Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Demonizing those Canada calls 'radicalized'



By
Matthew Behrens
| October 22, 2014

http://rabble.ca/columnists/2014/10/demonizing-those-canada-calls-radicalized

Scare headlines about young people becoming "radicalized," going overseas, being transformed into robotic Super Muslims, graduating from Beheading School, and being returned to Canada ready to strike at the heart of our values, freedoms, and traditions have filled the media in the past few months, leading to an upcoming Canadian campaign of bombing Iraq and repressive new legislation to be introduced this week in Parliament.

Given the Fourth Estate's role as stenographer to power, it is unsurprising that the many articles asking "why" young people are attracted to overseas adventures are all playing into the same "blame Islam" game that results in horrible "jihad" headlines, increased fear, and suspicion of anyone who does not look like the CBC's Peter Whitemansbridge.

Like similar moral panics that have framed particular groups as the new internal enemy, young people both idealist and alienated now fit the focus of terror suspect, especially if they are Muslim and plan to travel overseas to visit relatives, learn Arabic, or just backpack around. Yet despite all the hyped-up chatter, no one has produced any evidence to show a threat exists to Canada and Canadians from the small number who have joined up in battling the Assad regime in Syria or worked with ISIS. We are told that some 80-130 individuals have gone overseas to be associated with terrorism, but this is always qualified by telling us not everyone is picking up a gun: some are fundraising, some are doing propaganda, some are just helping out with who knows what, from taking out the trash to helping the elderly cross the street. Regardless of what they are doing, Canada's terrorism laws are so broad that anyone associated in any way with a particular group will be tarred as a national security threat.

CSIS, Canada's spy agency, says it knows who has gone overseas and is monitoring them upon their return. RCMP head Bob Paulson was pretty clear when he told Parliament earlier this month: "It's nothing that I think Canadians need to be alarmed about." Sir Richard Dearlove, former M16 head, said the returning rebel threat was "exaggerated" and former M16 officer Richard Barrett said "the threat of the returning fighter is a small one." Chief Canadian Forces warlord Tom Lawson told the media that there was "no indication of direct threats" to members of his military.

The disconnect between rhetoric and reality creates a void that gets filled by the "radicalization" experts, many of whom contribute to the demonization of young people who may, with the best of idealistic intentions, feel great sadness at seeing war, mass murder, and utter despair, and want to do something about it. This doesn't justify the violent actions some may allegedly take part in, nor the rhetoric of fear they may spout while overseas. But Harper and company have done a good job making them out to be the worst possible incarnations of human flesh imaginable.

Halal foods to blame

The solutions to "radicalization" have long been studied and discussed at a variety of gatherings. In 2009, the Canadian War Department's Adversarial Intent Section held a workshop titled "Radicalization in the National Economic Climate," trying to determine possible links between the global recession and extremist responses. Invited to the Toronto gathering were Canadian spy agency CSIS, the Mounties, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, and assorted academics from the terrorism industry who weighed in on the possibilities, but most attendees found no direct link between extremism and the global recession.

However, the University of Toronto's Robert Brym, among others, chimed in that immigrant groups are most likely to radicalize and concluded that one solution was stepped-up monitoring of "groups and places that may pose a threat," including "locations where Halal products are sold." Notably, most national grocery chains now sell Halal products, and one can purchase hummus (which sounds disturbingly like a group the Canadian government has listed as terrorist, Hamas) pretty much everywhere.

Brym also recommended increased surveillance of "friendship groups formed around retail facilities frequented by Muslims" (though the equation between Muslims and immigrants is often a false one, given the faith has been practiced in this country for a century).

In the same way one or more black youth standing on a street corner is viewed as a riot in the making by many police forces, Muslims going shopping (and those "inspired" by Muslims at the retail level) may now pose the greatest threat to Canadians' national security since the CSIS theory that Muslim dreams could provoke radicalization.

Historically, the RCMP Security Service (SS) focused on certain cultural and religious attributes as signs of disloyalty, subversion, and traitorous intent: hence, their long-standing surveillance of groups like the Prairies-based, all-female Ukrainian Mandolin Orchestra. The RCMP SS legacy group, CSIS, frequently begin their national security investigations with such wholly irrelevant details as how often someone prays, if they know women who wear hijab, and what their imam thinks of drone strikes that kill children in Pakistan.

So will Loblaws and Metro stores soon be home to CSIS secret shoppers, monitoring who is picking up Sufra Halal chicken nuggets in the frozen section, or tossing The Queen's Khorasan bread into their recycled grocery bags? (Such bread MAY be suspect since it shares the same name as the non-existent "Khorasan group" that the U.S. created as an excuse to begin its bombing campaign of Syria and Iraq. This correspondent, for one, regularly buys Khorasan and recommends it as a healthy, hearty way to breakfast, despite the possibility it may be viewed, upon heating, as terrorism toast.)

The real ongoing danger

The idiocy of CSIS, the RCMP, and their friends in the press would be laughable if it were not so dangerous: as documented by a number of judicial inquiries and court decisions, their uninformed, lazy, and biased worldview leads to vicious campaigns of racial and religious profiling, community harassment, fear, perpetuation of an informant culture, and complicity in torture, all of which will increase given the current media-hyped scare over "extremist travellers" and "jihadi brides," among other turns of phrase that continue to demonize and put at risk all adherents of Islam.

A conference looking at the decade that has passed since the launch of the inquiry into Canada's role in the torture of Maher Arar (taking place in Ottawa October 29) will no doubt lament not only the lack of human rights progress over this period of time, but the uncertain future that lies ahead. Indeed, the federal government's proposed legislation to provide blanket class privilege to CSIS agents and informers (meaning they would never have to be questioned and cross-examined by lawyers and judges, even in secret hearings) opens the door to legalizing what CSIS has been doing all along: trading information with torturers.

In the same way the Harper government will politely ask the brutal Assad regime for permission to bomb targets in Syria, it is a no-brainer to conclude that CSIS will continue to maintain its similarly cozy relationship with the torturers of Syrian Military Intelligence, in the hopes of producing "actionable intelligence" from some confused Canadian teenager who went overseas with the notion of helping out, fell into the wrong hands, and perhaps got picked up by Syrian authorities. Alternatively, ANY Muslim, particularly of Arabic and/or South Asian heritage, is likely to be suspect if they plan on booking an airline ticket, so whether in the Toronto airport or during a journey to Mecca or dozens of other places in between, the chances of being pulled aside for interrogation or rendered to a place like Syria or Egypt (what is the REAL reason for your travel?) will skyrocket.

And so the same patterns of complicity that led to the torture of Arar, Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati, Muayyed Nureddin, and Abousfian Abdelrazik, among others, is sure-fire guaranteed to continue into the future. Those who trade in torture certainly took great comfort from last week's Supreme Court of Canada decision that shielded Iran from any accountability in the torture-murder of Canadian photographer Zahra Kazemi. Iran, the court concluded, should be immune from any court action under the State Immunity Act.

Equally certain is that those picked up by the authorities will have been the targets of a legally sanctioned racial profiling regime that will continue to be standard operating procedure, bolstered in part by last week's Federal Court of Appeal ruling (authored by the recently declined Supreme Court nominee, Judge Marc Nadon) that supported racial profiling. In that case, a 72-year-old Chinese woman was fined $800 for having in her purse two $5 pork roll snacks on a return flight to Canada. The Canada Agricultural Review Tribunal found that she was the victim of racial profiling, since the border officer said he believed Chinese people were more likely to smuggle food into the country. Nadon supported the officer.

The root problem of radicalization

Meanwhile, the "what do we do with the kids who are becoming radicalized" question thus becomes the focus of academic study, anti-terrorism funding, and media misinformation.

Perhaps we can start by stating that young people going overseas are not necessarily radicalized. Most standard dictionaries define radical as "arising from or going to a root or source" of a problem. Suppose some young people are excited about going to join ISIS or fight Assad because they can pick up guns and live out real-life adventures by blowing away the bad guys. Is that not in fact a sign that they are ideologically obedient to the violent society they come from, one that invests $1.3 trillion annually on different ways of killing one another and uses war games like paintball as a means of building company morale? If their goal is to shoot down some enemy, regardless of the cost, are they not aping the work of the masters and power brokers for whom the taking of human life is "collateral damage," an inconvenience on the road to their goals? The morality of the groups they seek to join is no different than that of their own countries' violence-based organizations. Indeed, last week Chief Canadian Forces warlord Tom Lawson conceded that his bombers WILL be killing civilians in Iraq and Syria, just not at an "unreasonable" level. Needless to say, no one asked Lawson what was a "reasonable" level of civilian slaughter.

No, in reflecting the very mainstream ideas of their society, some of these travellers are not radicalized. They have not gotten to the roots of the world's problems; instead, they are exhibiting the very symptoms of what is acceptable behavior. They are in this sense "conservatized." Some of them are indoctrinated in the fun of killing through first-person shooter video games like Call of Duty, the combat simulation sensation that is played around the globe and which seems to show up increasingly on the Facebook pages of those joining the likes of ISIS. One threat management company spokesperson told Maclean's that some recruits are "17-year-old boy[s] whose only experience in this field is from playing Call of Duty on an Xbox." Indeed, the Ottawa Citizen reported the late Mohamud Mohamed Mohamud of Hamilton was "more concerned with video games than world events. He chatted about Call of Duty, a series of first-person shooter games praised for their realistic and intense combat simulation." 

What this says is these young recruits are not necessarily interested in ideology or spirituality; rather, they may instead be seeking the thrill and adventure of being in a war zone, a real-life version of what Call of Duty offers them on their basement Xbox.

Firing guns is a blast

In that respect, the conservatized travellers are no different than the child soldiers who are recruited in Canadian high school military co-op programs. In St. Catharines, high school kids can join a day-long co-op program that, in the lingo of the age, is pretty cool shit, including the use of exciting YouTube videos aimed at impressionable young minds (Yes, Virginia, ISIS is not the only group ever to target young people with videos). Indeed, child soldiers in St. Catharines will learn to "use weapons such as rifles, grenades and machine guns; Learn to operate with support elements such as logistics, artillery and armored vehicles; Learn to employ field craft and procedures including camouflage and concealment, internal security, patrol, escape and evasion tactics." In the promo videos encouraging young kids to join up and learn how to use machine guns, we learn from the mouths of babes that it's "a great career choice for anyone who wants to be part of the action. Obviously, firing the gun is a blast, you know, getting to pull that lanyard and feeling that howitzer underneath you, feel the concussion, getting to see the rounds land..." Another exclaims, "It's not everybody who gets to go out and have all this fun in the field.... There's not one of us that would ever give up the opportunity to reload and fire a big triple 7 or an LG1, that's for sure."

And in a statement that perhaps sums up that spirit of camaraderie that young overseas ISIS recruits may be missing at home, the young soldier chimes in:

"Honestly, my best experience so far in the army has been my deployment to Afghanistan. Your existence in the military is to train for war, you know, that's our job, and when you finally get to put everything into play and all your training comes into play there's no better feeling than being over there with everybody that you've worked so hard with."

Nothing about freedom or ideals, or democracy, or helping oppressed women or any of the other propaganda coming from the mouths of those in Ottawa who send the orders but never see the action: just the sense of being part of a team doing stuff together. The fact that things go boom makes it more exciting.

Preventing radicalization

Unsurprisingly, most media have failed to look deeper into the roots of those who are interested in travelling overseas with what would appear at first blush to be the entirely justifiable response to seeing mass murder, torture, and other atrocities committed by the likes of the Assad regime in Syria as well as NATO forces throughout the region: wanting to do something about it. One young Canadian who was killed in Syria actually told his mother "he was in Syria because women and children were being tortured and he wanted to do something productive." They also fail to look at the characteristics of young people wanting to join something that will give them a sense of identity, purpose, and community, something often in short supply in their lives at home.

Unfortunately, it is easier to fall back on the old canards used by the security "specialists." "The signs [of radicalization] could be they're not going to school, they're feeling isolated, their understanding of geopolitics is not what we would say is the standard," says RCMP Sgt. Renu Dash, acting director of the Mounties' "public engagement team." What, exactly, is a standard view of geopolitics, other than Harper's view of the world? In other words, think like we do, or face the consequences.

Ms. Dash says there is no one-size-fits all symptom, and refuses to say what criteria the RCMP actually use, though a British early intervention model called Channel referred young people for intervention if they wore clothes that were deemed too "radical" (and not in the sense of ripped Dark Side of the Moon Pink Floyd garb; rather, a hijab). It is no a stretch to say the RCMP's worldview must be adhered to in order to avoid scrutiny as a potential radicalization suspect.

This extension of thought control pervades the world of "cross-cultural" roundtables convened by the likes of CSIS and the Mounties: they are set up as a "dialogue" but the real goal is community control and enforcement of a standard geopolitical view, as Ms. Dash asserts. This was made abundantly clear when the Islamic Social Services Association and the National Council of Canadian Muslims partnered recently with the RCMP on a "United Against Terrorism" handbook. The Mounties pulled away from the final product, calling it unnecessarily "adversarial" because it had the audacity to advise people of their rights if approached by an RCMP or CSIS member.

Is there a threat?

How much of a threat do these young people pose, especially if they return to Canada?

The Washington Post correctly pointed out that "foreign fighters are often given menial jobs far from the front lines… many have been surprised that when they do fight, the battles are with fellow rebel groups," and not against Assad. M16's Barrett says the kids get trapped, as ISIS will not let them go and the British government will not allow them back. Indeed, London Mayor Boris Johnson has said suspected fighters should be stripped of citizenship and presumed guilty.

And the idea that a lone Canadian shouting into YouTube that "we are coming to destroy you" made the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) go on high alert a few weeks back is another sign of how little people are actually thinking through what is going on. That kid likely has as little capacity to produce destruction in Canada as the drunken hockey fan's ability to propel the Maple Leafs into the playoffs when he proclaims, "This year we are taking the Stanley Cup." 

The idea that overseas fighters are brainwashed forever is also given the lie by folks like Hanif Qadir, who runs an "anti-extremist" foundation. As the Washington Post reported:

"Appalled by reports of U.S. airstrikes killing innocent civilians, he travelled to Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2002. He went with the intention of performing humanitarian work but said he was also attracted to the Taliban's rhetoric of struggle against a foreign occupier and was prepared to fight alongside the insurgent group. Instead, he was repelled by what he found. 'If American soldiers were being hostile toward innocent civilians, so were Al-Qaida and the Taliban…This was hypocrisy.'" 

While the CSIS and Mounties have their knickers in a knot about overseas travellers to the Middle East, they are absolutely silent on those who join another organization that commits well-documented war crimes on a regular basis: the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF). During the summer of 2014, when Israeli war crimes were perpetrated against the people of Gaza, Canadian Netta Gelb of Richmond Hill was serving with the IDF. Her dad complained to Postmedia, "I just want her to get through this in one piece…There was really not much we could do to stop (her). It's very difficult to explain it to people -- how could she make that decision and go off and do it. At that age, you really can't tell them anything."

There are some 30 Canadian young people in the Israeli army from Ontario alone (part of the larger group of some 5,500 "lone soldiers"). During that summer bombardment, the Ottawa Citizen noted Palestinian children were traumatized by what was described by Al-Aqsa University professor Derdah al-Sha'er as "the violent and bloody scenes of war -- the destruction of homes in airstrikes, body parts and corpses covered in blood and dust being pulled from the rubble, night bombings while there's no electricity." Yet if one were to have gone and fought against the IDF, they would now be a candidate for statelessness, their Canadian citizenship revoked.

Some 30,000 Canadians served in the U.S. military during the war against Vietnam, when U.S. forces committed mass atrocities including beheadings that left heads on sticks at the entrances to many villages. Canadians are now serving with Ukrainian paramilitaries (and associating with neo-Nazis). At the same time, anti-choice protesters cross the border to work with terrorist groups in the U.S. that bomb women's reproductive health centres. But none of these have been cause for parliamentary hearings and scare headlines.

Life is hard on the young

That many young people are alienated and disconnected is unsurprising given they live in a country where, even by the Canadian Senate's own reckoning (as documented in their 2008 report, "Children, The Silenced Citizens"), Canada and its institutions fail children when it comes to guaranteeing their most basic rights. It is clear to young people that our society has little use for them: they are exploited, ill-treated, terrorized, given little hope for the future, stressed out, threatened, bullied, blamed for government decisions because they see no point in voting, and then expected to perform well in school and be model citizens. Services for those with mental health issues are stretched to the max and, when utilized, often useless.

We invest in warfare, not child care. When they react with "bad behaviour," zero tolerance legislation slaps them down and criminalizes them without asking WHY they are acting out. The helicopter-parent generation offers them little independence or association with friends of their own choosing. Hanging out with larger groups is seen as trouble in the making. "No more than three students in the store" signs proliferate throughout the land. Is it any wonder they might be looking for a sense of belonging, a purpose, a place where they feel they will be respected? Perhaps they might get that in drama club, perhaps in a gang, perhaps by taking the ultimate adventure in going overseas and fighting against agents of tyranny. We call them naïve when they do: don't they know about the ideology of ISIS? Don't they understand the politics of the region? Perhaps not, but the same question could equally be asked of their parents and the politicians they vote for.

The Harper government's solution to these "problem kids" is to criminalize them, strip them of their citizenship. Because there is no such thing as a root cause in Harper's world, there is no sense trying to delve into the issue: they are just evil, evil, evil, and the solution to our problems is more thought control and surveillance.

Indeed, at the conclusion of the 2009 radicalization conference in Toronto, plenary participants gathered up their flip-chart notes and shared fragments of ideas arising from workshops, including "maintain relationship with community while monitoring it," and "Need Big brother watch (surveillance and intelligence)." Watch what happens in Parliament this week and see if their Big Brother dreams come true.

In the meantime, we need to reframe the radicalization narrative. The very least we can do when it comes to young people who have sadly gone abroad and met their deaths is refuse to demonize them or spit on their graves, and perhaps ask what we as adults are willing to do to help the lost and searching children of this generation.

This column was completed before the unfortunate event in Quebec that took the life of a Canadian soldier. The driver of the hit-and-run vehicle was killed by police -- he was holding a knife -- and so there will be no trial and no further first-hand information made available from the suspect. While the Prime Minister's Office was quick to jump on the bandwagon, inflaming the situation by calling this a home-grown terrorist act (perfectly timed to help with the passage of new repressive legislation), the Sûreté du Québec spokesman at the scene said it was too early to tell whether the military was specifically targeted. Nevertheless, it is remarkably similar to the case of Pamela Mimnagh, an Arnprior woman killed October 3 by a truck driven by her husband, who has since been charged. Like many women whose lives are taken by men in Canada -- often in calculated, well-planned attacks -- it barely makes a headline, much less gets named for what it is: a home-grown terrorist act.

Matthew Behrens is a freelance writer and social justice advocate who co-ordinates the Homes not Bombs non-violent direct action network. He has worked closely with the targets of Canadian and U.S. 'national security' profiling for many years.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Honouring Those Killed by Deportation from Canada, Thursday, October 23, Ottawa, 12:30 pm

 Honouring Those Killed by Deportation from Canada, Thursday, October 23, Ottawa, 12:30 pm

Canadian Border Services Agency (office of CBSA President Luc Portelance)

191 Laurier Ave. West (at Metcalfe, next to Library), Ottawa

 (For those in the national capital region, please join us for the vigil....   Letters demanding a stop to deportations can be sent from anywhere—see below)

Two weeks after the release of inquest findings into the hanging death in CBSA custody of Mexican refugee Lucia Vega Jimenez (who justifiably feared a forced return to violence in Mexico), join us as we gather to honour the memory of Jimenez and other refugees who have lost their lives in this country while facing deportation or following forced removal from Canada.
                                                                    Lucia Vega Jimenez
 Every year, the CBSA spends $100 million to jail and deport refugees in an inhumane assembly line of misery that not only regularly violates the law, but also serves no social purpose, ruins lives and tears apart families and communities, spreads fear, and forces many into situations of further violence, torture, and death. (More info at http://rabble.ca/columnists/2014/01/canadas-government-sponsored-law-breakers-push-border-out )

Included in countries to which CBSA seeks to deport individuals are Mexico (a country deemed "safe" by Canada despite the recent massacre of student protesters and an Amnesty International report finding a 600% increase in torture since 2003), Iran, Syria, and Egypt.

 CBSA President Luc Portelance has spent most of his career in agencies that view refugees as security threats and criminals – the RCMP and spy agency CSIS. As BC Lawyer Phil Rankin (among many others) has repeatedly pointed out, refugees like Lucia Vega Jimenez "are not criminals, but what we’ve done is create a criminal model. In this case, it led to a death....If you keep doing business as usual, there will be more (deaths)."

Join us Thursday, October 23 at 12:30 pm in Ottawa to honour the memory of some of those whose lives were lost as a result of Canada's inhumane deportation system, and to demand an end to deportations. There is no rational explanation for why this country detains and forcibly deports human beings (83,635 people deported from January 2009 to June, 2014;  some 10,000, including children, annually detained).

Some Disturbing Findings

85,635 human beings were deported from Canada between January 2009 to June, 2014

CBSA's "removal" costs for 2013/2014 fiscal year were $43,120,600

CBSA's costs to detain refugees simply because they are refugees, 2013/14, $55,195,949

Last year’s landmark Harvard University study,  Bordering on Failure: Canada-U.S. Border policy and the Politics of Refugee Exclusion, concluded: “Canada is systematically closing its borders to asylum seekers, and circumventing its refugee protection obligations under domestic and international law… Canada sets a poor example for other countries, and contributes to the deterioration of refugee protection around the world.”

WRITE A LETTER

Although he may feel insulated in his sixth floor office from the human rights concerns of refugees, Luc Portelance needs to hear from you. Let him know how you feel about the deportation process, and demand an end to this barbaric practice.

Luc Portelance, President's Office

Canadian Border Services Agency

6th Flr., 191 Laurier Ave. West

Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0L8

Phone: 613-952-3200

Fax: 613-948-3177

Email: luc.portelance@cbsa-asfc.gc.ca

Organized by the Anne Frank Sanctuary Committee and Homes not Bombs, http://homesnotbombs.blogspot.ca, tasc@web.ca, 613-267-3998


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Just Say No to War: A nonviolent vigil on Parliament Hill

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Just Say No to War: A nonviolent vigil on Parliament Hill
Monday, October 6, 3-5 pm
AND an email campaign to the Prime Minister's office from wherever you are


While politicians inside the House debate timelines, benchmarks, exit strategies, and the intent to add Canadian fighter jets as part of the slaughter from the skies playing out in Iraq and Syria (and fail to even open a debate on the 1,000+ troops and Canadian bombers that are now near the Ukraine border), join us in front of Parliament for a nonviolent vigil to Just Say NO to War. To say no to:

- the macho posturing of those beating the drums of war.
- the excitement bubbling in the offices of Canadian weapons dealers whose profits have fueled the current conflicts and whose instruments of murder are being tested in the new "theatre" of war.
- the complete failure of imagination of those in power who label whole groups of people as beyond human and worthy only of being murdered.
- a perverted mindset that believes in war as a solution to any problem, even though wars are directly or indirectly responsible for 190 million 20th-century deaths (90% of whom were civilian).
- the inability of those inside the House to understand that war is terrorism.
- the Canadian government's role in brokering the $14 billion weapons deal for General Dynamics of London, Ontario to supply the regime of Saudi Arabia, which imposes severe repression against women and regularly beheads people.
- a Canadian war economy that is built on theft of the poor: while the Harper government refuses to reveal the cost of bombing Syria/Iraq and occupying Eastern Europe, hundreds of thousands remain homeless, millions are hungry, wait lists for children with mental health issues are growing exponentially, money is used for warfare and not childcare, and overcrowded women's shelters are turning away countless targets of violence here at home.

War is NOT the Answer

IF YOU CANNOT MAKE IT TO OTTAWA:
1. Consider organizing a vigil wherever you are
2. Email the Prime Minister to let him know you oppose war under all circumstances. The Harper government may act like it doesn't care what you think, but it outspends all previous governments in monitoring protests, emails, letters, media, etc. So every email counts! You can email Harper from this weblink: http://pm.gc.ca/eng/contactpm   OR write directly to stephen.harper@parl.gc.ca, and cc opposition leaders Mulcair, Trudeau, and May at thomas.mulcair@parl.gc.ca, justin.trudeau@parl.gc.ca , and  elizabeth.may@parl.gc.ca

Sponsored by Homes not Bombs: Because Canada should build homes, not blow them up
(613) 267-3998

Also see: http://rabble.ca/columnists/2014/09/isis-their-barbarism%E2%80%A6-and-ours

"There is nothing as vile as the arrogance of the military mind. Of all the plagues with which the world is cursed, of every ill, militarism is the worst: the assumption that war is the answer to human problems." Rabbi Abraham Heschel

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

ISIS: Their Barbarism...And Ours



By Matthew Behrens
            The incessant drumbeat of war, accompanied by the harsh propaganda of  “barbarism” and “brutality” directed at individuals in Syria and Iraq, is as wearily familiar as that used to demonize the German “Hun” a century ago and dozens of other “enemies” in the interim. The PR industry, which is the landing pad for many politicos from the conservatives to the NDP, is having a field day, from allegations that “Islamic militants” are murdering seniors in hospital rooms (perhaps an update of the Hill & Knowlton-created falsehood that Iraqis ripped babies from incubators after the 1991 invasion of Kuwait) to claims that a group with no air force, weapons of mass destruction, overseas military bases, aircraft carriers, and hundreds of billions in other war infrastructure presents the greatest threat known to our generation.
            Needless to say, many of the actions of the group known as ISIS, ISIL, and IS (not to be confused with the folks hawking newspapers at lefty events) are reprehensible, from the targeting of specific groups based on their identity (i.e., Shia Muslims) to gross violations against women. And while members of this group should be condemned for their actions – which, combined with the major gains they have made over the summer,  do raise significant questions about the future of the region – it is important to note that they are no different from the actions of NATO and its members whenever they go to war, with perhaps the difference that much of the “west’s” brutality is conducted from afar, whether 30,000 feet in the air or 10,000 miles away.

AFGHAN LIVES HAVE NO VALUE
Indeed, as Amnesty International reported in August’s “Left in the Dark: Failures of Accountability for Civilian Casualties Caused by International Military Pperations in Afghanistan” (http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA11/006/2014/en), thousands of Afghan civilians have been killed since 2001 by NATO forces in everything from bombing strikes to night raids, almost always without follow-up investigation and accountability. Richard Bennett, Amnesty's Asia Pacific Director, said “Evidence of possible war crimes and unlawful killings has seemingly been ignored.” That endless reign of terror was added to last week with yet another U.S. air strike that killed 14 civilians in the eastern part of the country, with Bennett concluding, “The lack of accountability for killings of civilians by US/NATO forces in Afghanistan sends a message that foreign troops have free rein to commit abuses in Afghanistan and that the lives of Afghan civilians have little or no value.”
Ordering atrocities from afar has long been standard operating procedure for western governments, including the torture by proxy that Canada’s intelligence agencies have engaged in with Egypt and Syria, and Barack Obama’s curt, callous comment, “We tortured some folks,” an attempt to soften the impact of a U.S. Senate report on complicity in torture due out soon.  One source who has seen the report told the London Daily Telegraph in early September that the CIA took some detainees “to the point of death,” noting that the “waterboarding” euphemism was not simply dropping bits of H20 on a facecloth, but instead, “They were holding [detainees] under water until the point of death, with a doctor present to make sure they did not go too far. This was real torture.”
Such criminality is given the executive stamp of approval when Obama says he will not prosecute Bush or Clinton-era officials for such policies; similarly, no one in Canada has ever been charged, much less prosecuted, for high-level Canadian complicity in torture over the same time period. As reported here last month, Canada’s official policy is to trade information with torturers, in flagrant violation of all international legal norms.
Acknowledging such home-grown violence is important in contextualizing (though certainly not condoning) the actions of ISIS and related groups.
            Meanwhile, in taking a page from the Hill & Knowlton playbook, among others, the boys from ISIS know the value of a gruesome video, which tends to dramatize and inspire fear far beyond their actual capacity to do damage to people halfway around the globe. And so the beheading videos have become a focus for incessant condemnation from countries like the U.S. (which regularly executes people via lethal injection) and Canada (which until 1962 murdered over 700 people by the equally brutal means of hanging, a slower version of beheading). Recent reports of young men playing soccer with severed heads are unfortunate reminders of the sickness of militarism and desensitization that comes with warrior societies, and are reminiscent of the soccer games U.S.-trained and Canadian-supported soldiers played with dead babies in El Salvador during the 1980s.

OBAMA’S LONG-DISTANCE BEHEADINGS
            The beheading mania sheds a light both on what is patently and obviously barbaric (youtube videos featuring heads coming off at the hand of a masked individual) and what is barbarism conducted from the comfort and safety of North American bunkers. The latter are located in places like New York and California, from which soldiers operating unmanned aerial drones are able to launch Hellfire missiles against schools, weddings, and other gatherings, especially those which include what Barack Obama views as “military-age males” who are likely up to no good, all of which are justified “unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.” (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/05/29/1095594/-WOW-to-avoid-counting-civilian-deaths-Obama-WH-reclassified-Militants-to-include-civilians# ). When the Hellfires explode, they create what they were named for: severed bodies, including heads, lie scattered about the towns and villages where thousands have been murdered from afar on Obama’s direct orders, emerging from his “Terror Tuesday” morning meetings, during which he approves his kill lists. Indeed, the Assassinator in Chief was quoted during one of these meetings as stating: “Turns out I’m really good at killing people. Didn’t know that was gonna be a strong suit of mine.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/03/obama-drones-double-down_n_4208815.html
            The late Gloria Emerson is a former war correspondent whose elegy on the American invasion and war against Vietnam, Winners and Losers, is a deeply felt cri de coeur against a society that makes war and carries on as if no slaughters are committed with our tax dollars and in our name. Emerson noted in the 1970s a growing trend in which “our military technology is so advanced that we kill at a distance and insulate our consciences by the remoteness of the killing.”
            So our barbarism is a few steps removed, but it remains no less stomach-churning. We don’t see the bloodied and dismembered victims on the ground after Canadian and U.S. bombers drop cluster bombs, “daisy cutters,” napalm, white phosphorous, and thousand-pound bombs on villages with thatched huts, but our fellow citizens show up by the hundreds of thousands for annual war shows in which these same killing machines are flown above our heads to great applause and appreciation. We rightfully condemn anyone cheering on scimitar-based beheadings, yet think nothing of our neighbours clapping for a B-52 bomber back from the mass beheading of whole villages.

TARGETING WATER, PROMOTING DISEASE
            The barbarism that is ISIS has its roots in the barbarism that was Canadian and “coalition” war policy in the obliteration of Iraq in the 1991 “Gulf” war and subsequent sanctions, which claimed millions of lives in what some UN experts called a genocidal campaign against the Iraqi people. When Canadian CF-18s went on their bombing runs over Iraq in 1991, it was a particularly barbarous mission that consciously, deliberately targeted Iraq’s civilian infrastructure and electricity supply, knowing this would eliminate the desert country’s ability to provide clean drinking water to its citizens. One January, 1991 U.S. military document, “Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities,” noted that wiping out Iraq’s water purification systems “could lead to increased incidences, if not epidemics, of disease [cholera, hepatitis, and typhoid]” http://www.progressive.org/news/2001/09/5166/secret-behind-sanctions-how-us-intentionally-destroyed-iraqs-water-supply#sthash.3qG9ouWy.dpuf
            Another related document, “Effects of Bombing on Disease Occurrence in Baghdad,” bluntly concluded: “Increased incidence of diseases will be attributable to degradation of normal preventive medicine, waste disposal, water purification/distribution, electricity, and decreased ability to control disease outbreaks. Any urban area in Iraq that has received infrastructure damage will have similar problems.” The document notes that “particularly children” will be adversely affected.
            Of course, by 1996, some half million Iraqi children had been murdered by the slow and steady constriction imposed by the US, Canada and other nations, which then US Ambassador to the UN (and seriously under-rated war criminal) Madeleine Albright told CBS’ 60 Minutes “was worth it.” (The slow destruction of whole peoples by poisoning their waters and then preventing the provision of proper purification systems is well known to Canada, where First Nations boil water alerts have gone on for decades. A report last week reminded us that almost 50% of Ontario’s 133 First Nations communities continue to exist under boil water alerts lasting as long as 20 years.   http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/10-first-nations-with-more-than-10-years-of-bad-water-1.2755728  
           
HARPER SUPPORTS THE SAUDIS WHO BEHEAD PEOPLE
But the Harper government is not interested in solving decades-long water pollution problems, preferring to focus on ISIS beheadings. But it is a very selective view, for Canada blithely ignores Saudi Arabia for carrying out the same atrocities.


            During August 2014, the Saudi government publicly executed almost one person a day, including at least 8 beheadings for alleged apostasy, adultery, drug-offences, and “witchcraft.” The response of Harper and company to such a regime, which also refuses women the right to drive or do much of anything without the permission of male guardians, is to reward the beheading leader of the Middle East with two of the largest weapons contracts in Canadian history, totalling $14.8-billion. The contracts were brokered by the Canadian Commercial Corporation for General Dynamics Land Systems in London, Ontario, making Saudi Arabia the largest recipient of Canadian military products for perhaps a decade to come. Such Canadian-made armoured vehicles have been used to repress freedom demonstrations in neighbouring Bahrain and will no doubt be used to clamp down on any visible signs of dissent in the Saudi kingdom.  
            The deal for Saudi war materiel also conveniently ignores that country’s role in supporting ISIS and similar groups. As Patrick Cockburn writes in The London Review of Books, the Saudis, other Gulf monarchies and Turkey are literally the “foster parents” of ISIS, and without their financial support, the group could not have made the gains it did this past summer, taking over both a wide swath of northern Iraq and becoming the dominant opposition to the Assad regime in Syria. Will the possibility of an ISIS takeover of Syria turn Assad’s regime back into the “friend” of Canada, a role it so clearly played when, on behalf of CSIS and the RCMP, it tortured Canadians Abdullah Almalki, Maher Arar, Ahmad El Maati, and Muayyed Nureddin? 

QUESTIONING THE ROOTS OF VIOLENCE
            As ISIS proves itself the latest wet dream of weapons manufacturers the world over (another crisis to spur arms sales!) and offers macho photo ops for politicians of all stripes who “visit the front lines” of this “new war,” it does provide Canadians with many opportunities to question and act upon the roots of violence in our own society, from the despair and destruction wrought by our centuries of colonial domination of First Nations to the thousands of workers in London, Ontario who churn out military equipment for one of the globe’s worst human rights pariahs. Our distance from most of this becomes that insulating blanket Emerson wrote about; our willingness to do anything about it is a true reflection of our values.


           


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Productive Week for Canada’s Desk Torturers


Productive Week for Canada’s Desk Torturers
May 15, 2014
By Matthew Behrens
                  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.
                  When doubts are raised about the fragility of democratic rights, the national security state relies on its courts to provide legal reassurance that torture, indefinite detention without charge, secret trials, overseas military occupation, the iron curtain of governmental secrecy, and other crimes of state can be rationalized as necessary byproducts of certain organizations’ duly-authorized mandates.
                  In Canada, both individual judges and courts have served this role most obediently. Their decisions almost unanimously start from the proposition that scandal-plagued bodies like CSIS, the RCMP, and the Department of Justice are composed of well-intentioned functionaries who may, in moments of excessive zeal, cross some boundaries. Although those crossed boundaries implicate Canadian officials in severe human rights violations, no one is ever held to account. Consider that despite two judicial inquiries finding Canadian complicity in the torture of four of its own citizens – a complicity usually overseen by Justice Department lawyers – no one has been charged, much less tried, for their involvement in torture. Rather, complicit individuals have received promotions (http://www.canada.com/story.html?id=20490e79-ee5b-4cc7-bdb9-46870e4cf3e0) or otherwise retired from public life and are now serving as commentators for the CBC (http://www.cbc.ca/player/Radio/As+It+Happens/Features/ID/2431990227/) or receiving puff profiles in the Toronto Star (http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2007/05/26/extop_spy_breaks_silence.html)
                  In the Harkat and Diab cases, judges have again closed ranks behind the national security state, protecting the technocrats who, like the notorious Schreibtischtäter –  desk murderers of the Nazi era –  do not have to wipe the blood from their hands, as they simply shift paper about, blithely disconnected from the human wreckage they cause. Canada’s desk torturers work at such institutions as the Canadian Border Services Agency, the RCMP, CSIS, and Communications Security Establishment, all of whose employees operate under the rubric of internal memos that have directed them to exchange information with foreign intelligence agencies even when there is a “substantial risk” of torture. Canada’s War Department is the latest to join their ranks (http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/tories-secretly-gave-canadian-military-ok-to-share-info-despite-torture-risk-1.2608713). Needless to say, such memos have been given the go-ahead by Justice Department lawyers. At the same time, CSIS itself acknowledged in a 2008 memo that if torture-tainted intelligence were dismissed, the secret trial regime would collapse. (http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/12/03/csis-letter-torture-canada-public-safety_n_1127501.html)

Harkat: Still No Right to See the Case
                  In last week’s Harkat ruling, the Supreme Court clearly got it wrong. The decision appears to have been written on the run, without due consideration of last October’s full-day argument by intervening groups on issues from racial and religious profiling to complicity in torture and secrecy creep undermining immigration proceedings. It is at times shockingly illogical and contradicts its landmark 2007 Charkaoui ruling that found the security certificate regime unconstitutional because it denied the detainee the right to know and meet the case against him.
                  The secret system considered by the court in 2006 is largely the same one that exists now, with the exception of one significant change, the introduction of security-cleared lawyers called special advocates who can see some of the secret case but cannot speak with the detainee about what is revealed behind closed doors. Thus, the individual affected still cannot properly instruct counsel about what is being heard in his absence. Special advocates, which essentially saved the secret trial regime, were brought in courtesy of some high-profile, liberal immigration lawyers and the Federal Court itself, and passed Parliament with the full backing of the Liberals. Their current leader, Justin Trudeau, spoke last week both of his love of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and also of how he thought the Charter-violating Supreme Court ruling was a good one. http://globalnews.ca/video/1331197/trudeau-welcomes-supreme-courts-clear-decision-on-mohamed-harkat/)
                  In Charkaoui, the Court remarked that “one cannot be sure that the judge has been exposed to the whole factual picture.” That has not changed: Harkat cannot comment on, much less instruct the special advocates, on something he is not allowed to know or see. As the court said then (and seems to ignore now), “without full disclosure and full participation throughout the process, he or she may not be in a position to put forward a full legal argument,” and that without disclosure (especially in this case), “the named person may not be in a position to contradict errors, identify omissions, challenge the credibility of informants or refute false allegations.” Indeed, since that named person does not know what has been put against him or her, “he or she does not know what the designated judge needs to hear.” Ultimately, nothing has changed: “How can one meet a case one does not know?” the Court asked in 2007, and should have asked again in 2014.
                  Harkat continues to face deportation to torture in Algeria because Federal Court judge Simon Noel unjustifiably believes that Harkat lied. Noel heard things about Harkat in secret that Harkat knows nothing about, and after Harkat answered certain questions in public, Noel decided that he preferred the uncontested hearsay heard in secrecy. We know that this hearsay is uncontested because a key plank of Harkat’s Supreme Court appeal was based on the fact that when his special advocates sought to cross-examine informants during a secret session – which would seem an obvious thing to do given that one of them had failed a lie detector test, a fact CSIS deliberately withheld from the court for over a decade – they were turned down. Noel said the informants deserved “informer privilege.” As the Supreme Court noted in its decision, the polygraph test on one source “revealed him or her to be untruthful.” So why wouldn’t the special advocates be allowed to cross-examine someone with this mark against them? The Court replies that there is nothing to worry about, because the hearsay evidence will be accepted only if a judge concludes it is “reliable and appropriate.”

Supreme Court Sides With CSIS
                  But how can a judge independently come to that conclusion when hearing only one side of the story, without the benefit of a fully briefed lawyer cross-examining the source of that hearsay? The deference shown to CSIS here is remarkable: the Supreme Court worries that if CSIS sources had to testify, even in secret session, this may have a chilling effect on the agency’s “ability to recruit new sources.” This despite ongoing reports from targetted communities indicate that most potential CSIS “sources” would hardly be reliable since they are coerced into spying in exchange for status in Canada. Indeed, one source in the Harkat case appears to have had special inspiration to continue producing “intelligence” because he carried on a torrid affair with the CSIS agent handling him.
                  While the Supreme Court found that CSIS sources did not enjoy informer privilege, they try to have it both ways by then declaring there is no “unlimited ability to interview and cross-examine human sources.” The ruling states that such examination should rarely if ever be allowed and, without any explanation whatsoever, concludes there is no reason to allow Harkat’s special advocates to cross-examine the secret informants whose allegations were used against him. The Court is satisfied that “the admission of hearsay evidence or the denial of the opportunity for special advocates to cross-examine sources do not render” the scheme unconstitutional. 
                  Further, the Supreme Court ruled in a remarkably illogical moment that while the destruction of all original notes and transcripts of recordings in the Harkat case violated his Charter rights, there was no problem, because Judge Noel “reasoned that the summaries of the conversations were prepared in a way that ensured their accuracy.” Yet how would he know this if he had not seen the original documents, examined the translator, and had cross-examination to test for reliability, accuracy, and the biases inherent to the process?
                  The court also criticized the government for wanting a secret hearing at the Supreme Court level, complaining “it only served to foster an appearance of opacity of these proceedings, which runs contrary to the fundamental principles of transparency and accountability.” Fine words, but why has the court not released a transcript of the closed proceedings for all to see?

Why Not Charge Him If a Case Exists?
                  Like other secret trial detainees, Harkat has always argued that if the government actually has a case, he should be charged in an open court with a fair trial. The government claimed Harkat’s lack of citizenship prevented them from charging him under the Criminal Code (with its higher standards of proof and procedural protections), yet the recent VIA Rail plot (alleged to have been planned by two non-citizens) is proceeding under the auspices not of the immigration act’s security certificate regime, but under the criminal code.
                  The Supreme Court is well aware of this glaring difference, even acknowledging in last week’s decision that the secret trial regime is “in some respects more advantageous for the state than criminal proceedings. It has a lower standard of proof and is more protective of confidential national security information than the criminal law.” The Court even acknowledges but does not act on the fact that a citizen facing such serious allegations is entitled to a balancing act that considers state secrecy and individual rights, but this does not exist for non-citizens. There is no further comment on this two-tiered justice, other than to adopt a Father Know Best approach that tells Harkat: you have to trust the judge, who has broad discretion to look after your rights and make sure you are “reasonably informed” of the case. Ironically, that is exactly what the Federal Court judges were saying before this process was found to be unconstitutional: trust us. Thus, the Supreme Court has taken a major step backwards, concluding Harkat knows the case because the judge says he does. End of story.  When so much rides on a discretion that can only be exercised on a case by case basis, the lack of solid legal precision means whether one wins or loses may come down to the pick of the judge.
                  Harkat has a long legal road ahead of him, and his ultimate fate will once again rest with the Supreme Court, which will have to decide whether Canada will respect the absolute prohibition on deportation to torture, a legal obligation that the Supreme Court refused to uphold in the infamous 2002 Suresh decision by claiming certain “exceptional circumstances” could justify sending someone to face electric shock on the genitals.

Diab Enters Kafka Land
                  Both the security certificate regimes of 2007 and of 2013 contain the exact same section that allows a judge to admit into evidence and base a ruling on anything not normally admissible in a court of law. This means, therefore, that Harkat and anyone else subject to the secret trial process never has been and never will be in a court of law. It’s a problematic netherworld that also seriously impacts Dr. Hassan Diab, whose battle to stop extradition to France for a crime he did not commit suffers from similarly low legal standards that are ultimately based on the political prerogatives of Canada’s national security state. How else to explain the fact that he continues to face an uphill legal battle even though finger and palm prints, handwriting, and physical descriptions of the alleged suspect in a 1980 bombing do not match those of Dr. Diab?
                  Last week’s dreadful Ontario Court of Appeal (OCA) decision dismissed the well-reasoned arguments of Diab’s legal team with remarkably similar reasons to those of the Supreme Court: judges must be allowed major discretion; the intelligence agencies of our extradition partners do not engage in nefarious activities because they have signed treaties; and even though Dr. Diab has yet to be charged with an offence, he is told to trust the French and sort things out from an overseas prison.
                  France has been trying to flex its anti-terrorism muscle with respect to the 1980 Rue Copernic bombing, pursuing a case against Diab that a Canadian judge  found “weak”, “suspect,” and “confusing,” and “the prospects of conviction in the context of a fair trial, seem unlikely.” Unfortunately, that same judge ordered the extradition of Dr. Diab because the standards are so low and inconsistently applied in different Canadian jurisdictions.   Indeed, the appeals court quotes the reality that “trial judges, properly applying the relevant principles in the exercise of their discretion, could in some situations come to different conclusions,” which is what appears to have occurred here.

Diab Sought Without Being Charged
                  Equally problematic is the fact that, as the OCA points out, “It is well settled that the [Extradition] Act does not allow the extradition of a person for mere investigative purposes. Extradition is not to be used as a tool by foreign states to question people as potential witnesses or suspects.” Yet that is precisely the position in which Diab finds himself. The OCA also notes the case against Diab is “circumstantial,” and that four of the five pieces of evidence offered to demand his extradition were “insufficient” to justify uprooting his life, with the fifth piece a highly discredited handwriting report almost dismissed by the trial judge because it was “highly susceptible to criticism and impeachment” and relied on “questionable methods and on an analysis that seems very problematic.”
                  So why has the case proceeded? Because under Canada’s extradition law, the duty of a Canadian court and the Minister of Justice is, first and foremost, to the government seeking an individual’s extradition, and as the Supreme Court of Canada has found, extradition is, in the end, not a legal issue, but a political decision: is the government of Canada willing to risk its relations with one of its extradition partners, or is it willing to sacrifice one of its citizens (or a refugee or permanent resident who is also sought) in the name of maintaining happy diplomacy?
                  In the same manner that Mr. Harkat has been told by the Supreme Court that he needs to trust in the judge hearing the case without him, Diab is similarly instructed to grin and bear it because Canada cannot be seen to mistrust the judicial system of a democratic country. Yet Human Rights Watch has criticized French counter-terrorism courts for relying on secret intelligence from countries known to routinely use torture. When the Canadian Minister of Justice was asked to seek assurances that the French did not in fact carry on in such a manner, he instead figured he needn’t ask because he concluded Diab had not made a “plausible connection” to the fact that torture-derived intelligence from the close working relationship between the French and Syria intelligence agencies in the 1980s (when Diab lived in Lebanon) was connected to his case. (Notably, the French officials clearly state they have no idea where the intelligence came from, in the same way Harkat had no access to original documents or individuals who could be cross-examined).
                 
In the same show-trial way Harkat is given “an opportunity to be heard,” we are told Diab should trust the French since he will be provided a similar “opportunity.” But in addition to the secret allegations he faces, the French Courts, as Diab’s team argued,  “cannot properly determine the reliability of the intelligence allegations made against him because they are not allowed to know the sources of the allegations but, rather, presume that all information received from intelligence officers is reliable; the defence cannot effectively probe or question the underlying material in an intelligence report, and intelligence officers are not required to answer when cross-examined; and French courts use intelligence as evidence to prosecute [alleged] terrorists and have admitted torture-derived statements as evidence in the past.” The OCA says since France is a party to the Convention Against Torture, no such thing could occur (even though it does occur with regularity in Canada, also a party to the treaty).
                  While much of the Diab decision deals with the complexities of extradition law and interpretation of this seriously flawed regime, we also are reminded that this is not about law. In making submissions to the Minister of Justice following judicial committal for extradition, the OCA says this stage of the process is “viewed as being largely political in nature…the nature of this decision is clearly not of central importance to the legal system or outside the Minister’s area of expertise,” which is why the Minister must be granted deference by the court.

The Court’s Impermeable Bubble
                  The bubble in which the Ontario Court of Appeal judges live is impermeable. After quoting from a European Court of Human Rights decision deploring the use of torture evidence, the judges smugly state, “Canada shares these values,” adding the Minister should decline to extradite someone where the case they face will include torture-derived evidence. In the spirit of the Suresh exceptional circumstances case of deporting to torture, the OCA says if a “real risk” of torture-derived evidence will be used, the Minister should “generally [not always] refuse to order surrender.” The problem here is that the Department of Justice is the same agency approving the use of torture information here in Canada; why would the Minister think twice about France’s use of such information when it has been so firmly accepted as part of the Canadian discourse?
                   “There may be rare and exceptional circumstances where deportation or surrender to face a substantial risk of torture or a real risk of the use of torture-derived evidence could be justified; generally, however, as we have said, the Minister should refuse to surrender in such circumstances,” the OCA concludes.
                  The rulings in both the Harkat and Diab cases do not bode well for the men, their families, and their communities. The courts have clearly said they are prepared to violate international and domestic legal commitments with respect to torture, and to sacrifice both of these men’s lives for the national security state. The response that such violations demand from the rest of us is a challenge we must commit ourselves to meeting.
                  In the interim, get involved by contacting Justice for Mohamed Harkat (http://www.justiceforharkat.com/ ) and Justice for Hassan Diab (http://www.justiceforhassandiab.org/)