arar, the rcmp, and torture

while the bush administration has been stealing all the headlines for torture, our very own rcmp has been blamed for providing inaccurate information that resulted in maher arar, a canadian citizen, being deported from the united states to syria, where he was subject to torture. arar was ultimately cleared of any wrong doing or of any acts that would lead to the threatening of canada's national security.

the fact that we could have provided information, false or otherwise, to the united states so that a person could be deported to a country that is widely known to take part in torture, is troubling at best. it appears that some of canada's laws regarding the releasing of information when it involves a person being deported to a country suspected of using torture, will have to be revisited. after all, there are many cases where we refuse to hand over people to countries where the death penalty is still viable, so why not with torture?

the follow article from the globe and mail explains the situation far succinctly than i can:

RCMP criticized in deportation, torture of Arar

Globe and Mail Update

OTTAWA — Maher Arar is an innocent victim of inaccurate RCMP intelligence reports and of deliberate smears by Canadian officials, a commission of inquiry says in a scathing report that suggests the federal government should pay him compensation.

Mr. Arar, who was deported from the United States to Syria, where he was tortured as a terrorist suspect, has suffered "devastating" mental and economic consequences as a result of his ordeal, Mr. Justice Dennis O'Connor said in a report released today in censored form.

"I am able to say categorically that there is no evidence to indicate that Mr. Arar has committed any offence or that his activities constitute a threat to the security of Canada," the report says.

The 822-page report, which has been censored because of government concerns about national security, also calls for the further independent investigation of the cases of three other Canadian Muslim men — Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati and Muyyed Nurredin — who were imprisoned and tortured in the Middle East under similar circumstances.

The RCMP should never share intelligence reports with other countries without written conditions about how that information is used, Judge O'Connor says.

He also says information should never be provided to a foreign country if there is a risk of it being used to torture people.

The report — the result of more than two years of hearings, some of them held in secret — clears federal officials of any direct involvement in the U.S. government's decision to deport Mr. Arar to the Middle East in 2002, even though the 36-year-old computer engineer was traveling on a Canadian passport.

Judge O'Connor, however, blasts the RCMP for providing U.S. authorities with inaccurate intelligence that resulted in Mr. Arar, and his wife Monia Mazigh, being put on a border watch list as dangerous al Qaeda terrorist suspects.

U.S. officials refused to testify at the Canadian inquiry. But Judge O'Connor says it "is very likely" they relied on the faulty RCMP intelligence.

"The RCMP provided American authorities with information about Mr. Arar which was inaccurate, portrayed him in an unfair fashion and overstated his importance to the investigation," the report says, referring to a Mountie probe of possible al Qaeda terrorist activities in Ottawa after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.

The RCMP asked the Americans to put Mr. Arar and Dr. Mazigh on a watch list as "Islamic extremist individuals suspected of being linked to the al Qaeda terrorist movement," the report says.

"The RCMP had no basis for this description, which had the potential to create serious consequences for Mr. Arar in light of American attitudes and practices," the report said.

The Mounties' errors included reporting he was in the Washington area on Sept. 11, 2001, when in fact he was in San Diego.