Sunday, November 23, 2008


More about that Palango book ... and our media

BC Mary received an e.mail message this morning which said: "Paul Palango thought you would like to see this page from the web site".

I had already seen Mulgrew's "review" in Vancouver Sun and felt like weeping; I sent a copy to Robin Mathews with the comment: "How to ride two horses traveling in opposite directions. It's easy, on paper."
So I was thankful to see Paul's message.

I mean, who needs enemies when we have people well-paid to tell us that black is white, down is up, and" just keep movin' along, folks, ain't nuthin' wrong here, nuthin' at all ..."

Paul Palango's rebuttal is posted in full below, as I wouldn't be surprised if his views might "disappear" from the Internet. - BC Mary.


Message from Sender:

After the Vancouver Sun ran a review of my book, Charlie Smith of the Georgia Straight was so outraged by what he read that he contacted me and offered space for my side of the story. Smith called the review by Ian Mulgrew a drive-by shooting. Smith also said it was the first time he had felt compelled to offer space for a rebuttal. Thank you,

- Paul Palango.

Straight Talk

Paul Palango responds to Ian Mulgrew’s review in the Vancouver Sun of Dispersing the Fog

> By Paul Palango, author of Dispersing the Fog: Inside the Secret World of Ottawa and the RCMP

Whenever one writes a book, criticism is expected. No matter how perfect an author might try to be, there will always be those who find something wrong.

A person who appoints himself or herself to the role of critic seems to feel that it is necessary to attack to be credible. I have been both praised and criticized in the past and I accept being slammed if I deserve it.

I used to work with Ian Mulgrew at the Globe and Mail. I thought he was a good reporter. I don’t believe we had any substantive differences between us.

In his review Mulgrew frames some of the key points in the book, but says nothing substantive about them. He says I am a good reporter, but then demeans much of what I have to say by intimating that I am the kind of person who believes George Bush somehow orchestrated the 9/11 attacks.

To make such a suggestion is not only vile but malicious. No idea in the book even comes close to something so ludicrous, so a reasonable person must ask himself or herself, why would a respected, mainstream journalist stoop so low to attack what many have described as a courageous and thoughtful piece of nonfiction.

In Dispersing the Fog I deal with a wide range of stories over the past 30 years and more which have served to confuse and confound Canadians. A common thread in each was the curious and often feeble work of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The overarching theme of the book is the concentration of unchecked power at the top in Canada. I am not the only one who has said this. Professor Donald Savoie wrote an excellent book on the subject in 2007: Court government and the decline of accountability in Canada and Great Britain. Jeffery Simpson of the Globe and Mail wrote a book in 2001: The Friendly Dictatorship.

Many others have commented on the evident dysfunction of Canada’s public institutions. A second and even more controversial theme in the book is the explicit and implicit depiction of how the “mainstream” media has lost its way and is failing to serve the public interest.

My original mandate in spring 2007 was to look at the RCMP and attempt to explain why things have gone so wrong for the force. In all three of my books on the RCMP, I have focused on the unholy relationship between government and the police in Canada.

Since 1984, the commissioner of the RCMP has been a deputy minister in the federal government, appointed by and serving at the pleasure of the prime minister. This is not the kind of relationship one would expect in a democracy, but it is what you find in some of your better banana republics.

Most, but not all, of the problems facing the RCMP can be traced to that relationship.

However, when I began to look at the Maher Arar case, my head was turned. There are good people serving in the RCMP, even if the force is dysfunctional. It became obvious to me that something else was going on, something I could not easily explain, so I did what any good journalist should do, I asked the basic questions: who, what, where, when, why and how.

The more I dug, the clearer the pattern was to me. In his review Mulgrew took aim at my thesis on Arar–that based on the evidence and the abundance of circumstances, it can be inferred that there was more to the Arar story than we were ever told by the government. Mulgrew makes light of the inference that Arar was likely a covert agent–likely for FBI counter-intelligence.

I didn’t make this up. It’s based on sound logic and facts.

Mulgrew ignored a key clue–a supposed typo in the O’Connor Commission report which, once unravelled, propelled me into his past where I found a link to a convicted arms dealer. Both the timing of that case and the events which happened afterward taken in their entirety could only lead one to the conclusion that Arar was much more than he seemed–a hero, perhaps, but not a victim hero.

The RCMP were clearly sacrificed by the government both in the name of national security and to appease U.S. intelligence agencies and the U.S. government in the days immediately after 9/11. Afterward, the O’Connor Commission became an elaborate charade to perpetuate the original sham.

Sound unbelievable?

My book was published at about the same time as one by former prime minister Paul Martin. In his book he devotes two pages to Arar. In it he says something important about what happened.

On Page 404 and 405, Martin writes:

"At the time, I suppose that I was like most other Canadians, including many officials, both elected and unelected: I had no idea whether Arar was guilty of something, or whether he was innocent, as he claimed. After I became Prime Minister, however, I quickly discovered that I still could not get a clear answer or explanation to my questions from either the RCMP or CSIS. No one would tell me precisely what had happened with Arar, or why. 'If you have evidence that the man was engaged in dangerous activities, then show me,' I said. Instead I got contradictory information about the role of our security services had played in Arar’s arrest and detention. It was muddy, very muddy…

“I wanted to put the system on notice that no one could play fast and loose with the lives of Canadians. This whole series of events only reinforced my views that in times of crisis you must fight the enemy; but you must also be vigilant to ensure that individual rights continue to be protected, or the enemy wins.

“In late January, I concluded that a public inquiry was the only way to uncover the facts on these events and reassure Canadians….

“There was real confusion around what role, if any, the RCMP, CSIS or others may have played in the U.S. decision to remove Mr. Arar to Syria.”

It seems clear to me that Mr. Martin’s instincts were right. Even the prime minister admits he could not get a straight answer about Arar. However, once he called the Commission, I believe it is reasonable to assume that he was informed about the true story.

In Dispersing the Fog, I clearly show all the steps that were taken to cover the trail, particularly the work of the curious so-called “expert” panel which concluded that Arar had been tortured.

The typo I uncovered–the name of a company for which Arar had supposedly worked–also served to mask what was really going on. I leave it to readers to come to their own conclusions.

In his review, Ian Mulgrew tries to paint a portrait of me as a wing-nut conspiracy theorist because I dared to describe a shadowy European group known as Le Cercle. I broached the Le Cercle part of the story with trepidation because I feared that “mainstream” journalists would immediately jump on this as an example of me being a loony.

In fact, an Ottawa Citizen editor said as much: “This story is too hot for the mainstream media,” as if I were writing about the aliens living among us.

In fact, it would have been remiss of me not to right about Le Cercle in the context of the Airbus scandal and the overthrow of Joe Clark by Brian Mulroney, who was clearly financed by foreign money. The movers and shakers in Le Cercle, like Franz Josef Strauss, had links to Mulroney through Karlheinz Schreiber.

As it turns out, Mulgrew ignored the evidence in my book. David Rockefeller–the David Rockefeller–described Le Cercle in his own memoirs as being a dangerous group. According to a respected former British defence minister who had been part of the group at one time, Le Cercle was financed by the CIA.

The point of all this is that Canada’s institutions have been weakened to the point whereby the country has been rendered defenceless against the manipulations of outside governments and foreign intelligence agencies.

Again, I am not the only one who has said this, but I have tried to put it into a modern context–the McDonald Commission, Airbus, Project Sidewinder–so that Canadians can better appreciate how our governments have failed us.

Finally, the book shows Canadians just how dysfunctional today’s RCMP really is. In the final chapter, I report on a November, 2007 study done for the force which reinforced earlier findings that the RCMP has a “sick culture”, is “dysfunctional”, and “not ready for change”. The researchers said it would take at least 10 years, if not more to repair the force, if ever.

That being the case, it would seem, any provincial or municipal government rehiring the RCMP in 2012 for another 20 years of contract work would be acting in an absolutely irresponsible fashion. Alternatives must be explored.

I have received much praise for the book by those who have read it. The only people who seem to have a problem with it are “mainstream” journalists.

The Globe and Mail, for example, made Maher Arar their choice for Canadian of the Year in 2006. When I worked at the Globe and a book came out like Dispersing the Fog, I would immediately have assigned reporters to track down the contentious issues and either confirm them or refute them. I invite reporters to shoot my story down with their own research.

I am proud of Dispersing the Fog. It is a serious work of journalism and, in many ways, unprecedented in Canada. At the very least I would have expected the Vancouver Sun to do a proper, considered review and not resort to mere heckling buttressed by venom and false and destructive imagery. I thought Ian Mulgrew was better than that.

The Sun’s approach, sadly, is exactly what I’m talking about in Dispersing the Fog–the failure of the media to serve as a check and balance against the unwarranted and dangerous concentration of power in this country.


Ian Mulgrew's review, "Lost in the fog", is in Vancouver Sun for Nov. 23, 2008.


I can't help thinking that Paul Palango's book must have come very close to some uncomfortable truths ...

truths which Somebody doesn't want the public to know about ...

Gary E ... sorry, I lost your comment before it got properly posted ... computer's having jittery fits ... would you re-send, please?

Meantime, have you ever come across the word PRESSTITUTE??

I think this is what you were talking about in your recent comment. We're in for a challenging 3 weeks. I just hope that more citizens decide to attend the Basi-Virk hearings ... esp. if they let us know what they see, hear, and question.

You met Robin Mathews at one of those hearings ... recently he asked me "how is that bright young fellow getting along?" I told him you're doing great.

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