Tag Archives: War crimes

Fallacy Friday: Security agencies utterly lacking in credibility on security issues

Image description: One of those obnoxious "Keep calm and carry on"-style posters, reading "Keep calm and trust me - I'm an expert".

Image description: One of those obnoxious “Keep calm and carry on”-style posters, reading “Keep calm and trust me – I’m an expert”. (Image credit: Author)

The Ministers of Defence and Public Safety tout the “prominent” and “robust” roles that the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) will play in Canada’s retooled military operations in Iraq, but aren’t at liberty to reveal exactly what the two agencies will be doing.

Two former high-ranking national security officials pen an editorial urging the Trudeau government to retain and expand upon new powers granted to intelligence agencies by the controversial C-51, arguing that (unspecified) threats to Canada have “seldom been so high”.

In the wake of a pair of high-profile scandals at CSE and CSIS, officials reassure a worried public that the difficulties were the cause of “inadvertent” errors or the behaviour of a “rogue” lone (now-ex-)employee, and that when it comes to privacy concerns, people don’t really have anything to worry about.

How are we to assess these stories and others like them? The occasional dispatches we mere mortals receive from the lofty milieu of those with above-top-secret clearances are always glaringly incomplete, with key details replaced by an index finger coyly placed upon a smilingly tight lip. It’s often implied that if we just knew all the details, then of course we’d see things their way, but since for obvious reasons certain facts just can’t be revealed, we’ll just have to trust them.

But there’s a strong case to be made for doing the exact opposite – to treat each and every claim made by a national security official, a government minister, or a private-sector apologist for the surveillance apparatus with extreme skepticism or disbelief. Because of informational asymmetry and perverse incentives, the public has effectively no ability to objectively assess the claims of intelligence and security agencies, and no compelling reason to accept on faith alone that we aren’t being deceived in some way.  Continue Reading

How the nuclear disarmament movement probably saved the world

Seventy years ago this week, the United States committed one of the greatest atrocities in the history of the human race, dropping nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and killing nearly 200 000 people, almost all of them civilians.

That this massacre was completely unnecessary from a military stand-point is a well-established fact, and was widely acknowledged by the leading military commanders and strategists of the day. Indeed, President Truman was said to have overridden the explicit and strongly-worded advice of his top military command in ordering that the bombs be dropped. This is not a widely acknowledged fact, however, and many people still tell themselves the comforting lie that the bombs were necessary to bring an end to what would otherwise have been a protracted and deadly war.

But the plain and simple truth is that Japan was on the verge of surrender – and America knew it:

— “We didn’t need to do it, and we knew we didn’t need to do it, and they knew that we didn’t need to do it, we used them as an experiment for two atomic bombs.” That’s Brig. Gen. Carter Clarke, quoted in “The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb,” by Gar Alperovitz.

–“The Japanese position was hopeless even before the first atomic bomb fell because the Japanese had lost control of their own air.”– Henry H. Arnold, commanding general of the U.S. Army Air Forces, Pacific Fleet.

–“The Japanese had, in fact, already sued for peace. The atomic bomb played no decisive part from a purely military point of view in the defeat of Japan. The use of atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender.” – – Fleet Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

–“Certainly, prior to 31 December 1945, and in all probability, prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if atomic bombs had not been dropped.” Adm. William D. Leahy, chief of staff to President Truman, in the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey.

–“The war would have been over in two weeks without the Russians entering and without the atomic bomb. The atomic bomb had nothing to do with the end of the war at all.”Maj. Gen.  Curtis LeMay.

To what end, then, were those hundreds of thousands of people murdered? Continue Reading

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