Supplement to the Iacobucci Inquiry report released

After a two-year dispute Justice Iacobucci and the Canadian government have finally reached an agreement to release to the public information that was deemed by the government to be injurious to National Security if released publicly. Read the supplemental report here.

The most important new piece of information deals with a previously unknown visit by CSIS officers to Egypt in December 2002 to get information about Ahmad El Maati and two other Arab-Canadians. CSIS didn’t inform the Canadian Ministry of Foreign affairs about its trip until March 2003.

Iacobucci says that in the list of questions and during its December 2002 visit to Egypt, CSIS “did not make any inquiries with Egyptian authorities about Mr. El Maati’s treatment in either Syria or Egypt, despite knowing that Mr. El Maati had alleged that he was tortured in Syria.” He concludes El Maati “suffered mistreatment of some form as a consequence of the Service’s interaction with Egyptian authorities.”

CSIS told Iacobucci, however, that it viewed “this possibility was not highly likely, and balanced that against the compelling reasons to try to clarify whether there really was a threat to Canada, (assistant director of operations Jack) Hooper stated that, taking these and other considerations into account, CSIS concluded that it would be appropriate to proceed with the visit,” the inquiry head reported.

“Several witnesses, from both CSIS and the RCMP, told the Inquiry that it was not the responsibility of intelligence or law enforcement officials to be concerned about the human rights of a Canadian detainee, which were for DFAIT alone to consider,” Iacobucci reports in the new chapter of his findings.

“No Canadian officials should consider themselves exempt from this responsibility,” said Iacobucci.

Indeed, a senior CSIS official admitted to Iacobucci, behind closed doors, that “in hindsight” CSIS agents should have asked the question because it would have been relevant in deciding how reliable his statements were.

The report also shows the fruits of CSIS interviews with Elmaati in December 2002 were shared with the RCMP and two unnamed foreign agencies.

El Maati and his supporters want to know whether Canadian spies witnessed Egyptian interrogation sessions.

“There should be more information coming out,” El Maati said.

Australia court rules former Guantanamo detainee can sue government

The Federal Court of Australia ruled Thursday that former Guantanamo Bay detainee Mamdouh Habib can sue the Australian government for complicity in his ill-treatment while incarcerated in Pakistan, Egypt, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay. Habib claims he suffered sleep deprivation, electrocution, and drug injections during his detainment, some of which happened in collusion with or in the presence of Australian officials. The Commonwealth of Australia, which denies the allegations, claimed the case should be thrown out because it was outside the realm of the judiciary to hear a case on the actions of foreign officials. A three-judge panel rejected this claim stating that torture offends the “ideal of common humanity,” whether administered domestically or abroad, and can never be justified by official acts or policy. Habib said that he plans to sue the Australian government for unlimited damages.

European Union: reorganization of intelligence service

Catharine Ashton, who is the newly appointed European Union High Representative for Foreign Security and Policy, is reportedly working on restructuring the EU’s External Action Service (EAS). EAS is a diplomatic corps with 130 delegations in third countries and international organizations.

A central facet of the proposed reorganization of EAS is the merger of three offices, located in Brussels, whose main task is the gathering and sharing of intelligence information and data. The offices are the Council’s two bureaus, the Joint Situation Center and the Watch-Keeping Capability, and the European Commission’s Crisis Room.

The Joint Situation Center, otherwise known as SitCen, is staffed by 110 people and includes a cell of secret agents seconded from EU Members, whose chief missions are the gathering of classified information sent by Member States and the preparation of reports on security issues, such as terrorism and Iran’s contact with other countries. SitCen reports are forwarded to all Member States. The Watch-Keeping Capability is composed of 12 people from the police and armed forces of the Member States and gathers data from the EU’s police and military missions located in third countries. The European Commission’s Crisis Room has a staff of six persons who are in charge of a website collecting data from 118 conflicts worldwide. It uses advanced scientific tools and software to scan TV broadcasts worldwide and to find quotes through searches using terms such as people’s names.