The RCMP and torture

The Canadian Press reports that directives have been issued to the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency to explain how the agencies can use information when torture might be involved.

As with the directive to CSIS, the instructions from Mr. Toews to the RCMP and the border agency apply to information sharing with foreign government agencies, militaries and international organizations. They say Canada “does not condone the use of torture” and is party to international agreements that prohibit torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.

The directives add that “terrorism is the top national security priority” of the government and it is essential that the RCMP and border agency maintain strong relationships with foreign entities and share information with them, as well as with domestic agencies. They say that in “exceptional circumstances” the RCMP or border agency “may need to share the most complete information in its possession,” including information foreign agencies likely obtained through torture, “in order to mitigate a serious risk of loss of life, injury, or substantial damage or destruction of property before it materializes.” “In such rare circumstances, ignoring such information solely because of its source would represent an unacceptable risk to public safety.”

This follows a similar directive to CSIS that was obtained by CP last February. See this post for the history of this issue and the Harper government’s positions.

See previously: Security and torture, The government’s tortured answers on torture, The wild west and Mill v. Kant




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The RCMP and torture

  1. obviously. Don’t participate but don’t ignore. to ignore because of some moral indignation is to set oneself up for failure. To participate because of a lack of moral indignation is another story. This is a non-starter article.

    • if nobody uses the information and it is known that nobody uses the information and nobody co-operates with anyone who uses torture, then torture will be reduced. If there is a market for the information extracted by torture, people will continue to torture regarding such practices as accepted.
      Innocent people will also continue to become victims to such illicitly obtained information because it is recognised as being inherently unreliable by all but the armchair warriors and Jack Bauer fans.
      Morally, ethically and practically this is stupid.

      • You probably put your finger on the nub of the question; everyone is terrified of being the one to miss out, miss the next 911, or have competitors/potential enemies get a leg up by using torture or torture info.
        I honestly wonder to what extent the myth continues to exist within the heads of our security people that torture is both effective and necessary?
        Who would have believed heading into the 21st century that torture would make a comeback in the security policy architecture of western nations – but then the cynic in me wonders if it ever truly went away.

        • torture is a sick and discusting practice whether its mental or physical
          usually done against suspected criminals , or falsely accused, there always needs to be a justification, so they dont feel bad about their secret crimes.
          I say torture the tortures, murder the murders, give em a taste of their own medicine, then you will see their true selves , which is just a violent mob of
          people , who feed off sadistic torture , and gratify their own murderous urges. I say one day just open fire on these animals, even if you lose your life, you still made a difference to this world.

  2. Every body knows the best informations are obtained after beating the crap out of a guy, waterbording him, sleep deprivate him, isolate him, starve him, ect ect.

    there was this guy he kept telling us he didnt do anything, we suspected him to be a terrorist. Guess what after only 5 days of torture he finally told us he was Jthe leader of all mafia of the world, all the terrorist organisations of the world and he sold WMD to North Korea. He also made a list of next possible terrorist attack so Harper can spend billions of tax dollars on security and useless shit

    • Even in Nazi Germany (contrary to the entrenched popular narrative–the ‘cigarette in the old man’s eye’ urban legend fueled by Hollywood and the Allied propaganda arm), in the earlier years, torture was recognized by the SS/Gestapo as the LEAST useful/reliable method of intel extraction. Until the later years, the directors were staffed largely by police chiefs and the like with long experience with prisoner interrogation, and they knew very well what genuinely ‘worked’ and what didn’t.

      Torture in Nazi Germany was a later development when the experienced ranks were purged by Hitler and/or sent to military service, and Cheney-like Bozos took over who hadn’t the foggiest idea what constituted effective interrogation, and also a culture of abuse and torture-retribution set in.

      ‘Useful’ torture intel is most likely going to come from cultures least intelligent enough to develop a systematic array of metrics and data analysis to determine and validate extracted information.

      Cultures established by the likes of Vic Toews, for example, who can’t even parse his own bills.

  3. Onward Christian soldiers….

  4. Why not conduct the torture yourselves? What a bunch of gutless hypocritical pigs.

  5. Where there are people, there will be idiots, as long as there are people in positions of authority, rules, laws, common sense, hate, Even Christians, with well meaning ideas, are guilty of abuse. The media is exposing more of the abuse, government is covering their posterior more all the time as torture treatment is exposed. Hopefully, torture will bring judgement to those involved. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, its not a train.

  6. If this issue isn’t one for a Charter challenge what is?
    In their effort to ‘combat terror’ the government is providing security powers with the ability to exchange the ‘fullest information available’ with other powers equally as interested in ‘preventing terror’ without, necessarily, the restraint of any judicial review or procedure. In an age where a small advisory committee can select and recommend drone strike targets for a presidential decision, lives hang in a very tenous balance and the innocent are all-too-often netted-up with the guilty.

    That the currency of such ‘full’ information is, often somebody’s ‘best guess’, or even a possible paranoid illusion, reporting it, and repeating it, has been demonstrated to vest it in some measure of credibility, if not truth. Security forces have acted on the flimsiest of ‘intel’, often to find out, afterward, the ‘intel’ was wrong.

    The ‘proof’ of such charges lies, all too often, in an extrajudicial ‘execution’, a rendition to torture, or a ‘plea bargain’ with a paid informant and their ‘evidence’ read into a court record of conviction, rather than a full, open and fair trial.

    This is official terrorism – for it could happen to anybody.

  7. Closer and closer we come to the US. Thanks, Mr Harper.

  8. “those who give up essential freedoms and liberties for temporary security deserve neither”
    Ben Franklin 175? …drones for the state police force..online survelliance bill…G-20 suspension of civil rights

  9. We don’t condone rape, and of course we don’t rape people, but if someone gets raped and someone else happens to videotape the rape, there is no reason for us not to watch the rape tapes. It’s only information, after all.

    - Vic Toews in 2012 shortly before being appointed as a Judge.

    • In this context that is of course an incredibly dumb pov. There’s no comparison at all. If you uncritically follow through on info sourced from torture you wind up with M. Arrar.
      I’m not at all sure of the rationale [always assuming with the Harper govt there is a rationale] behind this standing order. Surely security agencies already looked at ALL info sources, discounting or seriously down grading those from known dodgy agencies?
      We know the ticking bomb only exists in the fevered imaginations of twits like Toews but serious threats still have to be checked out. So, what’s the point, or am i missing the obvious? This now provides a fig leaf of deniability as far as culpability goes should our security forces screw some other innocent, intentionally or not? After all the minister says the benefit of the doubt now must always rest with the god fearing Canadian public. This would fit nicely the Harper doctrine – the rights of the accused or merely suspected should never overshadow those of the the good public…specially those most likely to vote Conservative.To do this ministerial discretion should be the law of the land. This guy is all politics. Dig under the layers of PR, photo ops and vacuous press releases and all you get is more politics.

      • “The government directives state that protection of life and property are
        the chief considerations when deciding on the use of information that
        may have been derived from torture”

        Guess i should’ve read the whole article for a rationale. It’s basically the ole tough on crime shtick again. Only this time it’s even more odious and dire for its victims. When in doubt assume they did it. We can say oops – sorry afterwards and offer compensation if we absolutely must.

        • History is replete with examples of this kind of policy leading to escalating retaliation on the part of mutual adversaries. As one example, I’ve recently been doing considerable reading on the War of 1812, in which an apt analogy, IMO, was scalping. Every incident of such an (allegedly unauthorized) atrocity on the part of one combatant was inevitably used as justification for a more vicious response by the other.

          So, the most likely collateral victims of this idiotic doctrine will be our own agents and combatants abroad.

          • There is that angle too. Although to some degree they knew the risks when signing up – still it is stupid to put then unnecessarily at risk.I’m more concerned for the Arars of this world – and the ones who fall through the cracks , the ones we never hear about, the ones who may even get snatched off western streets and rendered to some hell hole in the ME. This is a vile policy on our behalf.

            While you were reading up on 1812 did you come across this great article by Doug Saunders? It’s an amusing counter point to Harper’s jingoism. Saunder is quietly one of the best journos in this country – IMO anyway.

            http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/my-ancestors-and-the-worst-thing-that-has-ever-happened-to-this-country/article4285769/

          • I did read that when it first appeared. Interesting to review it. Thanks for posting the link.

      • In this context that is of course an incredibly dumb pov. There’s no comparison at all.

        You are not nearly cynical enough. Torture and sexual assault are not merely similar, they are the same impulse given different expression. Look at the photos from Abu Ghraib and tell me how torture and sexual deviance are different problems. IMO, you can’t torture another person (or an animal) without being a sexual deviant. Likewise, you can not be a willing witness to torture (which Toews most assuredly is) without the same sexual deviance.

        Vic Toews is easily the creepiest public figure in Canada, and Harper wants to make him a Judge.

        • That argument feels right but i don’t have the foggiest idea myself if they are related. But there can surely be no doubt that those who resort to either practise have deep seated psychological problems.

        • You seem to know a lot about torture and sexual assault.
          Now, try to imagine how it would feel for us to assume that since you are a willing witness to these subjects, then you must be some kind of sexual deviant.
          You may be one of the creepiest Harper-Haters on this blog.

  10. Oh crap! Didn’t we learn any lessons from Mayer Arar???

    • Apparently you didn’t learn how to spell his name. However, we did learn that you like Oscar Mayer’s cold cuts.

  11. What you may be missing here is that the documents don’t merely legitimize consumption of torture-tainted information–we knew that a few months back–but the sharing of information that could *lead* to torture. The latter is active complicity:

    “The objective is to establish a coherent and consistent approach across
    the government of Canada in deciding whether or not to send information
    to, or solicit information from, a foreign entity when doing so may give rise to substantial risk of mistreatment of an individual.” (emphasis added) Source: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-allows-rcmp-border-agency-to-use-torture-tainted-information/article4497677/

  12. I see I can’t “emphasize” here. The phrase to pay attention to is: “when doing so may give rise to substantial risk of mistreatment of an individual.”

    • I actually think the key phrase is “solicit information from”..

      Or in other words, we don’t torture, we don’t condone torture, but if somebody thinks torture might get us more information, we’re fine with handing over a guy to someone who isn’t as hypocritical as us to actually do the deed.

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