Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Cadman tape: What's the motive, means and opportunity?

With the Bernier scandal not quite beginning to die down the Conservatives are doing their best to revive another one of the many scandals they’ve been implicated in, the Cadman affair.

You can read some analysis of today’s events from Scott and Steve and Impolitical and Red Tory and Calgary Grit, and some live blogging of the surreal presser by Kady here. I just have a few, I think rather obvious, questions about all this.

Let’s grant the Conservative premise that the tapes were “doctored” or otherwise manipulated for a few minutes. WHO do the Conservatives contend did the doctoring?

Given the chain of evidence on the tapes as laid-out by the Conservatives at their presser, the tape went straight from the publisher to the CPC lawyers to their unnamed experts for testing. Assuming nothing was done to the tape while in CPC custody, that would seem to mean they are alleging any doctoring was done before or while the tape was in the publisher’s custody. The possible conspirators would then, I suppose, likely have to either be the publisher and/or the journalist/author that made the original recording. Or, perhaps, the Liberals have a mole in the publishing house, or sent a secret agent to break-in during the night and replace the originals with a phony edited version.

Here's the thing though. If a third-party doctored the tapes, wouldn't the journalist and/or the publisher stand-up and say "hey, that's not what I recorded, I call shenanigans! Shenanigans, I say!"? And yet, they both stand by the tape. Which would mean according to tortured Conservative logic they either did it or they're part of some sort of cover-up.

Again, if the Cons allege doctoring, just who do they finger as the culprit?

Once you answer the who you need to answer the why. Motive. Why would the alleged conspirator in the pantry with the candlestick have edited the tapes? Was it the Liberals to make the Conservatives look bad? Ample motive, but where’s the opportunity? The author and the publishing house had better opportunity, and a decent motive, selling more books. It still doesn’t pass the smell test though. Would a journalist and/or a publisher really risk their careers/business and invite multi-million dollar lawsuits by doctoring a tape of the Prime Minister? I don’t buy it. Just doesn’t pass the smell test.

If this alleged editing or doctoring or what have you is so bad, why are the Cons just trying to exclude the tape from being used by the Liberal Party? Why aren't they going after the author/publisher for using it in the book, and for selling copies to the national media? Why didn't they do that MONTHS ago, when it was being shopped around and written about? If their expert evidence is so compelling, why aren’t they taking legal action against whomever they believe did the doctoring?

So, you say the tape is doctored. OK then. What did Stephen Harper say that was edited out? And how does that change the meaning of the clip of what he said that we do have:

Zytaruk: "I mean, there was an insurance policy for a million dollars. Do you know anything about that?"

Harper: "I don't know the details. I know that there were discussions, uh, this is not for publication?"

Zytaruk: "This (inaudible) for the book. Not for the newspaper. This is for the book."

Harper: "Um, I don't know the details. I can tell you that I had told the individuals, I mean, they wanted to do it. But I told them they were wasting their time. I said Chuck had made up his mind, he was going to vote with the Liberals and I knew why and I respected the decision. But they were just, they were convinced there was, there were financial issues. There may or may not have been, but I said that's not, you know, I mean, I, that's not going to change."

Zytaruk: "You said (inaudible) beforehand and stuff? It wasn't even a party guy, or maybe some friends, if it was people actually in the party?"

Harper: "No, no, they were legitimately representing the party. I said don't press him. I mean, you have this theory that it's, you know, financial insecurity and, you know, just, you know, if that's what you're saying, make that case but don't press it. I don't think, my view was, my view had been for two or three weeks preceding it, was that Chuck was not going to force an election. I just, we had all kinds of our guys were calling him, and trying to persuade him, I mean, but I just had concluded that's where he stood and respected that."

Zytaruk: "Thank you for that. And when (inaudible)."

Harper: "But the, uh, the offer to Chuck was that it was only to replace financial considerations he might lose due to an election."

Zytaruk: "Oh, OK."

Harper: "OK? That's my understanding of what they were talking about."

Zytaruk: "But, the thing is, though, you made it clear you weren't big on the idea in the first place?"

Harper: "Well, I just thought Chuck had made up his mind, in my own view ..."

Zytaruk: "Oh, okay. So, it's not like, he's like, (inaudible)."

Harper: "I talked to Chuck myself. I talked to (inaudible). You know, I talked to him, oh, two or three weeks before that, and then several weeks before that. I mean, you know, I kind of had a sense of where he was going."

Zytaruk: "Well, thank you very much."

It seems from my reading of the press conference coverage that they don’t allege the portion we have has been doctored in a, shall we saw, Grewalian fashion (words added or deleted mid-sentance), but rather, they allege the rest of the interview that we don’t have someone puts these comments, such as “replace financial considerations” and “they were legitimately representing the party” in a different context , that somehow the meaning was changed. Pray tell, how? Did he say at the end “just kidding” or something? What did he say in the rest of the tape?

This is all a load of horse hooey, and I feel bad for James Moore being forced by Harper to go up there and shovel it when he had to know better. Ah James, you once had such promise. What happened? Steve isn’t going to put you into cabinet unless you move to Quebec, no matter how much manure you shovel for him. Better to join Michael Chong in principled isolation then keep selling your soul.

If this is somehow designed to pressure the Liberals to cave on the libel suit, I say fight on. If they're this desperate they must be concerned. Or maybe that's just what Stephen Harper wants us to think, that crazy chess playing son of a gun...

Oh, and no, the tapes weren't doctored. Either way though, Steve Harper still has some explaining to do...

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Mushroom said...

Motive, means, and opportunity are to change the talking points and getting the media to respond to a fictitious allegation.

The story of the day should be the loss of 2000 jobs in Oshawa.

Gayle said...

"Or, perhaps, the Liberals have a mole in the publishing house, or sent a secret agent to break-in during the night and replace the originals with a phony edited version."

Well duh...

Actually, Elections Canada executed a top secret search warrant on the publisher, seized the tape, doctored it, and then put it back. All part of their endless quest to lead the liberals to victory...

James Curran said...

Actually, the motive is that they think we are going to tumble them tomorrow and they didn't want this to be a campaign ad.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Mushroom, if they resurrected the Cadman story to deflect from the GM story, well, that's an interesting communications strategy to be sure.

You're getting to close to the truth gayle...

I actually meant the motive of the alleged tape doctorer/s, Jim. And if they really think we're going to trigger an election before the fall, well then I've been giving them to much credit for intelligence.

Mark Francis said...

The strategy is to try to get the headline


Barcs said...

Mark Francis has the right idea.

It gets them the headline.

It also potentially puts the tape and all talk of the tape on ice. If they win there will be no attack ads with it come election time.

Having the tape declared doctored also potentially creates the possibility of libel on the parts of the persons using it to set up motives/actions/innuendo etc surrounding what was said on the tape. With proof that the tape has been doctored it becomes a large grey area as to what you can say about it given that it MAY have been edited to slander. A person may not be able to defend the repetition of the words (and their suggested meaning) as true (the standard defense for slander).

And mushroom is right... There is actual important things going on that are unrelated to paranoid ramblings of shadows and scandals under every pebble.