July 16, 2002



Some interesting judicial events, recently, related to the "war on terror":

In Pakistan, Ahmed Saeed Shaikh was sentenced to be hanged for the Daniel Pearl murder. Not that I'm going to lose any sleep over it, but it's important to remember that all sides agree Saeed was just the lure. Saeed expected Pearl would be kidnapped and held as a hostage... harder men around him (who remain unindicted, unconvicted and unnamed) kicked things up a notch by killing Pearl and taping the results. A patsy? Hardly. But don't confuse this result with complete justice.

Meanwhile, in the United States, John Walker (who has, once again, dropped the "Lindh", it seems) was sentenced to 20 years in a plea bargain for his time spent with the Taliban. The charges he pled to, and for which he received 10 years each, are... interesting... 10 years for "supplying help to the Taliban" (sure, whatever) and 10 years for "carrying explosives." The latter is apparently entirely on his confession that while a soldier fighting the Northern Alliance, Walker carried "two hand grenades." Having personally carried considerably more than that at times, I must say I'm glad the American legal system hasn't caught up to me yet... presumably if Walker had only carried one grenade, he'd be out five years earlier...

And in Toronto, people remain confused, as they did in L.A. recently, over the difference between a killing, a "hate killing," and an "act of terrorism." In the recent stabbing of a Orthodox Jewish citizen of this city, it's hard to imagine either of the latter terms applying. The killer, who apparently said, "look, a rabbi" before knifing the man in the back, while appearing notably drugged up all the while is, it's fair to say, not a member in good standing of the Aryan Resistance or the KKK (his black girlfriend may be indicative on this score.) Differentiating between "crimes" and "hate crimes" is always problematic... but regardless of how you stand on that issue, to call the random act of a homicidally-inclined crackhead on a spree a "hate crime" just because through the haze he targeted a Jew is not helpful. I suspect the guy was too hopped up to even know he was in the centre of Toronto's Jewish community at the time, frankly. According to Toronto police, there were 338 "hate crimes" in the city last year (at least a third of which were Sept. 11 related), the vast majority graffiti slurs or other non-violent incidents... adding this crime to that list neither improves that list's credibility nor does good service to the community. (Likewise the LAX shooting... a "hate crime" if ever there was one, but in the absence of forthcoming evidence to the contrary, hardly an "act of terrorism," else the term loses all meaning as one is forced to include the Unabomber, the teenager with the mailbox bombs and the Columbine kids as "terrorists," too, by extension. Being a lone crazy and a terrorist, it seems, should remain mutually exclusive.)

Posted by BruceR at 10:39 AM



The army's leaving Afghanistan, but lest we forget, the Canadian navy's still out there in the Arabian Sea, and recently distinguished themselves by capturing the first two waterborne Al Qaeda members. Score one for HMCS Algonquin. (Unlike the Soldier of Fortune sniper piece, btw, where you'll remember the Forces were blamed for ghoulish self-aggrandizement, this piece was obviously pushed out there by Canadian Forces PR, partly to counteract the army standing down in Kandahar, partly right-place right-time PR target of opportunity. And rightly so, I would add.)

Posted by BruceR at 09:10 AM



Also by sheer coincidence, I have a passing familiarity with Canada's new defence minister John McCallum, who I served as an escort officer during his first official ministerial visit, to Toronto. (I'd known McCallum as a scholar and academic before that by reputation as well, of course.) Graham Fraser argued in the Star on the weekend that he was the last best hope for the military. I wouldn't go that far... while the new Minister certainly struck me as an eager, dedicated, intelligent public servant who will act as the military's civilian overseer no doubt to the absolute best of his ability, there's one problem. He's TOO talented. Even that day I was escorting him, all the talk was about when (not if, WHEN) he would become Canada's finance minister... an estimably more important job. Given the current national leadership turmoils, and assuming he can keep himself from alienating the eventual Prime Ministerial successor at the end of it all, I suspect McCallum's not long with us soldiers. More's the pity.

Posted by BruceR at 09:06 AM