More on the Arar affair

Haroon Siddiqui has an excellent article in today's Star in which he sets out clearly what needs to be done in response to the O'Connor report. He suggests:

O'Connor, still on the job, should appeal Ottawa's decision to censor parts of his report. Given the government's low credibility and its conflict of interest, let the courts decide what should or should not be held back in the name of national security.

RCMP Commissioner Guiliano Zaccardelli should, or be made to, resign, as suggested even by Shirley Heafey, former RCMP complaints commissioner.

Ottawa ought to discipline those in the RCMP and at the Canadian embassy in Damascus who not only kept the government in the dark about the Arar case but also actively misled it and undermined its diplomatic efforts to free him. Such tactics belong in a banana republic, not a mature democracy.

Discipline those officials who leaked false information to malign Arar as one way to cover up their own misdeeds. (The Ottawa Citizen and CTV, which carried stories from that smear campaign, may want to conduct internal investigations and share the results with the public, the way The New York Times did for having relied in 2003 on official leaks about the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq).

Get the RCMP out of the business of investigating national security. That's the job of the spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, created in 1985 after RCMP abuses in Quebec. Let CSIS gather and analyze intelligence and let the Mounties act on it through criminal investigations. Such specialization ensures professionalism, on the one hand, and better protection for law-abiding citizens, on the other.

Establish rules on how a citizen is put on a watch list.

Develop a protocol on how to better protect Canadians abroad. In Arar's case, our embassy in Damascus acted more as an apologist for the RCMP and CSIS, in cahoots with Syrian intelligence, than as a protector of a Canadian citizen in dire need of help.

Apologize to Arar, compensate him, give him a government job or help him find one, as O'Connor suggests. Honour his indefatigable wife, Monia Mazigh, for not only helping set him free but also forcing us all to look in the mirror.

I agree totally with his suggestions. In particular , as I mentioned last night, media like the Ottawa Citizen and Ms O'Neill, who allowed themselves to be used as tools for those in the RCMP who wished to smear Arar, should apologize for their role in this affair and take steps to ensure this does not happen again.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

O'Connors' daughter lives in the condo beside me and I used to date O'Neill's niece.

I find politics boring, but way to keep it at least somewhat tied to my life.