Ottawa: DC, We Have a Problem.

There’s been a few cases of Canadians getting deported to the wrong
country hitting the press up north. There was the case of Berna
Cruz
an Indian-born Canadian who was deported because INS officers in
Chicago decided her legitimate Canadian passport was altered or a fake (or
something). Then there was the case of
Maher
Arar
, a Syrian-born Canadian who was “accidentally” deported to Syria
instead of Canada.

When Cruz came home she made a stink in all the papers. But when Arar came
home things hit a new low.

Arar was HREF=”http://www.canada.com/national/story.asp?id=46cd9a7e-bd89-4d6d-8312-b9810
7e60828”>apparently
deported
so he could be tortured for information about al Queda. US
officials, while not commenting on his case, admit this is common. The
case has been getting press up north since the deportation, and it’s not good press.
There are even allegations that the Canadian government is “subcontracting’
torture”
to other countries. The Colin Powell and the PM say they’re
HREF=”http://www.canada.com/news/national/story.asp?id=DEAF470C-A6CA-41FB-BF43-
A024333DC7F2”>making
inquiries
.

Americans don’t seem to understand how bad the backlash from something
like this can get. I have heard undocumented reports from Up North that
the politics is already moving to the left as politicians and parties try
to distance themselves from President Bush. Now imagine a very (VERY!)
large and very angry immigrant population demanding retribution – a new
hardline anti-American element in Canadian politics. There will be
pressure to stop sharing intelligence; Canada is the only country in the
world which shares criminal lookouts with the US, and that could end with
that kind of political pressure. There’s nothing good about that.

CSIS is good at what it does and
it would be a real shame if some cowboy Americans screwed it up. The
secret police have no friends in a democratic society. It would be good
for folks in DC to remember that.

Damn Foreigner has a number
of posts in his Maher
Arar
section.

Afterthoughts

At one time I was considering a career with CSIS (the Canadian Security
Intelligence Service, pronounced SEE-SIS) and went to a presentation by
some west coast CSIS mucky-muck. So I know a bit about them, their history
and their statutory authority.

Damn
Foreigner
dug up HREF=”http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Ar
ticle_Type1&c=Article&cid=1068073812382&call_pageid=968332188492&col=9687939721
54”>allegations

that the RCMP may have conducted illegal searches in order to provide the
CIA with a copy of Arar’s lease. There were only two copies of Arar’s
lease which tied him to someone suspected of terrorist links: Arar and his
landlord. Neither gave up copies so, the logic goes, there must have been
a secret search with a sealed warrant. I believe that to be true. In the
US this would beg the question of whether the document was “illegally
seized through an improper search” but that isn’t the case in Canada.

Remember all the trouble the RCMP and FBI got in back in the 1960s? Canada
solved it by splitting RCMP and CSIS, the USA just banned secret searches
(until the Patriot Act). CSIS’s primary purpose is to segregate the
intelligence utility of secret warrantless searches from the due process
requirements of criminal investigations. CSIS has the authority to conduct
warrantless secret searches to procure terrorism related intelligence,
including against Canadian citizens. (I know a few people who are
reasonably certain their properties were searched with that authority…
But I have nothing to do with that.) Like the CIA in the US, CSIS reports
directly to the PM and a select group of the Privy Council – there is
minimal parliamentary oversight.

Now we’ve got a new problem: HREF=”http://www.canada.com/news/national/story.asp?id=DEAF470C-A6CA-41FB-BF43-
A024333DC7F2”>PM
Chretien has asked
Sec of State Powell to inquire as to the identity
of the Canadian who provided the US with information about Arar. If it was
CSIS who wrote and passed on the report (including the lease) then
Chretien can get the entire file on his desk – he can get the names
without asking DOS for help. However, if it was the RCMP that wrote and
passed on the report then it is very likely that something illegal was
done to compile it. It’s a Catch-22 for the PM: If he can’t get the
reports directly then Canada has a rogue police agency.

Is it the RCMP or CSIS?

MP Paul Szabo “suggested that sensitive diplomatic and political
manoeuvrings (sic)are going on.” (HREF=”http://www.canada.com/news/national/story.asp?id=DEAF470C-A6CA-41FB-BF43-
A024333DC7F2”>url
)

Gee… ya think?

Personally, I suspect someone up top at CSIS is keeping quiet and trying
to figure out how to dodge the ton of bricks that are about to come down
from On High. They didn’t realize how badly the CBP guys want to nail
terrorists. They thought sharing intel with the US would be just like
before 9/11 or that cooler heads up the chain of command in DC would
govern it’s use. But it’s not like that anymore. The intel comes right to
the front line and into the hands of a 26-year-old who chose his career
because he wants to bust terrorists for the rest of his life. Americans
could do worse, I guess.

Update 11/13/03

Damn
Foreigner
’s post today points out that the U.S.’s deportation of Arar
to Syria is a violation of Article 3 of the Convention on
Torture
… to which the United States is party. Oops.