Human rights advocate, and author of Dark Days, Kerry Pither, reports that “CSIS continues to believe that information obtained under torture can be useful, and will use it in certain situations.” Commenting on testimony given at the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security by CSIS lawyer Geoffrey O’Brian on March 31, 2009, she quotes O’Brian as saying: “The simple truth is, if we get information which can prevent something like the Air India bombing, the Twin Towers – whatever, frankly – that is the time when we will use it despite the provenance of that information.”
Pither believes that Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan should issue a directive prohibiting the use of information obtained under torture and she describes how Canada’s spooks have contributed to and benefited (in their distorted view) from the torture of Canadians in foreign prisons.
It seems unlikely that the torture of innocent citizens such as Ahmad El Maati and Maher Arar made the world safer from terrorist attacks. I guess they fall into Mr. O’Brian’s “whatever” category.
I wish this were an anomaly, but the CSIS mindset is not merely the product of a rogue gang of James Bond wannabees. It has a scary basis in Canadian law. As I have noted elsewhere, Canadian law already allows judges to consider, in secret, evidence that would not be admissible in a Canadian court, to determine who is a terrorist. Immigrants can be detained and deported on the basis of “evidence” they are not permitted to see. And the Tories want to bring back “preventive detentions” and other draconian measures, all in the name of fighting terrorism.
I agree that with Kerry Pither. Mr. Van Loan should rein in his spooks and tell them to start respecting the human rights of Canadians and anyone else in a foreign torture chamber. Given the Tory penchant for draconian anti-terrorism laws, I doubt he will.