As I wrote about last night, former Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day testified before a Federal Court on Thursday to explain why, in 2008, he renewed five security certificates, including one against Mohamed Mahjoub which was the subject of the proceeding. Predictably, Day was asked about the possibility that some of the evidence against the men in question was the product of torture. His response was reported this way by the Globe and Mail:
Mr. Day said he considered whether evidence used to make the assessment might have come from torture. Records show the CSIS director of the day wrote memos telling Mr. Day it was "difficult if not impossible" to determine whether torture taints any particular intelligence exchange between Canada and a foreign state.
Former Conservative public safety minister Stockwell Day says there were warnings that some of the information in a security certificate used to detain Mohamed Mahjoub, who has spent 12 years in jail and house arrest in Canada, may have come from the torture of the Egyptian-born man.
Both of those reports, along with the others I listed in that prior post, understate the matter.
Day signed off on the security certificates on Feb. 22, 2008. A bit more than a month before, on Jan. 15, 2008, CSIS director Jim Judd had written to Day to tell him that if a complete ban on evidence that may have the taint of torture were implemented, it would undermine the entire security certificate regime.
In the letter, Judd urges the minister to fight an amendment to C-3 proposed by Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh that would prohibit CSIS and the courts from using any information obtained from torture or "derivative information" -- information initially obtained from torture but subsequently corroborated through legal means.
"This amendment, if interpreted to mean that 'derivative information' is inadmissible, could render unsustainable the current security certificate proceedings," Judd writes. "Even if interpreted more narrowly to exclude only information obtained from sources and foreign agencies who, on the low threshold of "reasonable grounds" may have obtained information by way of torture, the amendment would still significantly hinder the Service's collection and analysis functions."
Barely more than a month before he signed those certificates, Day had been informed by the head of the agency that prepared those dossiers he studied so carefully that their contents wouldn't stand up to scrutiny if a ban on information gained from torture was in place.
He signed them anyway.