A little-noticed European Court of Human Rights decision regarding Polish complicity in torture may well have ripple effects on this side of the Atlantic and, hopefully, produce some accountability in the Ottawa bunkers of CSIS, the RCMP, and the foreign affairs and justice bureaucracies. In addition, its precedent would be most useful in hauling some high-profile Liberals out of their comfortable retirement to inquire about their role in the CIA-led global kidnap and disappearance-to-torture regime that has marked much of the 21st century.
"What keeps me up at night, candidly, is another attack against the United States," Sen. Dianne Feinstein said last month in what was, then, her routine defence of the mass global surveillance being conducted by the National Security Agency and other U.S. intelligence agencies. All that has changed now that she believes that the staff of the committee she chairs, the powerful, secretive Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, was spied on and lied to by the CIA. The committee was formed after the Watergate scandal engulfed the Nixon administration. The Church Committee, led by Idaho Democratic Sen. Frank Church, conducted a comprehensive investigation of abuses by U.S. intelligence agencies, of everything from spying on anti-war protesters to the assassination of foreign leaders.
The first time the phrase "war on terror" was used was when George W. Bush linked the same phrase to the word "crusade". He declared in September 2001: "This crusade -- this war on terrorism -- is going to take a while..." He was talking about the response of the American administration to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He prepared the ground for the shocked American public for a long war against militant Islamists.
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Canada has long held the unique status of being a nation that puts its secret police on postcards, T-shirts and tacky tourist trinkets. During the 1990s, that same police force also entered a five-year licensing agreement with the creators of Mickey Mouse and Daffy Duck at Walt Disney, "in response to the popularity of unlicensed products and concerns that these products were having a detrimental effect on the RCMP's reputation."
When "Public Safety" Minister Vic Toews released his "new" national security strategy last month, he cautioned the few people paying attention that "no government can guarantee it will be able to prevent all terrorist attacks all the time," as if such catastrophic events were a daily reality as common to Canadians as mosquitoes.
A classified U.S. diplomatic cable records how American officials worked with senior Canadian police and security officials to find "work-arounds" to anticipated restrictions on intelligence-sharing even before the Arar commission report went to the printers in 2006.
The cable from David Wilkins, then the U.S. ambassador in Ottawa, details a series of damage-control meetings he and other senior American diplomats held in 2005 with the commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and with the prime minister's national security adviser.
Attorneys Carl J. Mayer and Bruce I. Afran filed a complaint in the Southern U.S. District Court in New York City on my behalf as a plaintiff against Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to challenge the legality of the Authorization for Use of Military Force as embedded in the latest version of the National Defense Authorization Act, signed by the president Dec. 31.
Hassan Diab, a Canadian citizen and former University of Ottawa professor, faces the possibility of life imprisonment in France for his alleged role in a 1980 Paris bombing that killed four people. Diab's finger and palm prints do not match those of the suspect, nor does his handwriting. The suspect's physical description is unlike what Diab looked like in 1980, and Diab denies being in France and emphatically condemns the bombing. He's being sought based on secret intelligence, the source of which even French officials are unaware, that may have been extracted under torture. Nevertheless, Canada's draconian Extradition Act may provide legal grounds for Canada to send Diab to France to stand trial.