Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service - an oxymoronic career in Orwellian public relations

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service is recruiting photogenic models who demonstrate good clothes sense and can crouch attractively with laptops. "Looking for a career at the forefront of national security? Choose a career with CSIS and join a place like no other.

"CSIS contributes to making Canada among the world's best countries in which to live. The importance of our mandate is reflected in a highly professional environment that values critical thinking and ethical practices. Our expertise in the use of leading-edge technologies helps to put us at the forefront of the world's security intelligence organizations. CSIS offers more than a job; it provides an environment where you can build a meaningful and rewarding career."

Meanwhile, in a unanimous 9-0 decision, The Supreme Court of Canada (2008 SCC 28), May 23, 2008, stated:

"The process in place at Guantanamo Bay at the time Canadian officials interviewed K and passed on the fruits of the interviews to U.S. officials has been found by the U.S. Supreme Court, with the benefit of a full factual record, to violate U.S. domestic law and international human rights obligations to which Canada subscribes. The comity concerns that would normally justify deference to foreign law do not apply in this case. Consequently, the Charter applies."

Two months later, CSIS fought back with public relations:

"Canadian Security Intelligence Service - 2003 Interviews with Omar Khadr - Media Coverage
Ottawa, July 21st, 2008

"Information relating to interviews of Omar Khadr by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service CSIS and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) were recently released to Mr. Khadr’s legal counsel, following rulings by the Supreme Court of Canada in May 2008, and by the Federal Court of Canada in June 2008.
"Following the public release of this information by Mr. Khadr’s lawyers, there has been much national and international media coverage pertaining to these interviews. Much of this coverage has focussed on video footage of Service interviews conducted with Mr. Khadr in February 2003.
"Mr. Khadr was questioned by CSIS in 2003 about individuals - including those linked to the Al Qaeda organization - who may pose a threat to the security of Canada and its interests.
CSIS interviewed Mr. Khadr to collect threat-related information and intelligence and did not discuss consular issues with him, as this is not CSIS's role.

"During the recent media coverage of this issue, some factual errors have been reported by certain media outlets. Specifically, select media outlets have claimed that Mr. Khadr had been mistreated by U.S. authorities - including via sleep deprivation - prior to those 2003 interviews with CSIS. This is simply not accurate. In fact, it should be clear that CSIS had no information to substantiate claims that Mr. Khadr was being mistreated by U.S. authorities in conjunction with the CSIS interviews in 2003.
"Furthermore, the allegations which subsequently surfaced regarding sleep deprivation were in relation to a 2004 interview in Guantanamo Bay with Mr. Khadr, an interview in which CSIS was not a participant."
All of which misses the obvious unresolved problems:

1. Liaison was good enough with American "authorities" that CSIS could travel to Guanatamo, unless of course they got a holiday charter to Holguin, rented a car, and drove over.
2. The obvious mistreatment of prisoners was known to the FBI at the time, as documented by the American Civil Liberties Union there, or for that matter in Iraq and authorized by "Executive Order".
3. The proposition that CSIS "interviewed K[hadr] and passed on the fruits of the interviews to U.S. officials" (2008 SCC 28, see above), and yet were completely innocent of the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo, is laughable. What did they talk about, baseball?

None of which changes the fact that international humanitarian law is binding on the Canadian government and its agents, and the fact that collusion in a war crime is a war crime in International Humanitarian Law, and in particular, the Nuremberg Principles:Principle VII
"Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity as set forth in Principles VI is a crime under international law."

Document from the ACLU website, highlighting added.

All of which is a complete surpise to CSIS.