Friday, December 14, 2007

Release The Railgate Tapes!


"When I am attacked," Richard Nixon once remarked to this writer, "it is my instinct to strike back." The president is in a mood to obey his instinct.......So on Wednesday, July 18th, at a White House meeting, it was agreed unanimously that the (Watergate) tapes should not be released.
Stewart Alsop, Newsweek, Aug 8, 1973

Now, unless he really and truly is a Machiavellian Superstar the likes of which this Province has never seen, it would appear that British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell never expected it would ever come to this.

Being forced to release a bunch of 'conflicty' RailGate documents, that is.

Otherwise, as BC Mary pointed out earlier this week, why would Mr. Campbell have engaged in the following exchange with Opposition Leader Carole James in the Legislature way back in the Spring of 2007:

C. James: I appreciate that clarification, but just a question again around the privilege or, as you said, determining whether there's cabinet confidentiality or otherwise. Does the Premier agree that preventing document release through privilege is interference?

Hon. G. Campbell: This is an important issue; there is no question about that. I think it's important for the Leader of the Opposition to understand that the government's only real direction with regard to this was, from the outset, that it should be unfettered and independent — that we would remain away from both the decisions with regard to whether or not a case should proceed. Certainly, we don't intend to comment on what's taking place within the court.

Now, we would agree with Mr. Campbell that this is an 'important issue', especially now that one of the defendents, Robert Virk is seeking '17 documents' that he was involved in generating and/or apparently saw while he was still working with Mr. Campbell's government on the BC Rail deal.

Interestingly, Mr. Virk's lawyer has already told us about alleged details in two of those documents that were apparently acquired through a Freedom of Information request.

Why might these documents be vitally important to Virk's defense?

Because, if his lawyer is correct, the discussions/correspondence between Mr. Virk and Mr. Chris Trumpy, then a deputy minister and member of the BC Rail Restructuring 'Evaluation Committee' (see flowchart at the top of the post which is from the 'Interim Fairness Advisor's Report -pdf') appeared to be centered around OmniTrax' bid for the Roberts Bank Spur Line.

Now, don't forget that OmniTrax was the company whose lobbyists, Pilothouse and principals, allegedly paid bribes to Mr. Virk and co-accused David Basi.

And don't forget that there have also been accusations that OmniTrax may have been receiving special consideration in a quid pro quo/smoking gun deal for the Spur Line in return for its having previously provided 'competitive' cover for the mainline deal that was won by CN.

Thus, if any measure of this were supported by the documents requested by the defence it would very strongly suggest that Mess'rs Virk and Basi were not acting alone but rather, at least in part, under the direction of the government.

Which was then, and still is now, despite the defection of many of the Ministers involved at the time, the government of Mr. Gordon Campbell.

So, what has that government now decided with respect to, as Mr. Campbell called it last May, the unfettered and independent treatment, of the documents?

Why, of course, just like Mr. Nixon's government from long ago, Mr. Campbell's government has decided to stonewall:

Government lawyer George Copley has said the documents can't be released because they involve legal and financial advice on B.C. Rail and are therefore protected by solicitor-client privilege.

In other words, like Mr. Nixon's before it, Mr. Campbell's government appears to have decided that the Railgate Tapes/Documents will not be released.

All of which has us wondering if any of Lotusland's proJourno Pundits will soon be asking which is worse..........

.......The Crime or the Cover-Up?

Of course, those, like Bill Tieleman, who have been following things closely have noted that Campbell government lawyer Mr. Copley also invoked the exchange between the Premier and Ms. James in the Ledge as a 'justification' for the government's present stonewalling action. This is nothing sort of bizarre, and Mary (see bottom of post) has exposed it for what it is - a ridiculous circular argument (which is the polite, non-Doctor 'J', way of putting it).
Some (OK, maybe one or two) readers may be wondering why we resorted to taking the flowchart from the 'interim' fairness advisor's report that was commissioned by the government after issues of leaks arose way, way, way back in mid-Nov 2003 (ie. after CP Rail pulled out of the bidding screaming that the fix was in which occurred before the Ledge Raids that led to the Basi/Virk/Basi charges). Well, it appears that the link to the final report (which includes the tag 'prem' within it) is dead. Coincidence?
Oh, and one last, pseudoFeltian point - someone who goes by the moniker 'deep throat' first posted up the Campbell/ James exchange quoted by Mr. Copley today over at Mr. T's place last Monday. A second coincidence?
Interesting Trivia Update: As our good friend Big Audible Dyn-O-Mite told us off-line ......Alexander Butterfield correctly guessed that Mark Felt was Woodstein's real life 'Deep Throat'. Who was Mr. Butterfield? Well, he was the Nixonian deputy assistant who originally told the world that the Watergate tapes actually existed.


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