Sunday, October 31, 2010

OP/ED: Murderer Omar Khadr sentenced to 40 years by military tribunal

(courtesy of CBC)

It's official: Omar Khadr is a convicted and sentenced murderer. He was sentenced to 40 years, yet I have absolutely no doubt, that Khadr will be either on the streets of Canada - or Afghanistan - within a year or shortly thereafter.

For those not paying attention, Omar Khadr's sentence by a military jury in Guantanamo Bay, was for his role in events that took place in a compound in Afghanistan in 2002, which left a US medic mortally wounded. The 40 years is, however, now a moot point. A plea deal was made between the prosecutors and the US government, in exchange for Khadr's pleading guilty to five charges. Khadr's Canadian civilian lawyer Dennis Edney says that Khadr will serve no more than eight years in prison as part of the plea deal and then be subject to parole board conditions upon his release. Military judge Col. Patrick Parrish accepted Khadr's pleas and told him he will be eligible to apply for transfer to a Canadian prison after serving one year of his sentence in the United States or a U.S. detention facility.

So just who is this Omar Khadr? That depends on who you talk to. To the UN, Amnesty International, (and Uncle Tom Cobley and all) etc etc, plus the opposition political parties within Canada, Omar Khadr - who was 15 years old when he was wounded and captured by US forces after a fierce battle which took the life of US medic Sgt 1st Class Christopher Speer ( see my recent column on Speer here) - was a misguided child who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Again according to his lawyer Edney, Khadr only agreed to plead guilty to the five charges against him because they felt he wouldn't get a fair trial within the military system. Edney says this guilty plea ' is just a piece of paper.'

It is a fact that mere weeks before he finally did plead guilty to charges which included murder and supporting terrorism in Afghanistan, Khadr was still protesting his innocence, and the media was perpetuating a public narrative of this poor gullible child led astray by a family with long ties to Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. To see the statement of facts that Khadr agreed on, go here.

I have watched this case closely over the last few years, and there has been a masterful manipulation of public opinion, aided and abetted by the mainstream media, who prefaced every story about Khadr with 'child soldier,' 'who is alleged...' Just this last week, I heard respected Canadian military General Romeo Dallaire(now a Senator,) talking very eloquently about the Geneva Convention that Canada and the US are signatories to, on the definition of child soldier, and saying not only is Khadr a great candidate for rehabilitation, but is also 'one of our own,' meaning Canadian.

Despite the best efforts of all those who have been determined to cast Khadr in the light of innocence, I have always seen him for what he is: a cold-blooded killer who reveled in the planning and killing of American (and other) forces. To my mind, it is but a fluke that Khadr had not thus far managed to kill any of our 'own' Canadian troops.

Let me be clear: I have worked with many children all my adult life, including young adolescent males who have tangled with the justice system. I am a big fan of redemption, and second chances. But, I can also smell a con a mile away. And to me, these past years have shown us a masterful con on Khadr's part. The current US government is complicit, too. I find it all too coincidental that a deal was struck with this government, at this time, to clear the Khadr case if you will. It is just all too convenient that after languishing for years in GITMO, this matter is settled within days of a US election. Conspiracy? We cannot know for sure, but timing IS all.

The Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been challenged by the media many times over the last few years as to whether Canada had any hand in first, the ongoing 'torture and mistreatment' of Khadr in GITMO and, in more recent weeks, what role the Canadian government has played in this deal making. Harper has consistently denied any active role, repeating that he believes the Khadr case should be allowed to play out within the US judiciary. Although he has repeatedly come under extreme pressure over the years in our Houses of Parliament to demand/insist Khadr be returned to Canada, Harper has maintained the position that it is an American issue. Much has been made over the years that Khadr has been the youngest, and only, westerner still in GITMO, as every other country has asked for the return of their citizens held in GITMO. I am not a huge fan of Harper's, but on this issue, I have applauded his staunch unwavering stand that Khadr face a US military trial.

So what of these false, carefully crafted narratives that Khadr is either a child soldier, and should be treated with kid gloves, or was just an unwitting victim of an overbearing father, who stood no chance to make autonomous - adult - decisions? I have heard various 'experts' these past weeks, especially buying into that Khadr qualifies as a 'child soldier, according to international law. In 1949, the Geneva Conventions said this:

Article 77.2 of the Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts, adopted in 1977:

The Parties to the conflict shall take all feasible measures in order that children who have not attained the age of fifteen years do not take a direct part in hostilities and, in particular, they shall refrain from recruiting them into their armed forces. In recruiting among those persons who have attained the age of fifteen years but who have not attained the age of eighteen years, the Parties to the conflict shall endeavour to give priority to those who are oldest.’

According to that, once a person has reached the age of 15, he/she cannot be considered to be a ‘child soldier. ' In fact, within Khadr's own family, he was considered an adult by the age of 15. In Islamist cultures 15 is considered adult, and Khadr's own sister was married off at that same age. Khadr's older brother Abdullah Ahmed Khadr:

Abdullah was interviewed for the 2004 documentary Son of al Qaeda, and acknowledged attending the Khalden training camp. But he said that a ten-year-old learning to fire an AK47 was as common in Afghanistan as it was for a Canadian child to learn to play hockey. (From Wikipedia)

The Khadr patriarch was an ally of Osama bin Laden, and at one time the whole Khadr family lived in the OBL compound. It is a well documented fact that the Khadr family has lived and travelled throughout the Islamic world over the years. Father Ahmed Said Khadr:
  • Born in Egypt, moved to Canada in 1977.
  • Accused of being a "founding member" of al-Qaeda and financier for the organization.
  • Put on a list of suspected terrorists after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
  • Killed in a shootout with Pakistani forces near the Afghanistan border.
Omar Khadr's sister,
Zaynab has been accused with her brother, Abdullah, of running an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan in the 1990s. You can find more on the Khadr family business - killing and terrorism - at the CBC here.

I am certainly no expert but according to UNICEF the definition of 'child soldier' is:

"A 'child soldier' is defined as any child - boy or girl - under 18 years of age, who is part of any kind of regular or irregular armed force or armed group in any capacity, including, but not limited to: cooks, porters, messengers, and anyone accompanying such groups other than family members. [emphasis mine] It includes girls and boys recruited for sexual purposes and/or forced marriage. The definition, therefore, does not only refer to a child who is carrying, or has carried weapons" (Cape Town Principals, 1997).

Yes, it states that 18 is the cut off age when considering child soldier status, but the clause "other than family members" totally negates any of the travelling Khadr siblings. They ARE family members, and history shows terrorism IS their business. Period. Omar Khadr never was a child anything in that compound in Afghanistan. He most certainly was not a soldier, either, by any definition, since he wore no uniform, and was not part of a recognised army, by his own words. He WAS an enemy combatant, trained in killing, hellbent on killing soldiers. This killer, caught inside a compound by US forces, chose to stay right in the action, even as the women and children present took the opportunity given them by those same forces to leave. And yes, as such, despite much howling from his misguided supporters that a military tribunal was inappropriate for him, it was absolutely the right place for him to face a jury. Interestingly, only once listening to CBC radio news did I hear mention of a video that the prosecution had which showed Khadr making and planting IED's. This after the media had had to abandon their 'innocent abroad on a family picnic' meme (in a war zone no less) in the face of his copping a guilty plea. That little gem quickly disappeared from public reportage.

Much has been made over the years of Khadr's youthful (implied 'innocent') appearance. In the last couple of weeks we have seen him wearing a western suit, and looking neatly 'pressed.'

In this Pentagon-approved photograph of a sketch by artist Janet Hamlin, Omar Khadr listens to closing arguments on Saturday in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
In this Pentagon-approved photograph of a sketch by artist Janet Hamlin, Omar Khadr listens to closing arguments on Saturday in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
(Canadian Press)

This picture is, of course, a huge contrast to the picture that we regularly saw of him attached to most stories over the years:

These carefully crafted public images stand in stark contrast to the Omar Khadr who stood in a hearing in GITMO just a mere 18 months ago. Apparently the media was also present in July 2009 - but I saw no reporting - when one afternoon Khadr was led into a hearing room. Diane and Ken Fairben were there.
They were down at GITMO to attend KSM's hearing, part of which had been held that morning.

My regular readers know well that Diane and Ken are the parents of paramedic Keith Fairben who gave his life on 9/11 as he saved many others. Today, I asked the Fairbens for their responses to these past few weeks, knowing as I did, that they had been within mere feet of Khadr in the GITMO tribunal room.


He was dressed in the long white robe thing with the white cap on. Very long beard. As I can remember, he was tall, and thin. He walked into the courtroom like he didn't have a care in the world. Relaxed, smiling, and when he turned around to see who was in the gallery ( no glass and separate room here for us), he smiled....


All of them definitely play to the gallery, and if they can, make fun of 9/11 in ways we can see. ...he seemed so arrogant., calm, and I could just see him calmly throwing that grenade. He was proud of what he did ( as they all are) Cold, no sense at all of any feelings for anyone, god forbid, remorse. That's how I would describe him, a stone cold killer, no conscience.

Both Diane and Ken have shared with me their thoughts about the KSM trial, but that's for another day.

Ken on Khadr that day in July 2009:

While I sat in that court room, we were very close to him. There was just a typical rail dividing us from him...Security was very tight. There was a motion for another 90 days and the Judge was not Happy at all...Watching [Khadr,] he was unconcerned, actually smiling at times... I would say that he showed NO Remorse what so ever.. as I stated above, he seemed very unconcerned and found the atmosphere amusing...

Well you asked, so in just a few brief words, HE is as evil as the other 5 murderers awaiting trials....I don't care how old he was, HE IS A MURDERER. And he should be held accountable for his actions...

Ken and Diane did tell me more, but you get the idea. Everything they have told me, and everything I have read, reinforces what a great con job Khadr and his defence team have just pulled off. I was very pleased to see that the military jury was not conned. I still do not understand why that jury was not told ahead of time that a plea bargain had been struck, and that whatever their sentence was, Khadr would serve the lesser.

Back to the con job. A few things over the last few days really smelled to me. One was when Khadr stood up and addressed the court and Tabitha Speer, widow of Sgt 1st Class Christopher Speer. As I understand it, this was considered unsworn testimony by Khadr, so there was no cross examination or questioning of his statement by the prosecution. Khadr stood before Tabitha Speer and told her he was "very, very sorry for the pain" he had caused her family. Remember this is the self-professed innocent who had 8 years in which to express his remorse to Mrs Speer for the outcome of that day in 2002, via a letter or something. He chose not to, until he could stand in a courtroom in his neat suit, looking suitably earnest and sincere. This now self-confessed murderer, who one witness - dean of arts of a Christian college in Canada - described as a 'poetic writer,' couldn't find it in his heart to communicate his regret to Mrs Speer and her children in all those years he had to think while in GITMO? By the way, that dean of arts? She told the court that her college would offer Omar Khadr a place in their school as a student. Khadr, in his unsworn statement had told the court that he was 'fascinated by knowledge' or some such thing. He also said he wants to become a doctor, and heal people's pain, because he knows all about 'pain.'

Interesting twist on the Dean of Arts offering Khadr a place there. On August 13 we get this from the Globe and Mail:

Defence team efforts to suggest a warm Christian welcome at an small Alberta college awaits Omar Khadr and that such sanctuary should be considered at the sentencing phase of his trial have been disavowed by the dean who was supposed to testify.

Arlette Zinck, dean of the faculty of arts at The King’s University College in Edmonton, denied that Mr. Khadr, a devout Muslim facing murder and terrorism charges, had been guaranteed immediate admission at one of Canada’s most Christian colleges.

Yet in a filing to the military tribunal in Guantanamo, Mr. Khadr’s lawyers say Ms. Zinck “will testify that her university is willing to accept Omar Khadr immediately” and “will also testify that there is a firm commitment by the board of the university to assist Omar Khadr by providing a structured, safe, educational environment when he is released from U.S. custody.”

I guess the school had a change of heart from the warm and fuzzies there, but Dr Zinck did speak at Khadr's trial, stressing that speaking as a private citizen she is an advocate of his.:

She told the commission she believed "odds are good" that Khadr would be admitted to the university if he applied.

"As dean of arts ... he'd get a fair shake," she said.

Khadr said he would be honoured to attend the school.

(More from the CBC here)

"...a devout Muslim..." honoured to be attending a Christian school! What could possibly go wrong?

About now, I imagine Khadr is feeling very pleased with himself, for a job well done. America has served him well, right from the moment he was wounded in battle. While Speer, a medic, lay mortally wounded at Khadr's hand, another medic in that same unit worked to save Khadr's life. When he arrived in Landstuhl, a female opthamologist - one of the best in the world - was flown in to work on Khadr's eyes. I find it ironic that a terrorist was given the absolute best medical treatment by those he has been trained to kill, but this is what our troops do. I have heard more than a few incredible stories by various coalition medics of how they treat wounded terrorists with the same level of care they give to our own wounded - and often alongside.

To hear some tell it, poor Omar has had a terrible time in GITMO and should never have been subjected to such abuse all these years. Don't believe it for a minute. One defence witness told the courts that he found Khadr 'always respectful,' and said that he believed he would be a good candidate for 'rehabilitation.' That whole rehab and deprogramming him thing is another part of this all that stinks to me. Who are they kidding? First, has Khadr renounced his muslim faith, which would surely be a cruucial first step in his rehab? Apparently not. And how exactly do you rehab and deprogramme a 'devout muslim'? As far as I know, Canada has no such facilities or experts in that area. Smell, much? But this 'respectful' Khadr is the same man that a prosecution witness described on the stand as '...dangerous. Any remorse shown is shallow,' and '...someone who knew exactly what he was doing.' This is the thug who admitted to training for combat, building and planting bombs, and when told that the killing of US troops could earn him a bounty of $1,500 per kill, he admits right in the plea documents that he 'wanted to kill lots of Americans, to get lots of money.' Remember, this document was agreed to in the last few weeks, so there is no room to still portray Khadr as a young, scared innocent. He knew exactly what he was doing.

Khadr's lawyer read another unsworn statement into the record at the tribunal. Again, being unsworn, no questions were allowed. According to Edney, Omar had spent much of his time while in interrogation very afraid, to the point that he cried. No apologies from me, but I find it nigh impossible to feel any sympathy for him. And yes, we have all seen the 'terrible' conditions they live under at GITMO. Various visitors have been there and videotaped the amenities, and they aren't spartan by any stretch of the imagination. Yes, Khadr has done very well for himself by the Americans. It is all a winning situation for him.

As for Mrs Tabitha Speer? On the announcement of the 40 year sentence by the military tribunal, it is reported she "pumped her fist and cheered "yes!" when the jury announced its 40-year sentence. Then she burst into tears." According to reports, she sees this as a 'huge victory,' and in one sense I suppose it is.

It IS a resolution of sorts to this particular saga, but to me it is a clear signal that we really should make NO MORE DEALS with terrorists. Forty years should mean forty years. Period. I understand very well that it served US President Obama's agenda regarding GITMO, and I am relieved that Khadr did not get transferred to a civilian court as Obama is intent on doing with other GITMO residents like KSM.

It is believed that 60% or so of the GITMO detainees released return to the frontlines to kill our troops, often taking up leadership roles. Some will say that this 40 year sentence handed to Khadr, even though he won't serve that, sends a clear message. Right. A much clearer message would be to ensure that these captured enemy combatants - those not killed on the battlefield - actually serve long sentences in a military detention facility. We are at war, and they should have NO rights. As long as we give these terrorists all the rights and privileges afforded them in American civilian courts - or play 'let's make a deal' with them - there will be more Mrs Speer's. For as long as we cling to the 'rehabilitation and deprogramming' or 'catch and release' fiasco, we will never be able to claim victory in this global war on terror.

The only message we must send these terrorists, whoever they are, wherever we find them, is: War means war, and for as long as they insist on waging war on us, we WILL hit back, and hit hard.

BREAKING NEWS: Khadr sentenced to 40 years

Omar Khadr has just been sentenced to 40 years by the military jury in GITMO. He will not serve that, because of a plea deal prior to his admission of guilt to all charges as the military commission reached its final stages. From the BBC:

Guantanamo Bay's youngest militant Omar Khadr jailed

Omar Khadr in a sketch from a courtroom at Guantanamo Bay Omar Khadr pleaded guilty to five war crimes charges last week

A US military tribunal has sentenced a self-confessed Islamist militant to 40 years in jail on charges that include murdering a US soldier and conspiring to commit terrorist acts.

Canadian Omar Khadr, now 24, pleaded guilty to the charges at the Guantanamo Bay tribunal last week.

However, Khadr's plea deal limited his sentence to eight years.

Caught in 2002 at the age of 15, he is the fifth Guantanamo inmate to be convicted at the military tribunals.

A seven-member military panel deliberated for nearly nine hours over a two-day period before reaching its decision on Sunday...(more here)

I will have more. Stay tuned.

Every Day Heroes

Meet the Yllescas family: Cpt Rob Yllescas, Dena, Julia and Eva

My long time readers have met this family here before, and will remember December 2, 2008 when Cpt Rob succumbed to injuries sustained in the sandbox. Rob had fought hard to live, but that was not to be. As he fought his last battle with Dena at his side, she started blogging, and readers around the world followed the Yllescas' journey, and were witness to the incredible courage of the whole family.

Dena continues writing about the Yllescas to this day.

Dena's most recent entry is a reminder of how amazing the families of our fallen heroes are:

Friday, October 29, 2010

2 years already....

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 2 years since I received that horrible, life-changing news. 2 years ago, my husband fought for 34 days for his life. And, boy, did he put up a fight. 2 years ago was the beginning of an emotional rollercoaster ride that still continues today. Although the 2nd year has been harder for me than the first, I continue to hold on to faith and know God has a bigger plan for us. He had a bigger plan for Rob. There is not a day go by that we don’t miss him and think of him. His presence constantly surrounds us. My dad was with Julia when she looked up in the sky and written in the clouds was “I love you”. That was daddy sending his little girl a special note. ...

Go read the rest here.

Much has been written about this family, who continue to inspire so many of us. One of the best columns written about Rob's passing was on Villainous Company here. The Washington Post has written about Dena and their girls here, and a series of pictures here.

The Statesman wrote an article about Dena's blogging called How an Army wife's blog came to touch thousands: Woman wrote of her Fort Hood spouse's struggle to survive. (Read that here.)

Unknown thousands have been given a new understanding - appreciation - of the service and sacrifices made by our military families through Dena's writing. Dena also put together a video of the whole family which you can find here. Take the time to go meet all of them.

Dena and the girls are a reminder that the family also serves. They truly ARE heroes, every single day.

Thank YOU Dena, and Julia and Eva.

Music and Me

For my very own Angel soldier: You know it's true, everything I do, I do it for you...

For all those who fight for freedom...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Valour-IT update

Part of the money raising effort is an online auction being hosted by YouServed. Over the years, many amazing items have been offered for auction, and this year is no exception. One example of an item, with an amazing history, comes from Castle Argghhh! :

Valour-IT Days

...this small blurb isn’t about those of us who took hits for the Team. It’s about those who took hits for *all* of us. Not just Team Army, or the Marine Team, or Team Air Force, or Team Navy.

They took hits for Team USA. Team Every American.

I’m not going to go into the origins of Project Valour-IT, or talk about the success stories, or praise the folks who got it started and the ones who continue to make it work, because people who are much better writers than I am, and who have closer ties than I do, have that covered.

I want to tell you a small story, instead, because that’s the one thing I *can* do kinda well.

Y’see, back when I was teaching the Instrument Survival Course to the Iraqi “legacy” pilots, I got to know them all and become friends with most of them. A couple of them used the skills I taught them to save their lives and their aircraft. One of them saw me later, took the wings off his flight suit, and “gifted” me.

When he first went back into the IqAF, he was assigned as an LNO with the One-Oh-First at Dagger. He was there when a rocket whacked the building he was walking into and severely wounded his US best friend. He heard about the rocket that almost did for me and he came up from Baghdad to see if I was really okay, and he told me the story about his friend in the One-Oh-First.

These are the wings he had "gifted" to me.

Here’s the deal. I’m sending them to John to throw into Team Army’s donation pot....

There is more that you need to read here. The items for auction are added to often, so be sure and check them out here. For a list of the many blogs that make up Team Army in this year's efforts, go to BlackFive here.

For more of an overview on the Valour-IT campaign, go here:

learn more

Having done all of that, the only thing left to do is:

learn more

As Hell in a Basket says:
Wounded but Still in the Fight

learn more

Project Valour-IT

Skip the latte’ today, donate the $$ to help a fighter like this take back his life. He gave a lot. You can give a little….


What are you waiting for? Get going, and thank you.

"Canadian Fallen Hero" by Haggarty and Hutchings

Canadian Fallen Hero

Canadian Fallen Hero |

From Canadian Fallen Hero Project:

Press Release

TORONTO, October 27, 2010 – Canadian Fallen Hero Project. In response to the unwavering support of the Canadian Troops, we have brought together two talented individuals singer songwriter Barry Haggarty and lyricist Harold Hutchings the originator of the project. Together they have created a truly heart felt song and slide video to honour the Canadian Military and their families.

“As a part of our ongoing commitment to provide support to the widows and orphans of Fallen Troops; we have created the - “Fallen Hero Project”. All proceeds from the sale of our song and video, or funds raised through sponsors or donations, will go directly to the Canadian Forces Personnel and Family Support Services.” – Harold Hutchings – Lyricist.


A Tribute to the Military and their Families. All proceeds from the sale of the song will go to the Support the Troops Foundation. Website address for donations is: "Fallen Hero Project" any ­donations over $10.00 will receive a receipt. You can purchase the song on iTunes –​ “Canadian Fallen Hero” -​ Barry Haggarty.


For many years we as Canadians have enjoyed the benefits from the sacrifices that our military have provided by creating a safe and a free society. This freedom comes at a price. We truly feel that we do live in the best country on this earth. All Canadians should be proud of the way our military have performed. This in our small way of honouring our troops.

- 30 –

There is much more about this great project here at the Canadian Fallen Hero site. There was a news story about the genesis of this great song on the Haliburton Echo:
Song to raise funds for soldiers' families

By Jenn Watt

It was a trip down the Highway of Heroes that first inspired lyricist Harold Hutchings to pen the words to Canadian Fallen Hero, a nearly five-minute song honouring the lives of those who fought and died for Canada.

After witnessing the mixture of sadness and pride as the convoy passed along the corridor of Highway 401 between CFB Trenton and the Toronto coroner's office, Hutchings, who lives part-time in Wilberforce, had to get his feelings on paper.

"I pulled [the car] over afterwards and I started writing," he said in an interview.

The song starts: "Black car takes them to their new home/Green grass, flowers and rows of headstones/Proud soldiers who have fallen, women and men/And we pray it will end."

Those words would wait a few years until the circumstances were right to become a song – and music video – launching Oct. 27 online and on iTunes.

"I wanted to donate 100 per cent of the money" to help soldiers' families, he said, so it wasn't until he hooked up with songwriter Barry Haggarty that he was able to make the song happen.

Initially, the idea was to sell the song with proceeds going to the Military Families Fund, but the project kept getting bigger until it grew into a music video and website:

"It's getting bigger than I ever thought it was going to be," Hutchings said...

Read more here.

Absolutely No Profiling!

Pause a moment, reflect back, and take the following multiple choice

These events are actual events from history..

1. 1968 Bobby Kennedy was shot and killed by:

a.. Superman
b. Jay Leno
c. Harry Potter
d. A Muslim male extremist between the ages of 17 and 40

2. In 1972 at the Munich Olympics, athletes were kidnapped and
massacred by :

a. Olga Corbett
b. Sitting Bull
c. Arnold Schwarzenegger
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

3. In 1979, the US embassy in Iran was taken over by:

a. Lost Norwegians
b. Elvis
c. A tour bus full of 80-year-old women
d . Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

4. During the 1980's a number of Americans were kidnapped in Lebanon

a. John Dillinger
b. The King of Sweden
c. The Boy Scouts
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

5. In 1983, the US Marine barracks in Beirut was blown up by:

a. A pizza delivery boy
b. Pee Wee Herman
c. Geraldo Rivera
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

6. In 1985 the cruise ship Achille Lauro was hijacked and a 70 year
old American passenger was murdered and thrown overboard in his
wheelchair by:

a. The Smurfs
b. Davey Jones
c. The Little Mermaid
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

7. In 1985 TWA flight 847 was hijacked at Athens , and a US Navy diver trying to rescue passengers was murdered by:

a. Captain Kidd
b. Charles Lindberg
c. Mother Teresa
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

8. In 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 was bombed by:

a. Scooby Doo
b. The Tooth Fairy
c. The Sundance Kid
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

9. In 1993 the World Trade Center was bombed the first time by:

a. Richard Simmons
b. Grandma Moses
c. Michael Jordan
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 - 40

10. In 1998, the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed by:

a. Mr. Rogers
b. Hillary Clinton, to distract attention from Wild Bill's women problems.
c. The World Wrestling Federation
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 - 40

11. On 9/11/01, four airliners were hijacked; two were used as
missiles to take out the World Trade Centers and of the remaining
two, one crashed into the US Pentagon and the other was diverted and
crashed by the passengers. Thousands of people were killed by:

a. Bugs Bunny, Wiley E. Coyote, Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd
b. The Supreme Court of Florida
c. Mr. Bean
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 - 40

12. In 2002 the United States fought a war in Afghanistan against:

a. Enron
b. The Lutheran Church
c. The NFL
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 - 40

13. In 2002 reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and murdered by:

a. Bonnie and Clyde
b. Captain Kangaroo
c Billy Graham
d.. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 - 40

No, I really don't see a pattern here to justify profiling, do you?

So, to ensure we Americans never offend anyone, particularly
fanatics intent on killing us, airport security screeners will no
longer be allowed to profile certain people..They must conduct
random searches of 80-year-old women, little kids, airline pilots
with proper identification, secret agents who are members of the
President's security detail, 85-year old Congressmen with metal
hips, and Medal of Honor winner and former Governor Joe Foss, but
leave Muslim Males between the ages 17 and 40 alone lest they be
guilty of profiling.

Foot note: Fort Hood Texas .Another Muslim 39 years old killed 13
people and wounded 30 some odd others...

Does this fit the profile ?



H/T Jane

Friday, October 29, 2010

Annual Valour-IT Competition - Join Team Army!

From Blackfive:

Thursday, October 28th, we began the annual Soldiers' Angels Valour-IT competition.

Project Valour-IT began when Captain Charles "Chuck" Ziegenfuss was wounded by an IED while serving as commander of a tank company in Iraq in June 2005.

During his deployment he kept a blog (an online personal diary, opinion forum, or news analysis site-called a milblog or military weblog when written by a servicemember or about military subjects). Captivating writing, insightful stories of his experiences, and his self-deprecating humor won him many loyal readers. After he was wounded, his wife continued his blog, keeping his readers informed of his condition.

As he began to recover, CPT Ziegenfuss wanted to return to writing his blog, but serious hand injuries hampered his typing. When a loyal and generous reader gave him a copy of the Dragon Naturally Speaking Preferred software, other readers began to realize how important such software could be to CPT Ziegenfuss' fellow wounded soldiers and started cast about for a way to get it to them.

"At that time I had no use of either hand. I know how humbling it is, how humiliating it feels. And I know how much better I felt, how amazingly more functional I felt, after Soldiers' Angels provided me with a laptop and a loyal reader provided me with the software. I can't wait to do the same, to give that feeling to another soldier at Walter Reed." - Captain Chuck Ziegenfuss at TC Override (wounded in Iraq)

Project Valour-IT, in memory of SFC William V. Ziegenfuss (Captain Chuck Ziegenfuss' father), provides voice-controlled software and laptop computers to wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines recovering from hand and arm injuries, amputations, eye or brain injuries, at major military medical centers. Operating laptops by speaking into a microphone, our wounded heroes are able to send and receive messages from friends and loved ones, surf the 'Net, and communicate with buddies still in the field without having to press a key or move a mouse.

Folks, I've witnessed several wounded soldiers set up their laptops only to email or Skype their friends and comrades in the war zone to let them know that they are okay. Keeping them in communication with loved ones increases the possibility of a successful recovery exponentially.

In order to fund the thousands of laptops we have distributed and need to distribute, we have an annual competition....

Go read the rest at Blackfive here.

learn more


40F degrees, no shoes, no warm jacket & from the looks of things no food lately. Hug your kids folks, they have it easy.

This picture - and the caption - is courtesy of one of our Danish coalition partners, B. Sorensen.
You won't find this on any front page of the msm, but it surely IS a B*N*S*N story.

Thank YOU, Buzzy, and all our coalition partners (You DO know there are warriors from MANY different countries, fighting shoulder to shoulder, don't you? Fighting for children just like this. Of course you knew.)


New chaplain general focuses on relationships within CF

Ottawa, ON – BGen Karl McLean, new head of Chaplaincy Branch, aims to build multi-faith centres across Canada.


BGen Karl McLean
For the members of the Canadian Forces, it’s very important for them to know that spiritual health and spiritual fitness is important both for them and their families. What I mean is that people have a good sense of meaning of why they’re doing what they’re doing so they understand what they’re involved in and know what they’re doing. Another aspect of spiritual health and fitness is having good relationships with each other. Another aspect of it is living according to our cherished values and living with integrity. And then finally developing a relationship with our Creator, the source of our being, as I said in the sermon, which many understand as their loving God and their loving Saviour.


BGen Karl McLean
For the soldiers in Afghanistan, you are in my heart, you are in my prayers and I hope you come back safely and be united happily with your families and loved ones. ...

For a complete transcript go here.


Afghan Children Play on Refurbished Playground

A young boy gives the thumbs up while several other Afghan children play on a new swing set during recess at the local school house in Musa Qal’eh, Oct. 17. According to Capt. Charlie Chiang, civil affairs team leader, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2, local nationals recently refurbished the playground by building swings, replacing the teeter-totters, goal posts and flags. The playground equipment was also repainted the colors of the national flag, building national pride amongst the students.

Afghan Children Play on Refurbished Playground
10/19/10 | ISAF Public Affairs Office

KABUL, Afghanistan (Oct. 19) -- Members of the Musa Qal'eh community came together to refurbish a local playground at a school Sunday.

Local community members, in partnership with International Security Assistance Forces, recently refurbished the playground by building swings, replacing the teeter-totters, goal posts and flags. The playground equipment was also repainted the colors of the Afghan national flag.

Refurbishing the playground at the local Musa Qal'sh School is part of a Ministry of Education program to provide better facilities for teaching and learning, as well as developing curriculums, textbooks and hiring teachers, according to MOI officials. (source: ISAF)


Royal Mail recognises sacrifice of Armed Forces with new stamps

A History and Honour news article

28 Oct 10

Royal Mail has issued a special commemorative sheet of stamps today to recognise the sacrifice and contribution made by all those who have served in the Armed Forces.

Remembrance stamps

Each of the ten 1st Class Remembrance stamps includes a monochrome image of an Armed Forces Memorial from the National Memorial Arboretum decorated with bright red poppies
[Picture: Royal Mail]

All profits from the sale of the stamps will be donated to the National Memorial Arboretum, situated in Staffordshire, and part of The Royal British Legion family of charities.

The National Memorial Arboretum Commemorative Sheet "Remembrance" contains ten 1st Class Poppy stamps, with adjoining labels bearing images of the National Memorial Arboretum, including the Armed Forces Memorial which is a tribute to the 16,000 members of UK Armed Forces who have been killed on duty or as a result of terrorism since the Second World War.

The Commemorative Sheet will be available by mail order, from most main Post Offices and at the National Memorial Arboretum at a cost of £13.50, with £9.71 donated to the National Memorial Arboretum Appeal - established to ensure the Arboretum remains a year round living and lasting centre of Remembrance.

Major General Patrick Cordingley, chairman of the NMA Appeal, said:

"The Arboretum has become a place in which the Nation comes to remember and pays tribute to our Armed Forces. However, we must better honour our heroes and all they stand for by ensuring that we provide the buildings and facilities for the ever increasing number of visitors. We are delighted that the funds raised through this wonderful Royal Mail initiative will help us achieve this."...

More here.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Valour-IT 2010 campaign begins today!

From Bouhammer:

Won’t you join Bouhammer in helping Team Army for Valour-IT?

Posted By Bouhammer on October 28, 2010

Today, Thursday, October 28th, we will begin the annual Soldiers’ Angels Valour-IT competition. As you may or may not know, has been in the past a proud member of Team Army for Valour-IT competition. So once again is stepping up to the challenge and hoping that you do too.

Project Valour-IT began when Captain Charles “Chuck” Ziegenfuss was wounded by an IED while serving as commander of a tank company in Iraq in June 2005.

During his deployment he kept a blog (an online personal diary, opinion forum, or news analysis site-called a milblog or military weblog when written by a servicemember or about military subjects). Captivating writing, insightful stories of his experiences, and his self-deprecating humor won him many loyal readers. After he was wounded, his wife continued his blog, keeping his readers informed of his condition.

As he began to recover, CPT Ziegenfuss wanted to return to writing his blog, but serious hand injuries hampered his typing. When a loyal and generous reader gave him a copy of the Dragon Naturally Speaking Preferred software, other readers began to realize how important such software could be to CPT Ziegenfuss’ fellow wounded soldiers and started cast about for a way to get it to them.

At that time I had no use of either hand. I know how humbling it is, how humiliating it feels. And I know how much better I felt, how amazingly more functional I felt, after Soldiers’ Angels provided me with a laptop and a loyal reader provided me with the software. I can’t wait to do the same, to give that feeling to another soldier at Walter Reed.” - Captain Chuck Ziegenfuss at TC Override (wounded in Iraq)

Project Valour-IT, in memory of SFC William V. Ziegenfuss (Captain Chuck Ziegenfuss’ father), provides voice-controlled software and laptop computers to wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines recovering from hand and arm injuries, amputations, eye or brain injuries, at major military medical centers. Operating laptops by speaking into a microphone, our wounded heroes are able to send and receive messages from friends and loved ones, surf the ‘Net, and communicate with buddies still in the field without having to press a key or move a mouse.

Bouhammers has much more about Valour-IT. Go here to get all the details.

Goooooooooooo ARMY!

Remember and Honour Sgt 1st Class Christopher Speer - with UPDATE testimony

Sgt First Class Christopher Speer is an American hero who was killed in August 2002. As I write here, the terrorist who is responsible for Speer's death sits in GITMO, having finally admitted in a military courtroom that he is the murderer most of us have always known he is. Today, he is not my focus. The husband, father, brother, son and hero is who I want to share with you.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Who Is SFC Christopher J. Speer?

"Six days before he received the wounds that killed him, Sgt. 1st Class Christopher J. Speer walked into a minefield to rescue two wounded Afghan children, according to fellow soldiers. He applied a tourniquet to one child and bandaged the other, they said. Then he stopped a passing military truck to take the wounded children to a U.S. Army field hospital. Speer saved those children, his colleagues said.
Speer, a Special Forces medic, suffered a head wound during a search of the Ab Khail village in Afghanistan on July 27. He was evacuated to Germany, where he died Aug. 6. He was 28.


Soldier remembered for Courage, Humor, Faith

A former medic with the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne)

Soldiers from Headquarters U.S. Army Special Operations
carry the body of Sgt. 1st Class Christopher
J. Speer from the Village Chapel in Pinehurst
, NC
on Tuesday

On Tuesday, Speer was remembered as a capable and confident soldier with an unflappable sense of humor. When the chips were down, friends said, he could pick up his co-workers with a smile and a laugh.

They remembered him as a loving husband and father who had a sparkle in his eyes whenever he talked about his family.

Survived by Wife, Tabitha, two small children, Taryn and Tanner and brother Todd

Chaplain Keith Jackson escorts

Christopher Speer’s wife, Tabitha, from the church.

Todd, his older brother and fellow soldier, said Christopher Speer was a "hero, not only for his professional conduct, but his family life. There's not more you can ask.
"I look up to him."

Before deploying to Afghanistan, Speer wrote notes to his wife, Tabitha, and their two small children, Taryn and Tanner, Jackson said.

"You are always on my mind and forever in my heart."
He wrote a note to his children on a card that had two whispering puppies on the cover, Jackson said. One puppy said to the other, "Do you want to know a secret?"
The card said, "I love you."

Speer then wrote, "It's no secret how much I love you. Take care of each other.

"Love Daddy"


Christopher's widow has remained very low profile since her beloved husband was killed, but on the Fallen Heroes Memorial site, I found this:

"I was given the honor of not only knowing Chris, I spent the happiest years of my life with him. We married and had two beautiful children. Chris made all my dreams come true, it was as though he completed me. It has been two years and seven months since his death and I still find it hard to believe that he won't be coming home. Our Daughter is now almost six, she talks about her Daddy constantly, our Son who is three has so much trouble understanding why his Daddy won't be coming home! He asks for his Daddy daily, can he see me? Does he hear me? Can he hold my hand if I reach up to Heaven? Will he come home after he's done in Heaven? My Daughter and I do our best to answer his questions.
We miss you so much and love you more than any words could ever possibly express. I can see you in their faces, with each and every smile and silly little smirk. You are so alive in them both, it amazes me! We have a little three year old version of you, he becomes more and more like you every day. They both have your sense of humor and are always smiling.
We love you, you are our true HERO!
I Love You Today, Tomorrow and Forever!"

To read some of the other comments from those who knew and love this hero, is to get a small measure of the huge loss. You can find them here.

I heard last night that Tabitha is in GITMO. I am not sure if she will give an impact statement at this time, but I found this:

...she plans to speak at his sentencing hearing, people close to her say.

In a powerful indication of her unbreakable devotion to the man she married in 1997, she continued to pay the bill of his cellular phone after his death so she could hear him speak in voice mail, a confidante told Postmedia News.

"Any time the children wish to talk to Daddy, we send helium balloons into the sky," she wrote in a 2005 affidavit about Taryn, now 11, and Tanner, who was not yet a year old when his father died from the wounds he suffered in the firefight in Afghanistan...(read more here)

Tabitha Speer and Sgt Layne Morris - who was injured in the fight that killed his friend, - launched a civil suit against the murderer's family:

...Tabitha Speer's victim impact statement painfully described the days after her husband's death and how she had told her two young children that their dad wasn't coming home. "Any time the children wish to talk to daddy we send helium balloons into the sky," she wrote. "The children talk to their daddy each night before they go to bed, gazing up at the stars."

"Surviving every day without Christopher has been utter hell."...

The Khadr family was ordered to pay $102 million, but patriarch Ahmed Said Khadr was killed by Pakistani forces in 2003, and the rest of the family has returned to Canada and live on welfare in a Scarborough apartment – so no money has been paid.

More here.

No matter what sentence Omar Khadr gets from the military trial in GITMO, nothing will ever bring Sgt 1st Class Christopher back for his wife Tabitha, their children, or his brother Todd. Sgt 1st Class Christopher Speer died at the hands of a terrorist, and the weight of his loss will reverberate down the years for all who knew and love him.

Remember and honour this hero and his family.

Rest in peace, sir.

[Addendum: CBC online is reporting just a part of Tabitha Speer's testimony today:

Sgt. Christopher Speer was a "most generous, loving" husband before he was murdered by Omar Khadr in 2002, Speer's widow testified at a U.S. military commission at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on Thursday.

"He thought of me before he thought of himself," Tabitha Speer told the court in an emotional appearance at Khadr's sentencing hearing. "I couldn't have asked for a better father for my children."

At times sobbing, she described her heartbreak at having to tell their chidren, then a three-year-old daughter and 10-month-old son, that their father had died.

"That moment a part of my daughter died with my husband," she said, adding that eight years later, the children still feel the pain of his absence...." (here)

Please keep Mrs Speer and her children in your hearts on what must be yet another horrible day for them. Thank you ]

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wednesday Hero

GySgt. Carlos Hathcock
GySgt. Carlos Hathcock
May 20, 1942 – February 23, 1999
U.S. Marines

Carlos Hathcock was a United States Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant sniper with a service record of 93 confirmed kills. Hathcock's record and the extraordinary details of the missions he undertook made him a legend in the Marine Corps. His fame as a sniper and his dedication to long distance shooting led him to become a major developer of the United States Marine Corps Sniper training program. He was honored by having a rifle named after him: a variant of the M21 dubbed the Springfield Armory M25 White Feather.

You Can Read More About GySgt. Hathcock Here

You can watch an interview with Gunny Hathcock
and Here

I have to say that it's kind of sad that the best source of info I could find on Gunny Hathcock was on Wikipedia. There should be a lot more sites honoring this man.

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.
Wednesday Hero Logo

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Right to Vote!

From Monkey in the Middle:

The Right To Vote!

The right to vote is granted to all citizens of the United States regardless of race, creed, color, sex, income, or sexual orientation. If you are a citizen over the age of 18, who hasn't committed a felony, you have the right to vote.

That is soon to change. For now there is a movement by the Progressives Moonbats to allow legal non-citizens to vote.
Like his neighbors, Claude Rwaganje pays taxes on his income and taxes on his cars. His children have gone to Portland's public schools. He's interested in the workings of Maine's largest city, which he has called home for 13 years.

There's one vital difference, though: Rwaganje isn't a U.S. citizen and isn't allowed to vote on those taxes or on school issues. That may soon change.

Portland residents will vote Nov. 2 on a proposal to give legal residents who are not U.S. citizens the right to vote in local elections, joining places like San Francisco and Chicago that have already loosened the rules or are considering it.

Noncitizens hold down jobs, pay taxes, own businesses, volunteer in the community and serve in the military, and it's only fair they be allowed to vote, Rwaganje said.

"We have immigrants who are playing key roles in different issues of this country, but they don't get the right to vote," said Rwaganje, 40, who moved to the U.S. because of political strife in his native Congo and runs a nonprofit that offers financial advice to immigrants.

Opponents of the measure say immigrants already have an avenue to cast ballots -- by becoming citizens. Allowing noncitizens to vote dilutes the meaning of citizenship, they say, adding that it could lead to fraud and unfairly sway elections.

"My primary objection is I don't think it is right, I don't think it is just, I don't think it is fair," Portland resident Barbara Campbell Harvey said.

In San Francisco, a ballot question Nov. 2 will ask voters whether they want to allow noncitizens to vote in school board elections if they are the parents, legal guardians or caregivers of children in the school system....

This is a must read that raises important points. Go here to read the rest.

iPhone and iPad Application for

OPM Rolls Out iPhone, iPad Apps for Federal Job Site
If you have an iPhone or iPad, searching for a federal job is going to get easier with a new application from the Office of Personnel Management that enables users to link the Apple devices to the USAJobs Web site.

OPM unveiled the new app on Oct. 19, saying that it had been downloaded more than 50,000 times in the first week it has been available. The app allows users to more easily link to the jobs site, but will also use some of the Apple devices’ special functionality to enhance searches. For example, users will be able to just shake their phones to get to a detailed view of the job announcement and will be able to bump an iPhone with another iPhone to share jobs or contact information.
OPM sees this application as a first step in making USAJobs more accessible. The agency is working on rolling out apps for additional mobile platforms.
“It is part of our commitment to simplifying the federal hiring process and providing the public with the tools they need to join the federal workforce,” said OPM Director John Berry.
To see more, go to:

News Release
October 19, 2010
Contact: Office of Communications
OPM Announces iPhone and iPad Application for
Is First in a Series of Planned Apps for Mobile Platforms
Washington, DC -The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) officially unveiled a USAJOBS® application for both the iPhone® and iPad®. The free app allows for greater mobile access to finding Federal job opportunities. Since debuting late last week, the app received more than 50,000 downloads. OPM sees its application as a first step in making USAJOBS more accessible to the American public, and OPM is currently working on rolling out apps for additional mobile platforms.
" is a hugely successful site that helps people identify employment opportunities with Federal government agencies," said OPM Director John Berry. "These enhancements are helping us make USAJOBS even more accessible to the American public. It is part of our commitment to simplifying the Federal hiring process and providing the public with the tools they need to join the Federal workforce."
With the new app, job seekers using an iPhone will be able to:
· Search over 30,000 Federal job opportunities posted on USAJOBS.
· Refine searches by location, salary, occupation and a host of other filters to find the right job for them.
· Save job opportunities to their USAJOBS account.
· Receive saved search updates.
· Receive status updates to jobs that they have applied to.
· Review video content from OPM.
· The app also will use existing functionality within the phone to enhance searches.
o Turn phone sideways for a landscape view.
o Shake phone to go to a detailed view of the job announcement.
o Bump iPhone with another iPhone to share information.
o Enable the use of the voice over function to provide assistance to individuals with disabilities.
USAJOBS has served as the Federal Government's source for Federal employment and job information since August 4, 2003. On a typical day, USAJOBS logs more than 450,000 visits, establishes over 9,400 new applicant accounts, and hosts 30-40,000 jobs.
- end -
Our mission is to Recruit, Retain and Honor a World-Class Workforce to Serve the American People. OPM supports U.S. agencies with personnel services and policy leadership including staffing tools, guidance on labor-management relations and programs to improve work force performance.
Phone: (202) 606-2402
FAX: (202) 606-2264

H/T Jane

Canadian courtroom opens to twitter and blackberry

This past two weeks or so, mainstream media in Canada has regaled us with graphic tweets and pictures of the murder case of a (former? ex?) Colonel of the Canadian military. To me, this has been an interesting study in just how much the mainstream media is willing to share. For the first time, reporters have been using electronic devices in a Canadian courtroom. It is not, of course, the first time that media has reported every last gasp of unfolding tragedies. New York 9/11, anyone? Remember 7/7 in London?

There have been other sensationalised murder cases in Canadian courts, which supplied ample gory details. Paul Bernardo was tried and convicted of murdering two young Ontario women, and Robert Picton, a pig farmer convicted of murdering six women in BC. Both those cases were reported (ad nauseum) but there was no electronic connection with inside the court. In this Williams case, media corporations applied to the judge to be allowed to live blog, tweet, etc minute by minute testimonies.

From the National Post:

Judge rules in media application over trial of Col. Williams

Colonel Russell Williams makes a court appearance In Belleville, Ont., on Oct. 7, 2010.

Kagan McLeod/National Post

Colonel Russell Williams makes a court appearance In Belleville, Ont., on Oct. 7, 2010.

Adrian Humphreys, National Post · Thursday, Oct. 14, 2010

BELLEVILLE, Ont. — A judge ruled Thursday that accredited journalists covering the Col. Russell Williams case will be allowed to use electronic devices to file updates from the courtroom.

Williams, the former commander of Canada’s largest military airbase, says he will plead guilty to killing two women, sexually assaulting two others and committing a long list of fetish burglaries. He will appear in court in Belleville, in eastern Ontario, on Monday to enter his plea.

Thursday’s hearing was hastily arranged last week after reporters arriving to cover Williams’ trial were told they could not use electronic devices in the courtroom. A reporter with Postmedia News requested permission from Justice Robert Scott to send live electronic updates through Twitter from the courtroom during the proceedings using a BlackBerry. Other reporters had asked to use laptop computers to take notes on the high-profile case.

The judge heard legal arguments from media lawyers Thursday.

Williams will appear next week under high security. His lawyer, Michael Edelson, told court his client will plead guilty to all counts.

Two indictments filed in court charge him with: two counts of first-degree murder; two counts of sexual assault; two counts of forcible confinement; and 86 counts of break-and-enter and theft in deviant fetish raids of women’s underwear and other items.

The case has made headlines around the world because of the double life it’s alleged Williams led as a respected and decorated military official...

Read more here.

Long time readers of mine know I am a keen follower of the mainstream media. I am a news junkie. I also have been known in the past to 'gently' chide practitioners of the craft of journalism who I perceive as crossing my long-held line of decency and ethics. Some of my previous columns: I wrote on (and to) Nick Meo here; I have taken Michael Yon to task (maybe not so gently) here. I have written about the BBC here, and wrote on AP publishing pictures of a dying Marine - with up close and very personal pictures. This despite Robert Gates, and the Marines family, expressly asking AP not to print those private last moments of their son's life. I also looked briefly at the history of war reporting here.

My own views on what the public has the 'right to know,' and what the msm should be sharing with the consumer public, are well-documented. In this Williams case, there has been renewed debate on this right to know. Some have said that the public needs to know the depth of depravity of this convicted murderer's actions. This case tested both journalists and editors as to the limits of what they would share in order to feed what the public 'needed' to know of the facts of this case. Quite apart from the fact that I am technically challenged, so would have been totally inept in my coverage, I am so glad I was not a journalist in that courtroom, with the expectation that I would divulge every sordid detail of what happened to Williams' numerous victims.

I have not been the only observer of how the media handled the freedom of the press as ruled on in this case by the Judge presiding over this specific trial.


International media drawn to depraved Williams case

Postmedia News October 21, 2010

The eyes of the world have turned to unassuming Belleville, Ont., as the shocking details of Col. Russell Williams' sexual assaults, murders, and perversions generate headlines and discussion far beyond Canada's borders.

International media, from the New York Times to the Sunday Times of South Africa, from Der Spiegel to La Figaro, have published articles on the lurid testimony and evidence offered this week.

By one count, Williams has appeared in leading national newspapers or news websites in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Russia, Italy, France, Spain, South Africa, Brazil, India, Mexico, and more.

In both the New York Times and the London Daily Mirror, a full 1,100 words were devoted to the killer colonel's confession, while Italy's La Repubblica published a photo gallery of the pictures Williams took of himself wearing women's underwear and lingerie.

Meanwhile, the graphic images and testimony have sparked discussion over how many of the case's details need sharing.

Across the Pacific Ocean, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation ran an editorial on the case questioning whether "it's time to assert the public's right not to know," and if the "only interest being served is prurience, some sort of slack-jawed, morbidly-fascinated curiosity."

On Thursday, at a conference in Florida, The Associated Press Photo Managers discussed the ethical dilemmas newspapers face when printing such photos. Contributors at the conference credited Canadian newspapers for printing notices warning of disturbing content in the Williams case but wondered what value there was in exposing readers to every minute and depraved tidbit of information.

Compiled by Mike Barber, Postmedia News (source)

I found a video from in Toronto, which I am choosing not to share, here, that was a discussion on the ethical dilemma facing newsrooms across Canada as they grappled with how much is too much information. On that video, which yes, showed some of the more graphic pictures of the convicted, one of the editors asserts that they 'have a duty' to share all the information with the public.

I heard soundbites of John Cruickshank of the Toronto Star, justifying their rationale for sharing it all. One of his comments was that "...this is the truth of our day..."

Not everyone is buying into this compulsion to share the tawdry minutiae of these crimes:

Should graphic Russell Williams photos go on the front page?

Torontonians picking up their morning papers today didn’t really have much of a choice: the nastiness of the Russell Williams trial in Belleville has made it to the front pages of all of the major dailies. But Toronto’s newsies did choose different pictures to go on their front pages. (Editor’s note: The following links are to images of the papers’ front pages, and some are upsetting. For readers who want to see the covers, we’ve added them to a slide show at the bottom of the post.)

The Toronto Star and Toronto Sun both ran photos of Williams wearing the underwear of his victims on the front page, while the Globe and Mail and National Post did not. The Star is getting a large share of criticism because the photo it ran is so large and prominent on the page; the Sun’s seems less prominent.

The debate is pretty one-sided on Twitter: Globe-ster Brodie Fenlon writes, “We, as media, fight every day for access to court exhibits. Star undermines our cause by not being responsible with them,” and he’s pretty representative. Responding to claims that the Star is simply serving the public interest, Maclean’s Scott Feschuk writes, “It’s never pretty when the media gets to cloak their lurid instincts in the guise of doing a duty.”

Responding to the criticism, John Cruickshank told CBC’s Metro Morning that the Star decided to run the photos because “that pair of photos…tell an extraordinarily disturbing story.”

“I think there probably is harm, but there’s also a greater good,” said Cruickshank. Defending the Star against the inevitable charge that its goal was simply to sell papers, Cruickshank says that if anything, this will probably hurt the Star’s circulation and certainly enrage advertisers.

The “public interest” defence seems like a red herring; the Globe and the Post both managed to avoid the front-page shocker, and it’s hard to argue they’ve failed to inform the public. What’s upsetting a lot of people, it seems, is that basically the front pages of Toronto’s dailies are impossible to miss: the morning commute takes us past them all the time. Putting Williams in lingerie on the front page takes the choice away from a paper’s readers...(here)

I'm really not convinced that the 'greater good,' as Cruickshank calls it, IS being served by this past week's coverage.

I am not alone. From another blog comes this:

Media Savvy
The Russell Williams trial reporting problem

Warning: This post contains some of the graphic tweets I’ve been condemning to make a number of points. Be warned: they are terrible. Links may also be disturbing and/or not safe for work/school.

This past week has been a horrible one for Canadian media. And when I say media, I mean all of it.

The trial of serial rapist/murderer Russell Williams has finally come to a close. According to The Globe and Mail:

Judge Scott sentenced Col. Williams to two concurrent life sentences for the first-degree murders of Cpl. Comeau and Jessica Lloyd. In addition, he received two 10-year terms for his two sexual assaults and one year apiece for the 82 break-ins, all to be served concurrently.


I’ve watched and read as this man was arrested, detained, and brought to trial. The coverage has disturbed me and completely taken over my life this week (to the point of tears). More and more grisly details have been revealed and in an incredibly salacious and inappropriate manner.

Sensationalism in news doesn’t shock me, but I think it’s important for people to challenge media in how information is conveyed and acknowledge that readers/viewers are significantly influenced and impacted by reporting methods. Making statements like “either follow the trial or not” or “papers will run uncomfortable photos, get over it,” is equivalent to saying “sit down and shut up, news will be delivered as it will and if you don’t like it, don’t read it.” [There were many people advising others to filter out the Williams trial tweets, as if that was a comprehensive solution.] But there are three particularly damaging aspects to this trial that absolutely need to be addressed:...

There is more here.

I have no idea who writes that blog, but I do agree with their views on how the media covered this. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) has been interviewing observers on this topic of media coverage, and a number of educated (and some not so educated) views have been aired, and yes, they are many and varied. Much as I have tried to avoid this whole saga, I did hear one interview with a journalism instructor that resonated with me. Ross Howard spent many years as a professional journalist and now teaches aspiring journalists/reporters. He was on a local afternoon radio show this past week discussing the Williams trial coverage.

In Howard's professional opinion, the coverage was 'way over the top,' and he pointed out the thin line between 'truth' and 'exploitation.' The truth is, in this day of 24/7 news coverage, media corporations are in fierce battles with their competitors to maintain their advertising dollars by virtue of their readership stats.

I have the luxury of choosing what I write about - and how - without having to answer to anyone else's bottom line. Because I don't have any editor pushing me to fill x number of column inches - and assigning me stories - I can avoid what Howard called 'junk food journalism.' Unlike msm journalists covering trials such as Williams, whose livelihoods depend on their 'getting the goods,' my writing choices are not dependent on any managing editor's choices of what is 'newsworthy.' By the way, one of the courses Howard teaches in Ethics in Journalism. Yes, I know in the past I have made cracks about that, but after talking with Howard, I have to tell you there IS hope in the current journalism students. According to Howard, today's up and coming journalists are being rigorously trained in ethics as they learn their craft.

During the course of Howard's CBC interview, the host revealed that CBC sent out a memo about that corporation's modus operandi in covering Williams' trial. According to Quinn, the mother corp reporters were told to share 'only what is necessary to inform,' and to be guided by the premise of what 'serve[s] a journalistic purpose.' The whole interview with Howard, which lasted about 7 minutes, can be found here, and is well worth listening to.

In a brief interview outside the courtroom, one of the lawyers involved in the Williams case said that he felt it was important to have every terrible detail of Williams crimes on the record so that if in the future there was any parole hearings (Williams is ineligible to even apply for parole for at least 25 years,) that the parole board would know exactly the gravity of the crimes of which he was convicted. I agree that is absolutely necessary, but I also disagree vehemently with the rest of us - who were not in the courtroom - needing to know.

Someone else - I forget who now - also said describing every horrific detail was necessary for the public, so that we would recognise and know the evil that walks among us. Oh, really? As anyone who has read history knows, or even listens to today's news, gruesome details are NOT necessary for us to know the nature of evil.

It was the duty of the courts to go through all the evidence (including videos Williams took of himself as he raped and murdered,) and punish the depravity that was Williams. The courts act as the public's agent in meting out the punishment to fit the crime. I do not need to know about the last minutes of Marie-France or Jessica's lives as they came face to face with evil. It is enough - more than enough - for me to know that our judicial system did its job, and that Williams will never again be free to torment innocents.

As the blogger quoted above says, I am really glad that freak show is over. I would be really happy to never have to think about Russell Williams again. My hope is, however, that this whole episode will provide more training tools, encourage robust discussion, in newsrooms and journalism schools, around the country as to what 'duty to inform' really mean, and what do we, the public really need to know.

As Howard pointed out, and I agree, journalists today have many new tech toys with which to ply their profession. My hope is that this recent foray into minute by minute - every last gasp (literally) - reportage, will cause thoughtful deliberation as to how these new tools are to be prudently used.

In this case, for me the most important questions, that it is imperative for every journalist/editor to ask themselves are: "Who does it serve?" and "Just because we can, should we?" I am pretty sure my regular readers know my answer to that last question.