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The Canadian Official Record and the treatment of Maher Arar
Peter Finn

In September 2002 a Canadian citizen of Syrian origin, Maher Arar, was detained at JFK airport in New York City. Arar was detained in New York for eleven days prior to an extraordinary rendition to Syria via Jordan. In Syria, Arar was subject to physical abuse and torture, and held until October 2003. Following his release, a commission of inquiry was held in Canada. Among other things, this commission documented issues with the Canadian state’s sharing and receiving of material about Arar and his mistreatment and torture in Syria. Via engagement with material from the ‘Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Maher Arar’ (the Arar Commission) this chapter highlights issues that can arise with the sharing of the Official Record between states. The chapter has three main sections. The first section documents the circumstances that led to the capture of Arar in New York, his treatment in custody in the US, his rendition to, and brief detention in, Jordan and his transfer to and almost year-long detention in Syria. Arar was mistreated while in Jordan, and over a more prolonged period was tortured in Syria. Next, the chapter outlines the main documents placed into the Public Record by the Arar Commission. Finally, the chapter highlights two key issues arising from the sharing of the official records between two different states.

in The Official Record
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Political-legal tensions in going to war and the art of the possible for the Public Record
Louise Kettle

On 17 March 2003 the British government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Tony Blair, agreed to join a coalition of thirty-eight other countries in an invasion of Iraq. The coalition’s mission, with the United States taking the lead, was to topple the Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein, destroy the threat of weapons of mass destruction and bring peace, security and democracy to the Iraqi people. It was one of Britain’s biggest national security decisions of the twenty-first century. From the very beginning, the decision to go to war had been controversial. There was considerable media criticism, Cabinet resignations and large-scale street protests. Under significant political pressure, the then Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, announced the establishment of the Iraq Inquiry, one month before British combat forces left Iraq. This chapter examines the events surrounding the Iraq Inquiry. It discusses the rationale for the establishment of the inquiry, the challenges and significance of the inquiry for the Public Record and its impact on the subsequent historiography of the Iraq War. In addition this chapter uses the official and historical records gathered by the inquiry to demonstrate some of the competing political-legal tensions in planning a war. Finally, it warns of the current gaps and biases that exist in the Public Record on the war in Iraq and finishes by offering some reflections on the challenges related to placing information related to national security into the Public Record.

in The Official Record
Insights from the WikiLeaks cables
Rubrick Biegon

Leaked documents can function as an excellent means of contextualising the Official Record. This chapter makes use of diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks to analyse the United States’ foreign and security policy toward Venezuela during the tenure of President Hugo Chávez (1999–2013). The talisman of Latin America’s Pink Tide of leftist leaders who gained international prominence in the 2000s, Chávez sought to spearhead a regional movement against US hegemony. Acknowledging the methodological limitations of working with leaked materials, the chapter argues that the detail found in the cables strengthens scholarly accounts of the United States’ response to Chávez, providing an important internal perspective on the decisions underpinning US diplomacy and foreign policy-making. Efforts to contain Chávez and his regional movement can be traced through the Public Record, including the leaked cables, providing a critical and nuanced understanding of Washington’s aims and strategic approach. This chapter begins with a discussion of the WikiLeaks archive, explores the methodology adopted for the chapter, and notes some troubling actions of WikiLeaks as an organisation. Next it explores US foreign policy towards Chávez. In the final section it traces the relationship between Chávez and chavismo as shown in the leaked diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks. Particularly in the final section, there are discussions of the broader politics and diplomacy of Latin America.

in The Official Record
Robert Ledger

The 1994 Pergau Dam inquiry shone a spotlight on policy practices that embarrassed a number of Conservative politicians and angered the British public, ultimately leading to a cleaving of the Overseas Development Administration from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and a change in the law regarding ‘tied aid’ in British overseas development policy. Whilst carrying out the inquiry, the Foreign Affairs select committee demonstrated the interplay between the oversight role of the UK Parliament, the Official Record and government policy-making. The 1996 Scott Report into the Arms to Iraq scandal, likewise, showed the opacity of ministerial accountability and arms sales, adding to calls for more open government and freedom of information legislation. Drawing on under-utilised aspects of the official and public records, as well as academic work, this chapter explores the intersection between the Westminster Select Committee system and scandals stemming from British foreign and arms policy with Malaysia and Iraq. This chapter first introduces Westminster select committees. Next, elements of UK arms and trade policy under the premierships of Margaret Thatcher and John Major are documented. Attention then moves, in turn, to the Pergau Dam and Arms to Iraq scandals. The final section documents the impact of these two scandals on UK foreign and aid policy.

in The Official Record
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The Official Record, oversight, national security and democracy
Peter Finn
and
Robert Ledger

Building on the Preface, across four sections the Introduction grapples with the Official Record's creation, control and preservation, touches on the tension between democratic openness and the secrecy – required at least some of the time – inherent in many national security operations and considers the role of oversight, leaking and whistle-blowers with relation to this tension. Firstly, the Introduction considers the construction, control and preservation of the Official Record. Secondly, it explores the role played in the construction of the Official Record, the Public Record and the Historical Record by individuals, as well as the complexity inherent in the management of the Official Record as it crosses state boundaries. In particular, this is done via material connected to the Mueller Investigation, which will be discussed with regard to the original rubric introduced in the Preface. In the third section, additions made to the rubric are used to conceptualise the place and scope of oversight over different parts of the Official Record. The fourth section explores how the Official Record is constructed, managed and released into the public domain in the US, the UK, and Canada. This Introduction closes by signposting the overall volume.

in The Official Record
The Mueller investigation, the Official Record and the rule of law
Peter Finn

Between May 2017 and March 2019 an investigation carried out by Special Counsel Robert Mueller dominated US political life. Ostensibly an inquiry into ‘any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump’ and related matters, Mueller's investigation also became a staging post for bipartisan clashes and recriminations, a battleground for differing interpretations of the US Constitution and presidential authority. However, the Mueller investigation also produced a wealth of material that can be utilised to explore the relationship between the Official Record and the rule of law in a democratic context. This chapter evolves in four sections. To begin, the roots of Mueller’s investigation are documented. Next, a consideration of the legal context and frameworks that led to Mueller's appointment occurs. Two similar prior investigations, into the administrations of presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, are touched upon. Next, the actions of Trump relating to Mueller's investigation are explored. This section also summarises the Mueller report’s main findings. Finally, this chapter reflects on some key aspects of the relationship between the Official Record and the rule of law that arise from the consideration of the Mueller investigation, as well as the conjecture that can emerge from differing interpretations.

in The Official Record
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Oversight, national security and democracy
Editors: and

Who constructs, controls and preserves the Official Record is often key to documenting and understanding events. However, partly because of its potential to contain evidence of controversial policies and malfeasance, its construction, control and preservation in the arena of national security is inherently contested: with those seeking greater openness and (democratic) accountability arguing 'sunlight is [...] the best of disinfectants’, and others, not always unreasonably, urging stricter information control because, to their mind, sound government arises when advice and policy are formulated secretly. Across seven chapters, this edited volume explores the intersection of the Official Record, oversight, national security and democracy. Via key US, UK and Canadian case studies, all of which are backed up with primary documentation, this volume is designed to help higher-level undergraduate readers and above explore the Official Record in the context of the national security operations of democratic states. All chapters are research-based pieces of original writing that feature a Document Appendix containing primary documents (often excerpts) that are key to a chapter’s narrative. In short, via engagement with a broad range of primary material, this volume interrogates the boundaries between national security, accountability, oversight and the Official Record.

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The constitutionality of killing US citizens
Christine Sixta Rinehart

Between November 2002 and January 2015, the United States’ drone (Remotely Piloted Aircraft, RPA) war killed approximately twelve United States (US) citizens with armed Predator or Reaper RPA. Targeted killing or the assassination of foreign citizens is not new for the US. However, the targeted killing of US citizens by their own government abroad, let alone killing with RPA, is a relatively new concept. Four US citizens were killed during the George W. Bush Administration. Eight are known to have died in US RPA strikes during President Barack Obama’s Administration. A ninth US citizen claims he was targeted but survived five strikes. This chapter engages with the US official and public records to explore the killing and targeting of US citizens by RPA strikes. In part it explores the tension between the legal justification found in the Official Record and the due process provided to US citizens in the US Constitution. The chapter begins with discussions of the intelligence cycle and its critics and the process of RPA strikes as they relate to the intelligence cycle. Next, the data on US citizens killed and/or targeted, or who claim to have been targeted, by RPA strikes is presented. Key aspects of the evolution of targeted killing from Bush to the administration of President Joe Biden are then highlighted, before the concepts of due process, imminence and feasibility are discussed in the final section.

in The Official Record
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Assassination and the US Official Record from the Cold War to 9/11
Luca Trenta

This chapter focuses on the place of assassination in US foreign policy, in its language and in the Official Record. Through a documentary analysis, the chapter highlights how multiple Administrations worked to preserve assassination as a policy option while engaging in a concerted effort to remove assassination from the Official Record. The chapter starts with an analysis of the 1950s and 1960s by exploring the individuals targeted and the language used by the US government. It highlights the pervasiveness both of assassination and of circumlocutory language, innuendos and euphemisms to describe assassination operations. It also showcases efforts by US officials to distance the US government from assassination, tampering with the Official Record. Starting with the explosive CIA ‘Family jewels’ collection, the next section explores the so-called ‘season of inquiry’. It looks at the Ford Administration’s reaction, including the Rockefeller Commission, the effort to stymie the Church Committee’s investigation and its interim report on assassination. It analyses the establishment of Executive Order 11905 which included a ban on assassination. The vagueness of the ban enabled the Reagan Administration to reinterpret it in ways that permitted the pursuit of its preferred policies. Finally, the influence of the Reagan Administration’s interpretations of the ban in the years prior to 9/11 is explored. The chapter concludes that these political and legal developments permitted the removal of assassination from the language of US foreign policy, opening the way for the proliferation of so-called ‘targeted killings’.

in The Official Record
Hubert Buch-Hansen
,
Max Koch
, and
Iana Nesterova

In recent years, discussions in the degrowth literature have increasingly revolved around issues related to degrowth business. Such discussions have sought to understand what business would be like as part of a degrowth society, if it can indeed be part of it, and what, if any, roles business can play in transformations towards such societies. The chapter provides reflections on degrowth and business, suggesting that the latter constitutes an important actor on the roads to degrowth. Subsequently, various matters related to scale and diversity are considered before the chapter analyses what practices businesses would need to implement to render them consistent with degrowth. The chapter ends with a contemplation of whether a degrowth business is necessarily a non-growing business – the conclusion being that this is not the case.

in Deep transformations