“Neither the Canadian government nor the Canadian Forces announced the new agreement, which was signed Feb. 14 in Texas.”
The official name for the Canada – U.S. Troop Exchange Agreement is the “Civil Assistance Plan“. The Government of Canada can call in the American troops in the event of “civil emergency”.
Some CONTEXT for the Agreement is appended.
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Canada, U.S. agree to use each other’s troops in civil emergencies
David Pugliese , Canwest News Service
Published: Friday, February 22, 2008
Canada and the U.S. have signed an agreement that paves the way for the militaries from either nation to send troops across each other’s borders during an emergency, but some are questioning why the Harper government has kept silent on the deal.
Neither the Canadian government nor the Canadian Forces announced the new agreement, which was signed Feb. 14 in Texas.
The U.S. military’s Northern Command, however, publicized the agreement with a statement outlining how its top officer, Gen. Gene Renuart, and Canadian Lt.-Gen. Marc Dumais, head of Canada Command, signed the plan, which allows the military from one nation to support the armed forces of the other nation during a civil emergency.
American soldiers arrive on board the HMCS TORONTO as part of a training exercise in carrying out a NATO presence patrol in the Indian Ocean near Somalia. A new agreement between the U.S. and Canadian militaries has been greeted with suspicion by the left wing in Canada and the right wing in the U.S.
The new agreement has been greeted with suspicion by the left wing in Canada and the right wing in the U.S.
The left-leaning Council of Canadians, which is campaigning against what it calls the increasing integration of the U.S. and Canadian militaries, is raising concerns about the deal.
“It’s kind of a trend when it comes to issues of Canada-U.S. relations and contentious issues like military integration. We see that this government is reluctant to disclose information to Canadians that is readily available on American and Mexican websites,” said Stuart Trew, a researcher with the Council of Canadians.
Trew said there is potential for the agreement to militarize civilian responses to emergency incidents. He noted that work is also underway for the two nations to put in place a joint plan to protect common infrastructure such as roadways and oil pipelines.
“Are we going to see (U.S.) troops on our soil for minor potential threats to a pipeline or a road?” he asked.
Trew also noted the U.S. military does not allow its soldiers to operate under foreign command so there are questions about who controls American forces if they are requested for service in Canada. “We don’t know the answers because the government doesn’t want to even announce the plan,” he said.
But Canada Command spokesman Commander David Scanlon said it will be up to civilian authorities in both countries on whether military assistance is requested or even used.
He said the agreement is “benign” and simply sets the stage for military-to-military co-operation if the governments approve.
“But there’s no agreement to allow troops to come in,” he said. “It facilitates planning and co-ordination between the two militaries. The ‘allow’ piece is entirely up to the two governments.”
If U.S. forces were to come into Canada they would be under tactical control of the Canadian Forces but still under the command of the U.S. military, Scanlon added.
News of the deal, and the allegation it was kept secret in Canada, is already making the rounds on left-wing blogs and Internet sites as an example of the dangers of the growing integration between the two militaries.
On right-wing blogs in the U.S. it is being used as evidence of a plan for a “North American union” where foreign troops, not bound by U.S. laws, could be used by the American federal government to override local authorities.
“Co-operative militaries on Home Soil!” notes one website. “The next time your town has a ‘national emergency,’ don’t be surprised if Canadian soldiers respond. And remember – Canadian military aren’t bound by posse comitatus.”
Posse comitatus is a U.S. law that prohibits the use of federal troops from conducting law enforcement duties on domestic soil unless approved by Congress.
(INSERT, Sandra, June 2012: American law on posse comitatus changes – laws are enacted that overstep it, subsequent laws repeal the offending laws. Wikipedia explains some of it, near the bottom of the article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Posse_Comitatus_Act )
Scanlon said there was no intent to keep the agreement secret on the Canadian side of the border. He noted it will be reported on in the Canadian Forces newspaper next week and that publication will be put on the Internet.
Scanlon said the actual agreement hasn’t been released to the public as that requires approval from both nations. That decision has not yet been taken, he added.
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Etch the story of Omar Khadr in your mind when you consider that the Harper Government has entered an agreement whereby American troops come into Canada in a “civil emergency”.
Khadr was 15 years old at the time of capture by the Americans. EVERY western country, EXCEPT CANADA, that had citizens imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay challenged the Americans and got their citizens OUT. Had the Harper Government performed its role, Khadr would not have undergone all that happened to him (details below).
Criminal, abhorrent behavior not fitting of human beings. The behavior of animals. Those with power torturing the weak.
The Harper Government has now signed an agreement with the UNITED STATES ” .. which allows the military from one nation to support the armed forces of the other nation during a civil emergency.”
The cornerstone of the Bush Government is secrecy. It is only by accident that military information related to Omar Khadr became public knowledge.
Agreements between countries require, conveniently, that if information comes, for example, from the Americans to the Canadians, it is “classified” information, exempt from “access to information” laws.
And so, concerning the agreement just signed by the Harper Government with the Americans, “ the actual agreement hasn’t been released to the public as that requires approval from both nations.” If the Americans don’t want the terms released, they won’t be.
Six factors, CONTEXT, related to the Troop Exchange Agreement:
1. ACCESS TO INFORMATION
“Access to Information” laws apply to Government documents related to its work INSIDE Canada. For work between countries, in most cases the Governments have signed agreements that require the documents to be “classified” information, which means that freedom of information (disclosure) does not apply.
Which explains, from the newspaper report: “Canada Command spokesman Commander David Scanlon” .. “said the actual agreement hasn’t been released to the public as that requires approval from both nations.”
During the Cold War, in most nations, the agencies of defense, intelligence, counterintelligence, and internal security remained closed to public scrutiny. “Security was an absolute trump over any demand for openness.”
After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain, countries moved to more and more openness – mandated immediate disclosure of information when it concerned the “life and liberty of a person“.
However, the laws continued to include special protections for security organizations – – “the very agencies most often accused of violating civil liberties.” Abu Ghraib in Iraq, the prison in Guantanamo Bay are prime examples.
2. SITUATION IN THE U.S. (The Agreement is with the U.S.)
“In the U.S., the process of rebuilding these walls of secrecy had begun even before the terror attacks of Sept 11, 2001. In the early 1990s, defense and intelligence agencies resisted initiatives to reform classification rules and declassify Cold War records, only to be overruled by the White House and Congress; by the end of the decade, the political climate in Washington had shifted. Declassification efforts were underfunded, while conservatives’ fears about the threat of espionage by agents of the Chinese government undermined efforts to develop less onerous classification policies. “The vast secrecy system,” Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan complained, “shows no signs of receding.”
“After Sept 11, secrecy became even more deeply entrenched, once again raising fears about the harm being done to civil and political rights behind closed doors. Hundreds of aliens were detained by the U.S. government, which refused to reveal their names or their place of detention; many were subsequently deported following hearings that were closed to the public.
Hundreds of alleged “enemy combatants” – many held on slight evidence and having little or no value as sources of intelligence value – were hidden at a Defense Department facility in Guantanamo Bay. The Central intelligence Agency ran its own network of secret detention facilities, as well as a secret program to seize suspected terrorists covertly from other nations.
Much of this was deeply disturbing, but nonetheless familiar: It was the sort of behavior one expected to see from the regimes that had allowed security concerns to overwhelm concern for human rights. Americans also saw a new form of secrecy emerging after Sept 11, as organizations not typically counted within the security establishment began to restrict access to information already in the public domain.”
3. ARAR AND KHADR
Canadians have direct experience of the American system through the cases of Canadians:
“he was chained, shackled and flown to Syria, where he was held in a tiny “grave-like” cell …. In Syria, he was beaten, tortured ….
On September 18, 2006, the Commissioner of the Inquiry, Justice Dennis O’Connor, cleared Arar of all terrorism allegations, stating he was “able to say categorically that there is no evidence to indicate that Mr. Arar has committed any offence or that his activities constitute a threat to the security of Canada.”
Canadian police forces contributed to what the Americans did; they are a big part of the reason Maher Arar was tortured and held in a Syrian prison for a year.
In BOTH the cases of Maher Arar and Omar Khadr, the ONLY reason that the Harper Government did ANYTHING, is because of public pressure.
This is what happened, at the hands of the Americans and the Harper Government.
“In the early spring of 2003, Khadr was told “Your life is in my hands” by a military interrogator, who spat on him, tore out some of his hair and threatened to send him to a country that would torture him more thoroughly, making specific reference to an Egyptian Askri raqm tisa (“Soldier Number Nine”) who enjoyed raping prisoners. The interrogation ended with Khadr being told he would spend the rest of his life in Guantanamo. A few weeks later, an interrogator giving his name as Izmarai spoke to Khadr in Pashto, threatening to send him to a “new prison” at Bagram Airbase where “they like small boys”. At the end of March, Omar was upgraded to “Level Four” security, transferred to solitary confinement in a windowless and empty cell for the month of April.
“The only Western citizen remaining in Guantanamo, Khadr is unique in that Canada has refused to seek extradition or repatriation. …
“In February 2008, the Pentagon accidentally released evidence that revealed that although Khadr was present during the firefight, there was no other evidence that he had thrown the grenade. After his comrade was killed, a wounded Khadr, on his knees, was shot twice in the back before being captured. …
This is a 15-year old child soldier.
More from the Wikipedia documentation on Omar Khadr: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omar_Khadr
“Khadr states that he was refused pain medication for his wounds, that he had his hands tied above a door frame for hours, had cold water thrown on him, had a bag placed over his head and was threatened with military dogs.
Unallowed to use washrooms, he was forced to urinate on himself ….
“Khadr has been reported to have been kept in solitary confinement for long periods of time; to have been denied adequate medical treatment; to have been subjected to short shackling, and left bound, in uncomfortable stress positions until he soiled himself.  Khadr’s lawyers allege that his interrogators “dragged [him] back and forth in a mixture of his urine and pine oil”
“Khadr participated in a hunger strike, lasting 15 days before he was force fed by prison guards. He reported collapsing as he left the hospital, and that his guards administered a brutal beating. On July 20, 2005, Guantánamo detainee Omar Deghayes wrote “Omar Khadr [the Canadian juvenile] is very sick in our block. He is throwing [up] blood. They gave him cyrum [serum] when they found him on the floor in his cell,” and his extract was subsequently published in The Independent He also participated in a second, 200-detainee hunger strike, over June/July 2005.
“CBC News reported that Khadr was finally permitted to speak with his mother by phone in March 2007, nearly five years after his capture. ”
4. THE ARGUMENT FOR SECRECY REBUTTED
The justification given for more and more secrecy is that the information is valuable to the terrorists.
However, “Disclosure leads to accountability not just for information but for eliminating the vulnerability the information describes. As a matter of human nature, the absence of this powerful incentive for action will lead to failures to address security problems, ultimately making people less safe, not more. These outcomes will occur even if the individuals who know about a vulnerability are well-meaning and patriotic because it is very difficult for Americans to combat institutional inertia from a wide variety of sources … The dilemma is not whether information will fall into terrorist hands, but rather whether suppression of such information … will lead to even graver outcomes.”
“Criticisms such as these pose a challenge to a precept that has, for many years, sustained the security establishment as an enclave in which the right to information has little hold: the presumed identity of security and secrecy. The assumption that the defense of national security demands strict controls on the flow of information is deeply embedded in bureaucratic – and popular – culture. But events following the 2001 terror attacks give reason for holding an alternative view: that in robust democracies, the parth to improved security may actually lie in a policy that encourages the free flow of information.
The 9/11 Commission, like the earlier Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11, concluded that informational blockages contributed to the failure of federal agencies to anticipate the terror attacks. …” page 42. (I would love to type up the remainder of the chapter for you! But must end here. Try your Library. The book is “Blacked Out, Government Secrecy in the Information Age” by Alasdair Roberts, Cambridge University Press, 2006.
5. IMPLICATIONS: INCREASINGLY, THE MILITARY AND SECURITY FUNCTION IN THE UNITED STATES IS BEING PRIVATIZED. PRISONS, TOO
a. “The troops” can be hirelings of a corporation, better paid than those serving in the nation’s armed forces, and often not even citizens of the U.S. We know that from the contracting-out of defense contracts in Iraq. Halliburton Corporation is a well-known name in this regard.
b. We totally lose access to information, which means that accountability goes out the window. The citizen is rendered powerless. There is no avenue through which to obtain a court-order to gain access to information.
And note: The privatized prisons in the U.S. import prisoners from other jurisdictions.
When you bring in “the troops” from America, you get all that goes with “the troops”.
Think of the Abu Ghraib prison and the one in Guantanamo Bay – both American military prisons. Why were these prisons not in the United States? … Prisons not on American soil are not subject to American law. The acts carried out at these prisons could not have been done, were these publicly-funded prisons in the States.
Now look at what is happening to prisons INSIDE the U.S.: they are being privatized. The implications for access to information are demonstrated (page 166, from the book “Blacked Out“):
“Take, for example, the question of access to information held by the operator of a privately run prison – perhaps the Diamondback Correctional Facility in Watonga, OK, a CCA prison that in 2004 held over 1,000 prisoners under a contract with the Arizona Department of Corrections, and another 800 prisoners under a contract with the Hawaii Department of Public Safety, but had no contract with the State of Oklahoma itself.
In principle, several different groups could make a legitimate demand for information about the Diamondback facility. Advocates for the prisoners had a right to information held by CCA about internal conditions in the prison, as well as information about disciplinary procedures; these informational claims could be grounded in the basic rights to security and fair treatment, which persist even for prisoners. The citizens of Arizona and Hawaii also had a claim to this information, and to information about work and educational opportunities provided by CCA, so they could exercise their right to participate intelligently in political debate about the wisdom of their states’ correctional policies. The 5,000 residents of Watonga had a right to personal security that could be jeopardized by riots or escapes at the prison, and that entitled them to information about the potential risk, … Other residents of Oklahoma … so that they could make an informed judgment about the wisdom of a state policy that allowed the importation of prisoners from other jurisdictions.
In short, there were many groups … so they could ensure that an array of basic rights were adequately protected. Unfortunately, existing disclosure law did not follow this logic. The Diamondback prison was not affected at all by Oklahoma;s disclosure law, as it was not tied to the state corrections department by a contract. Although CCA had an agreement with the state of Arizona, Arizona’s state disclosure law does not recognize a right to information held by contractors. … Furthermore, a Hawaiian court would have to be persuaded that the requested documents were Hawaiian government recoreds; Oklahomans could not use Hawaiian law to obtain information about Arizonan prisoners in the Diamondback prison. …”
6. WHICH “CIVIL EMERGENCIES” ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?
The Harper Government has signed an agreement with the United States. Whether or not the terms will be disclosed is at the pleasure of, and requires the agreement of BOTH the Harper Government and the American.
The next email is about SPP (the “Security, Peace and Prosperity” agreement between the Harper Govt and the U.S.). Protests over it were held across Canada last week, in every province except Saskatchewan.
Maybe the Huge demonstrations at the WTO meeting in Seattle was a “civil emergency”. Under this new agreement, were a WTO incident to happen again, Canadian troops would be expected to be deployed to the U.S.?
Just WHICH “civil emergencies” do these administrations have in mind? Which demonstrations by citizens in Canada would warrant the calling in of the U.S. troops? To where would the arrested people be carried off?
Think a short while back to the incident around the SPP talks at Montebello: Canadian policemen, disguised as demonstrators (except that with their hooded faces they didn’t resemble any of the demonstrators) were planted among the peaceful protestors, to rile things up, thereby to turn peaceful demonstration into violent, in order to discredit the protestors. This is the Harper Canada.
It is a “civil emergency” to UN-sign this Troop Exchange Agreement with the U.S.