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Two judicial decisions released last week remind us that the concept of national security is incompatible with democracy: the former almost always trumps the latter, and various enemies-du-jour are regularly created and then served up on the altar of "security." In each instance, profoundly disturbing decisions were dealt to Mohamed Harkat, facing deportation to torture in Algeria based on secret hearsay, and Hassan Diab, facing extradition to France on clearly trumped up allegations likely gleaned from torture.
Just before Thanksgiving, the Supreme Court of Canada held two days of hearings regarding the fate of Mohamed Harkat, detained in prison and under house arrest for over a decade by a secret trial security certificate, the reasons for which he has never been allowed to know and challenge. October 10 was a public hearing that he could attend, while October 11 was one he was not invited to, nor were his lawyers, the media, or the public. In fact, the eight judges of the Supreme Court disappeared to hold a secret hearing somewhere in Canada.
On October 11, as many Canadians focus on the best place to purchase a Thanksgiving turkey, the Supreme Court of Canada will be in session, but anyone wishing to attend that day's hearing will find the Court building empty, and the nine judges missing. Outside of a small handful of individuals, no one will know where the country's highest court will be sitting or what will be discussed.
The end of June marks 13 years of Mohammad Mahjoub's Kafkasesque journey. The Egyptian refugee and returnee from torture originally thought he was walking onto a Hollywood set when he was surrounded by heavily armed men and arrested while getting off a Toronto streetcar in 2000.