Peace, order and good government, eh?: Is Chair of SIRC an honorary position too?

Chuck Strahl’s name finally popped up! Five months ago he was named as the new head of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, the agency that’s supposed to hold CSIS to account. At the time I set up a Google news alert on his name and waited for the hits to roll in. Yesterday I was finally rewarded: courtesy of Peter MacKay, Strahl has been named as the new honorary lieutenant-colonel of The Royal Westminster Regiment. That’s all very nice but perhaps someone could ask him how that other gig is going. Things seem to be a little quiet at SIRC. The most recent item in their newsroom is over a year old. I’d be particularly interested to know how that inquiry into CSIS involvement in the case of Abousfian Abdelrazik is going. That would be the one that was announced three and a half years ago. Or was Paul Champ, Abdelrazik’s lawyer, correct when he said a year ago that the review had been abandoned?…

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Peace, order and good government, eh?: On Abdelrazik, CSIS and Transport Canada

Since posting on Friday to draw attention to Paul Koring’s latest article on Abousfian Abdelrazik, I’ve had a chance to review some of the previous reports and I noticed something that may just be a coincidence. Or it may not. Recall the main point of the story: that CSIS wanted to keep Abdelrazik in Sudan, or at least prevent him from getting back to Canada. This is from Koring’s article: Hours after Sudanese security forces hauled Mr. Abdelrazik out of his Khartoum prison cell on July 20 and drove him to a police house to await a prearranged flight leaving on July 22, CSIS’s top counterterrorist chief in Ottawa was on the phone with the head of security at Transport Canada to discuss the matter. … It’s unclear what transpired during the conversation, but soon afterward both Air Canada and Lufthansa abruptly cancelled Mr. Abdelrazik’s ticket home. Now think back about six weeks….

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Peace, order and good government, eh?: We’re going to need another inquiry

I’d like to come back to this story when I have more time but it deserves wider attention immediately. Paul Koring at the Globe and Mail has continued to work the story of Abousfian Abdelrazik and has an explosive story that went up on the Globe’s site last night. The gist of it is that when Abdelrazik was originally released from a Sudanese prison in the summer of 2004 there was every reason to believe that he would be able to return home. At that point he was on an American no-fly list but not the UN version and that wasn’t enough to keep him off a flight to Canada. But CSIS intervened with Transport Canada and suddenly the airlines wouldn’t let the man board a plane which left him stuck in Sudan for another 5 years. And the ultmate goal of CSIS? To work with the Americans in getting Adbelrazik redirected to Gitmo. When do people start getting fired over shit like this? If not arrested. Adding: And as much fun as we can have discussing Peter MacKay’s past itineraries, if the fact that CSIS was actively working with the Americans to get a Canadian citizen who had never…

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Peace, order and good government, eh?: Let the record show

It was a bit less than two years ago that government lawyers, on behalf of CSIS, spiked their own evidence in the matter of the Security Certificate on Adil Charkaoui rather than comply with court-ordered disclosure. To quote Colin Freeze at the Globe and Mail on the federal officials involved: … they now hold Mr. Charkaoui to be less of a threat to national security than further court-ordered revelations of the secret information that was used to build the case against him. This was after a series of rulings in this and the Harkat case in which the integrity of government evidence and witnesses had been called into question and the intelligence community was letting their frustration with the "judicialization of intelligence" be known. Due process can be so darned inconvenient at times. A few days after that it was reported that the certificate on Charkaoui would be revoked. I have to wonder if the leak of a CSIS document reported last Friday was someone’s way of circumventing the judiciary completely and injecting that same evidence — unsourced, of course — directly into the public record….

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Peace, order and good government, eh?: Has the leak investigation been announced?

I’ve seen a number of media stories since yesterday about the CSIS documents that were leaked to La Presse and supposedly reveal that Abousfian Abdelrazik and Adil Charkaoui once plotted to blow up a plane. Oddly, none of those stories seem to report any concern from any government official at the unauthorized release of this so-called intelligence. Obviously these documents weren’t intended to be public information. You would think that when our national intelligence agency loses track of confidential documents — and not for the first time — that in itself would be a story. But the only official government reaction I’ve seen came from Jason Kenney who appears to be pleased about the leak because it gives him the opportunity to lecture us on the need to trust governments and intelligence agencies rather than question their conclusions. Of course Kenney has it exactly wrong, particularly as it concerns the issue of guilt or innocence. The onus is never on the citizenry to just trust government. The onus is on government to present the facts and make its case. But then Jason Kenney and democratic principle aren’t all that well acquainted. And his case isn’t exactly strengthened by the fact…

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Peace, order and good government, eh?: In which Angry McPointy passes the buck

Early in June it was reported that Abousfian Abdelrazik’s application for child-assistance benefits had been denied by the Quebec government because his name still appears on the UN’s 1267 terror watchlist. At the time I wondered if John Baird, freshly minted minister of foreign affairs, might get involved because the province suggested it would honour a certificate signed by the minister granting it permission to pay the benefits. Foreign affairs has now responded to Abdelrazik’s plight in much the same way it did under Lawrence Cannon: with a shrug and a "not my problem." "It is the opinion of the Department of Foreign Affairs that such a certificate is not required, as the Regulations do not prevent persons from making deposits into Mr. Abdelrazik’s account, so long as it remains frozen," the department wrote in a letter dated July 6th. So the province is free to pay the money to Abdelrazik as long as he can’t actually have access to it. His lawyer expresses confusion over this but it seems perfectly clear to me. In the face of an obvious injustice — obvious because no proof has ever been presented that Abdelrazik is guilty of any crime — the government…

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Peace, order and good government, eh?: Paging John Baird

Abdelrazik can’t get child benefits while on terror list The Quebec government has told a Montreal man that he cannot receive child-assistance benefits because his name appears on a United Nations terror watchlist. It’s the latest in an ongoing saga for Abousfian Abdelrazik, who spent six years in forced exile in Sudan including time in prison where he says he was tortured. Despite being exonerated, he still finds himself on the UN Security Council’s 1267 list — which means Abdelrazik can’t leave Canada and all of his financial assets remain frozen. It also means he can’t have a bank account, can’t work and can’t benefit from government programs like child tax credits. As Abdelrazik himself points out, we’re effectively penalizing his children for crimes he himself has never been convicted of committing. So why bring John Baird into it now? The letter advised him to get a certificate signed by the minister of foreign affairs stating he can collect child-care benefits. The behaviour of the previous minister, Lawrence Cannon, with regard to the Abdelrazik case was nothing short of contemptible. Here’s an opportunity for Baird to demonstrate that he’s prepared to be at least marginally better than that. Abdelrazik is…

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