The pivotal paperwork (VI)

Two months after the government was first asked to explain why a reference to abuse in a 2006 field report was redacted in 2007, but released uncensored in 2009, the questions having been put to three different departments, an answer, of sorts, arrives from the Justice Department.

Those questions, for the record, were as follows: In regards to the redaction noted below, who oversaw, ordered or made that redaction? On what grounds was that reference to abuse redacted? Did those grounds no longer apply when Gen. Natynczyk disclosed the reference to abuse last week?

I reprint the response received this morning here in its entirety.

The notion of impact on national security is defined according to the three-part test established by the Federal Court of Appeal in the case of Ribic v. Canada (Attorney General)(2003)185 C.C.C. (3d) 129 (F.C.A.).

Government agencies identify sensitive information by having their experts vet the relevant documents to identify national security concerns. Officials from the Department of Justice National Security Group then assess their submissions.

Officials apply the same test as would the Federal Court:

First, the officials must determine whether the information sought to be disclosed is relevant or not to the litigation. If not, it is not necessary to proceed any further.

Second, the officials must determine whether the disclosure of the information would be injurious to international relations, national defence or national security.

Third, if the officials conclude that the disclosure of the information would result in injury, they must determine whether the public interest in disclosure outweighs in importance the public interest in non-disclosure.

The Department of Justice must balance the claim of injury that may be caused by the release of the information against the public interest of disclosing the information.

For the record, since receiving this, I’ve asked if it might be possible to receive specific answers to my specific questions on this specific case.

The pivotal paperwork (VI)

  1. I've actioned FOI requests in the Ontario government, and we had (and still have) way more integrity than this. What's the deal with civil servants in Ottawa?

  2. I've actioned FOI requests in the Ontario government, and we had (and still have) way more integrity than this. What's the deal with civil servants in Ottawa?

  3. Seems like somebody just cut-and-pasted from an internal ATIP handbook. Who are these said "officials" and do they include anybody from the PCO and/or the exempt staff at any of the ministries?

  4. Wow. By the time I finished reading that, I'd forgotten what the questions were. They may not give you the info, but man, are they good at what they do.

  5. Wow. By the time I finished reading that, I'd forgotten what the questions were. They may not give you the info, but man, are they good at what they do.

  6. Seems like somebody just cut-and-pasted from an internal ATIP handbook. Who are these said "officials" and do they include anybody from the PCO and/or the exempt staff at any of the ministries?

  7. "The Department of Justice must balance the claim of injury that may be caused by the release of the information against the public interest of disclosing the information."

    Shorter version: someone ph's the pmo to find out if it's ok or not.

  8. Oh, Lordy. Are these officials from the Justice department subject to the same kind of "consultations" with Conservative staffers as with Access to Information requests?

    Keep up the pressure, please, Aaron.

  9. Isn't it obvious that they're answering numbers (2) and (3), albeit in general terms? They probably shouldn't answer (1) in order to protect their staff.

    • I think it's possible that they have answered question (2) in the broadest terms.
      And actually, at a push, they might even have answered question (1): "experts" in government agencies did the vetting and have had their submissions assessed by Officials from the Department of Justice National Security Group.
      I'm not sure where you see where question 3 is addressed.

      So overall not very helpful and in fact very suggestive that something is being hidden.

      Please remain persistent Aaron.

    • the questions clearly did not ask for general terms. and if general terms were what they were thinking, why didn't they answer number 1 in the same (e.g., departmental public service official; individual in the ministers office)? weak.

  10. You know what a fun 4th question would be?

    "I would also request the sum total of similar occurrences in which a soldier referred to prior instances of torture within all field reports during the entire period of the Afghan mission; broken down by year."

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