News Highlights – 16 Mar 11

  • Some alleged terrorist bad boys, University of Manitoba alum, are being sought by the RCMP. “A four-year RCMP national security criminal investigation, known as Project Darken, has resulted in arrest warrants being issued for two former Winnipeg residents on terrorism-related charges. RCMP investigators in Winnipeg have compiled evidence that two Canadian citizens, Maiwand Yar and Ferid Ahmed Imam, conspired to travel to Pakistan for terrorist training, with plans to later join the insurgency against NATO forces in Afghanistan. Ferid Ahmed Imam, age 30, is being sought on charges of instructing to carry out terrorist activity and conspiracy to participate in activity of a terrorist group. Maiwand Yar, age 27, is being sought on charges of conspiracy to participate in activity of a terrorist group and participation in activity of a terrorist group. Both individuals are known to have traveled to Pakistan in March 2007. The current whereabouts of Maiwand Yar and Ferid Imam are unknown. These charges are being laid in absentia and Canada-wide arrest warrants have been issued for both men ….” Even CSIS’s Prairie Region boss made a statement on this one (PDF, via  More from CNN here, Agence France-Presse here,   A reminder: The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and Canada’s constitution, guarantees the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
  • A few more details on one of the chaps, courtesy of the FBI “A superseding indictment was unsealed in Brooklyn federal court yesterday charging Ferid Imam, also known as “Yousef,” with providing and conspiring to provide material support to al Qaeda, aiding and abetting the terrorist training of Najibullah Zazi, Zarein Ahmedzay, and Adis Medunjanin, and using a destructive device in furtherance of crimes of violence.1 The indictment was unsealed in coordination with Canadian authorities, who earlier today announced terrorism charges against Imam, who is a Canadian citizen. According to the Eastern District indictment, Imam aided and abetted Zazi, Ahmedzay, and Medunjanin’s receipt of military-type training from al Qaeda when the three men traveled to Pakistan in 2008. Zazi, Ahmedzay, and Medunjanin subsequently returned to the United States to carry out a plot to detonate improvised explosive devices on behalf of al Qaeda. This plot was uncovered and disrupted by law enforcement authorities in September 2009. Zazi pleaded guilty to his role in the plot on February 22, 2010; Ahmedzay similarly pleaded guilty on April 23, 2010 ….”
  • Canada on a No-Fly Zone for Libya We don’t reject the idea out of hand, but there’s no consensus among G8 members yet (plus we need a U.N. Security Council resolution).
  • Interesting where some of those weapons and weapon parts Canada’s been selling ended up: “…. Almost $1.1 million worth of military goods were exported to Yemen in the reporting period. Most of those exports were aircraft, unmanned airborne vehicles and other aircraft equipment “specially designed or modified for military use.” Another $80,000 was dedicated to “specialized equipment for military training or for simulating military scenarios,” while less than $1,000 was exported to Yemen for “ammunition and fuse-setting devices, and specially designed components.” In 2009, Libya received more than $85,000 in military exports from Canada, with most of that total -$80,000 -going to military simulators ….” The full DFAIT report is here.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1) The federal government is planning a campaign to “better inform” Canadians about the costs of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter stealth jets, according to one Conservative MP. The upcoming campaign comes on the heels of a report from the Parliamentary Budget Office last week that estimated the 65 jets Canada is buying could cost $29.3 billion, not the $16 billion the government had projected. But Tory MP Laurie Hawn, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of defence, said the government has “fundamental” problems with the PBO’s methodology. One of those problems is that the PBO’s estimate of the plane’s cost is based on historical data of cost-per-weight of other military aircraft. “We’re not buying a sack of potatoes here. We’re buying a high-tech piece of gear,” Hawn said. “That (methodology) may work well from a purely statistician, bean-counter perspective, but we don’t think it reflects the real-world actual costs of technology, materials or components going into the airplane. “That’s where we are coming up with our numbers, and we’re confident in them,” he added ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2)  Meanwhile, south of the border where the F-35s are being tested/made, a government watchdog group says change is happening (but it’s also slowing things down)“DOD continues to restructure the JSF program, taking positive, substantial actions that should lead to more achievable and predictable outcomes. Restructuring has consequences–higher up-front development costs, fewer aircraft bought in the near term, training delays, and extended times for testing and delivering capabilities to warfighters. Total development funding is now estimated at $56.4 billion to complete in 2018, a 26 percent cost increase and a 5-year schedule slip from the current baseline ….” (h./t to Mark Collins for this one).
  • How Canada’s Conference of Defence Associations reads the latest government spending plan for 2011-2012 when it comes to defence (PDF).
  • Private Thomas Lawless, 1889-1917, CEF, R.I.P. “Nearly a century after his death, Private Thomas Lawless, a Canadian First World War soldier whose remains were recovered and identified on January 10, 2011, was buried today with full military honours at La Chaudière Military Cemetery, in Vimy, France …. Private Lawless was born on April 11, 1889, in Dublin, Ireland, and enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) in Calgary, Alberta. He was a member of the 49th Battalion, CEF, who fought in the Battle of Vimy Ridge.  Veterans Affairs Canada has provided support to the family members of Private Lawless and has also coordinated their participation in the interment ceremony ….” More from the Canadian Press here and Agence France-Presse here.
  • Repairing an aging federal air base in Labrador is not important for some members of the Canadian military, according to documents obtained by CBC News. “Infrastructure at Goose Bay would be an extremely low priority. Little would be accomplished at Goose Bay and infrastructure reduction measures would have to be taken,” wrote Major Nanette Fleissen in a February 2009 letter advising senior military officials about air base repairs. The internal Department of National Defence documents show the 5 Wing Goose Bay air base requires about $128-million worth of work ….” Again, I can’t find a link to any of the documents, so I guess nobody’s sharing them.
  • The national tax dollar watchdog is warning the feds not to get carried away with the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 next year. And even if a recently reported figure of $100 million for the commemoration is wrong, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation is still cautioning restraint. “They’re going to have to borrow this money, whatever the costs are. Let’s be clear about this, they don’t have this money kicking around in a cookie jar marked ‘Bicentennial War of 1812 Fund’,” said Scott Hennig, the federation’s national communications director. “The government needs to be darned sure this spending is absolutely necessary. And we’re not even talking about fighting a real war here, where you might be able to justify borrowing money to go into debt, we’re talking about re-enacting one.” According to a media report Monday, the bicentennial celebrations will include re-enactments of the war’s famous battles, repairs to monuments and plaques, a national essay-writing competition, a documentary, a new visitor centre at Fort York in Toronto, and a new website dedicated to the war between the U.S. and Canada that resulted in the White House and Capital Building being burned during a British raid on Washington in 1814. A government source denounced the $100 million figure reported Monday, saying the government was planning to spend “significantly less.” Officials at the department of heritage declined interview requests from QMI Agency, but a spokesman for Heritage Minister James Moore said the government would be announcing details of the bicentennial “in due course ….” What?  No puppets with South East Asian music re-enacting the battles?  I’m crushed ….
Advertisement News Highlights – 2 Mar 11

  • CF to Libya (1)  HMCS Charlottetown on its way (Prime Minister’s statement in the House of Commons, CF statement (1), CF statement (2),, Postmedia News, Globe & Mail, Toronto Star, Canadian Press, (1), (2), Agence France-Presse)
  • CF to Libya (2)  JTF 2 headed downrange? (Twitter from Le Devoir-iste Alec Castonguay, Agence France-Presse)
  • CF to Libya (3)  CF military plane turned back from Tripoli because there was nowhere to land, park (CP via Globe & Mail, Times of Malta)
  • Canada Grabs Libya by the Assets  Canada freezing Libyan assets (~$2 billion)“The Canadian government has frozen more than $2 billion in Libyan assets so far, and continues to target holdings of embattled ruler Moammar Gadhafi and his family, CBC News has learned.  The move to freeze the assets came after Canada learned the Libyan regime was planning to withdraw the funds from as-yet-unidentified Canadian banks ….” More from FINTRAC, Canada’s agency for tracking suspicious money movements, here, and from Reuters.
  • The Commentariat on Libya (1)  Bad news for Libya could be good news for Canada? “…. Canada is likely to be one of the few western beneficiaries of the uncertainty that is sweeping the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa.  The reason is, of course, oil. For decades to come the tarsands are going to be Canada’s trump card every time there is volatility in international energy markets …. The events of the past two months, and dramas still unfolding in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Jordan and oil-rich countries such as Libya, Oman and a few of the Gulf sheikdoms, make it more and more obvious that there is going to be a keen demand for Canada’s so-called “dirty oil” for years to come.  Viewed through this prism, if the U.S. does not want the kind of oil that Canada has to offer, China and India, with huge economic ambitions to fuel, almost certainly will ….”
  • The Commentariat on Libya (2)  Help out, by all means, but be careful about too much military “help”. “…. For Western powers to involve themselves more deeply in Libya would be   counterproductive. It would suggest to pro-democracy elements in the Middle East that, if their opposition becomes violent, they will get help from the West. It would put non-Libyan lives at risk in a situation that is extremely difficult to assess from outside – without any clear benefit to Libyans themselves. Indeed, military intervention might eventually provoke an anti-Western reaction that could end up discrediting the democrats that the West rightly wishes to encourage and help.  By seizing assets abroad and imposing diplomatic sanctions, the West should indeed tighten the vise on Col. Gadhafi. But it should not use its military forces to depose him, in what is ultimately a matter that must be decided by Libyans.”
  • More news on the latest in Libya here (Google News), here (EMM News Brief:  Libya),  here (NewsNow), here (BBC) and here (Al Jazeera English).
  • More on Canada’s upcoming mission in Afghanistan (highlights mine): “The government’s plan to keep 1,000 Canadian troops near Kabul after their mission in Kandahar ends this year is looking increasingly unlikely after comments from the military’s second-in-command last week. “There will be no Canadian Forces units located in Kandahar province after 2011,” Vice-Admiral Bruce Donaldson, the vice-chief of the defence staff, told the Conference of Defence Associations in Ottawa on Feb. 25. “Rather, our training mission will be Kabul-centric, meaning that the main effort will be centered in and about the city of Kabul. “That said, a small number of CF personnel may be assigned to other areas of Afghanistan where the risks to our personnel is assessed to be no greater than that found in Kabul.” ….” Hmm, wonder where that might be?  And how safe, really, is Kabul these days?
  • One Canadian Corrections staffer’s story from working in Kandahar.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Taliban claims to have RPG’ed a transport plane in Helmand.
  • Ooopsie“A Tutor jet, the plane assigned to the military’s aerobatic flying team known as the Snowbirds, was damaged during a landing at 15 Wing Moose Jaw Tuesday afternoon around 3 p.m. CT. Its two crew walked away from the plane and were to be evaluated by medical staff ….”
  • Accused terrorist Hassan Diab failed Tuesday in a last and crucial attempt to get handwriting evidence being used against him disallowed. The handwriting analysis by French forensic expert Anne Bisotti has been called the “smoking gun” by prosecutors, meaning that it is key to the French case. Paris authorities say Diab was a key player in a terrorist bombing outside a synagogue in October 1980 and that handwriting comparisons prove his involvement. A former University of Ottawa professor, Diab says he is innocent and the victim of mistaken identity ….”’s Hypocrisy on “Public Debate”, digital brain child of Steven Staples (of Polaris and Rideau Institute fame) is taking (another) cheap shot at the Conference of Defence Associations in general, and someone contributing to the Association’s latest issue of On Track in particular.

This is what had to say
about an article on how what the author of an article on disinformation in the electronic age:

…. The solution, according to Henry, is for government to “lead the way to wean Canadians away from utopian notions and puncture the bubble of unreality that surrounds them.”God willing, they will prevail, in peace and freedom from fear, and in true health–through the purity and essence of our natural fluids.

Why should people who aren’t crazy care about this kind of stuff?

The bit in red alludes to a crazed Air Force commander in the movie “Doctor Strangelove” who starts nuclear war all on his own.


Do I agree with everything in the article highlighted? No. Is this as “loony” as makes it out to be, though?

In summary, the government must publicize its intentions to the public strongly and clearly throughout the new digital environment. That is, fight and defeat disinformation on its own ground. This is the new reality in politics and in the formulation and delivery of government policy.

I note the hypocrisy irony of a post complaining about the contents of a journal contributing to open, public debate where the post is both:
1) unsigned, and
2) closed to comments.

Keep digging into that “Harper’s Secret War Plans” thing, guys, and let us know how that works out for you.

(Crossposted to The Torch)