Canadian spooks think punk band "Suicide Pilots" are terrorists

The Mounties' anti-terror unit and Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Canada's top spook agency, have a file dedicated to a harmless punk band called "The Suicide Pilots." Apparently, a grasp of irony is not a prerequisite for intelligence work in Canada -- on the other hand, that's pretty serious punk cred: the Mounties think we're terrorists. Woo!
Following the arrest of the band’s drummer, bones (aka Jeffrey Monaghan), the RCMP’s anti-terror unit opened a file on the band, alleging their logo “depicts an airplane flying into the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill.” A copy of the frightened-looking airplane caricature was included in the 184 page file.

“If you want an example of bloated police powers, this is it,” says Ottawa-based lawyer Yavar Hameed. Hameed notes that the investigation seems to be completely unrelated to the arrest of Mr. Monaghan. Monaghan was alleged to have leaked the Tory Green Plan last spring. The anti-terror investigation appears to have surfaced after media coverage of Mr. Monaghan denouncing the Harper regime’s actions of climate change. Monaghan has never been charged. The investigation is organized through the Integrated National Security Enforcement Teams (INSET), and the documents reveal an explicit coordination with Canada’s spy agency, CSIS.

Hameed notes that this case illustrates the unaccountability of police agencies in their efforts to catalog and criminalize activists. The Suicide Pilots have commented that the intelligence effort is another example of state-lawlessness in the so-called “War on Terror.” “The explosion of security culture over the past few years has cost countless innocent people very dearly, in ways we can’t even begin to fully appreciate - but this just straddles the line between disturbing and silly. What’s next? A tag-and-release program for social activists? We already have a make-work program for creepy, paranoid voyeurs,” says the band’s vocalist NaCl.

Link (Thanks, Fat Cramer!)


  1. Just once, can we not see one of these stories where the accused’s *lawyer* is the one saying how ridiculous the charges are? Yes, I know that in this case the charges really are nuts, and yes, the whole thing really is beyond-the-pale outrageous, but surely we can find a more credible source for that outrage than the guy whose job it is to express outrage over the accusation.

  2. News mostly comes from press releases and news agencies, both of which usually rely on an attorney statement. From whom do you want a statement? If you interview them and put it up on your blog, I’m sure that Cory would be interested in an update or a scoop.

  3. “Opening a file” could mean they have a file-folder in a cabinet somewhere with a piece of paper in it that says, “As far as we can tell, this is a harmless punk band. No further investigation needed at this time.”

    Come on. Seriously. It’s a bureaucracy. Of course they have a damn file.

  4. ehr. is usage of the word “spook” to mean “agent” or similar actually more common than its use as a racial slur?

  5. Blame the fact that my only exposure to the RCMP was due South, but I can so see Fraser going after that band and talking to them VERY sternly. Ray Kowalksi, of course, would actually have all their CDs…

  6. Greetings

    7 – [url=]SPOOKS[/url]

    A Three Stooges film which in context seems wholly appropriate…

    ZOMG, I saw a Ghost errr Terrorist

    Enjoy the journey


  7. Without taking the time to do a usage survey or root around in our dictionaries, I recall that “spook” as a derogatory term for a black person was not all that common even when I first encountered it more than forty years ago–interestingly enough, in both senses in the title The Spook Who Sat by the Door. (And the 1960s was a period rich in racial epithets of all flavors and degrees of seriousness.) My experience might be limited by geographical and class situations, though. Both the racial and the spy sense seem to come from the 1940s. Note that the original title of the UK TV show called “MI5” in the US is “Spooks.”

  8. 13: Perhaps it’s not common, but I grew up hearing my father use it quite casually (and often). He never used “N” word, but he used “spook” and the one starting with “j” and ending in “oo” (I don’t want to type it) quite often.

  9. Huh. I never knew that. And I know I’ve heard it used on US tv/films to refer to CIA(etc) agents.

    As Russell pointed out, it’s the name of one of the biggest shows on UK tv, about mi5 agents: Spooks.

  10. Just an addendum to my comment #13: I really should point out that he doesn’t any more, at least not that I’ve heard. Not to excuse it, but he came from an impoverished, lower working class background, with a vile old coot of a father and a mother who was not vile at all but who was poorly educated. Dad actually has learned better.

  11. Would it be okay if we didn’t turn this thread into an historical survey of racial epithets? Please.

  12. 17: The racial thing is certainly not the first meaning that springs to my mind when I hear the word “spook” – without context, I’d assume the person was talking about either a government agent or an actual ghost. But as I’ve pointed out above, I grew up hearing my father use it to mean a person of colour, so that probably says a lot about how the use of the term has changed, at least for me, over the past 30 years.

  13. @9 –
    As ridiculous as Walker Texas Ranger, but I loved both shows. Chuck Norris can run around the world and kick himself in the butt.

  14. 22: Chuck Norris destroyed the periodic table, because he only recognizes the element of surprise.

    I never watched Walker, but if it’s as silly as dS, I may have to ;-)

  15. I’m probably the only one here who has this point of view. But…
    If a bunch of young pampered white middle-class so-called musicians are going to name their organization after political murderers, then they DESERVE to get hassled by the authorities that have a sworn duty to protect the public from people who actually do politcal murders.

    This idea that you can name your organization (even if it is just a musical group) after terrorists and then expect to be granted immunity from harassment on the basis of some understood code-of-cool granted irony just doesn’t cut it with me anymore.

    S-clld Pnk mscns r sch rplsv ppl. They demand public recognition of their ‘right to irony’ by naming their groups things like ‘suicide bombers’, and yet do nothing about the very real threat that people face from real suicide bombers. r thy rlly s vpd that they must name themselves after a concept that induces public revulsion in order to validate their music?

    If they called themselves the Flowers or TX81Z then they wouldn’t be hassled by the people who have a sworn duty to check out people who publically call themselves suicide bombers, musical irony or not.

    The 20th century is over people, tm t grw p.

  16. In fact Simonetta, punks and anarchist orgs do plenty of charity gigs/work, for both impoverished kids and for anti-war efforts. Just like bikers and MCCs, they are massively under-recognised charity motivators.

    Also, perhaps they were called after Japanese kamikaze pilots, and your Ameri-centrism mistakenly pegged their namesakes as the 9/11 pilots. I don’t know, but I’m certainly not ready to judge their political motivations through their semi-obscure band name..

    Do you have the same problem with JoyDivision? Or LongKnives? What about johnny Cash, who actually sang about killing people?

  17. Simonetta, artists (or anyone else for that matter) shouldn’t have been expected to sit still and suck it up during the McCarthy era, and it’s the same now.

  18. Simonetta, I don’t think the band is expecting to be “granted immunity from harassment” on the basis of any kind of right-to-be-ironic. I think they’re expecting freedom from harassment on the grounds that harassment is a crime, and on the ground that they are not themselves terrorists.

    (Also, please note that some of your vowels have gone away, but not all of them.)

  19. CSIS and RCMP gross incompetence and mishandling of the investigation into Sikh separatist terrorism resulted in the Air India bombing. The RCMP is guilty of murderous incompetence in the lower ranks and venal corruption at the highest level and should be disbanded and replaced. CSIS is a bad joke.

    All of the foregoing is easily defensible.

  20. Time with my girl I spent it well
    I had to be strong for my woman

    >You must be joking
    >Oh man you must be joking

    She needed to be protected

    The good life was so elusive
    Handouts, they got me down
    I had to regain my self respect
    So I got into camoflauge

    The girls they love to see you shoot

    >I love a man in a uniform
    >I love a man in a uniform
    >I love a man in a uniform
    >I love a man in a uniform

  21. I’d say for the sake of argument that looking at these guys like they may be terrorists for their name (which, in fact might refer to Japanese Kamikazes) is about as relevant as looking into BB posters with names like Hass I Sabbah- historically, he used terrorist tactics. His Hashisheen (word mutated to assassin) had no expectation of survival, and were promised virgins in the afterlife.. sound familiar?

    To the authorities, Robin Hood was a terrorist.

  22. I prefer the good old days when Canadians only got outraged over band names like the Barenaked Ladies.

  23. “The Suicide Pilots have commented that the intelligence effort is another example of state-lawlessness in the so-called “War on Terror.”” … pfffft, corporate avenger has known about spooks keeping a file on them since before the war on terror…

    “FBI got a file on you
    Think they don’t but they goddamn do
    All seeing eye is watching you
    Everything you say, and everything you do.”
    – Corporate Avenger “FBI file”

    They also have opinions on Jesus, voting, and illegal drugs… The Suicide Pilots just have a stupid name.

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