Dr. Dawg

Vote-rigging, surveillance--and more torture

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I have to rub my eyes when I realize I’m writing about Canada.

Since July of last year, CSIS has had the official go-ahead to share information with torture-states even if there is a substantial risk that torture will be used because of it. We know the agency was a passive partner in the torture of Maher Arar, Abousfian Abdelrazik, Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Abou-Elmaati and Muayyed Nureddin, but this was supposedly without official state sanction.

If not rogue operations—in fact, it seems more like business as usual for the spooks—these were profoundly incompetent ones. The information sent to the torturers (including from the RCMP and from US authorities) proved to be false, the questions CSIS sent along to the interrogators yielded nothing of value, and people suffered grievously as a result.

Now the Harper government—more specifically, its Paraguayan wing—has given the go-ahead for much, much more of this—a four-page directive from Public Safety Minister Vic Toews to CSIS essentially legitimizing information-sharing with torture-states like Syria.

[The directive]…lays out procedures for information sharing when the risk of torture is “substantial” — meaning a “personal, present and foreseeable risk” based on something more than “mere theory or speculation.”

The decision must be referred to the CSIS director when there is a substantial risk that sending information to, or soliciting information from, a foreign agency would cause harm to someone, and it is unclear whether the risk can be managed by seeking assurances that the material won’t be misused.

…[Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada] said the directive “clearly leaves open the very real possibility that the decision taken will be, ‘Do it,’ even though there’s a substantial risk.”

“That’s just wholly and entirely inconsistent with the assertion that these decisions are going to be in accordance with our legal obligations.”

No kidding. There’s a hand-wave or two in the general direction of those international legal obligations and then instructions and guidelines that one could fly an F-35 though. What on earth is my country morphing into after a mere six years of Harper’s rule?

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on March 2, 2012 4:00 PM.

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