Sunday, March 7, 2010

An email reply from Amir Attaran

Hi Jerry,
There’s no secret. I held research and teaching positions at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Govt earlier this decade, where the thrust of my work was global health policy. Part of the time I was based in the Centre for International Development, where the director was Jeff Sachs. Later I was in the Carr Centre for Human Rights Policy, where the director was Michael Ignatieff. From Harvard, I went for briefer stints teaching at Yale, and researching at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (also called Chatham House) in London.

During the above period, I was being attacked by the anti-globalization left wing on specious accusations that my salary at Harvard was covertly financed by big pharma. Michael was of help in dispelling those false allegations. So it is both comical and ironic now to be attacked from the Tory right, with the nonsense that I am a “puppet” (your word) for Ignatieff.

The better explanation is that, having drawn bullets from both the left and the right at various times, I am independent-minded and believe in the facts as my research leads me to them. Currently, the facts are that officials in Canada’s government have knowingly partnered our country with torturers in Afghanistan. Others may grumble about it, but the evidence is overwhelming.


Anonymous said...

There is no doubt in my mind Prof. Attaran is an honorable man. As is Richard Colvin. Honorable men are torn apart to defend the undefendable...this Conservative Federal Government.

Anonymous said...

Anon above

Bang on

Honourable men being smeared by a very dishonourable government.

Anonymous said...

But they are all, all, honourable men.

JimBobby said...

Currently, the facts are that officials in Canada’s government have knowingly partnered our country with torturers in Afghanistan. Others may grumble about it, but the evidence is overwhelming.

Nice, meaty statement there. Should be quoted often.

zoop said...

Anonymous says Attaran and Colvin are honourable men, lets assume that's true.

What about Generals Hillier, Gauthier and Ambassador David Mulroney? Aren't THEY honourable men too?

How do you reconcile their conflicting testimony?

Michael J. Murphy said...

Where is the evidence Attaran?

What gives you more access than Parliamentary Committees? It sounds so very convenient - and yes partisan. You speak on the matter with such obvious distaste for the Harper government I see an ideological and less dispassionate point of view.

You appear to have a dog in this race somewhere - and it will show up eventually. Anonymous funding for your stay at Harvard in Iggy's section and non-disclosure of said funding sounds just a little smelly. Who funded you?

Jerry Prager said...
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Jerry Prager said...

MJM Your question of anonymity seemed fair so I put it to Amir,
This is his response

"Jerry, as has been written about repeatedly in the past seven years, the donor asked to remain anonymous, and Harvard University agreed.
Therefore, whoever on your blog is so dimwitted as to inquire on the donor’s identity is strongly recommended to get up from the chair, fetch an English language dictionary, and remind himself or herself of the definition of the word “anonymous.” While going to the trouble, may I suggest the person also look up the dictionary definitions of “desperate,” “pathetic,” and perhaps even “paranoid.” All those words pertain to their shameful and nauseating witch hunt, and that is my final word on the matter."

My response was that while I can understand his position, I can also see why the question doesn't go away.

And to you MJM, I will add that I get the impression that he genuinely doesn't know, and that the issue of anonymity is probably a fairly standard procedure between donors and universities.
More standard than say prisoner exchanges between Bush League combatants and those in the Geneva League.

As a final comment on Attaran's funds and the reasons for the anonymous donations, they remind me of Charles Dicken's donor in Great Expectations.

Michael J. Murphy said...
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Michael J. Murphy said...

Attaran has lots of emotional capital built into his campaign to "get" the Harper government. I find it interesting he should want to use epithets in his description. What is he afraid of I wonder? What did he expect when he went on TV and slandered the Government and the Canadian Forces. What is his motive? It certainly isn't patriotism.

Most people with ethical principles do not work for people or organizations where the source of the money is unknown. It doesn't serve him well to want to be credible when his background is as shady as his source for the current fiasco he has embroiled himself in. On TV he comes across as a Partisan Hack not a dispassionate observer.

He's getting his 15 minutes of fame but if he's wrong he's pretty much ruined his credibility in this country.

Jerry Prager said...

The slandering-soldiers talking-point speak is nonsense, it's a chain of command issue in an ethical minefield seeded by the Bush League tendency of the Harpercons.
Certainly if he's wrong, his credibility is shot not just here but around the world.
That said, the government is violating parliament privilege and is therefor acting contemptuously of not just the majority of the House, but of the majority of Canadian voters who oppose him precisely because of his contempt for us.

Michael J. Murphy said...

With respect then Jerry get Iggy to bring forward a contempt of parliament motion and make it non-confidence.

We'll have an election on it and what better place to decide an issue that the left seems to think is so dastardly. We can also then examine the Liberals role in the transfer of prisoners prior to the election in 2006 and see what they did - or not - to avoid torture of prisoners.

I'd rather have that than a stupid inquiry that will just feed lawyers more tax payers money and perhaps end up costing as much as an election.

Lets do the election thing and soon. We the people will decide.

Jerry Prager said...

First off, Iggy isn't going to raise he contempt of parliament charge for the same reason the Conservative wouldn't do it, they don't want the custom re-established, I do, which is why I think the only hope Canadian voters have, of reigning in the parties themselves, is through a writ of mandamus, aggrieved commoners appealing to the court.

All an election would do is bury the file further.

It is also perfectly legal to get rid of a Prime Minister and not have an election. A PM has to keep the confidence of the house or lose it, and no election is necessary. And this time, rather than a 40,000 strong Facebook Group opposed to Coalition aided and abetted by the corporatist media, there are hundreds of thousands of people online who am learned to tun around internet polls, own the comments sections of corporate media and otherwise mass move ourselves into action, so don't even bother warning about an anti-coalition backlash, because we will grab the lash and rip it from the hands of the extreme right now holding it.

If you weren't so partisan on the issue, you'd see that by sacrificing this odious right wing agenda, and settling for a more reasonable form of conservativism, we would all benefit as voters.

I'd create a custom of fair share cabinet myself, all party inclusive based on proportional representation, with the House as the Loyal Opposition.

I'd even offer the Conservatives the first shot at producing a PM from their ranks who they think could keep the confidence of the House. Harper is just an MP we never elected him CEO of the PMO, we never asked him to destroy liberalism or remake the country in some secret conservative image. The Harpercons go, and then we can talk democratic reform.

And as far "we the people"an American term, (I prefer the term commoner myself, it helps everyone realize what the bottom line is in a commonwealth nation) but we cannot decide the issue without the facts. Give us the facts and then we will have an election if you want to go that route. Turn the file over to the people we voted/hired already and let them do their jobs according to the constitution