Thursday, August 09, 2007

They Knew


I realise that you cannot paint whole institutions with a broad brush, based on the behaviour of a few, but I'm really struggling with this. I presume we'll hear more as the days go on but as it stands at the moment, I can't say that I'm terribly comfortable with either CSIS or the RCMP.

That CSIS apparently knew about the rendition program, suspected that Arar had been subjected to it, then didn't inform the government, is stunning.

It speaks to an attitude that is truly disturbing. It resembles the attitude of the opposition at the time, that often claimed that Arar was a terrorist, without any substantial evidence to inform their claims. I do not expect that from our counter-terrorism institution, nor do I expect that the RCMP, would use less than reliable information to carry out their job.

Fast forward to today. The government enacted the Passenger Protect Program, (a no fly list) in June. That list is dependent on CSIS and RCMP information. While that list is not specifically given to foreign governments, (so far), it is provided to airlines, including national airlines. It does not seem inconceivable to me that certain countries would demand the information from the airline. Based on what we now know, that seems dangerous to me.

How Maher Arar has any faith in this country at this point, is beyond me, but I am glad that our justice system, served him in the end.

As was to be expected, Harper took the requisite shot at the Lib's with this comment:

Harper also attempted to shift the blame for what happened to Arar to the previous government, saying his aim is to "ensure that the events that occurred under the Liberals are not replicated for other Canadian citizens."

The hypocrisy of that statement, given their position at the time, is almost as stunning as the news about CSIS and the RCMP...not as surprising however.

To be honest, the report that came out today, makes me angry, but even more, it made me sad.

Update: Colour me surprised.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

KNB we at least now have a new director of the RCMP.But who is the director of CSIS does anyone now ? Has anyone ask for his/her head? It's strange to me that he/she is still in place at least as far as we know.I now hear that Mr.Arar is in the U.S. courts. I truly hope that he is successful in his court case in the U.S.

"Harper also attempted to shift the blame for what happened to Arar to the previous government, saying his aim is to "ensure that the events that occurred under the Liberals are not replicated for other Canadian citizens." C'mon
KNB if the rolls were reversed,the Conservatives were in power back then and the Liberals were in power
today. What do you think they would be saying on the Lib blogs
today? They would be blaming the government
of the day (Cons.)in one way or another you know it and i know it Dion would be doing the same
as Harper.You did the same you played politics:
"It speaks to an attitude that is truly disturbing. It resembles the attitude of the opposition at the time, that often claimed that Arar was a terrorist, without any substantial evidence to inform their claims. I do not expect that from our counter-terrorism institution, nor do I expect that the RCMP, would use less than reliable information to carry out their job."The last i looked the opposition does not control CSIS or the RCMP the government does.That's why they should have been
on the ball and ask for answers.

John

P.S. I know that the RCMP
director lost his job because of the pension scandal.

Ed M said...

You may find more information about the US Case on the The Center for Constitutional Rights website.

Anonymous said...

It occurred to me that perhaps Harper (on top of trying to protect the US) didn't want the public to know that the Liberal administration DID NOT know so that he can't constantly try to blame them for political points. Hence, the blacking out of documents - to hide the truth.

Harper is just plain slimy.

Anonymous said...

Whoops - sorry - I meant to say "so he CAN continue to blame the Liberal administration".

Again sorry!

Scotian said...

KNB:

I think anonymous at 7:47am raises a good point about why the Harper government would have required this to have been blacked out. After all the CPC loved to claim it was all the Libbys fault since they were in power, this despite the fact that the Liberal government clearly did not know (as has been confirmed in this latest release) any of this until after Arar was sent to Syria, and despite the fact as you correctly noted the Harper/Day/Ablonski position/assumption of Arar as a terrorist based on the reaction of the Americans and to trust the Americans on this despite Arar being a Canadian citizen. It never ceases to amaze me how the Harper CPC is able to change positions so rapidly and then act like they never held the old positions, as in the Arar example despite their own words being recorded in Hansard showing them treating Arar like a confirmed terrorist and castigating the Libby government of the day for trying to help Arar and how this action supposedly proved/showed the Libbys were "soft on terrorism".

This whole affair has been a disgrace from day one. I was shocked when I first heard that a Canadian citizen was sent by the Americans to Syria without trial, especially when the only reason he was on American soil was while his plane back to Canada did a stopover to pick up passengers before continuing on back to Canada. As the details of how this happened came out that disgust for all involved and those that jumped on it early on preferring to believe the Americans than our own government (Harper/Day/Ablonski in Parliament and far too many online Cons even to this day) increased. This latest revelation is alas entirely of a piece for the behaviour of the CPC leadership (since they were the government that blacked out these pages originally it is their responsibility) on this issue and shows that they are more concerned with how they could use this to attack the Liberal record then they are in actually finding out what happened, telling Canadians what happened, and making sure this sort of thing does not happen again. Indeed, that seems to have been the governing philosophy of the Harper CPC to date but that is another argument.

knb said...

John, the head of CSIS is Jim Judd. Harper has no right to blame the previous government for anything. They did not know, the report makes that clear. It is Harper and gang, (Day, Toews, MacKay) who is hot water here for keeping information from the public. Furthermore, he said it was due to national security, which is false.

Ed, thanks that was interesting.

Anon @ 7:47, you make and interesting point.

knb said...

Scotian on this issue and shows that they are more concerned with how they could use this to attack the Liberal record then they are in actually finding out what happened, telling Canadians what happened, and making sure this sort of thing does not happen again.

I would agree with you. I also think there is an element of protecting the the Americans.

I laughed out loud when I read that the PMO wasn't aware of anything. Since when is Harper out of the loop? Please. In addition to keeping information from us, they also attempt to insult our intelligence.

Harper will wear this, especially if he tries to lay it on Dion. It certainly makes you wonder what else is going on that we don't know about. SPP for example.

All they have done is increased the their reputation of mistrust.

Anonymous said...

Knb about your 2:34 PM
post.How can you say not to blame the government of the day? There is no proof yet but this stinks to me.Mr.Arar was extradite to the U.S. first.You can possibly believe that the government was not aware of this.Why isn't anyone calling for the director
of CSIS Jim Judd in front of a parliament commission to get some of the facts straight.Just like the adscam no one new what happened until years later remember it? Don't count your chickens before they come home to roost. Please go here:
nationalnewswatch.com/
Under the heading of:
"Unclear who in government knew about CSIS torture concerns"
This heading says a lot so please wait, because it isn't over yet! You would have jumped all over the Conservatives if they were the government of the day.But because it was the Liberals the government of the day,spin is the key word
of the day for left wing blogs isn't just typical?

John

knb said...

John, this isn't about what happened then. We had an enquiry, the judge had all this information and more.

This is about the current government hiding this information from us.

If Lib's were involved, accused, etc., don't you think the Con's would have been happy to release that a long time ago? While the lib's were trying to get answers, the con's were busy doing all they could to stop them, calling Arar an accused terrorist and accusing the lib's of not knowing that.

CSIS and the RCMP kept information from the government of the day. That was wrong. The current Con government kept that fact from the public. That too, was wrong.

Be careful what you wish for John. If you want all this to come out again, there are some pretty embarrasing quotes to be used by Harper, Ablonzy and Day.

Anonymous said...

Arar's lawyer stated that CSIS went out of their way to make sure the government (Libs at the time) didn't know.

If any blame was to go to the Liberals - Harper and his gang of attack dogs would be right on it.

Anon: 7:47

Anonymous said...

KNB

"If Lib's were involved, accused, etc., don't you think the Con's would have been happy to release that a long time ago? While the lib's were trying to get answers, the con's were busy doing all they could to stop them, calling Arar an accused terrorist and accusing the lib's of not knowing that." These things sometimes takes years to come out,because
meetings are not always
recorded on paper.It is why at times its hard to get the facts,because there is no paper trail.
It is still before the U.S.courts.It may be just
the tip of the iceberg.
So lets be patience alright.It's strange to me that an organization
like CSIS and RCMP in a
national security situation would do things
without alerting the government. If they did
this without the government of the day knowing about it then why
aren't heads rolling then? I'm sure when the court case is over in the U.S. we'll know much more
and who is responsible!

John

knb said...

John: If they did
this without the government of the day knowing about it then why
aren't heads rolling then?


Exactly. This is why I said be careful what you wish for. The Lib's called the enquiry, the results were released when Harper was in power. He called for no heads to roll. He then went on to support Zacardelli, (in this case and the pension scandal). Why indeed?

As for the US trial, I wish Mr. Arar the best, but given the secretive culture there, (one that Harper and specifically Day seem to be patterning), I doubt we'll learn much, if anything.

knb said...

Anon @ 7:47...precisely!

Anonymous said...

KNB if there is a scandal it would have
happened under the Liberal government. Not Cons. because they came into power only last year.Even if the opposition at the time claimed that Arar was a terrorist, without any substantial evidence to inform their claims.
So did the government of the day right otherwise he would have not been arrested now would he ?
The opposition is the opposition they didn't
have the facts that the government should have had or did have. So the one in error here is the government of the day that let this go on period.

"Exactly. This is why I said be careful what you wish for. The Lib's called the enquiry, the results were released when Harper was in power. He called for no heads to roll. He then went on to support Zacardelli, (in this case and the pension scandal). Why indeed?"

Remember the adscam it was the Liberal government that called for the investigation wasn't? Jean Chretien criticize Paul Martin for it. Has they say the rest was history. My point is just because the Liberals called the inquiry it doesn't mean anything.

John

ottlib said...

John:

There is no scandal regarding what happened to Mr. Arar a few years ago. What scandal that might have happened has been short-circuited by the inquiry and its findings.

Scandals require a constant stream of new information to feed them and that is hard to get when all of that information in now on the public record in one spot.

A scandal can still grow out of it for the current government however, because of their silliness in suppressing some of the report.

As the Globe and Mail pointed out yesterday much of what was originally blacked out by the Harper government had little to do with national security and seemed more just to protect reputations and prevent embarrassment.

That immediately puts the reasons for supressing all of the still blacked out sections in question. Is it for national security or to save face? That could generate a scandal if pressure is applied to the government to release the remaining bits of the report. A scandal that could grow as they continue to refuse and as some of the players in the inquiry begin talking to journalists.

Added to this, the perception that Stephen Harper does not let anything happen in his government without his knowledge and approval has the potential for this to become a personal scandal for Mr. Harper. I for one believe that there is no proof that he was involved in covering up any of the report but if anybody makes such an assertion it will be difficult for him to get out from under it.

This whole affair is and was a political bomb for both the Conservatives and the Liberals. Neither one made themselves look good in the handling of this affair when it took place a few years ago. If Stephen Harper was the political genius that his cheerleaders say he is, he would have published the report in its entirety and made a simple statement that the government accepts the report. Then he would have put it behind him.