I don't quite see this really except as protecting the myth that the emperor really is clothed when he is naked. Everyone surely knew that the US security agencies were involved in Arar's deportation. While Canadian agencies may not have been directly involved they certainly did not object and did nothing to notify the government of the truth even though they knew what was happening. They used Arar's imprisonment as a chance to go fishing for more information just as the US did. The Canadians did so earlier too with El Maati and used his confessions against Arar. Nothing but nothing has been done to deal with the rat's nest of informers who deliberately spread false information about Arar to the press using classified material. There is no reason for journalists to protect their sources when those sources are using them to spread lies that harm innocent people.
The involvement of William Elliot in the censorship may show why Harper chose him to head the RCMP. What other reasons are there we don't know about? No doubt they are classified!
Arar report censorship meant to protect American security establishment
Harper likely involved in decisions meant to protect allies - Arar lawyer.
Toronto, August 16, 2007: This week, HarperIndex.ca interviewed immigration and human rights lawyer Lorne Waldman concerning recent news that much of the report of Justice Dennis O'Connor on the Mahar Arar affair had been censored by Harper government officials. Here are excerpts of the interview:-
HarperIndex.ca: Is there anything new on this file since the news reports of last weekend?
Lorne Waldman: There is nothing new. I think that's really all we're going to get... I don't think we'll see any more information through the inquiry process.
HI: Why would the Harper government fight to keep so much of the O'Connor report secret?
Lorne Waldman: The issue is one of protecting the Americans. The Harper government is much more interested in protecting the Americans than the Liberals were, due to Harper's own close alliance with George W. Bush. They tried to keep from the public the direct role of the CIA in order to protect the Americans from embarrassment. I also think this government would be much more sympathetic to the national security establishment.
What CSIS knew and when they knew it are the key questions, and it's very clear they knew that he would be tortured and knew very early on. That's one of things they tried to repress. The other thing is that the RCMP had misled the justices (judges).
HI: How far up do you think decision-making went concerning the censorship of the report? Why?
Lorne Waldman: We are sure [former public security minister] Stockwell Day was involved. Given the way Stephen Harper runs this government I can't believe he wasn't directly involved. It was a very political decision at the time.
Interestingly enough the new RCMP commissioner William Elliot was also involved, in his role as Associate Deputy Minister of Public Safety. It gives rise to concern about whether he's now become part of the secrecy mentality. It is hard to have any faith in his ability to make changes at the RCMP if he's going to fall into the same kind of thinking about covering everything up.
HI: Do you think the report reflects on their handling of the affair once elected or on the government's ability to engage in or help with further cases of extraordinary rendition?
Lorne Waldman: The Canadian government wasn't involved in any of the decision-making with respect to Arar. The only decision they made was to accept recommendations given to them to keep the O'Connor report secret. I think this is inconsistent with this government's often-stated preference for transparency and open government.
There are worrisome examples of other cases we have seen, such as Omar Khadr or Bashir Makhtal [a Canadian also caught fleeing Somalia late last year who was taken into Kenyan custody and sent to Ethiopia, where he is still detained]. He's a Canadian citizen but the Canadian government seems quite content to let him rot in Ethiopia.
HI: Are there things you believe the public should know about this and other related cases? How can they learn more?
Lorne Waldman: I think they should look at Makhtal case as a failure of the Canadian government to protect Canadian citizens. They should watch very carefully the Iacobucci inquiry, which is investigating the cases of the other four Canadians, who also were tortured in Syria, to see how they follow up.
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