Thursday, August 16, 2007

Memos show CSIS suspected torture

Indeed CSIS did nothing to inform the govt. of their suspicions. They took advantage of the situation to feed questions to the Syrians. They also used "info" from other Canadians (El Maati) in Syrian jails to get wiretaps without informing the judge that the info might have resulted from torture. These creeps then claim that they had independent verification. If they had that why did they not use it instead of the tainted evidence. Answer: Because they are simply lying and have no such evidence. It is just like the independent evidence that the US has that Arar is a terrorist. It is pure BS. Harper will do nothing further about Arar. You can count on that. This is from this site.Memos show CSIS suspected torture



August 10, 2007
Canadian Press

OTTAWA

Canada's spy agency suspected, within two days of Maher Arar's deportation from the United States, that the CIA had shipped him somewhere to face possible torture, newly released documents show.

But there's no indication, in the paper trail made public yesterday, that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service alerted its political masters at the time -- an oversight that critics say smacks of tacit collusion in the ordeal Arar ultimately faced in Syria.

The documentary evidence, compiled by a public inquiry into the affair, shows a Washington-based liaison officer for CSIS wrote to his superiors in Ottawa in early October 2002 about so-called "rendering'' of terrorist suspects to third countries by the Americans.

The CSIS officer suggested Arar's detention and subsequent removal from the U.S. fit an emerging trend in which American authorities would sometimes send terrorism suspects abroad for questioning "in a firm manner'' if they couldn't legally hold them or lay charges at home.

The deputy director of CSIS, Jack Hooper, later stated in a memorandum dated Oct. 10, 2002: "I think the U.S. would like to get Arar to Jordan where they can have their way with him.''

In fact, two days before Hooper wrote that memo, U.S. officials had already taken Arar from a holding cell in New York at 3 a.m. and put him on a Gulfstream executive jet to Jordan.

From there he was quickly transferred to Syria, where he was tortured into false confessions of links to al-Qaida.

At the time Hooper offered his observations, CSIS knew only that the Ottawa telecommunications engineer had been removed from New York. It didn't know any other details and was desperately trying to find out from both the CIA and FBI what had happened to him.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, on a trip to the Arctic, noted that he's already raised the Arar case with Washington but dodged the question of whether he would renew that effort, or consult CSIS, in light of the latest findings.

Harper also attempted to shift the blame for what happened to Arar to the previous government, saying his aim is to "ensure that the events that occurred under the Liberals are not replicated for other Canadian citizens.''

Justice Dennis O'Connor, who headed the inquiry into the case, tried to include a description of the 2002 CSIS suspicions in his report last year.

The material was withheld from public view at that time because of claims -- by lawyers for Harper's government -- that it could undermine national security, international relations or the defence of Canada.

Those contentions were rejected by a Federal Court judge, who ruled last month that the information should be released.

Paul Cavalluzzo, chief counsel for the O'Connor inquiry, said he's glad the information is finally on the public record.

"Our position all along was that the government was overclaiming,'' said Cavalluzzo. "The law is very clear that the government can only legitimately claim material that could injure national security. That's not to be used to cover information that could cause embarrassment.''

Marlys Edwardh, one of the lawyers for Arar, said it doesn't appear, from the evidence she's seen, that CSIS ever shared its suspicions about the CIA's role in the affair with the Liberal government of Jean Chr├ętien five years ago.

"They did absolutely nothing,'' said Edwardh. "Where's the memo to cabinet, where's the memo to the prime minister, to the solicitor general?

"The only thing you can draw from this is that they (CSIS) are making sure that this policy of rendering people -- outsourcing interrogation in circumstances when someone is going to be tortured -- is something they supported.''

There was no comment from CSIS on the matter. In Washington, a spokesperson for the U.S. Justice Department reiterated his government's long-standing position that Arar was lawfully deported as a security risk. The Americans have always maintained they had assurances from the Syrian government that he wouldn't be tortured.

On another point, Edwardh was scathing in her criticism of the RCMP for relying on intelligence obtained abroad, again possibly under torture, to support search and wiretap warrant applications within Canada.

The Mounties played fast and loose with their duty to make full disclosure to the judges who issued those warrants, she said.

"The effect is to create a false impression . . . It perpetrates a fraud on the court.''

O'Connor concluded, in a section of his report that had also been secret until now, that the RCMP used information from an unnamed country to help obtain search warrants against several individuals in January 2002, as part of a wider anti-terrorist investigation known as Project A-O Canada.

They neglected to mention to the judge who issued the warrants that the country had a questionable human rights record, and conducted no analysis of their own to determine if the information had been obtained under torture.

O'Connor also found that the Mounties again included suspect evidence in an application for a wiretap warrant in September 2002. This time the information came from a purported confession by Ahmad El Maati, another Arab-Canadian who was interrogated in Damascus but later repudiated the statements he made there and said they were extracted under torture.

The RCMP acknowledged, in their affidavit, that El Maati had changed his story but suggested he could be lying in his claims of mistreatment as part of a "damage control'' effort. They also insisted that, whatever the circumstances of the original confession, they had obtained evidence to corroborate what the Syrians had passed to them.

A separate inquiry is currently underway, under former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci, into the cases of El Maati and two other men, Abdullah Almalki and Muayyed Nureddin. All three deny any terrorist links and suspect the RCMP and CSIS collaborated in their detention and torture abroad.

O'Connor has already cleared Arar, saying the RCMP wrongly labelled him a terrorist and passed that information to U.S. authorities, who in turn used it to arrest him and deport him. The judge found no evidence, however, that Canadian intelligence or police officers directly collaborated in the decision to send Arar to Syria.

The Conservative government has since apologized to Arar and paid him $10.5 million in compensation. He has launched a separate legal action south of the border, seeking damages from the U.S. government, which continues to keep his name on a terrorism watch list despite the findings in Canada.

KEY ARAR DATES

Sept. 26, 2002: Arar arrives at JFK Airport in New York City, on a flight from Zurich, headed for Montreal. He is detained by U.S. authorities, questioned, told he is inadmissible to the United States and asked where he would like to go. He says Canada.

Oct. 4, 2002: Arar is visited by Maureen Girvan, a Canadian consular officer in New York. She later says she never thought the Americans would send him anywhere except home to Canada.

Oct. 8, 2002: Arar is taken from his cell at 3 a.m. and told by American officials he is being deported to Syria.

Oct. 9, 2002: The plane lands in Jordan and Arar is quickly transferred by car to Damascus where he is to be jailed.

Oct. 10, 2002: Arar gets his first look at a cell he describes as being the size of a grave. He is to spend most of the next 10 months there. In Ottawa, the deputy director of CSIS, not knowing where Arar is, states in a memorandum: "I think the U.S. would like to get Arar to Jordan where they can have their way with him.''

Oct. 11, 2002: Arar is tortured for the first time, beaten on his palms, wrists, lower back and hips with an electrical cable. He confesses -- falsely -- to terrorist training in Afghanistan.

Oct. 23, 2002: Arar meets Canadian consul Leo Martel for the first time. The beatings have lessened since he was first jailed.

April 23, 2003: Arar meets Canadian ambassador Franco Pillarella and two visiting Canadian MPs, Marlene Catterall and Sarkis Assadourian.

Aug. 14, 2003: Routine consular visits resume after a long interruption. Arar describes his living conditions and later says he told the consul he had been tortured.

Aug. 23, 2003: Arar is blindfolded, put in a car and driven to a new prison. His treatment improves and there is no further torture. He is no longer held in solitary confinement and can mix with other prisoners.

Oct. 4, 2003: After days of anticipating further interrogation, Arar is told instead that he will be going home to Canada. He doesn't believe it.

Oct. 5, 2003: Arar is taken to meet a prosecutor who reads out a confession of his supposed terrorist past and tells him to sign it without giving him a chance to read it. He is then taken to meet the head of Syrian military intelligence, who has been joined by Canadian officials for the occasion. Arar is freed and put on a plane to Canada.

Feb. 5, 2004: Government sets up a formal inquiry under Justice Dennis O'Connor to look into the whole Arar case.

Sept. 18, 2006: Justice O'Connor's report exonerates Arar of any wrongdoing, says inexperienced RCMP investigators wrongly gave inaccurate, unfair and overstated evidence about Arar's alleged terrorist leanings.

Jan. 26, 2007: Federal government settles with Arar with $10.5 million, plus legal fees. Prime Minister Stephen Harper offers a formal apology.

July 24, 2007: Justice Simon Noel rules in Federal Court that some previously secret findings of the commission must be revealed after commission counsel challenged a government decision to censor 1,500 words from O'Connor report.

July 26, 2007: Inquiry officials announce that despite the fact not all 1,500 censored words were opened to the public, they will not appeal federal Court decision; other parties to the inquiry follow suit.

Aug. 3, 2007: Deadline for federal attorney general appeal of decision passes.

Aug. 9, 2007: Censored words and passages are released, indicating Canadian security officials suspected that Arar had been shipped off to a third country by U.S. officials to be tortured.

CANADIAN PRESS

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