Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cons Steal a Page From Nixon's Playbook

When Daniel Ellsberg leaked the now infamous "Pentagon Papers" in the 1970s, the Nixon gang decided to go after him with a vengeance.

Via Wiki:

As a response to the leaks, the Nixon administration began a campaign against further leaks and against Ellsberg personally.[17] Aides Egil Krogh and David Young under John Ehrlichman's supervision created the "White House Plumbers", which would later lead to the Watergate burglaries.

In August 1971, Krogh and Young met with G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt in a basement office in the Old Executive Office Building. Hunt and Liddy recommended a "covert operation" to get a "mother lode" of information about Ellsberg's mental state to discredit him. Krogh and Young sent a memo to Ehrlichman seeking his approval for a "covert operation [to] be undertaken to examine all of the medical files still held by Ellsberg’s psychiatrist." Ehrlichman approved under the condition that it be "done under your assurance that it is not traceable."[18]

On September 3, 1971, the burglary of Lewis Fielding's office, titled "Hunt/Liddy Special Project No.1" in Ehrlichman's notes, was carried out by Hunt, Liddy and CIA agents Eugenio Martinez, Felipe de Diego and Bernard Barker. The "Plumbers" failed to find Ellsberg's file. Hunt and Liddy subsequently planned to break into Fielding's home, but Ehrlichman did not approve the second burglary.

The break-in was not known to Ellsberg or to the public until it came to light during Ellsberg and Russo's trial in April 1973.
Fast forward to this century and have a look at the case of Sean Bruyea:

OTTAWA – Confidential medical and financial information belonging to an outspoken critic of Veterans Affairs, including part of a psychiatrist’s report, found its way into the briefing notes of a cabinet minister.

Highly personal information about Sean Bruyea was contained in a 13-page briefing note prepared by bureaucrats in 2006 for then minister Greg Thompson, a copy of which was obtained by The Canadian Press.

The note, with two annexes of detailed information, laid out in detail Bruyea’s medical and psychological condition.
It's no secret that the Stephen Harper cabal will go to almost any lengths to stifle dissent - from muzzling Conservative MPs and ministers to firing scientists and calling opposition members traitors and terrorist sympathizers - but this has to be a new low.

So, how did Harper react to this situation? By doing what he always does: blaming the previous Liberal government. But there's a very obvious problem with that little tactic:

The New Veterans Charter was an initiative that straddled the transition between Paul Martin's Liberal government in 2005-2006 and Mr. Harper's Conservatives, who assumed power in late January, 2006.

A briefing note prepared for former veterans affairs minister Greg Thompson in March, 2006, was laced with private medical and financial information about Mr. Bruyea, including a quote from a psychiatrist's letter.

Experts called it a flagrant breach of the country's privacy laws and an attempt to destroy the former military intelligence officer's credibility.

The note was prepared for Mr. Thompson in advance of a meeting he had with Mr. Bruyea on March 28, 2006.
From Bruyea's site:

The document path even went as high as the Prime Minister’s Office when on March 21, 2006, a mid-level staffer called Bruyea and urged to him call off a news conference slated for that day where he publicly urged the Conservatives to hold off enacting the charter.
Harper now claims his government will cooperate fully with an investigation. When have we heard that before?
 

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