2006).
25 George W. Bush, “Speech at West Point Military Academy,” (1 June 2002), http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/06/; quoted by Pierre Guerlain, “New Warriors Among American Foreign Policy Theorists,” in Dana D. Nelson, ed., Ambushed: the Costs of Machtpolitik, special issue of The South Atlantic Quarterly 106.1 (Winter 2006), pp. 113-14. The Bush administration's claims to be promoting democracy in the Middle East and elsewhere are demolished by Noam Chomsky in Failed States (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2006), pp. 102-65.
26 See Michael Keefer, “The Strange Death of American Democracy: Endgame in Ohio,” Centre for Research on Globalization (24 January 2005), http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/KEE501A.html.
27 See Timothy Brennan and Keya Ganguly, “Crude Wars,” Nikhil Singh, “The Afterlife of Fascism,” and Thomas L. Dumm, “George Bush and the F-Word,” in Dana D. Nelson, ed., Ambushed: The Costs of Machtpolitik, pp. 19-35, 71-93, and 153-60. Key collections of documents relating to torture include Mark Danner, ed., Torture and Truth: America, Abu Graib, and the War on Terror (New York: New York Review of Books, 2004); and Karen J. Greenberg and Joshua L. Dratel, eds., The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Graib, intro. Anthony Lewis (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005). See also Onnesha Roychaudhuri, “Tracking the Torture Taxis,” The ColdType Reader 9 (November 2006), http://www.coldtype.net/Assets.06/Essays.06/1106.Reader9.pdf.
28 Brimelow is himself an immigrant: born and raised in England, he worked as a journalist in Canada during the 1970s and moved to New York in 1980. His combative Afterword to the second edition of Alien Nation (New York: HarperPerennial, 1996) is available at his website VDARE.com (named after Virginia Dare, “the first English child born in the New World”), http://www.vdare.com/pb/041206_afterword_an.htm.
29 “The Devil in Stephen Harper,” Now Magazine, vol. 23, No. 40 (3-9 June 2004), http://www.nowtoronto.com/issues/2004-06-03/news_insight.php. Kevin Michael Grace also quotes the statement in a later article, “Canadian Conservative Leader No Immigration 'Extremist.' Too Bad,” VDARE.com (29 May 2004), http://www.vdare.com/misc/grace_conservative_leader.htm.
30 “Stephen Harper: The Report Interview” [with Kevin Michael Grace], Report (6 January 2002), http://web.archive.org/web/20021126055715/http:/report.ca/webonly/wo020106gra.html.
31 “The Devil in Stephen Harper.”
32 Quoted by Grace, “Canadian Conservative Leader No Immigration 'Extremist.'”
34 See “Reality Check: Harper's Immigration Proposals,” Canadian Press (4 January 2006), http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20060103/ELXN_immigration_check_060104/20060104?s_name=election2006&no_ads=.
35 'Reverend Blair', “Deep Immigration,” ViveleCanada.ca (5 April 2006), http://www.vivelecanada.ca/article/php/20060404235243777/print.
36 See Maria Jimenez, “Ottawa rules out amnesty for 200,000 illegal workers,” The Globe and Mail (27 October 2006); reproduced online by CERIUM (Centre d'Études Internationales de l'Université de Montréal), http://cerium.ca/spip.php?page=impression&id_article=3459.
37 “T.O sisters used as deportation bait in hiding,” CTV.ca News (2 May 2006), http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20060501/Deportation_bait060501?s_name=&no_ads=.
38 See Kent Roach, September 11: Consequences for Canada (Montréal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2003).
39 See Coalition Against the Deportation of Palestinian Refugees, http://refugees.resist.ca/refugees/about.htm; No One Is Illegal Collective et al., “Bring Mohamed Cherfi Home!” Zmag.org (20 March 2004), available at Solidarity with Mohamed Cherfi, http://www.mohamedcherfi.org/article.php3?id_article=29; and “Non-Status Algerians on Trial: Update,” Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (March 2005), http://ocap.ca/node/858.
40 Three such prisoners, who have been held since June 2000, August 2001, and October 2001 respectively, began a hunger strike in May 2006; see “Ontario: Secret Trial Detainees on Hunger Strike for Two Full Weeks,” Infoshop News (5 June 2006), http://www.infoshop.org/inews/article.php?story=20060605114435478.
41 See the Hon. Dennis R. O'Connor, Report of the Events Relating to Maher Arar: Commission of Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Maher Arar (Ottawa: Public Works and Government Services Canada, 2006), http://www.ararcommission.ca/eng/AR_English.pdf. See also “Documents suggest Canadian involvement in Arar interrogation,” CBC News (22 April 2005), http://www.cbc.ca/story/canada/national/2005/04/21/arar050421.html; Jeff Sallot, “How Canada failed citizen Maher Arar,” The Globe and Mail (19 September 2006), http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20060919.warar0919/BNStory/National/home; and “Maher Arar: Timeline,” CBC News (19 September 2006), http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/arar/.
42 Harvard Law Student Advocates for Human Rights, Bordering on Failure: The U.S.-Canada Safe Third Country Agreement Fifteen Months After Implementation (Harvard Law School Human Rights Program, March 2006), pp. 4, 23, http://www.law.harvard.edu/programs/hrp/clinic/documents/Harvard_STCA_Reports.pdf.
43 Tony Peyser, “17 Canadian Terror Suspects Arrested,” Buzzflash.com (5 June 2006), http://www.buzzflash.com/peyser/0606/pey06156.html.
44 Marjalenna Repo, “Canada: A Galloping Police State?” Centre for Research on Globalization (19 June 2006), http://www.globalresearch.ca/index/php?context=viewArticle&code=REP20060619&articleid=2668.
45 The terrorist atrocity for which McVeigh was convicted and executed killed 169 people, 19 of them children. In May 1995 retired Brigadier General Benton K. Partin, a USAF explosives expert, distributed to the members of Congress a report, “Bomb Damage Analysis of Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building,” in which he concluded that it was destroyed not by McVeigh's truck bomb, but principally by “explosives carefully placed at four critical junctures on supporting columns within the building.” There is other evidence that the attack involved state operatives and state foreknowledge: see David Hoffman, The Oklahoma City Bombing and the Politics of Terror (Venice, CA: Feral House, 1998); Partin's report is reprinted at pp. 461-74.
47 For an illuminating analysis of the Zarqawi phenomenon, see Michel Chossudovsky, America's “War on Terrorism”, pp. 171-97; and his articles “Who is behind 'Al Qaeda in Iraq'? Pentagon acknowledges fabricating a 'Zarqawi Legend',” Centre for Research on Globalization (18 April 2006), http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=CHO20060418&articleid=2275; and “Who was Abu Musab al Zarqawi?” Centre for Research on Globalization (8 June 2006), http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=CHO20060608&articleid=2604.
48 See John Chuckman, “Terror in Toronto or Tempest in a Teapot: Canada's Chatroom Jihadis,” Counterpunch (10-11 June 2006), http://www.counterpunch.org/chuckman06102006.html; and Bruce Campion-Smith and Michelle Shephard, “plan to 'behead' PM: Brampton court hears of plot to storm Parliament Hill and take politicians hostage,” Toronto Star (7 June 2006), available at http://www.yayaycanada.com/toronto_torstar_chand_military.html. (The Yayacanada.com website lists parallels to the Toronto 17 entrapment: see “The Toronto 'Terrorist' Arrests: A rundown of related news reports,” http://www.yayacanada.com/toronto_terrorist_arrests_03-06-06.html.)
49 Michelle Shephard, “Informer wanted to protect Canada,” Toronto Star (14 July 2006), http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&call_pageid=971358637177&c=Article&cid=1152827412841; and Sonya Fateh, Greg McArthur, and Scott Roberts, “The Making of a Terror Mole,” The Globe and Mail (14 July 2006): A1, available at “The infamous Mubin Shaikh Revealed as Mole in Terrorism Plot,” SAFspace (14 July 2006), http://www.safiyyah.ca/wordpress?p=275.
50 Quoted by Shephard, “Informer wanted to protect Canada.”
51 “2nd mole played key role in bomb plot probe,” CBC News (13 October 2006), http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2006/10/13/second-person.html.
52 Repo, “Canada: A Galloping Police State?”
53 See “Project Threadbare: One Year Anniversary of PreDawn Raid,” Autonomy & Solidarity (6 August 2004), http://auto_sol.tao.ca/node/view/794?PHPSESSID=30.
54 Alexander Cockburn, “The War on Terror on the Lodi Front,” Counterpunch (1 May 2006), http://www.counterpunch.org/cockburn05012006.html. See also Venna Dubai and Sunaina Maira, “'Witch-hunt' in Lodi, California,” Not in Our Name (23 June 2005), http://www.notinourname.net/detentions/lodi-23jun05.htm.
55 One of the men also took a photograph of the Miami FBI headquarters—using a camera supplied to him by the FBI agent. See Bill Van Auken, “Miami 'terror' arrests—a government provocation,” World Socialist Web Site (24 June 2006), http://wsws.org/articles/2006/jun2006/miami-j24.shtml; and Tony Karon, “The Miami Seven: How Serious Was the Threat?” Time (23 June 2006), http://www.time.com/nation/article/0,8599,1207412,00.html.
57 John Lettice, “Amazing terror weapons: the imaginary suitcase nuke,” The Register (31 July 2006), http://www.theregister.com/2006/07/31/red_mercury_trial/.
58 John Lettice, “Homebrew chemical terror bombs, hype or horror?” The Register (4 June 2006), http://www.theregister.com/2006/06/04/chemical_bioterror_analysis/; and Lettice, “Drowning in data-complexity's threat to terror investigations,” The Register (6 July 2006), http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/07/06/_90_days_terror_law_analysis/.
59 Thomas C. Greene, “Mass murder in the skies: Was the plot feasible?” The Register (17 August 2006), http://www.theregister.com/2006/08/17/flying_toilet_terror_labs/; Craig Murray, “The UK Terror Plot: What's Really Going On?” Counterpunch (17 August 2006), http://www.counterpunch.org/murray/08172006.html; James Petras, “The Liquid Bomb Hoax: The Larger Implications,” Centre for Research on Globalization (25 August 2006), http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=PET20060825&articleid=3069.
60 For two separate accounts, see Mark Honigsbaum, “'Someone help me ... Please help me',” audio report linked at Owen Bowcott and Mark Honigsbaum, “Stories of screaming, despair and courage,” The Guardian (9 July 2005), http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1524554,00.html, and also available at http://www.prisonplanet.com/audio/guardian_journalist.mp3; and the testimony of Bruce Lait in “I was in tube bomb carriage—and survived,” Cambridge Evening News (11 July 2005), http://www.cambridge-news-co.uk/news/region_wide/2005/07/11/83e33146-09af-4421b2f41779a82926f91pf.
61 Tom Keefer, “The Six Nations Land Reclamation: Overview and Context,” Upping the Anti: a journal of theory and action 3 (November 2006): 136.
62 For detailed accounts of the sequence of events, which included an Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) assault on April 20 that was humiliatingly repelled, and an ensuing closure of Highway 6 until May 24, see Documents Regarding the Struggle at Six Nations (Toronto: AK Press, July 2006), available at http://www2.akpress.org/2006/items/documentsregardingthestruggle; the Six Nations Caledonia Resource Page, Autonomy & Solidarity, http://auto_sol.tao.ca (which contains an important archive of articles, pamphlets, and video interviews); and “Caledonia land dispute,” Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caledonia_land_dispute.
63 See Joseph Quesnel, “Canada tries to buy African states at UN to delay UN Declaration on Indigenous Rights,” First Perspective: National Aboriginal News (17 November 2006), http://www.firstperspective.ca/fp_combo_template.php?path=20061117africa; and Quesnel, “Un delays Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” First Perspective (29 November 2006), http://www.firstperspective.ca/fp_combo_template.php?path=20061129un.
64 “Ontario buys site of disputed Caledonia claim,” CBC News (16 June 2006), http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2006/06/16/caledonia-bought.html.
65 “MNN 'Ongwehonwe Women's Manifesto' at Six Nations,” introduced by Kahentinetha Horn, MNN Mohawk Nation News (12 April 2006), http://www.gatheringplacefirstnationscanews.ca/PressReleases/sixnations/060412_01sixnationsmanifesto.htm?selected=77.
66 “Demand from Women Title Holders of the Rotinohnsonnion:we/Six Nations to Enbridge Gas Distribution Inc. of Barrie Ontario to Cease and Desist the Building of a Natural Gas Pipeline Under the Pine River in Homings Mills on the Haldimand Tract,” Mohawk Nation News (15 September 2006), http://www.mohawknationnews.com/news/print.php?lang=en&layout=mnn&newsnr=300.
67 See Jean-François Lyotard, Le différend (Paris: Les Éditions du Minuit, 1983).
68 “Demand from Women Title Holders.”
69 Sophocles, Antigone, lines 4560-57; quoted from Sophocles: The Three Theban Plays, trans. Robert Fagles, intro. By Bernard Knox (1982; rpt. London: Penguin, 1984), p. 82.
70 Doug Struck, “Canadian Was Falsely Accused, Panel Says,” The Washington Post (19 September 2006); available at Information Clearing House, http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article15021.htm.
71 Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998).
72 See O'Connor, Report of the Events Relating to Maher Arar, part III, chapter 7, pp. 101-27.
73 For contrasting accounts of this episode, see “U.S. agents swarmed in Caledonia dispute: police,” CTV.ca (11 June 2006), http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20060610/caledonia_conflict_060611/20060611?hub=Canada; and Kahentinetha Horn, “What's Wendigo Psychosis?” MNN Mohawk Nation News (9 June 2006); available at First Perspective (11 June 2006), http://www.firstperspective.ca/fp_template.php?path=20060611caledonia1.
74 Judith Butler, Antigone's Claim (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000), p. 40; quoted by Slavoj Zizek, Welcome to the Desert of the Real (London: Verso, 2002), p. 98.
75 Zizek, p. 99.