Friday, October 20, 2006

CSIS to Muslims: Use Telepathy!

Matthew Behrens of the Campaign to Stop Secret Trials, part of the work done by Homes Not Bombs, writes a letter to The Toronto Star concerning the recent decision not to deport Mahmoud Jaballah to Egypt. Jaballah is one of the men Behrens and many others (including Alexandre Trudeau and James Loney) are working to either free or be made subject to a fair and open trial.

Matthew's letter, in its entirety (or read it here, while the link is active):
Allow him to stay here , Oct. 19.

I welcome the decision not to deport Mahmoud Jaballah to torture in Egypt, but it's unfair to declare he should eventually be removed from Canada. I have known Jaballah and his family for more than five years and he does not in any way resemble the scary individual outlined in bare-bones CSIS allegations.

The Federal Court upheld a security certificate against Jaballah largely based on secret "evidence" that neither Jaballah nor his lawyers can see or cross-examine. There is no appeal of the decision, and no charge is ever laid.

The standards of "proof" are the lowest of any court in Canada ("reasonable grounds to believe" certain things may be true) and the legislation specifically states that anything not normally admissable in a court of law can be entered in one of these proceedings. In other words, we are no longer in a court of law.

And so it was that straight-faced government lawyers recently named Jaballah a "communications relay expert" because he wasted no time in getting a phone hooked up in his first apartment, borrowed a cellphone to stay in touch with his pregnant wife, "procured" a fax machine and surfed the Internet. If that's the basis for suspicion, Canada's 600,000-plus Muslims should, in an abundance of caution, revert to smoke signals or train in telepathy to stay in touch with family and friends.

This is the same Jaballah who was found to be credible and had a prior certificate against him thrown out in 1999. Two years later, he was re-arrested and CSIS admitted in the open portion of the secret hearing that it had no new evidence against him, only a "new interpretation" of old evidence that was previously dismissed.

If the allegations against Jaballah had any factual basis, why hasn't he been sought by the U.S. or Britain to face charges? The U.S. is not shy about rounding up people, even if the case against them is weak.

Most frightening, in light of the Maher Arar inquiry, is the heavy reliance in these cases on Canadian "intelligence" agents who have little or no training and base their cases on recycled newspaper articles. As the Star reported during Jaballah's recent bail hearing, a high-level CSIS official was "too busy" to read the 9/11 Commission report on intelligence failures, including those sections that dealt with Canada. The officer also refused to confirm that torture takes place in Syria and Egypt, even after the finding that such horrid acts are systematic by Justice Dennis O'Connor of the Arar Inquiry.

Until we return to court-of-law standards with respect to any "national security'' allegations, it is grossly unfair for the Toronto Star to draw such drastic conclusions about Jaballah or anyone else subject to this medieval process.

Matthew Behrens, Toronto

Read more here.

No comments: