Dallas We condemn China’s regular crackdowns of dissidents and many countries offer them safe harbor. We cheer the courageous members of Pussy Riot in Russia or Femen in the Ukraine who have stood up to governments for the freedom of speech and the rights of women. We are outraged at the military coups that subvert democratic elections in Egypt and Thailand to restore “order,” and are repulsed at the death sentences meted out to opponents. There is little pretense that these governments are democratic in anything but name only, if that.
We are also rightly horrified when we read, or watch, police violently busting up demonstrations in Istanbul in disagreement with the government there or in Brazil on the eve of the World Cup. These are our more progressive allies on the world stage on various matters. Freedom of association, the right to participate in the public forum as everyone’s equal space, and the right to speak even if ignored, are all fundamental principles of most political formations purporting to be free and democratic. Right? No, wrong! Those are just old school, July 4th kind of sentiments repeated routinely, but having little meaning it seems even in the most ostensibly “democratic” countries. Security, not freedom, is the overarching trump card from governments of all stripes and sizes these days.
In the United States thanks to all of the information leaked by Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency subcontractor, we now know that in the name of security the USA monitors everyone everywhere, and it takes almost a religious act of faith to not believe that Americans are not also monitored domestically, which few are capable of summoning. Inarguably, we have lost even a smidgen of moral authority here.
Canada, our sometimes more transparent neighbor, has now stepped up and freely acknowledged through its Government Operations Centre that it monitors all demonstrations in Canada all the time. In an email leaked to the Ottawa Citizen a bulletin was sent by the GOC to all federal agencies making their intentions and instructions crystal clear saying:
The Government Operations Centre is seeking your assistance in compiling a comprehensive listing of all known demonstrations which will occur either in your geographical area or that may touch on your mandate. We will compile this information and make this information available to our partners unless of course, this information is not to be shared and not available on open sources. In the case of the latter, this information will only be used by the GOC for our Situational Awareness.
Of course ACORN Canada leaders and organizers were madly sharing this information because no doubt every one of their actions was caught in this net. There was no happiness.
It seems the GOC had gotten a taste for this kind of activity by monitoring Aboriginal protests against fracking and other environmental developments.
…the Government Operations Centre was involved in coordinating a response to Aboriginal demonstrations against fracking. The GOC distributed a map of the area where the RCMP had conducted raids on protesters who had seized an oil company’s vehicles. It also produced a spreadsheet detailing 32 planned events in support of anti-fracking. Those included a healing dance in Kenora, Ont., a prayer ceremony in Edmonton and an Idle No More “taco fundraiser, raffle and jam session” planned at the Native Friendship Centre in Barrie, Ont., according to documents obtained through the Access to Information Act by APTN National News.
Talk about leaving no stone unturned, eh?
And who is this Government Operations Centre anyway? Well, once again according to the Ottawa Citizen:
The GOC was created in 2004 by Public Safety Canada. It is connected with the operations centres of 20 federal departments and agencies, as well as with those of the provinces and territories, and other countries, including the United States.
And, I’m not paranoid, but I can read and still connect the dots, when they mention the United States, that means the NSA again, and when they mention other countries certainly that means the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and likely Australia and others where we have all have buddy-buddy info-sharing arrangements. If there’s anyone who believes that this is just good, ol’ friendly Canada sharing for the sake of sharing and that the other countries, where they are connected, aren’t giving as good as they’re getting, then I want to talk to you about buying a bridge from me that crosses over the Mississippi River or somewhere closer to your home.
So much for freedom of association. Just sent your leaflets to the local police and save yourself the trouble of wondering who is watching and do what you have to do to make change happen. And, as for all of those other countries, please do what we say, not what we do!