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Friday, May 28, 2004

Arar error 

POGGE has a great post exploring some of the issues around the Arar enquiry and why assertions of the people's right NOT to know should be an election issue. POGGE refers to a Globe and Mail article which quotes government lawyers on the party line: other countries will not want to swap secrets if they think their information (will) . . . be disseminated for general consumption by the Canadian public.
I think one reason governments don't want to reveal intelligence is that, unlike James Bond, we're not finding airliners hidden under a sheet in the ocean, or getting tapes of Blofield's meetings with SPECTRE. In reality, I think our intelligence sources in the radical community are often pretty poor, and their data is sketchy and uncertain and open to interpretation or to willful abuse, basically wishful thinking. The Iraq WMD "intelligence", for example, if it has been publicized, would have been demonstrated as inflated before the war even started, because the various agencies would have realized that their multiple sources were not multiple at all, just multiple copies of a single source, and that much of their so-called data was based on fraud. (And when the US refused to share the details with Chretien's government, Chretien, to his everlasting credit, smelled a rat and kept our boys out of that morass.)
In the Arar case, what has come out so far indicates that they were just so convinced that Canada is a hotbed of terrorism and so eager to find a terrorist that they were suspicious of Arar because he associated with other people of whom they were also suspicious -- sort of presumed guilt by association. If indeed they lacked any actual evidence against him, then they inflated their own activities to impress the Americans -- a phone call, perhaps, where someone said Yes, we've had him under suveillance, we have our suspicions about him, he seems untrustworthy, we've been watching him and he's part of the loop -- not realizing the new American Gitmo-inspired hands-free policy would throw him to the Syrian wolves without a second thought or any follow-up review of actual evidence. And perhaps this is the secret they don't want to discuss in open court.

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