Monday, November 30, 2009

Incredibly stupid units



I reported some time ago how Chris Shaw had renamed the RCMP's 2010 Olympics Integrated Security Unit (ISU) to "Incredibly Stupid Unit", as a tribute to this law enforcement group's ability to shoot itself in the foot for no apparent reason. In particular, the ISU made recent headlines for allegedly harassing a student whose only crime was to know Chris Shaw.

Well, it appears that the Canadian Border Services Agency has just snatched the gold from the ISU in the highly contested "stupidest law enforcement agency" competition.

Award-winning American independent journalist Amy Goodman was on her way to Vancouver last Wednesday to give a talk about her latest book. She was stopped at the Canadian border and grilled for an hour and a half about her intentions in Canada. What the border officers really wanted to know is if Goodman was planning to talk at all about the 2010 Olympics. Problem was, Goodman had no plans whatsoever to talk about those Olympics, not knowing - yet - that there was much to talk about.

Back in her New York offices a few days later, a very upset Goodman who just couldn't wrap her mind around why the Canadian border officers were so obsessed with the Olympics, decided to do what American investigative journalists do best - investigate the matter.

She was not impressed with her findings. Police harassment, stifling of people's rights to freedom of expression, broken Olympic promises, eviction of low-income residents - it all came out like a big Olympic lava flow. Not to mention, of course, intimidation of foreign journalists on their way to a completely unrelated event.

And so this morning, quite logically, she dedicated a large portion of her daily news show Democracy Now! to the civil rights issues surrounding the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. She invited who else but Chris Shaw himself, along with civil rights lawyer David Eby, to explain to her hundreds of thousands of viewers and listeners worldwide what the hell is going on in Vancouver.

That broadcast is priceless. Enjoy!

The Vancouver Olympics civil rights question is now front and center in America's independent media news rooms, thanks to the fine work of the Canadian Border officers. Anti-Olympic protesters could not have done a better job. This is truly extraordinary. Where in the world do they recruit those people?

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