O'Connor had to go to court to get these parts of his report released to the public and not all of the blacked out parts are released. These documents deal with Canadian suspicions about US policy. In other testimony CSIS kept claiming they had no idea that the US would send Arar anywhere except to Canada. The CSIS also used info they knew or should have known was produced through torture to get wiretap permissions to bug Arar's phone. The judge was given no clue. Also, the CSIS did nothing to help get Arar released even though they knew that he would probably be tortured. In effect that CSIS probably agrees with the "firm" interrogation even though they would never say so publicly. The documents released show a government eager to avoid any revelations of the faults of their security forces or that might embarass the US.
There is no mention in either article of the Iacobucci inquiry but that inquiry represents this sort of secrecy raised to the nth degree. It is an inquiry which in no way allows the Al Malki, El Maati, or Nureddin to clear their names as Arar was able to do. It will not allow them or their lawyers to take part in the secret sessions in which CSIS and other officials will be questioned. Already one lawyer has taken the issue to court to challenge the fact that almost none of the inquiry will be in public. So much for transparency and accountability. No one has ever been punished for what happened to Arar and there will be no punishment of any intelligence officials arising from the Iacobucci inquiry. Of course the inquiry itself has no power to punish but even if wrongdoing is found nothing will happen.
CSIS suspected U.S. would deport Arar to be tortured: documents
Last Updated: Thursday, August 9, 2007 | 12:19 PM ET
Previously blacked-out portions of the Maher Arar report state that Canadian security officials believed the United States might send the Syrian-born Canadian to a foreign country to be questioned under torture.
"I think the U.S. would like to get Arar to Jordan where they can have their way with him," a Canadian Security Intelligence Service officer based in Washington wrote in a report dated Oct. 10, 2002, according to documents released Thursday.
The note was written days after the United States deported Arar, who was returning to Canada from a vacation in 2002 when he was detained during a flight stopover in New York, wrongly accused of links with al-Qaeda and sent to Syria, where he was jailed for months and tortured.
The newly released documents also say the CSIS operative "spoke of a trend they had noted lately that when the CIA or FBI cannot legally hold a terrorist subject, or wish a target questioned in a firm manner, they have them rendered to countries willing to fulfill that role. He said Mr. Arar was a case in point."
Arar's lawyer, Marlys Edwardh, said Thursday that CSIS did nothing to communicate this information to Canada's political leaders.
"In fact, they sat on it," Edwardh told CBC News.
Another of Arar's lawyers, Lorne Waldman, said the new information "now confirms that as of two days after Mr. Arar was sent to Syria, the Canadian government was aware that it was very likely he was going to be tortured when he was there."
Arar and his wife, Monia Mazigh, were not commenting publicly Thursday on the release of the documents.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, on a trip to the Arctic, side-stepped the issue of whether he would again raise the Arar case with Washington in light of the latest findings. He also once again noted to reporters that the mistreatment of Arar occurred under the previous Liberal government.
"This government has committed to implementing all of the recommendations of this report to ensure the events that occurred under the Liberals are not replicated for other Canadian citizens," Harper said.
Canada used info from countries with poor rights records
The Arar commission released its report in September 2006, but about 1,500 words were blacked out because the federal government argued the passages would reveal national security secrets, including some received from foreign agencies. The censored portions represent less than one per cent of the lengthy report from the inquiry.
The blacked-out portions of the report were released Thursday on the July order of a Federal Court judge.
'Our law is very clear. You cannot use evidence that is the product of torture [to obtain a warrant].'
—Arar commission lawyer Paul CavalluzzoThe newly-released portions also state that Canadian authorities relied on a country with a poor record on human rights for information to obtain a search warrant. The disclosed portions said investigators did not disclose that the information used to get the warrants "might be the product of torture."
Paul Cavalluzzo, the lead lawyer for the Arar commission, said Thursday that he hoped the release of the censored information would force law enforcement agencies to be "totally candid" when they go before a judge to obtain a warrant.
"Our law is very clear," Cavalluzzo said. "You cannot use evidence that is the product of torture [to obtain a warrant]."
Many of the blacked-out words refer to Canadian contacts with U.S. security services — the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Both Arar and the inquiry's commissioner, Dennis O'Connor, had argued before the Federal Court judge at hearings in the spring that the public should see the document in its entirety.
In July, Justice Simon Noël ruled that some, but not all, of the excised information should be revealed. He said public interest was best served by keeping the rest of the document secret.
The inquiry found that the RCMP wrongly labelled Arar a terrorist and passed the misleading information to U.S. authorities, where it led to Arar being linked to al-Qaeda and deported to Syria.
O'Connor, associate chief justice of Ontario, cleared Arar of any links to terrorist organizations, and the federal government agreed to pay Arar $12.5 million in compensation.
Now the Canwest article:
Janice Tibbetts, CanWest News Service
Published: Thursday, August 09, 2007 Article tools
Font: * * * * OTTAWA — Canadian security officials suspected that Maher Arar would be questioned “in a firm manner” when the Americans deported the Ottawa engineer to his birth country of Syria, newly declassified portions of an investigative report into the incident revealed Thursday.
“I think the U.S. would like to get Arar to Jordan where they can have their way with him,” Jack Hooper, assistant director of operations for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, wrote in a memo described in newly disclosed passages of the Arar report.
A censored version of the report by a commission of inquiry headed by Justice Dennis O’Connor was published last September. The government ordered that some information be blacked out so as to safeguard national security, defence and international relations. Last month, the Federal Court ordered that more of the information be disclosed, ruling that it would be in the public’s interest and not harmful to the country.
Suspected of terrorist ties, Arar was flown to Jordan and from there to Syria, where he was imprisoned for a year and tortured before being released and returned to Canada. O’Connor’s report unequivocally cleared him of all terrorist links.
The newly uncensored passages also reveal that the CSIS security liaison officer in Washington, in a memo to his superiors two days after Arar’s deportation, “spoke of a trend they had noted lately when the CIA or FBI cannot legally hold a terrorist suspect, or wish a target questioned in a firm manner, they have them rendered to countries willing to fulfil that role.” Arar, he said, was “a case in point.”
Arar’s lawyer, Lorne Waldman, described the declassified sections as “shocking and disturbing.” He accused the government of abuse of power for trying to shield information from the public for a year in the name of national security. “What we’re really seeing is the government withholding information because it is embarrassing,” said Waldman.
The more complete report also reveals that a Canadian security team, which visited Syria in November 2002, concluded that officials there “did not appear to view this as a major case and seemed to look upon the matter as more of a nuisance than anything else.”
Because of its blacked-out passages, the initial version of the report appeared to put the lion’s share of blame on the RCMP, while CSIS escaped virtually unscathed. The original version also deleted mention of the CIA and the FBI.
CSIS spokesman Giovanni Cotroneo refused comment on the new revelations. He stressed, however, that the report concluded that the security officials neither participated nor acquiesced in the U.S. decision to send Arar to Syria.
The new version also places more blame on the Mounties, revealing that an RCMP anti-terrorism squad, in seeking search warrants in early 2002, failed to reveal to the presiding judge that the information came from an unnamed country with a poor human rights record or that it may have been obtained through torture.
In September 2002, the Mounties also kept a judge in the dark while seeking a warrant to wiretap Arar’s phone, failing to mention that their information came from an uncorroborated confession by terror suspect Ahmad El Maati, which was likely obtained under torture in Syria.
“The candor was lacking and that’s very significant because we rely on our agencies, when dealing with national security investigations, to be truthful when seeking warrants,” said Waldman. “You ask yourself, given that CSIS possessed all this information, that they didn’t vigourously move to get Arar returned and in fact opposed his return.”
Waldman called on the federal government to immediately implement the Arar report recommendation to set up two independent oversight bodies to monitor the RCMP, CSIS and other agencies involved in national security.
Although the censored information represents less than one per cent of the 1,200-page report, Paul Cavalluzzo, the Arar commission lawyer, said the issue goes to the heart of government accountability.
He denounced the RCMP’s failure to disclose information in court, in particular, as an affront to the justice system because applications for national security warrants take place in a closed courtroom with a judge only hearing the government’s side before making a decision.
Arar was arrested by U.S. authorities in September 2002 while travelling through New York on his way back to Canada from a vacation in Tunisia.
The report concluded that his deportation was “very likely” the result of an inexperienced RCMP anti-terrorism squad passing on false intelligence to the U.S. that labelled Arar and his wife “Islamic extremists.”
Former RCMP commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli was forced to resign in the wake of the Arar report after he publicly changed his story on what he knew and when he knew it.
Arar was given a formal apology from the federal government earlier this year, along with $10.5 million in compensation for his ordeal.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Thursday it is up to Liberal Leader Stephane Dion to explain the Arar affair to the public.
“Let’s be clear, we’re talking about events that occurred under the previous government,” Harper told reporters in Yellowknife. “So I would suggest to you that in terms of asking what actually happened, those questions would be best directed to Mr. Dion.”
Harper added that Arar has been compensated for his ordeal and reiterated that the government intends to implement all the recommendations in the Arar report.
© CanWest News Service 2007