Saturday, June 21, 2008

Bruce Fein – Stay Home!

by Stephen Long, Los Angeles

I smiled with amusement when I read Bruce Fein’s article that appeared on June 8th on TamilNet. Just in case you don’t know who he is, he’s the media mercenary from Washington D.C., a former US Deputy Attorney General, who is paid an alleged $100,000 per month to campaign for an independent Tamil State in Sri Lanka. His retainer fees come from “Tamils for Justice,” which I and many others believe is a transparent front organization funded by LTTE. Mr. Fein, of course, says that it’s not, but it would be interesting to investigate where the money comes from that supports TFJ – as well as Mr. Fein’s website organization dedicated to the same cause called the “Bruce Fein Project.” The latter is a clever name, don’t you think? Sounds like something for science class or a 70’s rock band. What these two organizations promote, however, is far from benign. They plot and promote separation, death, and the destruction of a sovereign nation – yours!

I applaud the Canadian federal authorities who followed the “money trail” and yesterday published the following in “Public Safety Canada,” an official government website:

“The Honourable Stockwell Day, Minister of Public Safety, today announced that the Government of Canada has listed the World Tamil Movement (WTM) as a terrorist group, effective June 13, 2008, pursuant to the Criminal Code of Canada. The decision to list the WTM meets the legal threshold set out in the Criminal Code...which requires the existence of reasonable grounds to believe that the entity has knowingly participated in or facilitated a terrorist activity or is knowingly acting on behalf of, at the direction, or in association with such an entity.

“The listing of the WTM is meant to support the Tamil Community of Canada, which consists of law-abiding and hard working people who have left their country of origin to build a better life for themselves and their families in Canada. The Government is taking this step to help ensure that Canadians, including the Tamil community are protected from the activities of this organization.

“The WTM, created in 1986, is the leading front organization for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Canada. The various offices of the WTM in Canada transfer funds to bank accounts in Sri Lanka meant for the LTTE. The leadership of the WTM acts at the direction of leaders of the LTTE. WTM representatives canvas areas in Canada with large Tamil populations demanding large donations on behalf of the LTTE. Refusals to contribute often lead to threats and intimidation.”

Does WTM smell anything like TFJ – or “Bruce Fein Project”? These terrorists don’t fool around. They are dead serious, and as we all know, they won’t stop with a well-planned public relations smear campaign. They are dedicated and determined (though brainwashed and misguided), and they will continue to use their suicide bombers and international funding schemes to create chaos and disruption in order to get their prized Eelam.

In Bruce Fein’s recent article cited from TamilNet above he says, “I readily accept your invitation to visit Sri Lanka to talk with Tamils in confidence in Colombo and elsewhere to obtain direct and candid testimony of Tamil sentiments toward a unitary state as opposed to separate Tamil statehood.”

Please, Government of Sri Lanka, do not buy this load of you know what. This dangerous man really wants to go to Sri Lanka and privately interview LTTE plants and supporters so he can drum up false allegations about Government human rights abuses. I see clearly now that this former prosecutor’s end-game is to file charges with the International Courts so he can drag the Defence Minister and the Army General to trial.

This, of course, would just about finish off any hopes for a peaceful, unified Sri Lanka. Once the Government and these two officials are dragged through the mud, international peacekeepers would soon flood into Sri Lanka and start doing things their way. Then the LTTE media machine would kick into full gear, and because the Government unfortunately doesn’t have adequate representation in the world press, international opinion would be so swayed in the LTTE’s favor that the barn door would swing wide open.

After the peacekeepers descend, the next step would be for the establishment of the desired Tamil State of Eelam, which I feel is only a stepping stone for the LTTE to take over the whole island. Please don’t think this is as far-fetched as it may sound. It would be a relatively easy goal to realize if international public opinion was so far stacked against the Government that it was forced to capitulate – very much like recent situations we have witnessed in other parts of the world. Yep, they could wind up with the whole enchilada.

Mr. Fein sarcastically comments, “You insinuate that Tamils in Sri Lanka exult in living with Sinhalese in a unitary state. If you have the courage of your purported convictions, then you should have no fear of a free and fair referendum on Tamil statehood. If you are correct, a commanding or simple majority would vote to retain a unitary Sri Lankan state. TFJ is not demanding a Tamil state, but only making that an option in a free and fair referendum.”

Such a referendum makes absolutely no sense when you consider the fact that only 12% of the Sri Lankan population is Tamil, and most Tamil people are living peaceably with the Sinhalese majority. If the referendum proposed by Mr. Fein is a national referendum, then even if the entire 12% voted for the independent state it would surely fail. After all, what is the incentive for the Sinhalese people? Why would they vote for allowing a minority group to carve out a piece of its homeland for a separate country? The peacefully co-habiting Tamils certainly won’t go for it either. What would be their incentive? Do you think they’d want to give up everything they have, go up north, and live in the abject poverty of an isolated fourth-world dictatorship?

The whole idea is insane, and there are absolutely no good reasons whatsoever to go through the costly and painful exercise of conducting such a pointless national referendum. Can you imagine the local advertising and media campaign for such an electoral event? Talk about picking the scabs off of fresh wounds!

The idea does make sense, however, if it is used by the LTTE and its supporters as a tool for getting the international media and political spotlight focused on such a referendum, which will give ample opportunity for the terrorists and their front organizations to air their litany of ancient grievances – no holds barred. Welcome, peacekeepers!

So please, Government of Sri Lanka, do not give this pretentious Beltway prostitute the time of day. Letting him into your country is like inviting in the Trojan Horse. No good can come of this soulless man’s cold, calculated visit, which I have no doubt will be turned into something nasty for inflicting irreparable harm upon you, the good people of Sri Lanka. Beware!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Gota: let us zero-in-on the common enemy

Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa wants the UNP to stop playing politics with the ongoing war effort against the LTTE.

In an interview with The Island, Rajapaksa regretted the UNP-led Opposition had chosen to undermine the military campaign which he asserted was on track despite the LTTE and its sympathisers frantically fighting to save the day.

Fielding questions, the outspoken official said the Opposition could play a constructive role, thereby facilitating the military effort against the common enemy. "We need to zero-in-on-the enemy. Unfortunately politicians are distracted and seem interested in petty squabbles, jeopardising the war effort."

"Unfortunately, in the eyes of some, I am a traitor," the retired infantry officer said, accusing the Opposition of conveniently turning a blind eye to what he called significant progress on the battle-field. No one would deny their right to attack the ruling coalition over spiralling cost of living, waste, corruption and irregularities, but the war against terrorism should not in anyway become an issue, he said.

He regretted the Opposition hadn't acknowledged the significance of break-up of the LTTE triggered by one-time Batticaloa leader Karuna, clearing of the Eastern Province of the LTTE, the breakaway faction contesting local government elections and provincial council election on the government ticket and the gradual disintegration of the enemy's Vanni bases. The Defence Secretary urged the Opposition not to throw a lifeline to the common enemy now struggling on the Vanni and Welioya fronts. He said the Opposition's strategy had allowed LTTE's overseas supporters to constantly meddle in what he called an essentially a domestic issue.

Recently UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe accused Rajapaksa of deserting the army in the early 90s and went on to call him a traitor.

Rajapaksa said he would have expected to heavy attacks on himself if he had signalled any interest in entering politics. "I have absolutely no interest in politics." he said. Rajapaksa emphasised that he would never seek to take political advantage over his critical role in what is widely believed to be the most successful campaign in the Eelam war.

The three service chiefs were responsible for the implementation of the overall security strategy, and the government was confident of their ability and capacity to execute the war successfully, he said, stressing the pivotal importance of the government and the Opposition co-operating on the war effort.

Drawing attention to a spate of indiscriminate attacks on public transport in the city, its suburbs and the provinces, Rajapaksa warned the Opposition not to shirk its responsibility. "Whatever our differences on other issues including the economy, there should be a common approach towards terrorism," he said. The country would never have another opportunity to wipe out the LTTE.

According to the Defence Secretary, the combined security forces were making significant progress on the Vanni front. The army on Mannar (Task Force 1), Vavuniya (57 Division), Welioya (59 Division) and Omanthai west (61 Division) fronts were gradually taking over enemy territory, he said. Although the LTTE would continue to make attempts to bring in fresh supplies, recruit more cadres and adopt new tactics, security forces had the wherewithal to meet any eventuality.

Commending the Canadian ban on the World Tamil Movement, a major supplier of funds to the LTTE war chest, the Defence Secretary said the Canadian action could not have come at a better time. "We expect other governments to follow the Canadian example." The international community no longer could encourage terrorism by turning a blind eye to massive fund raising operations undertaken by various groups, he said.

Hard on the heels of the Canadian action, the Italian government arrested 30 LTTE activists engaged in a major extortion racket. The Defence Secretary said the government was confident that the ongoing crackdown on the LTTE in various parts of the world would facilitate the destruction of the group. He accused a section of the Opposition of coming to the enemy's rescue as the military turned the heat on the Vanni.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Editorial: Don't bring your wars to Canada

Many immigrants come to Canada carrying with them the political baggage of their homeland.

The more active ones tend to drift towards Canadian-based organizations that strive to help their countrymen and their causes.

While making a new life for themselves and their families in Canada, contributions in cash and kind are remitted through a variety of channels for struggles in the country of origin.

Some of that money and support has been used to finance insurgencies, terror and brutal wars across the world.

Last week, in an aggressive new approach to fighting terror financing in Canada, Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day announced that his government has outlawed the World Tamil Movement, a Toronto-based non-profit organization with links to the Tamil Tigers, who have been fighting for a homeland in Sri Lanka since the early 70’s.

This is the first time our anti-terrorism laws are being used to shut down a Canadian community group for ties to terrorists.

The listing makes it illegal for Canadians, including those overseas, to give money to the Tamil group, which has its assets frozen.

"We’re sending a clear message to the entire Canadian population that we will not give support to that group," Day said at a splashy photo-op in Toronto’s harbour.

"Those terrorists are funded in part by dollars that have come from Canada, we want to put a stop to that," he said, based on intelligence reports that show the World Tamil Movement is behind a network of community extortionists who target Tamil Canadians to get money to finance the LTTE, the militant separatist group commonly known as the Tamil Tigers.

The World Tamil Movement has denied the allegations and said it would appeal to get off the list.

This latest listing is a first, and Canadian-based community groups that take up controversial causes in their homeland can expect increased overt and covert scrutiny of their affairs.

It is bound to cause consternation in new and growing immigrant communities who view contributions to their homeland as a struggle for rights and freedoms.

The South Asian community knows this well as groups like the International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF) and the Babbar Khalsa fighting for a separate homeland called Khalistan have been outlawed.

Similarly, the Filipino community in Canada also had its support for rebel community leader Jose Maria Sison questioned after the New People’s Army and its affiliates were branded as terror outfits.

The message from the government is clear: Don’t bring your wars to Canada.

For that, Day and the Harper government must be saluted.

South Asian Post

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Video: LTTE (Tamil Tiger) Child Soldier (Teen Girl) tells all

Sri Lankan Army rescues LTTE child soldier (a teenage girl) - Mannar. June-15-2008.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Failure in the propaganda front and its effects

According media reports, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has blamed his government's poor international reputation on "propaganda" by the Tamil Tigers. “We have failed in the propaganda fight," he told The Times in an interview during his visit to London for the Commonwealth meeting.

As the President quite correctly identified, though his government has taken steps to confront the terrorist outfit militarily, apparently not enough attention has been made to counteract the effects of false propaganda machinery of the LTTE.

As we remember, immediately after Mahinda Rajapaksa came to power, a conference was held in Colombo for the diplomatic service personnel, specifically to explain the dynamic role that they have to play when countering the activities of the LTTE and its front organizations responsible for spreading misinformation and raising funds. Although the Sri Lankan diplomatic services operating in some of the countries are active in this direction, others appear to be quite sluggish. Despite the efforts of handful of patriotic Sri Lankan expatriate community living in those countries, fund raising and misinformation of the LTTE continue at an unprecedented level, while our diplomatic missions are apparently doing nothing.

Sources of misinformation – few examples

Let us go though some of the very common reports appearing in certain media groups daily.

Whenever the Associate Press (AP) reporter in Colombo ending his news items on matters related to LTTE, the following statement used as a mantra (perhaps, several times a day) over the last two or three decades.

“The Tamil Tiger ‘rebels’ have fought since 1983 to create an independent state for the island's ethnic minority Tamils who have suffered ‘marginalisation’ by successive governments controlled by majority ethnic Sinhalese”.

As we understood, more than 1,700 newspapers, in addition to more than 5,000 television and radio broadcasters published news items of AP. AP operates 243 news bureaus and serves 121 countries all over the world. Thus whoever who read news items of AP will see the basic problem here in Sri Lanka as discrimination or marginalisation.

British broad Casting Corporation (BBC), another media giant who made similar statements, reaches more than 200 countries and is available to more than 274 million households. It also broadcasts news - by radio or over the Internet - in some 33 languages. Thus the international media coverage in support of ‘rebels’ who are said to be the so-called victims of discrimination and marginalisation by majority ethnic Sinhalese is enormous.

It is also interesting to note that the media reporters based in Colombo and their news agencies operating from USA and UK do not see the Tamil Tigers as ‘Terrorists’ but see them as ‘Rebels’’, despite the fact that USA, UK, India, Canada, Malaysia, the EU and several other countries have designated the outfit as an international ‘Terrorist’ group.

These media institutions often give wide publicity to media releases of the NGO peace bandwagons operating from Colombo and frequently quote their so-called political analysis made in favour of the outfit and disastrous to the security forces. The most recent quote from a statement made by one Jehan Perera of the National Peace Council and appeared in one of the AP news item titled ‘Bus Bombings Kill 23 People in Sri Lanka’, that it was a “tit-for-tat kind of retaliation” by the Tamil Tiger Terrorists, who accuse the military of killing ethnic minority Tamils with mines and air raids, is a case in point.

Marginalisation claim

The term marginalisation is not confined to Sri Lanka and is being used exclusively all over the world since there is no country or society free of groups with feeling of some sort of marginalisation.

The feeling of marginalisation could be relatively higher, particularly in developing countries due to limited resources to share, compared to those who live in the west. The same very people with complains of ‘marginalisation’ in their country of birth seem to be pleased when they are economically better-off within their new country of migration, despite they are part of the various communities continue to be marginalized from society due to the development of practices, policies and programs that ‘met the needs of the west and not the needs of the marginalized groups themselves’. No cry for marginalization is heard, though the individuals are exploited and marginalized within the country they have emigrated.

As a result of colonialism since the arrival Portuguese, Sinhala community lost their land, were forced into destitute areas, lost their sources of income, and were excluded from education and hence from the employment market, to a greater extent, until independence. Additionally, Sinhalese lost their culture and values through assimilation and forced religious conversion and lost their rights in society by way of favoritism towards the minorities under divide and rule policy. The situation has not changed much under the rule of elites who took over the leaderships of the two major political parties, time to time, even after decades of independence. The insurrection of Sinhala youth in 1971 and late 1980s is due to the social imbalance and poverty related issues.

On the other hand, most of the businesses and industries of all forms are still in the hands of minority communities. If there is a wide spread marginalisation by the majority Sinhala people, as claimed, it would be interesting to find out how and why their (Sinhala) population has gone down to third place within the commercial capital of the country.

Marginalisation exists within communities and races including Tamils in the form of caste system. In countries, where there are caste systems, one in every 25 people suffers from caste discrimination based on the kind of work they do and their family of origins. An estimated 179 million people experience caste discrimination in India alone. In Sri Lanka, the Tamil caste system is occupation-based as well as hereditary. Sinhalese caste system is not linked to the Hindu codification, but rather to feudal divisions of society that existed long ago.

Legitimate aspiration claim

Another phrase frequently used by the people who talk about solutions, find solutions, implement solutions and talk further on solutions and widely appearing in media is the ‘legitimate aspiration’ of Tamil people.

The World Association of Newspapers, an international NGO based in France defines Legitimate Aspiration in their website, as the political system which is best placed to achieve and maintain the prosperity and peace.

Thus ‘the hope for a political system to achieve and maintain the prosperity and peace’ is linked to all human beings and not confined to a particular community. The aspirations of ordinary people, irrespective of their ethnicity, is the fulfilment of their minimum level of basic needs such as food, clothing, water, shelter, sanitation, healthcare, and education. Failure to meet once basic needs could be attributed to poverty and underdevelopment. The above signs of poverty can even be seen in economically developed nations (the so-called champions of prosperity and peace) including USA.

Misinformation and its effects

A lie repeated under each and every news item, repeatedly for decades, via international news agencies could register as a conclusive piece of evidence in support of the LTTE terrorism in the minds of the millions of its readers /listeners/viewers throughout the world, with time. As a result, despite the victories made by the security forces with its determination to crush the terrorism and to rescue the innocent Tamil population from the grip of the mono-ethnic dictatorship and to restore democracy, the pressure has mounted to negotiate with the most ruthless terrorists in the world and place solutions to devolve power to North and East on ethnic lines, to a non-existing problem.

As far as we are aware, 54% of the Tamil population now live outside the North and East provinces without any record of incidences of communal violence since 1983, despite numerous provocations. On the other hand, the sole representative of the Tamils, as seen by the said outside elements, continues its ethnic cleansing around the uncleared areas after successfully wiping out almost all the Sinhalese and Muslims from the North and, now, by indiscriminate killing of innocents in the South. Yet, the LTTE propaganda machinery has been able to justify their atrocities with the mammoth support they receive from their agents, both in and outside the country.

The discrimination, marginalisation, ‘legitimate aspiration’ etc are merely slogans adopted by the divisive forces to promote separatism. Aspirations to achieve the privileges enjoyed by privileged groups over the rest of the people similar to that existed under the British rule is not acceptable under any democratic system.

S. Akurugoda

Canada outlaws World Tamil Movement

TORONTO - The federal government has outlawed the World Tamil Movement, a Toronto-based non-profit organization, under the Anti-Terrorism Act, Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day announced Monday.

Under the initiative, it would become illegal to give money to that organization. The move, which in part aims to protect legitimate businesses that may be extorted for funds, signals an aggressive new approach to combating terrorist financing in Canada.

Adding the group to Canada`s list of banned organizations should serve as `a message to them (extortion victims) and all Canadians that they will be protected from those who would try to use various pressure tactics or means of extortion to gain financial assets to help in terrorist causes,` Day said.

The decision to add the organization to Canada`s list of outlawed terrorist groups marks the first time Ottawa has used the anti-terrorism law to shut down a Canadian community group for ties to terrorists.

Financial institutions were officially notified of the government`s intentions Monday morning by Canada`s banking regulator. The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions advised banks and insurance companies to notify the RCMP or CSIS if they hold any accounts linked to the WTM.

The announcement may mark the end for the WTM, which has operated in Canada since the 1980s. Earlier this year, the RCMP seized dozens of bank accounts linked to the group`s officers and shut down its Montreal branch office.

Day would not say how much money was involved but said the `funds are significant.`

The public safety minister said that in the first six weeks of 2008, there were 100 civilian deaths in Sri Lanka believed to be have been caused by the Tamil Tigers. He added that 270 people have been injured in public places and that the group funding those terrorist activities will no longer be tolerated.

`We`re sending a clear message to the entire Canadian population that we will not give support to that group,` Day told reporters on the dock of Toronto`s harbour Monday.

`Those terrorists are funding our dollars from Canada and we want to put a stop to that.`

The Anti-Terrorism Act, passed in the wake of the 9-11 attacks, allows federal cabinet to prepare a list of `entities` whose activities are proscribed by Canadian law due to their involvement in terrorist violence.

Before Monday`s announcement, there were 40 listed entities, all of them groups directly engaged in violence, such as al-Qaida, Hezbollah and Hamas. Although the law allows for the listing of front or support groups, the federal cabinet had so far refrained from doing so.

Because this is a first, it is unclear what will happen next, although the listing makes it illegal to financially support the group. The group may appeal the ruling.

The WTM has been under close police scrutiny. Headquartered in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough, the group is accused by Canadian police and intelligence agencies of being the leading front organization for the Tigers, a separatist guerrilla group responsible for scores of terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka.

RCMP national security teams have been conducting a criminal probe of the WTM since 2003, and raided its offices in Toronto and Montreal in April 2006, seizing a truckload of documents and Tigers paraphernalia.

In court, RCMP officers claimed to have found evidence indicating that the WTM serves as a Tigers front and has been aggressively fundraising in Canada in close concert with Tigers headquarters in Sri Lanka.

Many Tamil-Canadians support the Tamil Tigers, considering them freedom fighters, but other have complained to police about the heavy-handed fundraising tactics of the WTM, which some have likened to extortion. The group, which admits it is sympathetic to the Tigers, has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

Isolated on a small island, the Tigers are heavily dependent on outside sources of financing, which they use in part to purchase the weapons needed to wage a civil war that has been reignited by the collapse of a ceasefire agreement and the withdrawal of international monitors.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE, have been fighting since 1983 for a separate state for Sri Lanka`s ethnic Tamil minority. In addition to traditional guerrilla tactics, the group has resorted to such terror tactics as suicide bombings, targeted political assassinations of leading government figures as well as the bombing of buses, trains and commercial buildings.

As home to the world`s largest ethnic Tamil populations, Canada has also become an important offshore base for the rebels, which control several front groups in Toronto that harness political and financial support to finance the ethnic insurgency half a world away.

Canada outlawed the Tigers under the Anti-Terrorism Act in 2006 but fundraising and other forms of support have continued.

Late last year, thousands of Tamil-Canadians converged at the Markham Fairgrounds north of Toronto to attend funeral services for S.P. Thamilselvan, the second-in-command of the LTTE, who was killed in a government air strike. Several Toronto-area Liberal MPs also attended and later defended their actions.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

And the watchdogs shall be watched

by Malinda Seneviratne

There is a lot of talk about media freedom in this country. If we go by what the so-called 'Free Media Movement (FMM)' spits out every now and then, this is a government that is taking pot-shots at journalists at the drop of a hat. Happily, though, everyone knows that the FMM is nothing more, nothing less, than a bunch of jokers who operate under the mistaken belief that journalists are above the law and who will bend themselves backwards to make mountains out of molehills and of course to do their bit to support the LTTE, not so much by white-washing their crimes against humanity but positing the state and the LTTE as equals in volume and character of violence perpetrated.

The same goes for the loonies who call themselves 'Working Journalists', most of whom do little journalism and hardly ever work. However, this we-are-being-hunted rant is their bread and butter, we need to understand. Anything less than a virulently anti-journalist state would see their funding dry up.

Let's assume, though, for argument's sake, that these people are really serious about 'journalism' and that they epitomize the highest journalistic values. They have after all wriggled themselves into the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), which, we admit, is creditable for a two-bit outfit made of unscrupulous men and women masquerading as human rights activists and, yes, saints. Not that the PCC amounts to much, of course.

My question is this: does self-criticism have any value in their book? Are they wont to turn a blind eye on the horrendous irresponsibility indulged in by fellow-travellers, some of whom come disguised now as political analysts and now as journalists? Or do they have their own sacred cows that are given a wide berth?

Last week over 20 people were killed in a terrorist bomb attack on a bus in Moratuwa. One Krishan Francis writing for the Associated Press reported the incident and coloured it by a lot of slanted editorializing. Francis quickly moved to trivialize this act of terrorism by employing the weighted scales that is the trademark of rogue traders. This is the script:

"A bomb goes off. Government accuses LTTE, LTTE denies or remains silent. Reference an LTTE claim about the military killing Tamil civilians and of course a denial by the Government."

What do we have? Equivalency. A deliberate act of terrorism targeting civilians (not combatants) bearing the LTTE's signature and with an independently verifiable death toll is all of a sudden morally, politically and arithmetically equal to an unverified/unverifiable death toll of people who are claimed by an interested party (the LTTE) to be civilians *deliberately* targeted by the security forces.

They do need some kind of 'intellectual' buttressing here and who do they turn to but Jehan Perera, often described as an 'independent' political analyst. This was the quote attributed to Jehan Perera (of the National Peace Council, an independent activist group, according to Francis): "This could be the start of a worsening cycle of targeting civilians."

Jehan Perera and the National Peace Council are hardly 'independent'. Jehan Perera has a right to opinion but his views are as valid as anyone else for he's no expert on Sri Lanka or the politics therein. Only a journalistic quack or a politically compromised reporter or media institution will call him for a quote. A more responsible and professional journalist would, even as per the AP's skewed notion of balance, obtain other opinions, especially from other parts of the political spectrum. No, instead, Francis goes to some one who represents a minuscule minority and believes he is doing the right thing by the public.

Jehan says more: "the bus attacks were likely a tit-for-tat kind of retaliation by the rebels." Tit-for-tat! Now that's neutrality in the purest sense of the word for you. The irresponsibility comes from the fact that neither Jehan nor Francis seem to have any clue about what's 'tit' and what's 'tat' or if they did, are happy to leave it be. Mischievous. Irresponsible. Sunanda Deshapriya ought to be livid, and so too those wide-eyed Reporters Sans Frontiers boys and girls so given to pontificating on and feeding on other people's miseries. We hear not a murmur from these worthies.

Assuming that the Moratuwa attack was Jehan's 'tit', I wonder how he came to swallow wholesale the 'tat' of the matter. Does he believe the LTTE? If so, on what is that belief founded on? Why does he so trust a terrorist's word? Is he a closet or not-so-closet sympathizer and are his infrequent mutterings condemning the LTTE merely eye-wash?

Jehan, like his pals in the Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Free Media Movement and other such NGOs with dubious agenda, have a comparative advantage: sleight of hand. Sleight of hand is an attribute that rebels against serious discourse. Its adherents are not independent and are not analysts worth running after for a quote.

The FMM will not take issue with Jehan for being mischievous bordering on complicity in the LTTE's propaganda machinations. The FMM will leave the Associated Press alone. Sacred cows? Partners in crime?

My hunch is that the Associted Press and other wire agencies such as Reuters and AFP will continue to quote Jehan Perera. For two reasons. Firstly, most of these journalists happen to be his fellow-travelers on a journey that is patently not agenda-free. Secondly, they don't give a damn about professionalism. The Press Complaints Commission, that watchdog on watchdogs will continue to nap happily. The FMM will look the other way *even* *if *they had the eyes to read between Jehan's lines and had the skills to work through tits and tats.

They may, if they so choose, bear in mind this simple fact: the ultimate watchdog is the people. They will watch the dogs and their minders for they know that the dogs are not there to protect them or their interests but rather operating dead against them. And one day, some of them will ask, 'Who let these dogs out?' And some of them will do something about it. Rabies, we all know, has to be eradicated.

Is that a threat? Yes. Not an LTTE kind of threat, don't worry, but a pledge to keep our eyes open not just for the suicide bomber but his/her approver (one way or another).