Monday, June 7, 2010

Harper's lying Afghan sell to Canadians

Tories worked hard to paint bloody Afghan war as peace mission
The Canadian Press
: The Conservative government used pervasive message management to persuade Canadians their foremost purpose in Afghanistan was building schools and fostering democracy rather than waging a war that was turning bloodier by the day.

An investigation by The Canadian Press shows Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives systematically drafted 'message event proposals' (MEPs) a part of a quiet campaign to persuade Canadians their country was primarily engaged in development work to rebuild a shattered nation rather than hunting down and killing an emboldened insurgency.

The government used MEPs to script the words it wanted to hear from the mouths of its top diplomats, aid workers and cabinet ministers in 2007-08 to divert public attention from the soaring double-digit death toll of Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan. While the message was being massaged in Ottawa, the reconstituted Taliban unleashed a fresh wave of attacks on NATO troops...

Other records show the government went so far as to script an identical set of quotes and talking points for two returning aid workers, who were supposed to be giving separate interviews on their 'personal perspective' on progress in Afghanistan... 'That was clearly what the message was'... said a senior government official who worked in the PCO but asked not to be named because of fears of career reprisals.

Documents detail how the Harper government attempted to shape perceptions of Canada's fiercest combat mission since the Korean War... The strategy doesn't sit well with Nipa Banerjee, who headed Canada's aid program in Kabul from 2003 to 2006 before the Canadian Forces moved to Kandahar... 'I think we were used politically at that time.'
Image from James Travers, 'The year of governing secretly'.