Tuesday, February 23, 2010


*** Have we not learned yet that torture backfires every time? Not only is it notorious for producing false information but creates a new level of anger and animosity - not to mention fertile grounds for lawsuits against the government. It is frequently used to demonstrate that no moral ground at all exists let alone the high ground within the apparatus of our governments. Involvement in it - even passively - significantly damages our credibility. Lastly, it serves as a better recruiting tool than any Bin Laden tape, jihadi video, jihadi forum etc. - ever could.

There ARE other ways to elicit information and actionable intelligence but I wonder if we are mature enough to hear some ideas.

One thing to note is all this information is made available to us due to the oversight CSIS is subject to and due to the open and (relatively) fair justice system it continues to find itself in. It is not at all to be taken as an accusation of involvement with torture because when in Egypt, Canadian laws are not respected by the torturers - many of whom (by the way) are Muslim themselves. Think about that. This opinion is, of course, my own. MS ***

FROM: http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/100223/national/csis_torture

OTTAWA - Newly released records say Canada's spy agency travelled to Egypt to get information from a Toronto man, likely contributing to his mistreatment by authorities there.

The previously unknown visit by Canadian Security Intelligence Service officers emerged Tuesday as a federal commission disclosed once-secret pages of an inquiry report on the overseas torture of Ahmad El Maati and two other Arab-Canadians.

The Harper government and commission lawyers squabbled for more than a year about the sensitive portions of the report, which the government balked at making public due to national security concerns.

In his report released in October 2008, former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci found that Canadian officials were likely partly to blame for the torture of El Maati, Abdullah Almalki and Muayyed Nureddin by sharing information - including unfounded accounts of extremism - with foreign agencies.

The men, all of whom deny involvement in terrorism, were abused in Syrian prison cells.

El Maati, 45, was tortured by Egyptian captors as well.

A dual Canadian-Egyptian citizen, the truck driver was arrested in November 2001 upon arriving in Syria, where he was to be married. El Maati spent over two months at the notorious Far Falestin prison in Damascus.

He was transferred to Egypt in January 2002, spending another two years in "degrading and inhumane conditions," Iacobucci found.

In the release Tuesday, the former judge says CSIS asked Egyptian authorities in June 2002 if El Maati was in their custody without taking into account how this would affect "the manner in which he might be treated."

Witnesses from both CSIS and the RCMP told the inquiry it was not the responsibility of intelligence or law-enforcement officials to be concerned about the human rights of a Canadian detainee - that this was the sole consideration of Foreign Affairs.

"This approach is not, in my opinion, satisfactory," Iacobucci says.

After receiving approval to travel to Egypt, CSIS prepared a list of questions about El Maati.

Iacobucci says that in the list of questions and during its December 2002 visit to Egypt, CSIS "did not make any inquiries with Egyptian authorities about Mr. El Maati's treatment in either Syria or Egypt, despite knowing that Mr. El Maati had alleged that he was tortured in Syria."

Iacobucci concludes that El Maati "suffered mistreatment of some form as a consequence of the Service's interaction with Egyptian authorities."

El Maati and the two other men are suing federal agencies for compensation, but the government has denied any responsibility despite Iacobucci's conclusions.

Iacobucci produced two editions of his report: one confidential version for government eyes only, and a second that was released publicly.

But a small portion of the 544-page public report was held back because the government argued it could compromise security.

"The information that forms the exception is, in my view, directly relevant to my mandate and should be disclosed to the public," the former judge said in his report.

Iacobucci has already said that El Maati's mistreatment resulted indirectly from several "deficient" actions: the RCMP's sharing of information; attempts by the Mounties to interview him in Egypt, and an expression of concern by CSIS about El Maati and his activities if he were to be released.

Iacobucci told reporters in 2008 he would go to Federal Court to try to dislodge the still-secret material if negotiations did not succeed. "It's just something that I think should be in the public report."