Given that we don’t even know what the evidence is, how do we know how it is being treated? How do we know information is not being taken out of context and presented? And where does this evidence come from?
If it hasn’t been offered yet on this blog, I’m going to give you a quick rundown of how a security certificate is obtained. First The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) gathers “secret” evidence from “secret” sources. Sometimes this “secret” evidence might be “secretly” leaked. The Minister of Public Safety and the Minister of Citizenship review and sign the Security Certificates. There are “secret” court proceedings which allow the Feds to consider “secret” information. They claim it is all done in “secret” because disclosing the information would seriously harm the government’s ability to protect Canadians.
As an aside, I find this rather odd, because the hearings of the Toronto 18, who were accused of planning to bomb us and behead the Prime Minister, were completely open to the public. Anyone could go into the courts and view that hearing of evidence in person.
A “special” advocate (of the detained) is exposed to the “secret” evidence but cannot relay that information to the detained or family.
Yes, don’t worry, all this “secret” evidence, “secret” sources, “secret” hearings and “special” advocates sounds like a bunch of 7 year olds’ treehouse game or something from Lord of the Rings to me too.
So let’s move on to what we know about the sources. Who are they and how reliable are they? Let’s look at one of the sources. In 2003 Adil Charkaoui was arrested under the Security Certificate mainly due to a claim from convicted terrorist Ahmed Ressam. 21 months later, Ressam retracted his claims saying that he was “psychologically imbalanced when he was interrogated” and offered the information about Charkaoui. Basically, they made a deal with Ressam that if he throws out some names, he’ll get a lighter sentence. He threw out a few names under pressure, and as a result, Charkaoui was detained for almost 2 years. When this information was retracted, Charkaoui was released, having to be tracked electronically, having an escort all day at work, and subject to have his house invaded by the police if needed any time of day, among other restrictions.
One: The source is unreliable. Who is to say the others are not?
What does CSIS do with the information? How is it handled? Believe it or not, in June the Supreme Court of Canada reprimanded CSIS for destroying evidence. This is the first time CSIS has been told to keep careful check of their steps.
Evidence and information that has been destroyed includes original notes and taped conversations. CSIS has also been reported to document and file information that are just summaries of events and facts, but does not present the context that information is taken in. As we all know, information that is presented without context can be manipulated in any way to give a completely different meaning. It is this non-contexual information that is presented to the Federal judge.
CSIS is violating their own acts. The Supreme Court reported, “The meaning of the word 'intelligence' in Section 12 should not be limited to the summaries prepared by officers. The original operational notes are a better source of information and evidence," and the "destruction of operational notes is a breach of CSIS duty to retain and disclose information".
Two: CSIS breaches their duty to retain and disclose information. They illegally destroy evidence and violated Charkaoui’s charter rights by destroying original records, the basis of the case.
It is all done behind closed doors, where we suspect anything can be done with the information, and that suspicion has now become fact. What we can take away from this, is the source of their information is questionable, and the evidence that they do hold is tampered with.
The fact that this is all masked from beginning to end is a great injustice to the accused, to the justice system and to the Canadian people.
For more information on CSIS and their manipulation of 'evidence': http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20080626/charkaoui_SCC_080626/20080626/