Torture is torture and it is inhuman. Full stop. It must not be used when it is it must be condemned.
With that as a basis I now, perhaps unwisely, wade into the most recent instance of compensation for Canadians allegedly tortured in Syria based at least indirectly (allegedly) in part on intelligence shared by Canadian agencies with the Syrian government. Two weekd ago, it was announced that three men, Muyyayed Nureddin, Abdullah Almalki, and Ahmed AlMaati, have received a total of $31.3 million for the brutal treatment they allegedly received in Syria in the early 2000s because they were ‘wrongly accused of ties to terrorism’ by CSIS and the RCMP.
a) CSIS and the RCMP may decide to not continue investigations where there is a potential for some mistreatment somewhere at some time to occur and as a result bad people will do bad things.
Furthermore, there is another crucial point that is missed here: in every single case of eventual torture abroad by a foreign power there were reasonable grounds to suspect/believe that the men posed a threat to national security. That is why they were investigated in the first place. None of these Canadians was randomly selected or looked at because they were Arab or Muslim or whatever. They were looked at because CSIS and/or the RCMP had intelligence suggesting they posed a threat and the whole point why the investigation unfolded was to determine whether that intelligence was accurate (spoiler alert: not all intelligence is reliable). If after a complete investigation it is concluded that the threat is not present, the effort ends. This, however, does NOT mean that the initial decision to investigate was wrong. Any suggestion, was made by at least one Conservative MP, that all information ever collected on these men be destroyed underscores a woeful ignorance of how and why investigations are held. The fact that no charges were laid is irrelevant: not all investigations result in arrests and court proceedings.
b) it is not unreasonable nor fiction to imagine that at some point someone will sue the government for the mere fact that s/he was investigated by CSIS/RCMP regardless of torture allegations.
Claims will be made that being subject to national security scrutiny was enough to cause serious psychological pain and suffering that must be compensated for. Watch this space.
President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting. Phil worked as a strategic analyst in the Canadian intelligence community for over 30 years, including 15 at CSIS, with assignments at Public Safety Canada and the Ontario Provincial Police. He specializes in radicalization and homegrown Al Qaeda/Islamic State/Islamist-inspired extremism. firstname.lastname@example.org