From the Oxford English Dictionary:
“Cover-up: an attempt to prevent people discovering the truth about a serious mistake or crime.”
“Whitewash: a deliberate attempt to conceal unpleasant or incriminationg facts about a person or organization in order to protect their reputation.”
A less authoritative source, Wikipedia, describes a cover-up in these terms:
“A cover-up is an attempt, whether successful or not, to conceal evidence of wrong-doing, error, incompetence or other embarrassing information. In a passive cover-up information is simply not provided; in an active cover-up deception is used.The expression is usually applied to people in positions of authority who abuse their power to avoid or silence criticism or to deflect guilt of wrongdoing. Those who initiate a cover up (or their allies) may be responsible for a misdeed, a breach of trust or duty or a crime.While the terms are often used interchangeably, cover-up involves withholding incriminatory evidence, while whitewash involves releasing misleading evidence.”
Wikipedia has this to say about the typology of cover-ups:
“The following list is considered to be a typology since those who engage in cover-ups tend to use many of the same methods of hiding the truth and defending themselves. This list was compiled from famous cover-ups such as Watergate Scandal, Iran-Contra Affair, My Lai Massacre, Pentagon Papers, the cover-up of corruption in New York City under Boss Tweed (William M. Tweed and Tammany Hall) in the late 1800s, and the tobacco industry coverup of the health hazards of smoking. The methods in actual cover-ups tend to follow the general order of the list below.
Initial Response to Allegation
- Flat Denial
- Convince the Media to Bury the Story
- Preemptively Distribute False Information
- Claim That the “Problem” is Minimal
- Claim Faulty Memory
- Claim the Accusations are Half Truths
- Claim the Critic Has No Proof
- Attack the Critic’s Motive
- Attack the Critic’s Character
Withhold or Tamper with Evidence
- Prevent the Discovery of Evidence
- Destroy or Alter the Evidence
- Make Discovery of Evidence Difficult
- Create Misleading Names of Individuals and Companies to Hide Funding
- Lie or Commit Perjury
- Block or Delay Investigations
- Issue Restraining Orders
- Claim Executive Privilege
Delayed Response to Allegation
- Deny a Restricted Definition of Wrongdoing (e.g. torture)
- Limited Hang Out (i.e., Confess to Minor Charges)
- Use Biased Evidence as a Defense
- Claim That the Critic’s Evidence is Biased.
- Select a Biased Blue Ribbon Commission or “Independent” Inquiry
Intimidate Participants, Witnesses or Whistleblowers
- Bribe or buy out the critic
- Generally Intimidate the Critic By Following Him/Her, Killing Pets, etc.
- Blackmail: Hire Private Investigators and Threaten to Reveal Past Wrongdoing (“Dirt’)
- Death Threats of the Critic or His Family
- Threaten the Critic with Loss of Job or Future Employment in Industry
- Transfer the Critic to an Inferior Job or Location
- Intimidate the Critic with Lawsuits or SLAPP suits
- Murder; Assassination
- Bribe the Press
- Secretly Plant Stories in the Press
- Retaliate Against Hostile Media
- Threaten the Press With Loss of Access
- Attack the Motives of the Press
- Place Defensive Advertisements
- Buy Out the News Source.
- Claim No Knowledge of Wrongdoing
- Scapegoats: Blame an Underling for Unauthorized Action
- Fire the Person(s) in Charge
Win Court Cases
- Hire the Best Lawyers
- Hire Scientists and Expert Witnesses Who Will Support Your Story
- Delay with Legal Maneuvers
- Influence or Control the Judges
Reward Cover-up Participants
- Hush Money
- Little or No Punishment
- Pardon or Commute Sentences
- Promote Employees as a Reward for Cover-up
- Reemploy the Employee After Dust Clears”
posted by Cameron Ward
February 22, 2012 in Missing Women Commision of Inquiry, News, Opinion
At the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry yesterday, Commissioner Oppal revealed Practice Directive No. 3, a procedural decision taken without seeking any consultation with or submissions from us, the counsel for the families of 25 missing and murdered women. The directive imposes a fundamentally different process, one that will see witnesses appear in groups, on “panels”. The radical new approach seems to be driven by the provincial government’s decision to compel the Commission to report to it by June 30, 2012.
When this inquiry was established, our clients hoped that it would finally provide them with the opportunity to seek out the true facts surrounding the Crown’s decision to stay charges against Robert William Pickton arising from his attempt to murder a Vancouver sex trade worker in March of 1997 and the impotent police investigations of him that ensued until he was serendipitously snared by an unrelated investigation on February 5, 2002. In our opening remarks to the Commission on October 11, 2011, we pledged to assist the Commission in its mandate by helping to pry the lid off the scandal and expose all the evidence to public scrutiny.
We knew our task would be challenging, but we still underestimated just how difficult it would prove to be. We certainly didn’t anticipate being the subject of vitriolic personal attacks for trying to represent our clients’ interests by pursuing the truth.
posted by Cameron Ward
RCMP members are not the only police officers who are paid by taxpayers to stay away from the job…it happens in every British Columbia police force. Here are the first few paragraphs from a recent story about New Westminster Police Service constable Vinnie Dosanjh, written by Brent Richter of the New Westminster Record:
“A New Westminster police officer returned to work this week after being suspended with pay from his job for nearly four years.
Const. Sukhwinder “Vinnie” Dosanjh is back on duty after being disciplined for several incidents of police misconduct.
Dosanjh was suspended from active duty in July 2008 after he was charged with assault and being unlawfully in a dwelling house, stemming from an incident at the home of a fellow New Westminster officer.”
The article continues…
“Rollie Woods, deputy police complaint commissioner [and former VPD Inspector], recently told The Record, that he has seen New Westminster Police Service become one of the better forces in the province when it comes to transparency, discipline and accountability.”
The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner routinely endorses this sort of nonsense. Cases like this reinforce my longstanding view that the OPCC actually does a disservice to the public by creating the illusion of police accountability when in fact none exists. The government needs to take a hard look at whether the OPCC is a clubby group of ex-cops drawing pensions from their former police departments while pretending to pass judgment on the conduct of their former colleagues.
posted by Cameron Ward
Vancouver Police Department Chief Constable Chief Chu looked for all the world like Captain Renault (“I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here”) while announcing that 15 male members of his department had been discovered circulating pornographic files on their office computers. Chu was quick to point out that the material was “not illegal”. Vancouver Police Union President Tom Stamatakis soon weighed in, attempting to downplay the scandal by comparing the sleazy material to stuff routinely on display in the daily newspaper.
Let’s first take a harder look at these statements: Who is making the determination that the content was legal? Why, the police themselves…might they have a vested interest in clearing their own senior officers? If the porn was actually no worse than what is found in the newspaper, why not produce all of it immediately for public, independent inspection to determine whether crimes were actually committed?
With that out of the way, this matter raises much bigger issues. There obviously continues to be a pervasive culture within this police force that considers it acceptable to harbour sexist and misogynistic attitudes while at the same time falsely assuring the public that those anachronistic beliefs were rooted out long ago. Make no mistake about it, VPD management would have covered up this unseemly matter and kept it under wraps had diligent blogger Alex Tsakumis not exposed it two days ago. That’s not news either, but the public deserves much, much better.
Round up the usual suspects.
posted by Cameron Ward
In what line of work can a person be involved in two deaths, face criminal charges arising from both incidents, and not only keep his job, but receive paid leave for over four years while the wheels of criminal justice grind slowly along?
Answer: when the accused is a taxpayer-funded public servant, like the RCMP’s infamous Benjamin “Monty” Robinson, currently on trial for alleged obstruction of justice resulting from his actions following an off-duty accident on October 25, 2008 in which motorcyclist Orion Hutchinson was killed. Robinson also faces perjury charges arising from his conduct after the Taser-related death of Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver Airport on October 14, 2007. I understand that he has been on paid leave since October of 2007.
The system’s handling of Robinson’s cases is truly shocking. My sympathies are extended, in the strongest possible terms, to Orion’s mother and sister, Judith and Daria, and to Robert’s mother, Zofia Csikowski. I have met them all and can only imagine what they must be going through.
I was with Judith and Daria Hutchinson at the meeting where Crown Counsel Geoff Barragar, Melissa Gillespie and Neil MacKenzie tried to explain why the Crown did not charge Robinson with impaired driving causing death, impaired driving, criminal negligence causing death or leaving the scene of an accident after his vehicle killed Orion while Robinson was on his way home from a drinking party. If and when it becomes appropriate, I intend to comment on the Crown’s conduct of this tragic case.