Opinion:Democracy is at risk when we ignore the rule of law
Since 9/11 the fight against terrorism has been one of the biggest challenges facing western democracies. Terrorists have the advantage of anonymity, mobility and a loose structure that makes it very difficult to track them down and stop new attacks. When the attacks do happen as they have in Spain and the U.K. since 9/11 the results can be devastating for human life.
But when we ignore some the central tenets of our democracy then the terrorists utimately win. We begin to lose some of the qualities that make for just societies -- ethics and justice to name two. The Harper governments decision to send Mr. Abdlerazik to Sudan's notorious Kober prision where he was possibly tortured and beaten is a significant move down this dangerous path. If Mr. Abdelrazik is really a threat then he should be arrested, tried, and if guilty, sentenced to a lengthy prison terms. The path the Harper government has chosen simply makes us more like our enemies.
Likewise the Bush administration's instructions that it was alright to use torture by telling them that "interrogator's 'good faith' and 'honest belief' that the interrogation will not cause such suffering protects the interrogator."
The admnistration's further instructions "that 'the waterboard,', or simulated drowning, does 'not violate the Torture Statute'" is a clear indication of its willingness to circumvent international and domestic law to achieve its goals. Again, pursuing this dangerous path clearly weakens the central qualities of our democracies and ultimately put us all at risk. We need to put a stop to these practices before it is too late. A change of administration both here in Canada and in the United States would be a good start.
Senior Canadian intelligence officials warned against allowing Abousfian Abdelrazik, a Canadian citizen, to return home from Sudan because it could upset the Bush administration, classified documents reveal.
"Senior government of Canada officials should be mindful of the potential reaction of our U.S. counterparts to Abdelrazik's return to Canada as he is on the U.S. no-fly list," intelligence officials say in documents in the possession of The Globe and Mail.
"Continued co-operation between Canada and the U.S. in the matters of security is essential. We will need to continue to work closely on issues related to the Security of North America, including the case of Mr. Abdelrazik," the document says.
Although heavily redacted, the documents illuminate a government keen to placate the Bush administration, irrespective of the guilt or innocence of Mr. Abdelrazik, who has lived in the lobby of the Canadian embassy in Khartoum for nearly three months.
The Bush administration told the CIA in 2002 that its interrogators working abroad would not violate U.S. prohibitions against torture unless they "have the specific intent to inflict severe pain or suffering," according to a previously secret Justice Department memo released Thursday.
Former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft testifies before Congress July 17 about waterboarding.
The interrogator's "good faith" and "honest belief" that the interrogation will not cause such suffering protects the interrogator, the memo adds.
"Because specific intent is an element of the offense, the absence of specific intent negates the charge of torture," Jay Bybee, then the assistant attorney general, wrote in the memo.