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CASIS International Conference, Day 1 Student Report (20 October 2021)
Editor: Andrea Charron, Royal Military College Presenters: Mr. Wesley Wark, CASIS President, Munk Centre, University of Toronto; Gérard Hervouet, CASIS vice-President, Laval University; Tony Campbell, CASIS Executive Director, Royal Roads University and University of Victoria.
Rapporteur: Andrea Charron, Royal Military College
Dr. Wark: It is fitting that on the twentieth anniversary of CASIS, we celebrate in Montréal; the city that hosted the very first CASIS conference. From the early days of trench coats taking notes on the participants, we now witness the reverse. The importance of public discourse on issues concerning international and national security cannot be overestimated.
Dr. Hervouet: The community must promote and continue to support discussions concerning the politics of security and the public policy of security. Students are encouraged to attend these conferences and teachers to promote these subjects in their lectures.
Dr. Campbell: It is a pleasure to welcome Mme Hébert to CASIS. CASIS endeavors to serve as a bridge between the silos in the security and intelligence community. An exemplar of such a bridge is Mme. Hébert.
Mot de bienvenue du Président
Conférenciers: M. Wesley Wark, Président ACERS, Centre Munk, Université de Toronto; Gérard Hervouet, vice-président ACERS, Université Laval; Tony Campbell, Directeur exécutif ACERS, Université Royal Roads et Université de Victoria.
Rapporteur: Andrea Charron, Collège militaire royal
Dr Wark: Il est bien à-propos qu'à l'occasion du vingtième anniversaire de ACERS, nous célébrions à Montréal; cette ville fut hôte de la première conférence de ACERS. Depuis les premiers jours alors que c'était les services secrets qui prenaient note des participants, on remarque maintenant le contraire. L'importance des discours publics sur des sujets traitant de sûreté internationale et nationale ne peut être surestimée.
Dr Hervouet: La communauté doit promouvoir et maintenir son appui aux discussions sur les politiques entourant la sûreté et la politique publique sur la sûreté. On encourage aux étudiants à assister à ces conférences et aux enseignants à promouvoir ces sujets au sein de leur enseignement.
Dr Campbell: C'est un plaisir d'accueillir Mme Hébert à ACERS. ACERS s'efforce d'agir en tant que catalyseur entre les silos des communautés de la sûreté et du renseignement. On retrouve une catalyseurs par excellence en la personne de Mme Hébert.
Keynote: Chantal Hébert, journaliste au Toronto Star et chroniqueur au journal montréalais Le Devoir. Elle participe aussi de façon hebdomadaire à la rubrique politique du The National à CBC.
Rapporteurs: Brendan Wright, Dalhousie University and Julie Breton, Université Laval
Mme Hébert a débuté sa présentation en précisant qu'elle n'est pas une spécialiste de la sécurité et du renseignement mais plutôt des arcanes politiques, de la scène fédérale en particulier.
En première partie, elle a élaboré sur les enjeux de la formulation de la politique à Ottawa. En effet, alors qu'auparavant la formulation politique s'élaborait selon les cycles économiques, aujourd'hui, elle s'élabore surtout selon le cycle électoral. Le gouvernement Martin, minoritaire, garde toujours à l'esprit la possibilité d'une élection. Il doit donc gouverner de façon à s'assurer une majorité confortable. Mme Hébert a offert en exemple, la distribution des surplus. La décision d'annoncer les surplus et comment ils seraient utilisés a été conditionnée de manière stratégique selon le temps imparti à la Chambre des communes aux partis d'opposition.
En deuxième partie, Mme Hébert a discuté des sources d'information des Canadiens anglais et des Canadiens français, principalement les Québécois en précisant que ceux-ci ne sont pas moins intéressés aux questions de sécurité. En effet, ils utilisent des sources francophones, principalement de France. Donc, ils n'utilisent peu ou pas les médias américains tels que CNN ou Fox pour s'informer et se forger une opinion. Finalement, Mme Hébert a évoqué l'antiaméricanisme au Canada et précisé que les Québécois sont moins antiaméricains que les autres Canadiens.
Canadian/U.S. relations were also touched upon. Ms. Herbert remarked that Mr. Martin's plan to thaw relations after the public disagreements between Chrétien's office and the White House, had not turned out as desired, and had actually worsened. She remarked that the difficulties in relations with the U.S. could be best tracked by the shifts in the stance that the Conservative party, usually the most pro-American, has taken. For example, Mr Harper has moved away from his hawkish position on the Iraq war, as well as questioning Canada's involvement in NAFTA. These shifts can partially be explained if one uses a prism of campaign politics as a lens; the majority of Canadians do not identify with Mr. Bush's vision or methods, and therefore Canadian leaders endeavour to distance themselves from him.
In Mme Hébert's view the Canadian government has not made national security a primary issue, largely because it is not one they want in the public spot light. Politically, crises can be very difficult to manage. Rather, the Liberals have chosen to emphasize the need for Canadians to be prepared for a disaster. Furthermore, by instilling a feeling of vulnerability, Canadians will be drawn to the stability of the Liberal party and not choose to seek out another party during an election. Finally, she added that as neither Paul Martin nor Stephen Harper have been "tested" with a national crisis, no one can know how they would fair.
Durant sa présentation, Mme Hébert a évoqué quelques possibilités suite à des élections fédérales mais aussi suite à des élections au Québec. Dans ce dernier cas, les difficultés de faire des prédictions sont très grandes bien que Mme Hébert soit elle-même québécoise. Sur le plan fédéral, le Québec dispose d'une influence majeure sur les possibilités de formation d'un gouvernement majoritaire ou minoritaire à cause de la popularité du Bloc québécois et de la faible présence du parti Conservateur au Québec.
La présentation de Mme Hébert a suscité deux questions. La première portait sur Radio Canada et les sources d'information des Canadiens (anglophones et francophones) faisant suite à la seconde partie de la présentation de Mme Hébert. The second question queried how likely is it that the Conservative party can make "headway" in Québec. Mme. Hébert does not see it as a likely possibility, unless the PQ returns to power in Quebec and the Conservatives elect a national leader from the province.
Panel 1: Terrorism: Understanding the Threat
Chair: Patricia Hassard, Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Emergency Management and National Security, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada
Panellists: Dr. Peter Bergen, Professor and Director of Research, School of Nottingham University, Dr. Karin von Hippel, Co-Director for Post-Conflict Reconstruction, and Dr. Stéphane Leman-Langlois, Université de Montréal
Rapporteur: Jane Alkhouri, Royal Roads University
Ms. Hassard began by suggesting that terrorism can be likened to a virus; capable of adapting and changing, hence the importance of this subject.
Dr. Stéphane Leman-Langlois
Today we order reality differently than we did in a Cold War era. Rather than focusing on peace, the new order tries to provide sense to the unpredictable so that at the level of society, organizations and individuals can manage the new reality. As a result, a political discourse has been adopted that has a created a mythology about terrorism. This mythology is not based on lies but rather based on variables associated with terrorism such as probability and consequences. We know little on the topic as conceptually it is vague, shapeless, difficult to describe, evaluate and predict. Terror cannot be measured scientifically although its consequences (such as human and material loss can) can be. Unfortunately that does not provide insight on the probability of future attacks. The media, in turn, uses hyperbole and this mythology to explain terrorism. Given that the media's source of information on this topic is often government media scrums and press releases and those media outlets have little to no time to independently analyze content, the information provided solely focuses on how the government can manage risk. The "new normal" (a term heard in Great Britain and Canada) is that the risk of terrorism attacks is high but manageable. This discourse, in turn, demands (but does not impose) a new way of thinking about reality and how governments' face this reality. Government requires of it citizens to rethink how they live their lives, commute, travel, take risks and asses situations.
Dr. Karin von Hippel focused on debunking the "root causes of terrorism" debate that emerged immediately following 9/11. Misunderstanding and/or failing to take the long-view of these root causes has created an "enabling environment" in which sympathizers to the cause of terrorists become converts. The challenge is to intercept and prevent this conversion and transform government rhetoric in the form of promises to implement necessary reforms, into action. The six causal or facilitating factors that require examination are as follows:
- Poverty: The plight of the less fortunate is used as a platform by terrorists from which to launch their causes. In countries, such as Pakistan, where the cost of public or private schooling is prohibitive, Madrasas are an economically viable alternative. However, the focus on violence and extremism in some of these Madrasas contributes to the enabling environment. We must remind ourselves, however, that the leaders of Al Qaeda were schooled in secular, often Western universities. Support for quality public education (not necessarily secular) is needed.
- Linkage of terrorism to "failed states": Terrorist gravitate to "failed states" because they can work and train with impunity because state security is highly fragmented. However, the Sudan and Afghanistan have authoritarian governments with quite firm control. The factor is thus permissibility. Failed states are a problem because they can harbor terrorists or serve as trans-shipment points.
- Conflicts highjacked by extremists: Terrorists network and learn from each other. The growing attraction of foreign recruits to conflicts facilitates new training, techniques, as well as revealing new targets and recruits.
- Terror financing: Through a variety of sources terror can be financed: charitable organizations and individual contribution. Western aid agencies need to consider how they are offering aid and consider more discreet methods. As well, lack of western aid o vulnerable states can make them more susceptible to terrorist charities.
- Immigrants and the Diaspora: Recruitment takes many forms. Some immigrants and asylum seekers coming to the "West" will feel discriminated against or marginalized in their new countries. They tend to congregate in a familiar environment, the Mosque, where extremists seeking new members then recruit them. Others are radicalized at home since childhood and later move to the "West" and bring their mentality and views along with them. In addition, recently there has been evidence of recruitment taking place in prisons.
- Authoritarian states: Most individuals arrested in connection to terror activities are from authoritarian states that believe their governments have been corrupted by Western views.
What is needed is to change the rhetoric of governments to concrete actions to prevent these root causes from contributing to an enabling environment.
Dr. Peter Bergen; Poverty is a bourgeois endeavor; the poor are too busy to contribute to terrorist activities and so the notion that poverty is a root cause of terrorism is a misnomer.
There have been positive and negative gains made on the fight of terrorism. To see some of the positive changes, one must focus attention on Afghanistan and their recent elections. This is an example of a positive change that has undermined Al-Qaeda. The loss of personalized learning and training facilities has forced its training to be scaled down. At the same time, several Muslim clerics have condemned attacks and called for all Muslims around the world to do the same. In addition, the Israeli disengagement from the Gaza strip is important, positive gain. Now, a look at the negative gains:
In Dr. Bergen's opinion, the future of Al-Qaeda will be decided in Europe. Second, the "blow-back" from the war in Iraq will be significant. We must take care to manage this as angry, young, unemployed, battle-hardened youth return to their home countries after fighting in Iraq and turn their attention to their own governments and other conflicts. The most likely terrorist scenario for North America and Europe is a radiological weapon (or Weapons of mass disruption) that would disable the economic infrastructure of these states with potentially crippling effect.
Question to Dr. Bergen: Can radical Islam be influenced by Western efforts or does it have to go through its own "reformation"? Dr. Bergen offered that the reformation was long and bloody. Dr. von Hippel added that concerted action is what is judged - for example, aid to the victims of the December 2004 tsunami. However, aid is not as important as the promotion of good governance. Dr. Bergen added that it would be a strategic move to remind terrorists of one of the tenets of Islam forbidding the killing of innocent civilians thus undermining Bin Laden's call to action.
Question to all panel members: is the Taliban reasserting control in Afghanistan? Why is Bin Laden still at large? Is the definition of terrorism too superficial? There is evidence of importation of Iraqi method of suicide bombing campaigns in Afghanistan now. The fact that Bin Laden is still at large is important because he is still planning many of the attacks.
Question: Why are nationalist agendas highjacked by Islamic causes? Dr. von Hippel suggested that secular causes tend not to engender as much commitment which nationalist causes need.
Question: How effective is Canada's policy in cracking down terrorist charity organizations? What will be the impact of the earthquake in Pakistan? Dr. Bergen suggests terrorism is a cheap form of warfare so going after funding sources is not terribly important. The focus on charities needs to be revisited. For example, funding to Saudi-sources of terrorism tend to come from direct personal donations, not via a charity. Furthermore, Dr. von Hippel added that Canada may be shutting down remittance houses that are beneficial to many. There are grounds for optimism vis-à-vis the earthquake in Kashmir - India and Pakistan are talking to each other.
Question: Is the target audience of terrorism the Middle East or Western states? Dr. Bergen suggests we do not know what Bin Laden wants, only what he does not want. He doubts that the majority of Muslims want to see the return of the Taliban nor do they want to see innocent civilians killed.
Panel 1 : Terrorisme : Comprendre la Menace
Présidente: Patricia Hassard, sous-ministre adjointe, Sécurité publique et protection civile Canada
Conférenciers: Dr. Peter Bergen, New American Foundation; Dr. Karin von Hippel, Center for Strategic and International Studies; et Dr. Stéphane Leman-Langlois, Université de Montréal.
Rapporteur: Ross O'Connor, Université de Laval
Sous la présidence de la sous-ministre adjointe Madame Patricia Hassard, le panel nous a présenté de nouvelles perspectives sur un sujet qui est toujours de l'heure.
Dr. Stéphane Leman-Langlois de l'Université de Montréal commença la séance en traitant du sujet de l'ordre de la vie, de nos perceptions et comment ces perceptions viennent changer les résultats Si nous pouvions résumer l'essentiel de son discours avec un seul mot, le mot serait mythologie. Dr. Langlois parle ici de la mythologie du terrorisme et surtout ce que le mot veut dire et évoque pour la majorité des gens et comment ceci forme et conditionne la politique canadienne. Selon Lemane Langlois, nous en savons très peu sur le terrorisme et pour arriver à expliquer le phénomène peu compris, nous devons inventer une sorte de mythologie pour l'expliquer pour nous donne l'apparence de pouvoir le contenir et vivre avec celui-ci.
Selon l'auteur, cette mythologie sert à donner un sentiment de sécurité dans l'imagination de la population canadienne. Les événements antérieurs ne sont pas de bons indicateurs de l'avenir. La nouvelle compréhension du risque du terrorisme au Canada découle des conséquences de ces gestes terroristes. Ceci à son tour alimente une exagération au sein de la population canadienne. En toute vérité, le terrorisme au Canada tue beaucoup moins de gens que les accidents routiers mais il reste que la menace ou du moins la perception de la menace reste importante. Les medias viennent a leur tour répéter la même exagération de la menace ce qui amplifie la crainte encore plus.
En conclusion l'auteur évoque l'idée de la nouvelle normalité ou la façon que nous devons réfléchir à la nouvelle réalité. La nouvelle réalité est la suivante : il existe un risque mais ce risque est constamment atténué par le gouvernement qui se dit être capable d'y faire face pour paraître important et nécessaire a la population.
Dr. Karin Von Hippel suivit avec les sources du terrorisme. Elle énonça qu'après le onze septembre les américains ont compris à quel point ils étaient méprisés par le monde arabe. Al Qaida est aujourd'hui perçu comme un mouvement légitime par 66% des jordaniens et 41% des égyptiens. Ceci est la preuve qu'il reste beaucoup de gens à convaincre mieux isoler le terrorisme. Elle présente six mythes, pauvreté, états en défaillance, volontaires étrangers, financement, migration économique et diaspora. Elle commente que ces mythes ne sont pas toujours en vérité de vraies sources de terrorisme et que l'OCDE tout en même devrait en tenir compte un peu plus.
Dr. Peter Bergen débuta son allocution en disant que les pays qui accueillent l'immigration comme le Canada et les États-Unis ne sont pas très propices aux cellules terroristes car ces pays veulent intégrer les immigrants dans leur société. Il existe quand même un danger qu'un individu se radicalise en Europe et vienne ensuite s'installer en Amérique. Il existe plusieurs points encourageants selon l'auteur tels les élections récentes en Afghanistan qui ne furent pas troublées par les Talibans, preuve que ces derniers sont moins actifs. al Jazeera lance le débat en Arabie et avance des idées qui ne se disaient même pas il y a quelques années. Le Président Musharraf qui s'entend bien avec Ariel Sharon est aussi un développement très important selon l'auteur. Le Kashmiri devient de moins en moins un lieu d'entraînement pour les terroristes. Les dangers ne sont pas en Amériques mais bien en Europe. Toutes les cellules les plus puissantes d'Al Qaida se trouvent en Europe et une ville comme Milan devient une cible très probable du terrorisme..
En conclusion Bergen affirme que le terrorisme et le terrorisme style Al Qaida deviendra de plus en plus populaire pour les insurgés de la planète étant donné le succès récent de Bin Laden et surtout le moindre coût de celui-ci.
Panel 2: Once More Into the Breach: Lessons and Challenges of Intelligence Reform
Chair: James Judd, Director, Canadian Security Intelligence Service
Panellists: Alex Danchev, Professor and Director of Research, School of Politics, Nottingham University; J. Kenneth McDonald, Former Chief Historian, Central Intelligence Agency; Eleanor Hill, former Staff Director, Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11; Linda Goldthorp, Defence Intelligence, National Defence Canada.
Rapporteur: Michael Vladars, NPSIA, Carleton University and Peter Etienne Bjel, University of Toronto
Mr. Judd opened this panel by outlining four government responses to the need for reform of intelligence organizations in Canada. First, he stressed that the adoption of common themes had enabled the Canadian government to devote more resources to security and intelligence, and second, that governments have reviewed and significantly altered their legislative frameworks regarding terrorism. Third, there has been an increased military response, as witnessed in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Finally, there have been a series of inquiries into the actions of national intelligence agencies, concerning what they do and do not know. All told, these responses have been instrumental in the reforms of intelligence organisations.
Dr. Alex Danchev outlined a series of shocks to the body politique that have led to the reformation of intelligence in Great Britain. These include: the events of 11 September 2021 (9/11) - albeit, vicariously felt by Britain; the justification of the Iraq war; the suicide of Dr. David Kelly, a British weapons expert; the resulting Hutton Inquiry which included evidence from the Prime Minister, the Butler Inquiry (which, inter alia, investigated the accuracy of intelligence on Iraqi WMD up to March 2003); and finally the home-grown terrorist attack on London July 7, 2021 and the repeat attack a week later. The failure of human intelligence (HUMINT) was highlighted in the Butler Inquiry, as many intelligence reports coming from MI-6 were found to be highly inferential, with a reliance on past (over) estimates to gauge the potential threat. Ultimately, the government accepted the recommendations of the Butler Inquiry, addressing the weaknesses of analysis and assessment by "beefing up" the analysis department. The new head of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), Sir Richard Mottram, on his final government assignment (and thus thought to be outside of political influence) appears to endorse the Butler Inquiry in its entirety. The new emphasis on 'jointness' within the intelligence community has been accompanied by the creation of external monitors, greater access to counsellors for intelligence organisation dissidents, and the relatively recent public emergence of both MI-5 and MI-6. Overall, Danchev has indicated that the largely reactive and palliative reforms in Britain have been the forced result of circumstance, error and mistake, and that a "congenital Blairism" of "initiativeness" has taken hold; while parts of the whole are being fixed, the whole remains "broken". In conclusion, Dr. Danchev believes British intelligence "has been shaken, but not stirred."
Dr. J. Kenneth (Ken) McDonald outlined a historiography of attempted reforms in the United States' intelligence community. Of the many attempts he identified, only four have had significant impact. McDonald attributes this low success to the fact that the US has tended to default to a loose confederation of organizations with no overall, authoritative coordination. After reviewing the early stages and the growth of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) (established by the National Security Act of 1947 by President Truman), Dr. McDonald outlined various criticisms of the CIA beginning with Allen Dulles' assessment in 1949, that the CIA was not coordinating intelligence, but instead, was just one more agency competing in the established arena of organizations. The failure of the CIA to predict the Korean War was the impetus the Director of Central Intelligence, Walter Beddell Smith, needed to (attempt) to implement the recommendations of the Dulles' report. The next significant reform occurred in 1971, when James Schlesinger observed that, despite the fact that the cost of intelligence had risen considerably, the community had failed to produce a better intelligence product. He thus initiated the first calls for a new Director of National Intelligence (DNI). Unfortunately, the Watergate scandal derailed Schlesinger's reforms. The Church Committee of 1975-6 concluded that new safeguards were needed against the clandestine and covert actions of the CIA after revelations that illicit activities against against American citizens had occurred. Congress was now actively engaged in assessing the CIA's activities, and, as a result, the House and Senate Intelligence Oversight Committees were created. The events of 9/11 further committed the community to further reforms, including the creation of a new office with more authority - the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). Dr. McDonald noted two, historical trends: that war had prompted great change in the intelligence community; and that power tended to gravitate to the Director of Intelligence or the Secretary of Defence or both. Now that there is a new DNI, power may trifurcate - only time will tell.
Ms. Eleanor Hill outlined some of the findings of the bicameral Congressional Report entitled the Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities before and after the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2021. This joint investigation, completed prior to the 9/11 Commission, focused strictly on the intelligence failures leading to 9/11 as opposed to the political and other issues within the purview of the Commission's enquiries. The conclusion of the joint inquiry was that owing to the lack of public constituency calling for reform, any structural changes to the intelligence community would prove difficult. The lack of public involvement is owed, in large part, to the secret nature of intelligence. Ms. Hill noted, however, that shocks such as the terrorist activities of 9/11 can focus attention on the need to reform but even then, structural reforms have been slow to arrive. For example, despite the creation of the new DNI, the Department of Defence retains some control of DNI's budgetary process as a means of controlling military intelligence activities. Ms. Hill acknowledges that the competing requirements for secrecy and oversight create considerable challenges for the intelligence community. In conclusion, Ms. Hill called for proactive reform in four areas: 1) the need for more information access and sharing; 2)need for focus especially vis-à-vis the balance between domestic security often thought compromised in favour of foreign intelligence gathering; 3) improved quality in analysis, sources and collection; and 4) improved client service. Regardless of the challenges, reform is needed.
Linda Goldthorp outlined the practitioner's perspective on intelligence reform based on her experiences working with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). While it is clear that NATO allied intelligence sharing needs improvement, she takes solace from the fact that Canada is one of the better examples of a country that recognizes the need for reform in their intelligence community. However, she added, there are still eight challenges that Canada (and other allied nations) must address. First is the need for improved production management processes especially the need for a move away from static, Cold-War-like approaches. Second, the focus of many nations on unwieldy doctrinal processes, which Ms. Goldthorp believes consumes and wastes more time at NATO meetings than any other issue, needs to be replaced by a greater appreciation for client needs and the requisite conversion to a more service-oriented industry. Third, more funding and resources must be dedicated to analysis. Currently, too much of both are focused on collection. Fourth, better all-source intelligence analysis is needed. Though there is a cultural resistance to this idea, (as she identified in NATO, where great structural rigidity exists, and there is reluctance on the part of analysts to consult anything but secret sources), all-source intelligence analysis must become part of the lexicon of 21st century intelligence. Fifth, departmentalizing intelligence into stove-piped categories such as economic or military intelligence hinders effective analysis. Sixth, reliance on technical solutions can leave the intelligence community vulnerable, inflexible and prohibit interoperability. Rather collaboration would result in a greater intelligence "edge". Seventh, the community needs to value expertise rather than rely on generalists. More on-the-job training and career progression opportunities for analysts are musts. Finally, the intelligence community needs to be smarter about profiting from diversity; sharing is the ultimate key to these challenges.
Question to Dr. Danchev: What he would like to see, by way of changes? Mr. Danchev answered that more far-reaching reforms are needed than those implemented to date; changes to "organizational diagrams" are not sufficient. The crucial relationship between intelligence organizations, municipal police forces, and the military has yet to be addressed.
Question to Ms. Hill: Does the creation of a US, domestic intelligence agency contradict the FBI's focus on counter espionage? Ms. Hill responded that the FBI has been given the opportunity to tackle this contradiction. If there is no solution, then a "domestic spy agency" might be considered. However, the US public would have difficulty accepting this option. The FBI has a large lobbying body and the new Director, Robert S. Mueller, is confident the necessary changes can be made.
Question to Ms. Hill Are there any inherent tensions in getting information via cross-organizational grounds? She answered that during times of war, such tensions do remain, and that the challenges still remain to try and get the best of all the organizations have to offer, in light of the divisions.
Question to Ms. Hill and Dr. McDonald Is there a need for a different kind of oversight in/by Congress? Ms. Hill responded that the problem with Congressional oversight is two-fold. First, oversight demands political will which is not always forthcoming. Second, because of the secretive nature of intelligence and the special skills needed for oversight, most oversight committees lack the requisite expertise and resources - there are a few exceptions. Ms. Hill suggests the need for a subcommittee that is dedicated strictly to oversight and investigation. Dr. McDonald added that reform and oversight are difficult mandates to marry and that if the committee is not in charge of the budget then it is very difficult to affect proper oversight. For example, the Iran-Contra affair began as a question to a Senate oversight committee that was incapable of handling the investigation and so a special committee was created.
CASIS Distinguished Lecture
Presenter: Mr. Seymour Hersh, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author
Rapporteur: J. Daniel McBryde, Carleton University
Mr. Hersh's presentation revolved around the idea that George W. Bush's real motive for launching the Iraq war was not WMDs nor links between Al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, but rather, a utopian, idealistic notion of spreading democracy in the Middle East. Fuelling this crusading spirit and need to go to Baghdad is Mr. Bush's "cult"; a small group of neocons who have seized power in the US.
Mr. Hersh claims the war is a failure and represents a breakdown in the American democratic system: checks and balances such as Congress, the military and the bureaucracy were neither sufficient nor capable of reining in the neocons. Furthermore, racism, which Mr. Hersh argued is an integral part of American culture, especially in the military, has coloured this war. He believes Iran and Syria might well be targeted for invasion next.
Mr. Hersh claims the US has had a policy of regime change in Iraq since the 1990's. Before 2003, there was a broad consensus among Americans involved in arms control that Saddam Hussein did not have nuclear weapons. However, the US administration ignored this consensus and fostered support for the real objective in Iraq; regime change.
After the rapid victory of coalition forces in the Spring of 2003, so-called "dead-enders" described by Donald Rumsfeld turned out to be better organized than expected. The UN and other NGOs were "blown out of Iraq." In addition, water and oil facilities were hit in a way that suggested considerable knowledge and expertise on the part of insurgents. Complicating matters, according to Mr. Hersh, is Iranian activity in the "Green Zone."
In response to the growing insurgency in Iraq, the Bush administration allowed unsavoury interrogation methods to be used in prisons such as Abu Ghraib, where prisoners were subjected to sexual humiliation, the worst form of degradation in Muslim culture, at the hands of interrogators who were poorly trained and unsophisticated. According to Mr. Hersh, the investigation into this scandal began in January 2004 but, the story only broke in May 2004 - a glaring example of media inaction.
Mr. Hersh painted a rather grim portrait of the future of Iraq. In the south of the country, the Shias and Iranian forces are likely to dominate. In the north, the Kurds are likely to push for greater autonomy, which is problematic since Turkey will not allow the formation of Kurdistan. Mr. Hersh argues the war is still being fought and not being won, and he believes there will be a battle for Baghdad after Saddam Hussein's death by hanging. The war is likely to go on for many years, as the Bush administration refuses to entertain the removal of American forces in the near or far future.
Meanwhile, the US bombing campaign continues in earnest, and unfortunately, the public is getting little information or statistics on this deadly campaign. Images of destruction are broadcast on Arab television networks everyday adding to growing resentment of the US in the Arab world. Mr. Hersh concluded his presentation by saying that there is nothing more dangerous than a utopian President, and the only good news is that by tomorrow morning, we will be one day closer to the end of the Bush presidency.
Rapporteur: Ashraf Hassanein, Royal Roads University
Seymour Hersh, considered to be one the world's leading investigative journalists, began his keynote address with commentary on how Hurricane Katrina had succeeded in demonstrating to the world the mass incompetence of the US administration. However, for the first time in a very long time, the world bore witness to a vibrant press; even one that was willing to criticize President Bush and his administration. Such criticism has been largely missing with respect to the war on Iraq. According to Mr. Hersh, this war has been led by a utopian President who appears to believe that he is on a mission to do God's work; it does not matter what the short-term results are since history will prove him right.
Following three years of war, the question of what drove Bush to Iraq only a few months after attacking Afghanistan, and without the United Nation's approval, remains a mystery. Many in the administration were aware that there were no weapons of mass destruction based on reports by Scott Ritter of UNSCOM as well as IAEA reports. It was known that there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and the extremist Osama Bin Laden. Regardless, President Bush will maintain forces in the Middle East as confirmed by Dr. Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State who stated that war was still an "option" in Iran and Syria.
The decision to invade Iraq, according to Mr. Hersh, was made by a small group of neo-conservative supporters of Bush, including Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle. The ability of a small, "cultish" group to take such action, without the support of the people of the world, as well as with minimal questioning from the media, greatly threatens the power of democracy in the US. The so-called victory announced by the US government against the Bathist army (which literally "disappeared", meaning hid, within days of attack) is a fabrication. In fact, there have been several tragedies since the declared victory. These include the rising numbers of casualties on both sides, as well as the increased dehumanization by young US soldiers against Iraqi detainees, which led to the unfortunate events at Abu Ghraib prison.
Mr. Hersh predicts that, in the end, the Shias will dominate the south of Iraq with support from Iran. The Kurds will control the north, which contains most of the oil. The unstable central area of Iraq may witness large-scale atrocities against the Sunni population. Mr. Hersh further suggested that once the Iraqi people have a government and constitution in place, the US ground troops will be pulled out and replaced with air surveillance and air bombings. As there are no detailed reports or records concerning the number of air raid sorties to date (or for the Gulf War of 1991 for that matter), the US will continue to dominate the air with impunity and little scrutiny.
The subsequent discussion period covered many topics. When asked about why the war had not been predicted, Mr. Hersh responded by restating how difficult it is for those outside the small group of neo-conservatives to receive any reliable information. The case of Israel was discussed, with final predictions of a possible attack against Iran by Israeli force. Finally, when asked about the reasons for President Bush's re-election, Mr. Hersh put the blame on John Kerry's failure to provide the American population with a viable alternative to the present situation.
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