Mill v. Kant

Craig Forcese considers Vic Toews’ directive to CSIS.

All of this is to say that the conversation about what to do with tips from torturing states should not be about “never”.  Instead, it should be about what the “extraordinary circumstances” are that Minister Toews speaks about, and what then can be done with the information.  “Yes” to a search of Flight 182′s baggage.  “No” to deporting someone on the strength of problematic information.  Where to draw the line?  In essence, that is the dilemma with which the Ottawa Principles try to grapple.

As for Minister Toew’s directive: Where I fault the directive is in its lack of precision: what does it mean by extraordinary circumstances, and what then can happen to the information.  Where can it creep?  A little Ottawa Principles-like language would be preferred.




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Mill v. Kant

  1. I seemed in Mr Arar’s case it meant taking a walk in the rain with one of the few Syrians in his town got him a one way ticket to perdition. I don’t know if that info was backed up by torture info on his fellow stroller but i wouldn’t be at all surprised. As for where the line is drawn, it appears for the Harper clowns its whereever 24 says it should be, and whether or not it plays at Timmies.

    • Thank you for your scrupulously non-partisan take on this issue. 

      I would expect nothing less on Wherry’s comment board.

      • Maybe you should learn to read a little more closely? I did say i didn’t know if we had torture info on Arar, just gave my opinion for what itwas worth, based on the govt’s own take on torture tainted evidence given in the house;  and really are you claimimg that ridiculous torture debate that took place in the house cast any kind of positive light on the Tory clowns?

        • As long as you refer to them as “the Tory clowns”, I’m not really going to consider you to be anything other than a partisan shill, thanks.

          • Sorry to hurt your feelings but If they’d only stop acting like them…but’ll try a little harder if you start giving arguents that show how they aren’t rather than looking like a tory shill yourself from time to time, which i know you aren’t, so this is silly.
            As i say, when the govt shows some signs of being truly serious about governing for all it’s citizens rather than just those who regularly vote conservative, then i’ll moderate my rhetoric – until that happens, as far as i’m concerned they’re as ripe for mockery as they seem to feel everyone else is for ridcule and contempt.

      • Accidentally clicked “Like.” Please ignore — there should be an “unlike” button.

    • I could be wrong, but I’m not sure there’s any indication that Arar’s rendition to Syria was based in any way, even remotely, on evidence gathered via torture.  If I’m not mistaken, even the Syrians viewed his transfer to Syria from a “why are you sending us this guy?” point of view.  It seems to me that the Syrians didn’t have anything on him from the beginning, torture-derived or not.

      The Arar case would seem to be the opposite side of this coin, i.e. it’s not “should we use extraordinary rendition to send this guy to Syria based on evidence of wrong-doing derived from torture”, but “we’ve got no evidence of wrong-doing against this guy, should we send him to Syria and see if they can torture some up for us”.  Related, but different concerns.

      Separately, I have to say, while I think that the line should be drawn at a pretty extreme point, I’m not sure that an absolutist position is appropriate either.  Searching a plane’s baggage is a good example here, I think.  If, for example, the Syrians tell us that they have evidence that there’s a bomb on flight 182, should we always completely ignore that warning, or should we maybe risk inconveniencing some folks based on faulty intelligence by removing all of the baggage and re-screening it (and/or the passengers)?  Also, how do we handle it later if we do nothing, ’cause it’s the untrustworthy Syrians giving the warning, then the plane gets blown out of the sky, and the next day Assad is on every news show saying “We TOLD THEM there was a bomb on that flight, and they just IGNORED US”?

      • Well you clearly have a better recall of the Arar case than myself but didn’t he get shipped out on mere suspicions from an RCMP team? Do you know where those suspicions were born or originated?Did the inquiry reveal that information? Still, i take your point. If anything the rationale for this case was even worse in that the phantasies may have been concocted within our own security services imaginations.

        * I made pretty much the same point on the other torure debate in the house blog – i view pretty all all info as actionable rather like you can’t afford to ignore a bomb threat but the real line is admissbility of torture evidence in court [ illegal i hope] or kicking someone out of the country or locking someone up on such evidence for however long.

        • Well you clearly have a better recall of the Arar case than myself

          Oh, don’t assume that! (LOL)

          It does seem to me that in the Arar case the suspicions (such as they were, and obviously they were the flimsiest of the flimsy) had to do with Arar’s associations here in Canada, as you say, from the RCMP’s perspective, and so since I’m (reasonably) confident that the RCMP isn’t actually torturing people, I presume that those suspicions are largely free of the taint of having been arrived at based on “evidence” extracted through torture. That said, I re-read some of the Wikipedia stuff on Arar’s case, and it turns out that Omar Khadr actually identified Arar as being someone he had seen in Afghanistan, and it’s been argued that this “revelation” was coerced from Khadr while he was under duress, if not outright torture, though a)I’m not sure if the RCMP knew about that, and b) the Americans always claimed they deported Arar based on information from the RCMP, not from anything directly from Gitmo or Bagram.

          Also, I think it’s possible that I was confusing some of the Arar details with some of the details of the case of Abousfian Abdelrazik, where Abdelrazik was arrested by the Sudanese at Canada’s request, but the Sudanese seem to have had no clear idea WHY we asked them to arrest him, just that we did so.

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