Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Truth Will Never Be Known... Air India

I wonder why Sikhs see Air India for the most part as an attempt to defame them and their community, while others (the media in particular) see it as the reaction of extremists or terrorists in exacting revenge for events elsewhere. I think it basically goes to the point that the Sikh community is talking to each other about the events without engaging the broader community(ies). While the broader community hasn't acknowledged the sources or lines of thought on which the Sikhs are basing their opinions.

The inquiry that is currently going on isn't going to get to the bottom of this event. But one thing that surely has to happen, is that Sikhs have to stand up and make a better presentation of their case that the perpetrators of this event are NOT definitively proven to have been Sikhs. Highlighting the work put forward by the Globe and Mail reporters who wrote the book Soft Target is one way.

Another is to take the testimony of folks who suddenly come forward with uncorroborated information with a grain of salt, such as Ontario Lieutenant- Governor James Bartleman. None of his bosses seems to have had the information he claims to have seen, nor is the memo available anywhere else other than in his own memory.

From the National Post,
Gordon Smith, a former deputy minister of external affairs, cast doubt on Mr. Bartleman's startling testimony last week about a warning for the June 23, 1985, flight that crossed his desk just a few days prior to the bombing.

"I think it's possible ? that he has conflated several events and run them together, and his memory in that sense is playing tricks on him," Mr. Smith told inquiry head Justice John Major.

Mr. Bartleman, who worked under Mr. Smith at the time, said he tried to raise the threat with an RCMP officer on June 18, 1985, but was brushed off, and then did not discuss it again for more than two decades.

But Mr. Smith said he knows Mr. Bartleman well and cannot imagine he would not have told him or others about the threat either before or after the bombing, which claimed 329 lives.

Judge Major suggested Mr. Smith was contradicting Mr. Bartleman because the government was not happy about what Mr. Bartleman told the inquiry.

Outside the hearing, Mr. Smith said he was "wounded to the core" by Judge Major's comment.

"I found this afternoon difficult. [Mr. Bartleman] is a friend of mine. I am sure he has testified what he believes," said Mr. Smith, who is now a professor at the University of Victoria.

"In this case, I am just calling it the way that I see, and I did not, quite frankly, like the interpretation [Judge Major] was putting on it."

Mr. Smith said at least 10 other people would have received the same top-secret intelligence that Mr. Bartleman says he saw.

"It would astonish me, knowing him, that he would not bring this information to my attention," Mr. Smith said.

Mr. Smith said he was aware Air India and other Indian government targets in Canada had been threatened for months and that law enforcement in Canada was providing extra security.

"There had not been a threat to a specific flight leaving Canada.? If that had been known, I would have great difficulty imagining how luggage could get on the flight without the passenger being on the flight with it," Mr. Smith said.

He said he watched Mr. Bartleman's testimony on television last week and could not believe he was hearing the information for the first time.

"It just doesn't add [up]; it just doesn't make sense when you try to put all this together.? This is a really important piece of information."

Mr. Smith said if he had known about the specific warning Mr. Bartleman claims to have seen, he would have raced to share it with his minister at the time, Joe Clark, within "two minutes."

Take a look at the following from the BC Sikh Youth site for a response to the current maelstrom engulfing the Sikh community in Canada and in particular, BC.

Canadian Media's Attack on Sikhs - Part I
Canadian Media's Attack on Sikhs - Part II

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