By The Canadian Press - Thursday, November 22, 2012 - 0 Comments
Feds want Algerian refugee deported under national security certificate
OTTAWA – The Supreme Court of Canada will hear appeals from both parties in the terrorism case of Algerian refugee Mohamed Harkat.
Harkat, 44, was arrested almost 10 years ago in Ottawa on suspicion of being an al-Qaida sleeper agent, but he denies any involvement in terrorist activities.
The federal government wants to deport Harkat under a national security certificate, a rarely used tool for removing non-citizens suspected of being terrorists or spies.
In April, the Federal Court of Appeal upheld the constitutionality of the security certificate system, but ruled that summaries of some mid-1990s conversations be excluded from evidence against Harkat because the Canadian Security Intelligence Service destroyed the original recordings.
The ruling left both sides unhappy and each asked for a hearing in the Supreme Court — an uncommon turn of events.
As usual, the high court gave no reasons for its decision to hear the appeals.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, June 19, 2012 at 1:44 PM - 0 Comments
Yesterday, the NDP’s Rosane Dore Lefebrve asked Public Safety Minister Vic Toews if he would put new airport surveillance measures on hold until an assessment could be conducted. Mr. Toews assured the New Democrat that “the privacy rights of law-abiding Canadians are respected at all times,” but otherwise avoided answering the question directly.
A few moments later, Liberal MP Scott Simms asked if Mr. Toews would refer the issue to the privacy commissioner. Mr. Toews repeated his assurance and invited Mr. Simms to contact the privacy commissioner if he was concerned.
If the member wants the privacy commissioner to look at any practices inside the CBSA in this respect, I would invite him to make that request. I do not think CBSA has anything to hide.
Today, Mr. Toews seems to have decided to go ahead and do that himself.
A spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews says he has told the Canada Border Services Agency to halt audio monitoring until a study of the privacy implications is complete. Julie Carmichael says Toews wants a privacy impact assessment from the border agency and recommendations from the federal privacy commissioner … Carmichael says it is important for agencies to have the right tools to catch smugglers and criminals. But she adds it is equally important that these tools do not unduly infringe on individuals’ privacy.
Giving foreign telecoms greater access to Canadian market poses public safety risk, ‘secret’ document claims
By Richard Warnica - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 at 10:08 AM - 0 Comments
Security officials believe a government plan to allow foreign firms greater access to the…
Security officials believe a government plan to allow foreign firms greater access to the Canadian telecom market could pose a “significant risk” to public safety, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg. Industry Minister Christian Paradis wants foreigners to be able to own up 100 per cent of smaller telecommunications companies, a move that could increase competition in a market currently dominated by Rogers, BCE and Telus. Security officials, however, worry that move could compromise Canada’s “intelligence priorities.”
From the story:
“The security and intelligence community is of the view that lessening or removing restrictions from the Telecommunications Act, without implementing mitigation measures, would pose a considerable risk to public safety and national security,” Daniel Lavoie, a senior official with Public Safety, said in a letter to Industry Canada.
The letter, which was marked “secret” and dated Feb. 25, 2011, was obtained by Bloomberg News under Canada’s freedom-of- information law.
Canada is the latest country to express concerns about the involvement of foreign companies in the telecom sector. The U.S. in October barred China’s Huawei Technologies Co. from bidding for work on a national emergency network. Australia last month banned Huawei, China’s biggest maker of telecom equipment, from contracts to build a national broadband network being developed by the government.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, February 13, 2012 at 11:29 AM - 0 Comments
All of this is to say that the conversation about what to do with tips from torturing states should not be about “never”. Instead, it should be about what the “extraordinary circumstances” are that Minister Toews speaks about, and what then can be done with the information. “Yes” to a search of Flight 182′s baggage. “No” to deporting someone on the strength of problematic information. Where to draw the line? In essence, that is the dilemma with which the Ottawa Principles try to grapple.
As for Minister Toew’s directive: Where I fault the directive is in its lack of precision: what does it mean by extraordinary circumstances, and what then can happen to the information. Where can it creep? A little Ottawa Principles-like language would be preferred.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, September 28, 2011 at 12:00 PM - 10 Comments
Two and a half years ago, Geoffrey O’Brian, a CSIS lawyer told the public safety committee that the agency would use information that may have been obtained through torture if faced with potentially grave circumstances.
Frankly, I’m tempted to say that there are four words that can provide a simple answer, and those four words are either “yes, but” or “no, but”, and the “yes, but” is, do we use information that comes from torture? And the answer is that we only do so if lives are at stake.
Peter Van Loan, public safety minister at the time, rebutted that a day later, saying such information is “discounted” and that Mr. O’Brian had engaged in “some kind of hypothetical discussion.” Jim Judd, CSIS director at the time, said Mr. O’Brian might have been “confused” and Mr. O’Brian subsequently retracted his remarks.
But a year ago, the Canadian Press obtained briefing notes for CSIS director Richard Fadden. And those notes outlined a position similar to that expressed by Mr. O’Brian.
CSIS will share information received from an international partner with the police and other authorities “even in the rare and extreme circumstance that we have some doubt as to the manner in which the foreign agency acquired it,” say the notes prepared for use by CSIS director Dick Fadden. The notes say that although such information would never be admissible in court to prosecute someone posing an imminent threat, “the government must nevertheless make use of the information to attempt to disrupt that threat before it materializes.”
This brings us now to the Security Intelligence Review Committee report released this month on CSIS and the handling of Afghan detainees. Contained within that report are references to a deputy director operations directive issued in 2008 and a ministerial direction issued in December 2010. At the bottom of page 14, SIRC states as follows. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 at 10:32 AM - 12 Comments
Shi Rong’s emails suggest something more than a friendship with Bob Dechert. Wesley Wark sees a cautionary message and J. Michael Cole says some Chinese correspondents are selected by the Ministry of State Security, but Mark Bourrie says there’s not much to worry about. Paul Dewar thinks Mr. Dechert should offer his resignation, but Joe Comartin isn’t calling for Mr. Dechert to be removed from the committee vetting potential Supreme Court appointees.
Comartin said he was surprised by Dechert’s “lack of judgment,” which he said was out of character. But he said the panel that is vetting the candidates for the high court vacancies is bound by “a rigid process,” one that Dechert should have no problem following.
“It’s pretty clear what we have to take into account,” said Comartin. “The judgements that you make are within those parameters.”
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, September 12, 2011 at 5:20 PM - 7 Comments
Glen McGregor translates one email and posts video of Bob Dechert’s promised smile for the cameras. John Baird brushes it all off and says Mr. Dechert will keep his job, while security officials seemingly gave the Conservative MP a pass.
“The renewal of background checks on members of the ministry and parliamentary secretaries has been finalized,” says the note, signed by Wayne Wouters, Clerk of the Privy Council. “In 2008, the Prime Minister requested that security background checks on Ministers, Ministers of State and Parliamentary Secretaries, and their spouses or partners, be renewed every two years while the appointee occupies a position as Minister, Minister of State or Parliamentary Secretary.”
Further details in the note are censored. But Dechert retained his position as parliamentary secretary immediately after the March security check – and became parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the cabinet shuffle soon after the May 2 election campaign.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, September 8, 2011 at 10:00 AM - 7 Comments
The New York Times magazine convenes a panel of contributors, including Michael Ignatieff, to discuss the ramifications of 9/11.
The most obvious consequence of 9/11 to me has been the creation of a new national security state, to rival the one created at the start of the Cold War. It is an archipelago beneath democratic scrutiny, and it has done liberal democracies real damage: rendition, torture, detention without trial, Guantánamo, military tribunals. Its justification is that it has prevented an attack on the homeland. But this is a strange kind of justification: the absence of apocalypse is held to justify a permanent state of emergency, extending indefinitely into the future…
The concern I have about the whole world opened up after 9/11 is this archipelago, not just of drones, but of communication intercepts, Internet monitoring, which preserves our security at the price of … what? We don’t even know. I’m relatively trusting, far from paranoid, but we do have a new institutional problem: to subject special forces, cybercommand, the boys with the drones, to some form of democratic oversight and control, if we are to stay what we say we are.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, June 24, 2011 at 10:37 AM - 0 Comments
Terry Milewski notes two redaction curiosities in the latest raft of documents.
Still, the “international relations” exception seems to be extremely flexible. Ditto, “national security.” In fact, the definition of what’s important to censor and what isn’t seems to be both flexible and constantly shifting. In another baffling example, there’s a document which says a prisoner was deprived of sleep for [X] days. We must not know how many days! And, yet, we do! In another version of the same document, we can see that it was … four days. Somehow, the national security of both Canada and Afghanistan seems unaffected by this revelation.
As I detailed last year, there exists a field report that has been released in two different versions: one in which the word “assault” has been redacted, one in which the word has been disclosed. The document has actually been released on three separate occasions: first with the word redacted, then with the word unredacted and then again with the word redacted.
By Jaime Weinman - Sunday, May 1, 2011 at 10:44 PM - 17 Comments
Update: Here’s the speech:
Turn on the TV news; President Obama has called a Sunday night press conference to make what is described as a major national security statement. John King on CNN just said, following speculation from several other sources, that the announcement will be that Osama Bin Laden is dead and that the U.S. is “certain” that it has the body.
It’s very rare for Presidents to call press conferences on Sunday night. So when the announcement was made (it was originally announced for 10:30, then pushed back) everyone knew that this had to be big, but the subject was not leaked until a few minutes later. So until King came onto CNN with the official news, the CNN people seemed a little lost, standing around and saying only that they couldn’t say anything. Wolf Blitzer even announced that his sources wanted to commend the channel for not engaging in speculation. Ed Henry told us repeatedly that reporters had been told to watch for something big.
Over on other channels I’ve heard some commentators were reduced to reading back speculation from Twitter, since that’s where the news started to break first. It seems like some people get out of top-security briefings from the President and then leak it immediately, knowing it’ll be all over Twitter. I’m not judging them for that, just wondering if I’d have the nerve to leak something, even knowing the people who briefed you don’t really care if it gets out.
As I continue to write, Obama’s statement has not yet begun, so I’ll just say this: people are already saying that Obama won re-election with this news. Let’s not go crazy. That’s what people (some of the same people, literally) were saying about George H.W. Bush in 1991. Maybe this news makes it clearer that a Donald Trump is not going to beat Obama. But if the Republicans come up with their own Clinton…
11:02 and the speech has been delayed once more. Poor Wolf Blitzer is looking a little wild-eyed. He’s like a man who has been told to stall for time and has totally run out of stories. Which he has.
Now details finally start to trickle in: He was killed by “U.S. assets” in a mansion outside
Islamabad. Update: It was actually the nearby Abbotabad, An announcement that raises many issues about the U.S.’s relationship with Pakistan, or rather re-raises them, since they’re not new issues.
With these details in, they have to fill more time by bringing commentators on to speculate on what this one sentence worth of details might mean. Or might not mean.
Flipping around the channels, which have mostly cut in with special news reports, one thing stands out above all: this is a great time to see archival Bin Laden footage.
As there are finally rumours that Obama might come and talk, an hour late, a common news-coverage strategy now is to focus on the celebrations outside the White House, where people have gathered after hearing the news. Al-Jazeera English also shows an advantage in its focus on the Middle East, simply because they focus on what this means for, well, the Middle East – they’re speculating as heavily as the U.S. networks, but at least they’re the only English-language network speculating on some of these things.
11:35, here’s Obama. “The United States has conducted an operation that has killed Osama Bin Laden.” He follows by reminding us in great detail of what happened on 9/11.
Goes on to explain that last August he got a lead on Bin Laden hiding in Pakistan, and that “last week I determined we had enough intelligence to take action.” Today, the Americans took actions against Bin Laden’s compound. After a firefight, they killed Bin Laden and took custody of his body.
“His death does not mark the end of our effort.” Continues that terrorism is not over.
Emphasizes that the U.S. is not at war with Islam and reminds his listeners that President George W. Bush also emphasized that the U.S. was not at war with Islam and that Bin Laden “was not a Muslim leader.”
Asks the U.S. to revive the “sense of unity” that prevailed after 9/11. (Good luck with that.)
…The speech is over; the embedding of the Whitehouse.gov feed didn’t work, but I’ll put up a link to the speech when I have it.
For a Canadian connection, Harper will be commenting on it, of course. Here’s the thing: I doubt this will have any effect on the the election. But if the Tories do better tomorrow than currently projected, I figure there will be a lot of speculation that some amorphous national-security effect won them some extra seats. It’s the sort of thing that can never be proven, which is why it’s absolutely made for speculation. Update: Harper’s statement proclaims the importance of the Afghan mission and Canada’s “sober satisfaction” (a good choice of term) at the news.
For light entertainment, there’s always Fox News, where their chyron department made another one of its Freudian slips, and so did their one-man Geraldo department:
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 at 4:48 PM - 21 Comments
Carl Meyer questions the latest claim of classified information.
… the department has continued to hide the document from public view, saying in an email that “an Air Force project’s Statement of Operational Requirements is an internal Department of National Defence document.” ”SORs are classified documents” that are “not disclosed publicly,” added spokesperson Evan Koronewski.
However, those claims don’t appear to hold water as the government’s own publicly accessible website currently hosts at least four of these types of documents, three of which explicitly state that they are unclassified. One such document even concerns another recent Air Force equipment purchase.
By Kate Fillion - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 9 Comments
On terrorism, marriage, and growing up in a city where she couldn’t sit at the lunch counter
The 66th U.S. secretary of state also served as president George W. Bush’s national security adviser during his first term. A long-time faculty member at Stanford University, Rice currently teaches two courses, and recently published a memoir of her parents’ influence on her life, Extraordinary, Ordinary People.
Q: You grew up in a completely segregated city. But you write that as a child, the sense of injustice didn’t sink in. Why not?
A: When you’re young, your world is pretty limited. My parents, my family, my church dominated my world. And because Birmingham was so segregated, you didn’t really have to encounter the slings and arrows of racism on a daily basis. Obviously, from time to time you did, like when my parents took me to see Santa Claus and he wasn’t letting black children sit on his knee. But my parents tried to insulate me as much as they could.
Q: Like not wanting you to use “coloured only” facilities?
A: Right. They were pretty clear that “coloured” meant, usually, inferior. My grandfather on my mother’s side was determined that his family would never use a “coloured” restroom. My aunt remembers a lot of uncomfortable road trips where they really needed to go to the bathroom but he wouldn’t let them. It’s a way to shield against linking skin colour with something second-rate.
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, September 12, 2010 at 5:36 PM - 0 Comments
March 31, 2009. Geoffrey O’Brian, a CSIS lawyer and advisor on operations and legislation, under questioning by the public safety committee, admitted there is no absolute ban on using intelligence that may have been obtained from countries with questionable human rights records on torture. He said it would be extremely rare but in a circumstance as grave as the 9/11 attacks or the Air India bombing, the executive branch has a “duty” to protect the security of its citizens, even if such information can “never” be used in a court proceeding.
April 1, 2009. Peter Van Loan said the Canadian Security Intelligence Service has been clear about rejecting information extracted through coercion. ”As a practical matter, they get intelligence from all kinds of sources, a myriad of sources. An important part of their process is to try and identify how credible that is,” Van Loan said Wednesday. ”If there’s any indication, any evidence that torture may have been used, that information is discounted.”
April 2, 2009. “I wish to clarify for the committee that CSIS certainly does not condone torture and that it is the policy of CSIS to not knowingly rely upon information that may have been obtained through torture,” Geoffrey O’Brian wrote in a letter to the House of Commons public safety committee Thursday. CSIS Director Jim Judd, who appeared before the committee on Thursday, also said O’Brian “may have been confused” in his earlier remarks. ”My supposition is that he was venturing into a hypothetical.”
Today. CSIS will share information received from an international partner with the police and other authorities “even in the rare and extreme circumstance that we have some doubt as to the manner in which the foreign agency acquired it,” say the notes prepared for use by CSIS director Dick Fadden. The notes say that although such information would never be admissible in court to prosecute someone posing an imminent threat, “the government must nevertheless make use of the information to attempt to disrupt that threat before it materializes.”
By Martin Patriquin with Michael Friscolanti - Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 11:30 AM - 0 Comments
‘We were quite pleased to be able to recruit him,’ says his ex-boss
As alleged terrorists go, Khurram Syed Sher is something of an oddity. Born in Canada, the 28-year-old Montrealer completed a five-year pathology residency at McGill University in 2009, and was known as much for his outgoing sense of humour as he was for his work. “He was the glue that kept the residents together,” one of his professors said, “and a major figure who got involved within the department.”
“He had a very kind disposition,” said the professor, who spoke to Maclean’s on condition of anonymity. “He was a little quiet but very warm and he had this sense of humour.”
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, July 5, 2010 at 5:47 PM - 0 Comments
Perhaps the best one can say for Richard Fadden, director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, and as such the man responsible for protecting our most sensitive secrets, is that when his two hours before committee today were complete, he rose from his seat, turned toward the door and walked past reporters without taking a question.
This is progress. Quiet progress.
Mr. Fadden, today in a dark blue suit, sporting dark-rimmed glasses and a tan, had spent the previous two hours attempting to wiggle free from a fiendish trap of his own design. In March, before an audience of police, security and military experts, he spoke of “foreign interference” in Canadian politics, going so far—without naming names, mind you—as to suggest that two provincial cabinet ministers might be under the influence of such suasion. And so here he sat before 10 MPs, each trying to understand precisely what he had been talking about, or at least why he had felt the need to say as much.
Behind Mr. Fadden, sat a couple dozen or so reporters, each finding refuge from the heat wave outside, or at least something to do on a quiet July morning in Ottawa. Months before his comments about the political class, Mr. Fadden had, coincidentally, told another audience—without naming names, mind you—that the “media” was rife with terrorist sympathizers. And so here Mr. Fadden must have surely felt surrounded. Continue…
By Andrew Coyne - Wednesday, June 16, 2010 at 10:53 PM - 169 Comments
Okay, so in order to see the Afghan detainee documents, members of the ad hoc committee set up by agreement between the government and opposition parties (minus the NDP) have to subject themselves to a long list of security measures. They have to sign a confidentality undertaking. They have to get security clearance. They can only view the documents in a “secure location.” They can’t bring staff with them, or any recording device, can’t remove any material or make copies. They can make notes on what they’re reading, provided they leave them on site, and destroy them in six months.
And they have to swear an oath. It’s described as an “oath of confidentiality.” But it’s not only that. Here’s the text:
I, [name], swear (or solemnly affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true loyalty to Canada and to its people, whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights and freedoms I respect, and whose laws I will uphold and obey. I further swear (or solemnly affirm) that I will not communicate or use without due authority any information obtained in confidence during the review of documentation.
The second sentence is the oath of confidentiality. The first is something quite different: an oath of loyalty. Nothing remarkable in that. These are Members of the Parliament of Canada, after all. And the information they are being permitted to see, as the tight security rules imply, is of the most delicate nature. Nothing less than the national security of the country is at stake. Of course you’d only extend that right to people who were loyal to Canada, and had Canada’s best interests at heart.
Except … the Bloc Québécois signed this agreement. As such, it is entitled to nominate a member (plus an alternate) to sit on the committee. If you’re like me, you have a problem with people who are openly dedicated to the destruction of Canada being privy to our most sensitive national secrets. Still, I realize in this benighted country there are those who disagree. There are even people who think the Bloc should be allowed to participate in the executive government (as opposed to the legislature) of Canada.
Fine: except the terms of the agreement says no committee member can see the documents unless they swear to “be faithful and bear true loyalty to Canada and to its people.” Regardless of whether you think there should be such a loyalty test, there it is. Regardless of whether you think it is fair to subject the Bloc to such an obligation, they agreed to it. I’ll put aside my objection in principle to the Bloc seeing any of these documents if the Bloc can explain how they can possibly swear that oath.
“That I will be faithful and bear true loyalty to Canada and to its people”? Is this not an explicit repudiation of their party’s central purpose? If they swear such an oath, then, they can’t possibly mean it. And if they don’t mean it, what good is the oath? If they are taking one part of the oath, as it were, with their fingers crossed, who’s to say they are not doing the same with the other?
How, in good conscience, could the Bloc agree to swear an oath to one thing when it believes the exact opposite? Or never mind conscience: are there no legal consequences for swearing oaths in bad faith? Oaths aren’t just words on paper. They are legal documents. They are intended to ensure people make honest statements, where honesty is a vital necessity, as it surely is in matters of national security. And yet any Bloc MP who takes this oath must, by definition, be lying.
I realize the separatist movement has confronted this question before. It is a constitutional requirement, not only for Members of Parliament but for members of the National Assembly in Quebec, to swear an oath of loyalty to the Queen, and somehow they have managed to work themselves around to doing that. I recall Gilles Duceppe pointing out that there are members of the British Labour Party who don’t believe in the monarchy, and yet are permitted to swear a similar oath before entering their own Parliament. But this is something else again. There is no possible way to square “loyalty to Canada and its people” with membership in a party whose stated objective is to tear that same country, and its people, apart.
In which case, if we permit any Bloc MP to take this oath, it is not only the Blocquiste who would be committing a fraud, but us. And yet the oath speaks of upholding the laws!
ADDENDUM: Here’s the oath Members of Parliament (and of the provincial legislatures) are obliged to swear before taking office, as prescribed by Section 128 of the Constitution Act 1867 and set out in the Fifth Schedule:
I, [name], do swear, that I will be faithful and bear true Allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Je, [nom], jure que je serai fidèle et porterai une vraie allégeance à Sa Majesté la Reine Élisabeth II.
But what do solemn and binding oaths mean in this country? What does anything? We are so used to looking the other way at the Bloc’s sincere and determined enmity that I suppose we will do the same with their mocking professions of loyalty.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, June 1, 2010 at 6:17 PM - 49 Comments
The Scene. Michael Ignatieff began with an attempt to weave together various disparate strands to form a basket. A basket within which he could carry his message from one middle-class suburban door to the next.
Or something like that.
The Bank of Canada, he reported, had today hiked—the only word one can use when describing this action—interest rates. Canadian families are already more indebted than households anywhere else in the G20. The government is spending a billion to secure three days of meetings of G20 world leaders later this month. How, he wondered, could the government explain putting so much into the latter in light of the former?
Here, though, the Prime Minister stood with his own basket to weave. The interest rate hike, he said, was due to Canada’s sound economy. The G20 meetings, meanwhile, would bring as many delegates as the Olympics had athletes with even greater security risks. Ipso facto, the money simply has to be spent. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, May 31, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 66 Comments
Toews said he would welcome any opportunity before the events to trim the budget without compromising security, but balked at the suggestion to use the army instead of the police to maintain security and perhaps save between $100 million and $200 million.
Toews said he was uncomfortable using the army in a civilian context unless under extreme conditions, and went so far as to blame the decision to not consider the measure on what he believed would be a negative reaction from the opposition. ”You know of course what the opposition parties would say. The Liberals would say, ‘The army, in the streets, with guns?’” Toews said. ”It’s exactly the kind of fear that Liberals want to invoke in terms of Canadians. Canadians understand that in a democracy, you have the police rather than the army in the streets. And so those are political decisions you make, but I think they’re from a perception point of view very, very important.”
The full interview is here.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, May 14, 2010 at 3:30 PM - 17 Comments
Jeff Jedras wonders if we shouldn’t be thinking of a permanent solution to the predicament just negotiated.
We can’t go through this drama and crisis every time there is information Parliament needs to see that the government, for whatever reason, doesn’t want to share. It’s tedious, it’s counterproductive, and it undermines public faith in democratic institutions. This isn’t the first time a government of any stripe has tried to be less than forthright with Parliament, and it surely won’t be the last.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, May 10, 2010 at 8:25 PM - 0 Comments
Jack Harris comments after QP on the NDP position.
The whole effort here on our part is to get a parliamentary process whereby the parliamentarians review the documents and parliamentarians make decisions about what is really truly national security and what needs to be made part of the process of holding the government to account. And that’s still our position and it maintains our position. So it’s a question of working out the details and making that happen and if that in fact is what is able – going to be agreed to.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, May 4, 2010 at 1:11 PM - 4 Comments
Wesley Wark outlines the necessity of a lasting solution to our current predicament.
A long-term solution is important, because Parliament has a role to play as a check on government power on national security issues. However deferential Canadian public opinion has tended to be in the past, we live in a time of vastly different national security problems and a higher level of public expectation about government transparency. There is more at stake than just parliamentary privilege, which might strike some Canadians as an arcane matter. Parliament serves, at least in theory, as an important channel for public education on matters of national security policy and threats. If Parliament is blinded by insufficient access to national security information, the public is blinded as well.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, April 28, 2010 at 12:05 PM - 40 Comments
In terms of what a compromise might look like, we refer again to some of the options already explored for establishing a forum that might safely review sensitive documents. The interim committee on national security that studied these sorts of issues in 2004 was chaired by Derek Lee, but also, perhaps notably, included the following members: Joe Comartin, Wayne Easter, Marlene Jennings, Serge Menard, Kevin Sorenson and Peter MacKay.
Also instructive is the parliamentary sub-committee on combatting organized crime which functioned largely in camera and reported to the House in 2000. That committee included members from all parties, including the aforementioned future defence minister.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 5:11 PM - 14 Comments
The Prime Minister responds to last night’s CBC report.
“These reports continue to be things that have been said before, and our position is the same: Whenever there are specific allegations of abuse under the agreement, action is taken to investigate those,” Harper told reporters at an event with Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty in Mississauga. ”There is a rigorous arrangement of monitoring and oversight in the new prisoner agreement, and it has continued to work effectively. As I say, if there are specific problems, they are investigated and appropriate action has been taken. That has been the case for over three years.”
For the record, a pair of Mr. Harper’s ministers assured the House late last year that no substantiated allegations of abuse existed. That 2006 field report seems to confirm one such case and suggest that similar abuse had happened in the past. A Board of Inquiry investigation into the events described in that field report was completed last month, but does not yet appear to have been released publicly.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 5:23 PM - 8 Comments
As I have detailed at some length, there exists a 2006 field report that references the abuse of a detainee transfered by Canadian soldiers to Afghan authorities.
When the field report was released in 2007, as part of a court proceeding, the reference to “assault” was redacted. You can view that version here.
When the field report was brought to the attention of General Walter Natynczyk last December, the general released the field report without redacting the reference to “assault.” You can view that version of the field report here.
The field report is included in the documents tabled by the government today. The reference to “assault” is now, once more, redacted. You can view this version of the field report here, at page six of that file.