Monday, December 15, 2008

They don't kill you, but . . .

A Canadian investigative reporter - a rara avis - named Paul Palango writes about his experiences of how the government deals with investigation:
"In the early 1980s, as a reporter at the Globe and Mail, I undertook an investigation into the Urban Transportation Development Corp., an Ontario Crown corporation. The UTDC, as it was known, was the baby of then-premier William Davis, who had received international recognition for promoting the company's linear-induction train technology. I found that the technology was extremely expensive and would not likely sell in a competitive market without enormous government subsidies.

The UTDC never sold another train after that article.

Back then, Davis took aim at me both personally and professionally. He called me a traitor to Ontario and complained privately to the publisher of the Globe and Mail about my 'biased' reporting.

A few weeks later, while I was stopped at a traffic light on University Avenue in Toronto, a reporter for the Toronto Star pulled up beside me, rolled down his window, and said: 'I hear you're going to sports.'

And so it happened."

And the newspaper editors and publishers still wonder why people no longer put up with their lousy products! After discussing libel chill and the corruption of the mainstream media - "fed to the point of satiation on news releases and marketing by governments, business, and themselves" - he discusses his adventures in attempting to investigate the Arar case (he hints that there is more to Arar's past than it is now politically correct to believe):
"However, strange things did begin to happen. By October 2007, my sources were telling me that the government and the RCMP had issued strict orders that no one discuss the Arar case with me.

In November, my computer started acting weirdly. I found that it was heavily infected with viruses. I installed a new computer on a Wednesday afternoon. It had a Windows firewall and another firewall on its router. The next morning, my brand-new computer was barely functioning. A technician from my Internet provider, Eastlink, worked over the phone with me for more than an hour trying to determine what was wrong. Finally, a technician came to my house. He discovered that overnight someone had hacked into the system and deposited 1,105 copies of viruses and Trojan horses on my hard drive. Eastlink security said that whoever had attacked me had targeted me and was 'extremely sophisticated. You should call the police.'

I did not do that. I just changed computers and used my laptop. The next week, my laptop wasn't working. Someone had managed to get into the registry and flip off my product code.

'Whoever did this must have been in your house,' a security technician from Eastlink told me. 'You should call the police.'

I was certain that no one had been in my house, but I asked Eastlink to record both situations in its logs."

"My phones and computers were always acting up. As I reported in the book, I was mysteriously blocked from some Web sites while probing possible connections to Arar. Nevertheless, I talked openly on the phones and through e-mails and made it clear that copies of my stories were regularly being sent to my publisher, agent, lawyers, and others, including two working journalists. I kept these people in the loop at all times because the dumbest thing for a vulnerable freelancer to do is try to protect an explosive story alone. Ask Danny Casolaro. He ended up dead in August 1991 in a West Virginia motel bathtub, and his file on the 'Octopus', as he called it, went missing forever."

"You don't get killed for being on the cutting edge in Canada; you either are ignored or shunned, or get heaps of mud thrown at you. Over the past few weeks, I've experienced all three.

I was booked to do a number of shows on national television - CTV's Canada AM, the CBC's Sunday Morning - and the CBC radio syndicate, among others. Each cancelled at the last minute. Why? We can't find out. My public-relations person, Pat Cairns, says she has never seen a media response like that. She's astonished. It's clear that not only my well-researched Arar story but everything else in the book - about the RCMP, Jean Chrétien, Brian Mulroney, Stephen Harper, and the state of Canada - is making too many people nervous."