November 29, 2010

Canadian intelligence head criticized role of courts in anti-terrorism cases

Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) Director Judd discussed domestic and foreign terror threats with Counselor of the State Department Cohen in Ottawa on 2 July 2008. In particular, he wasn’t very happy about the Canadian courts. Cable08OTTAWA918 from Wikileaks’ Cablegate offers some insights:
Director Judd ascribed an “Alice in Wonderland” worldview to Canadians and their courts, whose judges have tied CSIS “in knots,” making it ever more difficult to detect and prevent terror attacks in Canada and abroad. (…) He noted, however, that Hezbollah members, and their lawyers, were considering new avenues of litigation resulting from recent court rulings that, Judd complained, had inappropriately treated intelligence agencies like law enforcement bodies (refs A and C).  The Director observed that CSIS was “sinking deeper and deeper into judicial processes,” making Legal Affairs the fastest growing division of his organization.  Indeed, he added, legal challenges were becoming a “distraction” that could have a major “chill effect” on intelligence officials.
Judd derided recent judgments in Canada’s courts that threaten to undermine foreign government intelligence that threaten to undermine foreign government intelligence- and information-sharing with Canada.  These judgments posit that Canadian authorities cannot use information that “may have been” derived from torture, and that any Canadian public official who conveys such information may be subject to criminal prosecution.  This, he commented, put the government in a reverse-onus situation whereby it would have to “prove” the innocence of partner nations in the face of assumed wrongdoing.
Judd was predicting then that Canada would soon introduce ‘special advocates’ in its courts.
In another interesting insight Judd added that CSIS recently talked to Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) after that agency requested its own channel of communication to Canada, he said.  The Iranians agreed to “help” on Afghan issues, including sharing information regarding potential attacks. However, “we have not figured out what they are up to,” Judd confided, since it is clear that the “Iranians want ISAF to bleed…slowly.”
Edit: The last time I heard a reference to Alice in Wonderland or its author, Lewis Caroll, in a counter-terrorism context was two years ago in the Parhat judgment of Judge Garland. Parhat was one of the Uighur detainees at Guantanamo Bay who was transferred to Bermuda in June 2009. The ruling criticized the US government’s argument that evidence must be reliable because it appears in several documents, stating that “This comes perilously close to suggesting that whatever the government says must be treated as true.” It compared this argument to the Bellman’s dictum in Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark: “Lewis Carroll notwithstanding, the fact that the government has ‘said it thrice’ does not make an allegation true.”

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