Filed under: "canada", Conservative Government, Stephen Harper, Torture, USA | Tags: "canada", Barack Obama, CIA, Torture Practices, United Nations
Tuesday’s publication of the US Senate report into the CIA’s brutal interrogation techniques in the aftermath of 9/11 has shed new light on Ottawa’s complicity in acts of torture.
The response of the Conservative government was in keeping with its long-standing refusal to acknowledge any Canadian involvement in torture. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, answering a question in the House of Commons on Tuesday, declared, “This is a report of the United States Senate. It has nothing to do whatsoever with the government of Canada.”
Foreign minister John Baird reacted to a question from the press on the harm done to Canada’s reputation by its complicity with torture programs by arrogantly declaring, “Canada doesn’t torture. Period! Period!” He walked away without answering a follow-up query.
These are barefaced lies. Successive governments have been implicated in facilitating the brutal and inhumane techniques outlined in the Senate document. Canada acted as a major transit route for US rendition flights that sent captured suspects to third countries or CIA black sites to be tortured. According to the Globe and Mail, a total of 20 US aircraft made 74 stopovers at Canadian airports while on rendition flights. The number of flights was second only to the US itself.
Previously Canadian authorities have admitted that information CSIS used to argue for the indefinite detention of Adil Charkaoui and Mohamed Harkat came from Abu Zubaydah, an al-Qaeda terror suspect who figures prominently in the Senate report. The CIA used Zubaydah as something of a “guinea pig” in its torture campaign, including “waterboarding” him 83 times. For years, Canadian authorities insisted before the courts that there was no reason to think Abu Zubaydah had named Charkaoui and Harkat other than willingly.
The Conservative government’s assertions are also disproved by directives it has itself issued to the police and intelligence agencies that explicitly permit them to use information gained through torture and to supply information to foreign intelligence agencies even if it is likely to lead those named to be tortured. These directives apply to Canada’s Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the military, Canada’s signals intelligence agency (CSEC), and the border control agency.
According to the federal framework document on which the directives are based, in the event of a “substantial risk” that sharing information with a foreign agency will cause someone to be tortured, consultation with a deputy minister or minister is required to approve it. Guidelines state that the minister must take into account the immediacy of the threat and the danger to Canadian national security interests.
A statement released by the office of Public Safety Minister Stephen Blaney was no less disingenuous than Harper. “Our government does not condone the use of torture, and certainly does not engage in it.” But the statement then went on to make clear that information gained through the use of torture would be used by Canadian intelligence. “If we get a tip from any source that Canadian lives are in danger, we will act to save those lives.”
It is no secret that Canada, more than any other country, has integrated its intelligence and military services with those of its southern neighbour. Ottawa has been Washington’s unflinching ally for decades.
Canada’s intelligence services are a key component of the global five eyes alliance, which includes the American NSA, and the intelligence agencies of Britain, New Zealand and Australia. Speaking to CBC, a former CSIS agent explained that links were even more direct with the CIA, since CSIS liaison officers work in CIA headquarters, while CIA officials do likewise in Ottawa.
Criticizing Canada’s ties to the US intelligence apparatus, Ottawa-based human rights lawyer Paul Champ told the media, “I don’t think that anyone in the intelligence community in the world, at least in democratic countries, can wake up tomorrow and tell themselves that their relationship with the United States and the CIA can remain the same. Until and unless the United States shows that there’s going to be real accountability for these criminal acts, I think our relationship with the CIA has to be very closely monitored and reviewed at all times.”
In reality, a diametrically opposed approach is being taken by Canada’s ruling elite. Showing its contempt for democratic rights, Canada’s parliament is in the process of substantially expanding the powers of the spy agencies. Under an antiterrorism bill currently making its way through parliament, CSIS is explicitly authorized to share information with the members of the “Five Eyes” and to conduct investigations abroad.
This policy has the full backing of all of the parliamentary parties. The latest reforms to counterterrorist legislation have been backed at the committee stage by both the Liberals and Official Opposition New Democratic Party (NDP). In the wake of the torture report, the NDP merely called on the Harper government to revoke the directives issued in 2011 permitting the five government agencies to use information gained via torture. No call for a serious investigation, let alone the prosecution, of individuals implicated in torture was made.
A series of cases involving Canadian nationals demonstrate that Canada’s intelligence agencies not only assisted the US rendition program, but also developed its own version of the practice. This involved Canada’s national-security agencies encouraging the detention of Canadian terror suspects who were travelling abroad by third countries. These countries included authoritarian regimes where the prohibitions on detention without charge and the mistreatment of prisoners contained in Canadian law did not apply. The job of interrogating suspects, frequently with the use of torture techniques, was in this way subcontracted by Ottawa, which made intelligence gathered in Canada available to the country concerned.
Canadian intelligence passed information to the US on Maher Arar, A Syrian-born Canadian citizen who was arrested in New York in 2002. Arar was then flown to Syria, where he was imprisoned for a year and tortured. During this time, Canadian intelligence gave information to the Syrian regime to be used in his interrogation, including a list of questions he was to answer. False confessions were extracted from him that he had participated in an Al-Qaeda plot. Recognizing the injustice done to him, he was awarded over $10 million in a court appeal following his release.
Another infamous case is that of Omar Khadr, who was arrested in Afghanistan as a 15-year-old and transferred by the US to Guantanamo Bay where he was tortured. Canadian agents visited him at the prison camp to carry out their own interrogation, even though they were fully aware that he had been subject to sleep deprivation immediately prior to their visit. Despite strong government opposition, he has since been returned to Canada. The Harper government is currently engaged in an attempt to have the Supreme Court overturn a lower court decision to consider him as a young offender, because were it to stand, Khadr would likely be released.
Canada’s military is also complicit in torture. Canadian forces in Afghanistan passed detainees on to both the US and Afghan troops, although Ottawa and the military knew there was a strong likelihood they would be tortured. Approximately 400 detainees were handed over by Canadian troops to the Afghan army, while 40 were transferred to US custody, according to a report in the Toronto Star. This is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions, which make it illegal to transfer persons to authorities where there is a reasonable belief that they will be tortured.
The Harper government repeatedly blocked efforts to investigate the full extent of Canadian involvement in torture in Afghanistan. Citing national security considerations, it prevented a parliamentary committee from accessing documents from the Canadian Armed Forces authorizing the transfers. Officials who could have provided more information on what went on, such as one of Ottawa’s leading diplomats in Afghanistan, Richard Colvin, were threatened with prosecution if they spoke publicly.
A UN report in 2012 issued a further condemnation of this practice, accusing the Canadian government of “complicity in torture.” The UN committee also called on Ottawa to pay compensation to three torture victims, Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Abu Almaati and Muayyed Nureddin, who had been the subject of a public inquiry over their arrests in Egypt and Syria. These cases provided yet more examples of how Canadian intelligence worked directly with authoritarian regimes, first to have their nationals detained, and then abused using torture methods to extract confessions.
Filed under: "canada" | Tags: "canada", Capitalism, Islam, Muslim, Racism, State Terror, Stephen Harper, Terror, Terrorism
Stephen Harper is the most deeply reviled Prime Minister in Canada’s history. On the world stage, he is the servant of Big Oil boiling oil out of tar-sands to destroy major river systems and pollute the planet with dirty oil, while his attack dog John Baird leads the warmongering and bullying of nations like Iran and Syria targeted by the US-Israeli axis.
He is the most despotic and toxic first minister in the life of our country. His administration defunds every social program and life protective system it can. It strips the country of its public information infrastructures at every level – including now the gagging of non-profit NGO’s by eliminating their charitable status if they question any policy of his regime.
Just as his friend George Bush Jr., Harper holds government by big-money backing, continual lies, attack ads, and life-blind policies to enrich the already rich. Canada’s neo-con political class may have its head on backwards, but Harper is very cunning in skirting, subverting and perverting the law to abuse power at every level. He is the poster boy of the global corporate agenda of wrecking society and its common life support systems.
Harper also owes his political life to the RCMP. After a after non-confidence vote triggered the 2006 election, RCMP commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli instructed his staff to include former Liberal finance minister Ralph Goodale’s name in a news release announcing a criminal investigation. This reversed the stench of the Harper regime’s continuous scandals and corruption onto the Liberals by a false RCMP smear. As a former top insider of the Tory party advised me, “the RCMP won the election for Harper”. The elected Harper regime then surrounded the RCMP with blocks to silence all facts – the signature operation – so the truly deepest scandal of the era proceeded with impunity to the present day. So it is not surprising that CSIS, the RCMP and Harper are collaborating to get more secret powers for the police and spooks in return for serving Harper’s underlying agenda.
How “Acts of Terrorism” Fit the Known M.O.
Harper certainly needs an accepted domestic enemy to save him from the rising revulsion of the thinking public against his rule. His regime’s record of destroying the life substance of Canada piece by piece cannot be denied. One already knew what was coming when Harper immediately called the crazed run-over of soldiers in Quebec on October 20 “a terrorist act” about which he was “deeply worried”. In fact, it was the act of a criminally insane loner run amok in a small Quebec town without any evident objective as required under the law’s definition of terrorism. But with the foreknowledge of his addled Islam by the RCMP and CSIS, he seems to have been an ideal patsy for Harper’s home “terrorism” claim. He had already been arrested and his passport cancelled in June. We can imagine how an effective undercover agent might have whipped him into a Jihad frenzy knowing he would soon be full of holes and unable to report what happened.
One can more clearly see such a scenario in the case of the clinically insane, drug-addicted petty criminal living in a homeless shelter in Ottawa who had warned a judge in front of the police back in 2011:”‘If you can’t keep me in, I’m going to do something”. Who could have been a better tool for the events to come? On October 22 after the first “As a “radicalized terrorist” attack, a long-gun impossible to hide that no-one saw before ended up in the hands of Micheal Zebaf-Bibeau. The rest is history. He went on a killing spree with no known blood testing afterwards for the drugs he was evidently driven by in the video record of his frenzied and super-charged behaviour, just as there was no known test of the body of crazed drive-over killer, Martin Couture-Rouleau. How extraordinary. How unspoken in the lavish profusion of other details and official false connection to ISIS.
“Terrorist” stops the mind, and “jihadist” locks it in. Harper’s first invocation of the mind-stopper was, as always, strategic. Although blood tests for a substance-abuse driving offense are automatic, none was reported although the videos show every sign of chemical possession. Bibeau too went crazy and was dead with countless bullets through him before any questions could be asked. All such strange coincidences are part of the now familiar covert-state MO.
Joining the Dots
Since Harper publicly claimed an “act of terrorism” two days before the sensational Ottawa murder and crashing of Parliament and as soon as the Quebec killing occurred, questions arise. The normally zipper-lip Harper did so long before any forensic facts were in, and before the idea even occurred to anyone else. Why? Revealingly the federal security state had been running war games exercises depicting just such attacks weeks before the crazed murders (Canadian Authorities Ran War Game Drills Depicting ISIS Attack Scenarios Brandon Martinez, Global Research, October 24, 2014). Lone-wolf nut cases, killings out of nowhere, unknown motivators and arming, and the state leader most profiting from mutation of the demented murders into “terrorist acts” before anyone else – – who joins the dots? It is taboo to think through such situations, and this too is known beforehand. Sure enough within the day, the RCMP and CSIS get the new extraordinary powers they sought, and for the first time in office the robotic Harper is behaving with a warmth not even extended to his young son with whom he shakes hands in farewell. He is hugging opposition leaders in Parliament to show a new human side to complete the image makeover in motion.
Harper is happy because he thinks his next election is saved. But the first forensic question in acts of murderous crimes is again never asked. The hypnotic trance of “terrorism” in sedate Ottawa holds the narrative unchallenged. Cui bono? Who benefits from these unbelievable closed-case murders in two days which have the media headlining “terrorism” and “anti-terrorist legislation” everywhere Canadians look, and Harper now as the strong hand in charge. The top banner headline of the weekend Globe screamed “How far should we go?”
Home-Grown Terror for Harper’s Re-Election
The first function of the terrorist claim is the standard one – diversion from the ailing economy and the majority’s growing revulsion of the leader and his party. Harper has made enemies of every thinking Canadian in the country by his stripping of the country’s public life and knowledge bases, and reversing the country’s global reputation as an agent of peace, social conscience and reverence for nature. Diversion to a constructed Enemy is the oldest strategy in the book of despised heads of state, and Harper is in unprecedented need for distraction to another target to uplift him at the same time. Bush Jr. ran on this formula for eight years.
If the stratagem is not seen through, the second big boost to Harper will be to justify the despotic rule and quasi-police state he has built with ever more prisons amidst declining crime, ever more ant-terrorist rhetoric and legislation, ever more cuts to life support systems and protections (the very ones which would have prevented these murderous rampages), and ever more war-mongering and war-criminal behaviours abroad. The evil regime of despotic control and life oppression he has instituted surpasses any ill rule in the nation’s history. As the US prototype of the life-blind right wing has taught him, the greatest justification of one’s rule is knee-jerk hatred of a safe Enemy. But in Canada, that does not work over time. So the domestic “acts of terrorism” in Quebec and Ottawa itself provide the needed Enemy within Canada to justify anything with ever new pomp, mandatory agreement of others, and ruling power at centre stage.
Diagnosing the Drive to Total Control
The rest follows. The “New Terrorist Laws” in execution were already the feature news headline on Oct 25, allowing for any new surveillance and control of citizens. Keep in mind our already-installed totalitarian airport regime that deprives people of water and hygiene products, dehumanizes all, and undresses millions with no questions allowed any step of the way. It is a synecdoche of the larger total rule advancing with the Harper gang in charge further than ever before. “Nothing can be the same again” cheer the corporate media in choral support.
More favours to the Harper regime from the RCMP and CSIS may be in store – for example, false allegations and naming of even the most honest opponents like Ralph Goodale who spent “the worst year of my life” recovering from the RCMP smear that kept Harper in power. It is a bit like the War Measures Act – new capacity to lock down any city at any time with armed-force control pervading the streets and police-army powers in the glory of mass-controlling armed command and kill license. It has already happened in Ottawa with a lone crazy, and the lock-down was infinitely more heavy-handed than in 1970 Montreal which I observed first hand. Keep in mind the trumped-up cause for it – one likely-drugged and managed murderous homeless mental case dead before any questions could be asked.
Observe too how the language changes to fit the agenda of total control. The keys are “terrorists” for lone individuals driven crazy with no more social supports for them, and “radicalization” with no modifier as the ultimate problem of thought behind the terror. What deprived group or oppositional rethinking cannot be so labelled? These psych-ops are already in full motion now. They have been minted into ruling group-mind by the mocked-up “terrorists attacks” at home, and Harper rule can only go further by such trances of normalized stupefaction now reinforced with Canadian blood.
Behind all the public psych-ops is the operation of reverse projection long perfected by the US war-machine. Blame the opposition for what you are doing as the reason for attacking them. At the Canada level, the reverse projections define the Harper regime. He is punitively and vindictively despotic, rigidly and vengefully doctrinaire, intolerant of deviation, shames and slanders at will, and overrides every democratic constraint to his insatiable drive to total control. Narrow and life-blind absolutism, indifference to others’ suffering, and certitude of virtue while destroying people and common life support systems complete the unseen rule of terror at work. A coterie of mediocre and corrupt subordinates surround and serve him to allow no shard of light in on the ruling mission of society destruction.
With most people not yet suspecting it, Harper rule is an Americanada mirror image of the jihad-fascism he uses to multiply his and his corporate allies’ rights and powers. Behind him lies the transnational money-sequence cancer he embodies in every policy line.
Prof. John McMurtry is the author of The Cancer Stage of Capitalism/ From Crisis to Cure
Filed under: "canada", Stephen Harper | Tags: "canada", parliament, Stephen Harper, Terror
I often find it hard to feel empathy for Prime Minister Stephen Harper. But when I saw the grim picture of him talking on the phone following the end of his confinement in the locked down House of Commons yesterday, I sensed in him a vulnerability he rarely exhibits. Harper, like his fellow MPs, Parliamentary staff, media, visitors and children in the downstairs daycare, had likely hunkered down behind locked doors, no doubt traumatized by uncertainty when an armed gunman entered the building. Because no one knew who the gunman was after, all were potential targets. For half a day, everyone on lockdown no doubt felt the fear, despair, sadness and fragile sense of mortality that people in Iraq and Syria have experienced daily for decades, an extra punch of which they will soon receive at the hands of Canadian CF-18 bombers.
It’s the kind of trauma not to be wished upon anyone, and I hope all affected will get the kind of counselling and therapeutic support necessary to deal with what may emerge as multiple cases of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), otherwise known as the condition that you get denied proper treatment for when you are a returning Canadian military veteran.
Like those in Afghanistan who suffered 13 years of Canadian bombardment (upwards of a billion Canadian bullets fired), night raids, transfers to torture, and the daily indignities of life under military occupation, those Parliamentarians with the power to declare war — and send somebody else overseas to fight it for them — felt, in a relatively limited fashion, what it’s like for millions of the world’s war-weary populations. The image of a cowering John Baird or Jason Kenney hiding in a barricaded office must have proven a stark contrast to the swaggering, macho manner in which these men urged Canada to declare war on ISIS, further fuelling the flames of fear and hatred against Muslims.
Thankfully, most of yesterday’s hostages to violence in Parliament went home last night to warm houses with showers, uninterrupted electricity supply, food in the fridge, and the knowledge that this horror is unlikely to happen tomorrow and four or five times for the remainder of the month or periodically for the rest of their lives. But had this happened in Iraq, such relative safety would not be guaranteed, in part due to Canada’s role in obliterating that nation’s economy, electricity and water supply, and health-care system, first though intensive bombing in 1991, military enforcement of a decade’s worth of brutal sanctions that killed a million Iraqis, and renewed support and participation in the 2003 invasion that was made possible by Canadian weapons, technical components, navy personnel and equipment, embedded troops, and high-ranking military officials. It was also out of Iraq’s torturing prisons during the occupation that numerous ISIS leaders emerged.
The tragic murder of a young Canadian reservist and the Parliamentary shootout was all the more shocking because of its sudden, seemingly out-of-the-blue fashion. In the same way, on a daily basis in tribal areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, in Yemen, in Somalia, children in schools, celebrants at weddings, and other individuals and families are suddenly, shockingly killed by a Hellfire missile fired from a remote control-operated drone, likely with the Canadian-built targeting camera courtesy of L-3 Wescam in Burlington, Ontario.
What is being treated as Canada’s 9/11 is a day that recalls the comments made half a century ago by the great Malcolm X, who commented that the assassination of President Kennedy was a case of “chickens coming home to roost,” a result of a “climate of hate” fostered by a U.S. political and corporate establishment regularly overthrowing governments and assassinating (or plotting against) a variety of leaders from Patrice Lumumba to Fidel Castro. At the time, Malcolm X was vilified for speaking the truth, one that America was not ready to accept, just as many Canadians may be unwilling to do now.
Indeed, how many Canadians reading that last paragraph would step back and say, “That’s them, not us”? The horrible sound of gunfire in Parliament must have sounded a small bit of like some opening moments during the Canadian-supported coup against the democratically elected Chilean government of Salvador Allende in 1973, one of many coups Canada has given support to (including more recently the coups in Honduras, Egypt, Haiti, etc.). One reporter gasped that it was simply incongruous to see SWAT teams escorting her through the Parliament in which she worked, and yet Canadian policy throughout much of the world forces her counterparts to walk that ring of heavily armed men on a daily basis.
Rather than viewing yesterday’s tragic events as a wake-up call to seriously examine Canada’s negative role on the world stage and the inevitable “climate of hate” to which we are contributing, we can expect nothing less than a ride on the Platitude Express, which embarked within minutes of the first bullets being fired.
The Platitude Express
From endless references to the “loss of innocence” to the pronouncements that “things will never be the same” (especially in the “hallowed halls” of Parliament), we are witnessing the cranking up of our self-loving myth machine into high gear.
In this climate, do not expect our finest hour. Yesterday’s events will be used as the springboard to call for greater militarization of the national culture and justification for unending war against ISIL/ISIS or any other convenient enemy-du-jour. This will lead to further increases in war spending, despite the fact that the War Dept. was supposed to come up with $2 billion in cuts. The wars in Ukraine and Iraq — costs for which are being kept secret, without much protest — will easily double that. These events will also be used to attack anyone who questions Canada’s role in wars past or present.
New repressive laws
The events of yesterday will likely also have a congealing impact on Parliamentarians who, understandably, shared a trauma together. Wednesday was supposed to be the Harper government’s opportunity to unleash a new round of legislative measures designed to give CSIS and the RCMP even more freedom to trade information with torturers, monitor people overseas, take part in extraordinary rendition programs, and be completely immune from prosecution and oversight by the creation of a special class privilege that would assert the right of CSIS agents and informers not to be questioned about their activities in any court of law, public or secret.
But after yesterday, what opposition leader who wants to appear prime ministerial will feel comfortable saying no to such an agenda? The Conservatives will no doubt frame the issue with the familiar refrain, “you’re either with the terrorists or against them.”
Perhaps the most immediate impact will be felt in certain communities targeted for racial and religious profiling. While Canadian soldiers have been told to stay indoors and not show themselves in public, individuals of South Asian or Middle Eastern heritage, and certainly anyone who may be a Muslim or perceived as one, may have second thoughts about being out in public. These communities will be the subject of demands from the media and some “community leaders” to “out” radicalized young people, to call in “suspicious” behavior (undefined), and to report their neighbours to CSIS or the Mounties. They will find greater difficulty travelling, and they will learn first-hand about something called the Passenger Protect Program (or no-fly list).
This is especially so since, while we do not know much about the shooter, media have been quick to point out that although he was a Canadian, he was of “Algerian” heritage, and a recent convert to Islam. Both are completely irrelevant factors, but so commonly part of the daily anti-terror discourse that no second thought is given to the consequences of bringing it up.
The game is no longer far away
Glenn Greenwald adequately summed things up by asking why Canada, a nation that has been at war for 13 years and counting, would be shocked that someone might actually (however unjustifiably), do what he felt was needed to fight back. But as a country that wages war but has never suffered from war the way Russia or France or Syria or Iraq have, we have always been insulated against the consequences of our actions, buoyed by a mythology that allows us to wear Canadian flags on backpacking trips through Europe.
By day’s end, Harper addressed the nation, his discourse unchanged from the bellicose rumblings of last week as he rammed through a Parliamentary vote to bomb Iraq and Syria: “Canada will never be intimidated…redouble our efforts…savagery…no safe haven…”
After a long day focused on these gripping events in the nation’s capital, I have to wonder if this direct experience of fear and trauma will force us to examine our own addiction to violence as the solution to conflict. Yesterday provides us with an opportunity to reflect on our insidious contribution to the climate of hate, and the chance to disengage from our increasingly militarized culture.
Matthew Behrens is a freelance writer and social justice advocate who co-ordinates the Homes not Bombs non-violent direct action network. He has worked closely with the targets of Canadian and U.S. ‘national security’ profiling for many years.
Filed under: "canada", Indigenous | Tags: "canada", Aboriginal, Barriere Lake, Barriere Lake First Nation, British Columbia, Bruce Clark, Caledonia, Canoe Creek First Nation, Crown, Desoronto, Douglas Creek, Duncan Campbell Scott, Elder Wolverine, Euro-Supremacist, First Nations People, Genocide, Gustafsen Lake, Hamilton, Imperialism, Indian Act, Indian Act of 1920, Indian Affairs, Indigenous, John A MacDonald, Julian Fantino, Kanesatake, Kanienkehaka, Oka, Oka Crisis, Ontario, Ontario Provincial Police, Original Peoples, Prison Population, Quebec Police, Racism, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Secwepemc, Settler-Colonialism, Settler-Colony, Shawn Brant, Six Nations Territory, Special Committee of the House of Commons Examining the Indian Act, Sundance Ceremony, Sundancers, Supreme Court, Surete du Quebec, Ts'peten, Warrior Publications, White Supremacy, William Jones Ignace
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5 January 2008
Source: The Dominion
NANAIMO, BRITISH COLUMBIA–Armed Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) entered the Six Nations Territory of Douglas Creek in Caledonia, Ontario – about 20 kilometres east of Hamilton – on September 19 of this year. According to witnesses, the OPP jumped a resident, “beat him down,” and arrested him while threatening other residents not to interfere.
The Crown, after repeated arrests and jailings, reached a deal with the defense on September 29 to have activist Shawn Brant plead guilty to involvement in two blockades in Desoronto, Ontario, in April 2007. The Crown agreed to drop all but three of the mischief charges, with Brant to receive a sentence of Continue reading