Our Justice System Vindicated
Congratulations to the RCMP, CSIS (and probably CSE as well) and the local police services for the exceptional job they did yesterday in apprehending 17 terror suspects and foiling a plot against several targets in southern Ontario. I absolutely concur with Robert at MyBlahg - this is an example of good old fashioned police work.
In short, this show that our criminal justice system works in catching and fighting terrorism. Some of the known facts, so far, that back this up:
- The investigation began in 2004, by CSIS, who began monitoring the group when they began with "concerns over views expressed" on internet sites, when reported to them by local teens.
- Most, but not all, of the suspects are young men and teenagers, described as marginalized youth. Many of the family members are understandably devastated and denying the charges.
- The 17 appear to have moved from making anti-Western threats to concrete plans and offline communications. They purchased 3-tonnes of ammonium nitrate for use in making bombs (as done by Timothy McViegh in Oklahoma City in 1995). It is now being reported that the purchase was part of an RCMP sting operation all along.
- All have been charged under the new sections of the Criminal Code dealing with terrorism and have appeared in court. They will have bail hearings on Tuesday, June 6, 2006.
- After the initial report by Toronto teenagers, CSIS and, more likely, CSE, obtained a warrant to monitor the group and began to do so.
- CSIS (with the help of CSE) monitored the group starting in 2004, occasionally giving updates to Toronto Mayor David Miller.
- At some point in 2005, the group moved from communication on the internet to communication in real life. At theat point, the RCMP and the local police forces, via the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team, or INSET, became involved. This may have also been the time the sting operation was begun.
- After having contact with two terror suspects from Georgia and taking posession of the ammonium nitrate, the group began making concrete plans - targeting specific sites, getting weapons and constructing bomb components. At this point the RCMP and the other law enforcement agencies shut down the cell and arrested participants.
- Above all, we don't know if any of these individuals are guilty of anything. Some are probably guilty, some may be innocent, simply caught in the sweep. Indeed, some may be RCMP undercover agents or informers, that provided information from the inside. Remember, innocent until proven guilty. We will know better during the trial.
- We don't know the roles of the various individuals. Was there a mastermind? Who was the originator? How many were in the know and how many were eager, but possibly ignorant, footsoldier and patsies? Again, we won't know until the trial, or until more information is forthcoming.
- What were the targets? The stories say "southern Ontario" and speculation has ranged from Parliament Hill, "chemical plants" (probably in Sarnia, where the Chemical Valley is), the CN Tower and other "well populated areas." We are assured that the TTC was not on the list.
- We do not know if there is any international connections to this, beyond the possiblility of two men from Atlanta, Georgia.
- We do not know the motivations or inspriations of those involved (those that may be guilty).
This is indeed a great day for Canada and our justice system.
Now, does any of this mean that Canadians are naiive and think that we are immune to this kind of thing? Of course not. No person that I know of, left or right, in the blogshere or real life has ever thought that we were immune to this kind of thing (less likely or probable, but certainly not immune). Perhaps the pundits think this because Canadians aren't cowering in fear at the prospect, and demanding a rush to Canadian version of the Patriot Act. Personally, I think that Canadians simply 'get it.' - the best way to defend our society and values from those that would destroy them is simply to live by them, not take them away and hide them. Those values include, due process, innocent until proven guilty and fairness in treatment, not guilt by association and fear-based surrender to draconian measures. I think to most Canadians, a terror attack, as horifying as it would be, would be handled as any of our other disasters would be. We are a country that has dealt with ice storms, forest fires, mine disasters, tornadoes, blackouts and water contamination to name a few. The test of our society is not how well we prevent such things, but how we respond when they happen (and terrorism will happen in Canada, as it has in the past).
Remember, the point of these particular Islamic extremists is to cause terror and fear and to sow discord. If the Prime Minister is to be believed, they wish to destroy our country because the hate our values. Why then, would we do the terrorist's work for them by curtailing our hard won freedoms, removing our legal protections and targeting a segment our our own society, dividing ourselves? If it is these values they truly hate, then it is these values we should flout and and maintain.
No amount of bombings will scare me into giving up my freedom for a little temporary security.
I am not afraid.