News Highlights – 16 Feb 11

  • Canada-US Border Security:  This gives you a sense of how seriously American legislators take the border security issue (and how likely Canada is to have to give up loads in any coming joint security negotiations?) “Every inch of the Canada-U.S. border and the American boundary with Mexico should be under “operational control” of American border officials, a U.S. lawmaker told a congressional hearing into border security on Tuesday. “The acceptable level for the American citizen is total control of our southern border, our northern border, our natural ports of entry,” said Republican Jeff Duncan, a South Carolina lawmaker and a member of the House of Representatives Subcommittee on border and maritime security. Such control would allow Americans to protect “this beacon of freedom,” Duncan said, “where we determine who comes into this country, how many folks come here through legal means annually, what they come for, whether they’re seeking citizenship.” ….”
  • Oopsie….. “…. A hankering for Tim Hortons after a hard day of training went horribly wrong for some of Canada’s super-secret commandos, who wound up handcuffed and face down along a major highway. The elite special-forces soldiers, travelling in a convoy of civilian vehicles, were pulled over in late 2009 along Highway 401 in southern Ontario after a panicked member of the public spotted the burly men at a coffee shop. Ontario Provincial Police were called, though it’s not clear whether it was because someone had spotted a weapon or some other reason. Officers from the Brighton detachment, west of Belleville, Ont., followed the vehicles east along the highway, where they executed “a high-risk takedown,” with weapons drawn. The incident came to light through military records obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act ….”
  • F-35 Fight: “The gruelling political battle over the government’s decision to purchase 65 F-35 fighter jets has drawn a line in the sand, with opposition parties standing on one side, and the government and Canadian Forces on the other. In many ways, the military is the government’s most valuable asset in the fight, with current and retired senior officers coming out strongly in favour of the stealth aircraft, arguing it is the best plane for Canada’s future needs. Yet largely overlooked in the debate is that military officials recommended the F-35 in 2006—four years before they completed what is called a “statement of requirements,” the centerpiece of any military procurement process. Even now, the whereabouts of that statement is crucial because the Conservative government has repeatedly cited military officials’ public statements as proof that their decision to commit to the F-35 is the right one. They have also criticized the Liberal Party for not listening to the country’s armed forces. But experts and former defence officials say that until a statement of requirements is released—if one even exists—the entire effort to purchase the F-35 will be subject to politicking based on speculation and allegations ….”
  • Yet MORE on the PM’s Plane’s Paint Job: “…. The reported tussle is interesting in other ways. MacKay is arguably among the most visible and qualified replacements for Harper, should his quest for a majority government fail next time round. What does it say about the internal dynamics of the Conservatives’ top leadership, if MacKay’s wishes are continually rebuffed by the PMO? If Stephen Harper doesn’t like the advice he is getting from his defence minister, he should shuffle the cabinet. Granted, that would be an unpopular move given MacKay’s high visibility in the Conservative Party. Such a move would also further expose the PM to allegations that he is a micromanager ….”
  • Agreed. “…. A group of students at the University of Toronto are trying to stop the Canadian Forces from holding information sessions on campus on the grounds that they felt it was wrong to recruit students to be trained “to kill and to fight wars.”  With all due respect to the 30 students who felt strongly enough about the issue to show up and protest the information seminar: you’re all wrong.  The seminar being protested was being held behind closed doors and only students interested in hearing the information were in attendance. Recruiters did not station themselves in the middle of campus with megaphones, they did not stage drills in the quad as demonstrations of active duty and they did not interrupt class time.  What they did do was provide information on a legitimate career option for interested students ….”
  • A Canadian researcher is lending credence to the idea that the Cold War-era concept of deterrence can and does work against terrorists. In an article to be published this month in the Journal of Strategic Studies, Alex Wilner rejects the post 9/11 theory that serious threats of punishment without use of force won’t work against an enemy whose assets aren’t defined by geography. Rather, he argues that by incorporating deterrence theory into the war on terror by undermining the cost-to-benefit ratio of executing an attack, “we might not only be able to defeat terrorist groups, but we may be able to manipulate their behaviour pre-emptively …. he argues, terrorist groups like al-Qaida are comprised of individuals who are vulnerable to manipulation. For example, future leaders might be deterred from engaging in terrorism if they see current leaders being punished by death or incarceration ….”
  • A Facebook and Skype scammer used the name and photo of a high-ranking U.S. National Guard general to steal $3,000 from a Toronto woman in what’s believed to be one of a number of frauds that exploit the authority of the military. The woman made two wire transfers to London, believing she was helping Maj. Gen. Michael Dubie of Vermont pay for a shipment of money to Canada after a tour in Iraq. At least two other women, in Taiwan and Germany, have responded to pleas from someone they believed to be Dubie, the guard said. In October, a Skype user claiming to be Dubie asked to the Toronto woman to be friends, she said Tuesday, asking that her name not be used because she fears for the safety of her family. “I was kind of in awe of the whole thing, that someone like that was contacting me,” she said. “I wanted to help someone like that who is an honest, trustworthy person.” The person claiming to be Dubie refused to talk on the phone or video chat. “He was so adamant that it was him,” she said. “He said no, he can’t talk to me because he is in Iraq.” …. “…. “It has come to my attention that there are people using my identity to solicit money on FB and Skype,” Dubie wrote Friday on his legitimate Facebook page. “I will never ask for money from anyone in cyberspace.” …. Vermont guard spokesman Lt. Col. Lloyd Goodrow said the case has been referred to the FBI. Dubie, through Goodrow, declined to comment.  “He is quite upset by this,” said Goodrow.” “