Maher Arar on Canada's pro-torture policy

Maher Arar, a Canadian who was rendered to Syria for years of brutal torture on the basis of bad information from Canada's intelligence agencies, writes in Prism about the revelation that Canadian public safety minister Vic Toews has given Canadian intelligence agencies and police the green light to use information derived from torture in their work. Arar cites examples of rendition and torture based on the "Hollywood fantasy that underlines the 'ticking bomb' scenario that minister Toews was apparently contemplating when he wrote this directive."

What makes this direction even more alarming is that the fat annual budgets devoted to enhancing national security have not been balanced by a similar increase in oversight. In fact, the government chose to ignore the most important recommendation of Justice O’Connor which is to establish a credible oversight agency that has the required powers to monitor and investigate the activities of the RCMP and those of other agencies involved in the gathering and dissemination of national security information. Unlike the powerless Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP (CPC) or the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) this agency would also be granted subpoena power to compel all agencies to produce the required documents.

Coming back to the directive one can only cite two examples here which I believe are sufficient to illustrate the hollowness of the argument presented in the directive. The first relates to the invasion of Iraq which we now know was based on false intelligence (see this video) that was extracted from Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi while he was being tortured in Egypt. Al-Libi was later found dead inside his prison cell. Some human rights activists believe the Gaddafi regime liquidated him three years after he was rendered to Libya by the CIA.

Torture Directive 2.0 (Thanks, Richard!)

(Image: Rothenburg Germany Torture Museum, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from nanpalmero's photostream) (Thanks, Richard!)

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  1. if someone can impregnate their barely legal babysitter, why is it surprising they enjoy torture too?

  2. Canada needs to get over going along with whatever stupid evil bull#$ the US says, from torture to spying to IP abuse – and then doing it even worse than the US government thought they could get away with.

    There seems to be some assumption that if the government does it it must be okay, because if it wasn’t okay the government wouldn’t be doing it. QED.

    Maybe Harper can help them get over this? I hope so. (Edit based on Hakuin’s comment: <- as a bad example!).

    1.  you’re kidding, right?  Harper was Dumbya’s bum-boy for two whole terms, you don’t get any more pr0-torture than Harper.

      1. What I was trying to say was that maybe after watching Harper Canadian citizens would stop thinking of the government as defacto benevolent and stop letting them do whatever the hell they want (as paid for by US lobbyists).

    2.  here’s a question: if Harper’s marriage is really on the rocks, do you think that would affect  his judgement and ability to make good decisions as prime minister of Canada?

      1. “do you think that would affect  his judgement and ability to make good decisions as prime minister of Canada?”

        I think he’d need to have those characteristics in the first place for them to be affected!

        1.  “do you think that would make  his judgement and ability to make good decisions as prime minister of Canada even more conspicuously absent than they already are?”

          thx

  3. Among other things, I don’t think people who torture realize how weak it makes them look.  Torturers are pathetic.

    1. Looks to me like it needs its upholstery sharpened.  Nice touch, adding armrests, though.

      1. Wonder if you can make it go into a reclining position, for more comfortable torture?

  4. We can all read BB but you could also DO something if you find torture wrong.
    Support a human rights group. Do it now.

  5. Well considering that really there are only three reasons not to torture.
    1) Its not humane.
    2) If I torture you, you will torture me.
    3) I might be wrong and I can’t untorture you

    So not even going into if it is an effective tactic, which most evidence tends to agree that it is not (Tell me your are a Heretic! OK, I’m a Heretic.), you can evaluate why Harper and the Conservative ideology might think it is acceptable.

    1) Is really the only argument that they would agree with. They are likely to start talking about the greater good at that point. Save 10,000 for punching a baby etc…
    2) That is where agreements like Geneva come in to prohibit torture, usually in the auspices of “rules of war”. Basically no hitting in the face. The failed argument here from the Bush and Harper camps, is that terrorists never signed those treaties, nor are part of any state that could/would. So such niceties do not apply. It gives us no protection for our troops should we even comply, so the gloves are off so to speak.
    3) For ideology that agrees with capitol punishment, this is a minor inconvenience. If you are willing to kill someone who might have done something wrong, what is torture. Again the greater good, etc… (of course at least capitol punishment comes with judicial oversight)

    Which is something that I always sort of bugs me. All of these people/groups seem to think that they are these Anne Rynd caricatures, that believe in the free market, the individual, democracy, and capitalism, plucky young intrepid industrialists striving to succeed, etc… Yet they always seem to be anti-individual rights, more powers for the state, more greater good trumping the unfortunate son, which would to my mind be more communist or at least socialist, etc… Oh the buckets people seem to delude themselves into thinking they belong and convincing everyone else around them the same…

    I think one might argue that some of the best torturers or most feared were those that belonged to the police states perpetuated by both the KGB and the Stazi, both part of communist regimes.

  6. I think one might argue that some of the best torturers or most feared were those that belonged to the police states perpetuated by both the KGB and the Stazi, both part of communist regimes.

    Stalinist single state “communist ” regimes. Not socialism as we socialists see it.

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