A leaked 2004 CSIS report from LaPresse on Thursday purports to be a summary of a conversation between Abousfian Abdelrazik and Adil Charkaoui in 2000 in which they plotted to blow up an airplane enroute between Montreal and France. It has already been enthusiastically repeated across our national press:
Gosh, CBC, your previous nice pix of Abdelrazik and Charkaoui are now replaced by scary ones.
etc. … etc. …
Never mind that this “news” was already reported nearly two years ago after a federal court judge annulled Charkaoui’s security certificate because government lawyers refused the judge’s order to reveal their wiretap evidence, citing “security concerns.”
About now you are probably wondering what kinds of “security concerns” trump giving evidence about someone you allege was plotting to blow up a plane.
“I read the protected confidential dossiers on such individuals, and I can tell you that, without commenting on any one individual, some of this intelligence makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck,” he said. “I just think people should be patient and thoughtful and give the government and its agencies the benefit of the doubt.”
The re-leak has nonetheless been greeted with skepticism by Boris, Dr. Dawg, Pogge, Sixth Estate and no doubt many others because we all remember previous security leaks from government officials who are more than happy to anonymously rejig conveniently-timed select bits of complete bullshit to a cooperative media.
Let’s review just the anonymous bullshit security leaks about Maher Arar for instance, for which no public officials were ever called to account and who are presumably still happily at it.
In 2002, while Arar was being tortured in Syria, an anonymous official source linked Arar to “a suspected member of Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda terrorist network.” That suspected member was Abdullah Almalki — later cleared by the Iacobucci inquiry.
CanWest bureau chief Robert Fife, July 24, 2003: “Terror threats in Ottawa: Two kinds of fear: Report says
Syrian intelligence helped U.S. to foil al-Qaeda plot on target in Ottawa : One official would only tell CanWest News Service that Mr. Arar, a 36-year-old Ottawa engineer, is a “very bad guy” who apparently received military training at an Al-Qaeda base. “
As noted by Justice O’Connor in the report: “The apparent purpose behind this leak is not attractive: to attempt to influence public opinion against Mr. Arar at a time when his release from imprisonment in Syria was being sought by the government of Canada.”
Coincidentally the sudden re-issuing of this “new” leak about blowing up planes happens to coincide with Abdelrazik’s attempt to get his name off the UN 1267 terror list this month.
G&M, Oct 10, 2003: Unnamed Canadian government sources said that Mr. Arar had been “roughed up,” but not tortured, while in detention in Syria
CTV, Oct. 23, 2003: “Senior government officials in various departments” said that Mr. Arar had provided information to the Syrians about al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and cells operating in Canada.
Juliet O’Neill, Ottawa Citizen, Nov. 2003 : “Canada’s dossier on Maher Arar: The existence of a group of Ottawa men with alleged ties to al-Qaeda is at the root of why the government opposes an inquiry into the case.”
Fife: Dec. 30, 2003 : “US, Canada ‘100% sure’ Arar trained with al-Qaeda”: “A senior Canadian intelligence source said the United States had an extensive dossier on Mr. Arar and that ‘if the Americans were ever to declassify the stuff, there would be some hair standing on end.'”
Toronto Star: Learning from media mistakes in Arar case, May 2009:
“Unnamed officials also told Craig Oliver at CTV News that Arar was only released because he had given information to the Syrians about Al Qaeda and about other Canadians suspected of terrorism activities. Oliver later explained that he felt the story was credible because his sources were senior officials in two different government departments. Nonetheless, years after the Arar inquiry’s report, he apologized to Arar in person for running the story. He also told him of an offer he had turned down – a photograph of Arar training in a camp in Afghanistan. As he describes: ‘The source wanted me to use the information without showing me the photograph. That was a very solid source . . . This experience has made me more skeptical . . . I knew these people very well.'”
So you’ll have to forgive the rest of us if we also share Craig Oliver’s reluctance to be conned into accepting any more conveniently-timed leaks and smears from anonymous security officials who, for all we know, are the same ones who previously set out to turn public opinion against Arar even as they destroyed his life for reasons they have yet to account for.