National Security Dodge Goes On, Even After Arar

Saturday, May 26 2007 @ 01:31 PM MDT

Contributed by: 4CanadaI am so sick of being told that “national security” is responsible for keeping public inquires behind closed doors! For one very important thing, WE HAVE NO NATIONAL SECURITY. 4Canada

Ottawa trying to muzzle inquiry into more torture cases
May 26, 2007 04:30 AM
Thomas Walkom

When Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered a full and formal apology to Maher Arar this year for Canada’s role in his torture, it seemed as if this particularly unsavoury episode had finally been put to rest.

It had not. The Arar story, chilling enough on its own, is just the most well-documented part of a larger and more disturbing pattern that – on the face of it – appears to detail Canada’s deliberate complicity in the torture of Canadian citizens.

And if the federal government has its way, that fuller story will never be publicly revealed.

It’s been five months since Harper set up a judicial inquiry into Canada’s role in the torture abroad of Canadian citizens Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati and Muayyed Nureddin.

But since then his government has spent its time strenuously arguing before former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci that he should hold virtually all sessions of his “public” inquiry in secret, with even the three men and their lawyers excluded.

The reason cited is national security.

National embarrassment might be closer to the truth. The judicial inquiry into Arar revealed Canada’s security agencies – particularly the RCMP – as both immoral and incompetent.

The exhaustive three-volume report of that inquiry detailed how an innocent man, through no fault of his own, became ensnared in a web of innuendo and falsehood.

It was a web that triggered his 2002 arrest in New York and, ultimately, his removal to Syria for torture and almost a year of imprisonment.

Arar has still not recovered his life.

But what’s worse is that his case was not unique. Almalki spent one year and 10 months in a Syrian jail. For El Maati, the penalty for running afoul of Canadian security services was two years and two months in Syrian and Egyptian jails. Nureddin, comparatively lucky, got out after only 34 days in a Syrian dungeon.

The Arar inquiry, which looked tangentially at their cases, concluded that all three had been brutally tortured by jailers determined to wrest information about alleged terrorist connections.

All were interrogated on the basis of information that could have only originated with the RCMP or the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

Indeed, the Arar inquiry found that after Almalki had been imprisoned in Syria, delighted Mounties sent his torturers a list of questions they wanted him to answer.

In the end, none of the three Muslim-Canadians was ever charged by any government with any crime.

It seems that the security agencies’ interest in the threesome was piqued for a variety of reasons, not all of them illegitimate.



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