Saturday, October 22, 2005

On Enemies, Cops, Spooks and Poker

"O wise man, wash your hands of that friend who associates with your enemies." - Saadi (1184-1291)

[Originally posted on]
Awhile back I sent a blog update notification through e-mail and I addressed it something like, "Friends, Family and Enemies." Several people were amused enough to reply and comment and one "friend" even offered to be a new enemy. I said she could be a rival instead. We would try and beat each other (not sure at what yet) but when push comes to shove we would help each other out. Enemies are meant to be vanquished and I will let you take as liberal or creative an interpretation of that as you want.

I got to thinking about enemies again recently and have wondered how real they are and how one must deal with them. Upon hearing the news that one of my cousins was trying to get into the RCMP I responded rather immediately and undiplomatically (Lana says I can be "quick and merciless") in the negative. I stated that Indigenous people here in Canada joining the national police force made about as much sense as a Palestinian joining the IDF. I told my uncle that I hope we (I and my cousin) don't end up on opposite sides of a barricade someday.

Another family member, could not fathom the slightest idea why I would think becoming a police officer was a bad thing. This difference in reaction goes to the heart of what is conceived of as Indigenous on the one hand and a Canadian Aboriginal on the other. Some people think it's great, honourable and certainly better than many of the other social pitfalls that our people often fall into. I think it's unconscionable. I think of Dudley George, J.J. Harper, Neil Stonechild, Starlight Tours among the other nameless and faceless Indigenous people to fall victim to the RCMP.

And I've been writing only about the beat cops. What about the super-sleuthy-spooks? Most people I find, don't even know that Canada has its very own spook organization. When I mention CSIS and the fact that I have been contacted by "researchers" twice they either ask what CSIS is or think its cool. The first time was shortly after I moved to Vancouver Island and the apparent reason for the visit was a (pretty tame) article I wrote for Redwire Magazine.

I admit I was pretty spooked (maybe that's how they earned their nickname) at the time. I mean how often does one get contacted by an organization with the responsibility to "investigate threats, analyze information and produce intelligence; it then reports to, and advises, the Government of Canada, so as to protect the country and its citizens. Key threats include terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, espionage, foreign interference and cyber-tampering affecting critical infrastructure"?

That was 4 years ago. The next time, a man calling himself Donald Curran showed up at the door of a condo I had owned, was renovating at the time and sold earlier this year. Like the first guy (for all I know it could have been the first guy again) he didn't seem to want all that much. He had called me in December 2004 and I brushed him off as I was in the process of getting toasted from my job at the NTC and too stressed out to worry about anything else. So 4 months later he just knocks on my door as I'm laying laminate flooring in Surrey.

Aside from the fact that only 3 people knew where I was at the time, and his access to surveillance (either my mobile phone or e-mail) was the only explanation for him knowing, I was not spooked, but oddly amused. Their reason for contacting me this time I assumed, was my recent departure from the West Coast Warrior Society (another tidbit of intel that was not widely known). I was amused because it became clear that a lot of what these guys do is observe body language. Not a lot of conversation or even discussion about anything terribly important needs to take place for them to begin gathering information about you. So I stood there with a slight grin because it seemed funny that I was watching him watch me watch him.

I have recently become a little more skilled at the art of observing body language. I just finished reading Peter Collett's Book of Tells. Not wanting to be a spy, but actually motivated by wanting to become a better poker player, I picked up the book from Curious Coho Books (buy local). It's an easy read and the author does a good job of breaking down all the different tells that people reveal, mostly unconsciously. What struck me most was the amount of information that is exchanged in a two-minute encounter that neither participant are too consciously aware of, that never the less significantly impacts the outcome.

So the morals of this story...don't be a cop (or a spy!); be nice to Indians; if you want to be a better poker player at your weekly game I recommend Collett's book; yes, I know this is just more fodder for the spooks and; if you are reading this CSIS is probably checking YOU out now! ;-)

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