Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Iacobucci Report to be released to public today

This is from the CBC.
I expect government officials and intelligence operatives will be in for some reasonably harsh criticism but otherwise this report will do absolutely nothing to clear the names of the people held and tortured. In fact the whole idea was to make their task more difficult by keeping any evidence that might help them under wraps. Iacobucci has earned his fat fees. Nobody was held accountable in the Arar case and likely no one will in this case either. Zaccardelli caused his own downfall by his own testimony. The BC Human Rights Commission pulled out of the hearings because of the secrecy lack of public input and lack of involvement by intervenors.

Federal inquiry findings on 3 Arab-Canadians to be released Tuesday
Last Updated: Monday, October 20, 2008 10:36 PM ET A federal inquiry is getting ready to go public with its findings on the ordeal of three Arab-Canadians who say they were tortured abroad with the connivance of authorities in Ottawa.
The report by former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Frank Iacobucci was given to the Conservative government on Monday, some 22 months after the probe began.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has signed an order for its release and it should be ready for public distribution sometime Tuesday, a senior federal official said.
"The government is happy the report will be out," said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
"The consideration is to get it out as soon as is practical, in a manner that pays respect to the good work the commission and Justice Iacobucci have done."
Inquiry staff and federal officials had spent days in back-and-forth talks on the best way to make the report public, with sources close to the commission saying they found it unusually difficult to finalize arrangements.
One of the sticking points appeared to be whether journalists would get an advance look at the report in a locked room before putting questions to Iacobucci and his counsel at a news conference.
Inquiry staff signalled last week that they strongly favoured such a lockup to help the media, lobby groups and other interested parties digest the findings. By late Monday, however, there was still no word on whether that part of the plan would go ahead.
Judge probes 3 cases behind closed doors
Iacobucci was appointed in December 2006 to investigated the cases of Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati and Muayyed Nureddin, all of whom say they were wrongly labelled as terrorists by the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
They were subsequently arrested on visits to Syria, imprisoned and tortured, only to be released in the end without charge.
They deny any terrorist links and contend that Ottawa tipped the Syrians to their travel plans, either directly or through an allied country like the United States.
The three also say Canadian authorities disregarded the risk of torture and provided lists of questions or other background information for use by their Syrian captors during interrogation.
The claims are strikingly similar to those made by Maher Arar, an Ottawa computer engineer who was arrested by U.S. authorities in 2002 and deported to Syria, where he was tortured into false confessions of links to al-Qaeda.
Arar's name was cleared by an earlier inquiry under Justice Dennis O'Connor, who found the RCMP had provided faulty information on his background to U.S. officials. Arar has since received more than $10 million in compensation from the government.
Unlike the O'Connor inquiry, nearly all of Iacobucci's work was carried out behind closed doors under a restrictive mandate drawn up by the government to safeguard national security.
The three complainants, their lawyers and human rights groups have repeatedly warned that the veil of secrecy could undermine public confidence in the findings.
Almalki, an Ottawa communications engineer, was detained in Syria in 2002 and held for 22 months before being released and allowed to return to Canada.
El Maati, a Toronto truck driver, was arrested in Syria in 2001 and later transferred to Egypt, spending a total of 26 months in prison.
So-called confessions extracted from him under torture were later used to justify a telephone wiretap in related investigations in Canada.
Nureddin, a Toronto geologist, was detained by Syrian officials in December 2003 as he crossed the border from Iraq. He was held for 34 days before being released.
Almalki and El Maati were both under investigation by the RCMP as part of the same anti-terrorist operations that brought Arar to their attention.
All three men had been questioned by CSIS.
© The Canadian Press,

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