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Maher Arar

RCMP broke rules: Report

Censored document released at Maher Arar inquiry
Force ill-equipped, lacked 'expertise', internal review says

Maher Arar

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police were ill-equipped to deal with terrorism investigations in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States and broke policy rules when supplying American investigators information about Canadian Maher Arar, says a damning report released by a federal inquiry.

Those accusations and others involving the improper seizure of evidence, acrimonious relationships within the federal police force and the lack of involvement of supervisors in Maher Arar's case, were contained in a censored 76-page internal review prepared by a senior RCMP officer and released yesterday at the Arar inquiry.

U.S. authorities detained Arar, a 34-year-old Syrian-born Canadian, in New York on Sept. 26, 2002, as he was returning home to Ottawa from a visit to Tunisia. He was deported to Syria.

RCMP Chief Superintendent Brian Garvie wrote the report's conclusions should be considered in the context of the "public, political and national security environment of post 9/11."

"The ability of the RCMP to deal with the outcome of that terrorist act, and to manage the expectations as a result of it, was to a large extent limited. At that time, both at headquarters and in the field, the RCMP did not have sufficient investigative expertise, nor did they have the capacity to efficiently and effectively deal with national security investigations overall," he wrote.

Arar's lawyers say the report shows that the Ottawa engineer was a "victim of the RCMP's inexperience."

"As a Canadian citizen ... I ask myself can we feel safe, should we feel safe. What are the problems in the RCMP and what needs to be done to correct those problems," said lawyer Lorne Waldman.

RCMP spokesperson Inspector Tim Cogan said yesterday he did not want to comment on the report in an effort to not bias the inquiry proceedings, but noted the document had to be taken in context with all the evidence presented at the commission of inquiry into the role of Canadian authorities in the case.

"Post 9/11 was a different time where we are now. Everything has changed," Cogan said. "We're in a different world today than we were then ... a lot of progress has been made after this historically unprecedented event."

More than $500 million in government funding was allotted to the RCMP for security investigations in the wake of 9/11. A portion was used to create four new joint task forces known as Integrated National Security Enforcement Teams (INSETs) which include local police officers and immigration officials.

The Ottawa branch of the RCMP-led task force (known as the A division) launched the O Canada investigation that was probing the existence of an Al Qaeda cell in Canada and focused on another Ottawa engineer, Abdullah Almalki. It's believed it was Arar's relationship with Almalki and his older brother, and a former Toronto truck driver named Ahmed Elmaati that connected him to the investigation.

Garvie's report says members of the A-O Canada team had "legitimate reasons" to investigate Arar and notes the U.S. authorities were conducting their own investigation with respect to Arar.

The report findings include:

The RCMP did not contribute to the torture or interrogation of Arar in Syria and did not provide the Syrians with a list of questions.

There was an "acrimonious" relationship between investigators on the A-O Canada team and those within the RCMP's Criminal Intelligence Directorate HQ. As a result, wrote Garvie, attempts by headquarters to "effectively monitor the investigation and to provide the appropriate co-ordination, direction or advice was resented."

Correspondence, including a CD burned from the Project A-O Canada database, given to U.S. authorities about Arar did not include the proper caveats or the appropriate supervisor's signatures that are required in accordance with RCMP policies. Caveats can concern the reliability of information provided or restrictions from passing that information to a third party.

Senior managers were not consulted before information was passed to the United States concerning Arar.

An apartment lease obtained from Arar's former landlord in Canada was not obtained with a search warrant as required by the Criminal Code.

The report finds that INSET members believed Arar would be deported to Canada and had put a request to conduct surveillance of him when he returned. Due to cost, they abandoned a request to interview Arar while he was in custody in New York.

"This decision was made because the RCMP airplane was not available, the cost to travel commercially was prohibitive and (censored) had not approved the interview request," the report said.

The findings, at least a quarter of which were blacked out due to concerns of national security, are in stark contrast to a letter that was made public at the inquiry this summer, which absolved the RCMP of any wrongdoing.

"I am satisfied that members of the RCMP acted within the laws of Canada," Assistant Commissioner Ghyslaine Clément wrote in April.

An inquiry headed by Justice Dennis O'Connor, which is now hearing evidence behind closed doors, is expected to conclude how information was shared between authorities in Canada, the United States and Syria.

Arar was detained during a stopover flight in New York in September, 2002. He was deported to Syria, via Jordan, where Arar says Syrian authorities questioned him on information he believes came from Canada. He was released last year after being tortured and held for a year.

Arar said in a written statement yesterday that he was most disturbed by the report's finding that after eight months in a Syrian jail, the RCMP would not issue a letter to his lawyer saying he was not a terrorist suspect.

"I could have been out of that miserable place four months earlier."

Arar also spoke for the first time yesterday of a person who was in the room when he was questioned in New York, who refused to identify himself but who spoke with a distinct French-Canadian accent. "We still have a long way to go before I really know why this was done to me and who was involved."


Arar requests hearing in public
Says Ottawa sending 'mixed messages'

Federal lawyer's comments slammed

A federal lawyer undermined the Maher Arar inquiry when she claimed Canadian officials did not know of plans for Arar's deportation, his lawyers claim.

Justice Department lawyer Barbara McIsaac said in an interview this week "Canadian officials did not know of the plans" for the Ottawa resident's deportation from New York to Syria.

What role Canadian officials played in Arar's deportation and subsequent detention in Syria is the main question to be answered by inquiry commissioner, Justice Dennis O'Connor.

"By making statements of fact she's usurping the role that's been given to the commissioner. It's up to the commissioner to decide at the end of the day which Canadian officials did what and what their conduct was," said Lorne Waldman, one of Arar's lawyers.

Arar said in an interview he feels the government is "sending mixed messages" by requesting private hearings to deliver their evidence but commenting on their innocence publicly.

The hearing is currently being held in a secret location as evidence is given by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. Government lawyers argue its public release would jeopardize national security.

Commission counsel Paul Cavalluzzo received a letter yesterday from Arar's lawyers requesting that a public hearing be reconvened next week to discuss the government's comments to The Star. Cavalluzzo said last night that the letter is getting "serious consideration and review" and the commission will respond early next week.

Stephen Bindman, a spokesperson for the government's legal team, said McIsaac was basing her comments on documents already made public at the inquiry - including the government's opening submission, a censored review of the actions of CSIS agents and a letter discussing the involvement of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

But Arar's lawyers released a Department of Foreign Affairs document this week that contained the case notes made by Canadian consul representative Maureen Girvan after she met with Arar while he was in U.S. custody in New York.

The document was obtained under an Access to Information request by researcher Ken Rubin.

The notes show that Arar told Girvan of the U.S.'s plan to deport him to Syria.

Bindman said he could not comment on that document because it has not yet made public at the inquiry.

U.S. authorities at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport detained Arar, a 34-year-old Syrian-born Canadian, on Sept. 26, 2002, as he was returning home to Ottawa from a visit to Tunisia. He was deported to Syria, via Jordan and held for a year.


U.S. refuses role in Ottawa's Arar probe
Says it acted alone in deporting Canadian to Syria

Letter insists move was in America's 'best interests'

The U.S. government has refused to participate in a federal inquiry that will question how a Canadian citizen was deported by American authorities to Syria, where he was tortured and held for a year.

The United States won't provide documents, witnesses, or statements from witnesses to the inquiry probing the case of Maher Arar, states a letter from the U.S. Department of State.

Echoing comments made earlier this year by U.S. Ambassador to Canada Paul Cellucci, the letter also confirms U.S. authorities acted alone when they deported Arar to Syria, believing his removal was "in the best interest of the United States."

"Arar's name was placed on a United States terrorist lookout list based on information received as part of an ongoing general sharing of information between the governments of the United States and Canada," says the letter, released by the commission yesterday.

"The United States did not seek the government of Canada's approval or consent prior to removing Mr. Arar from the United States. This decision was made by the U.S. government officials based on our own assessment of the security threat to the United States posed by Mr. Arar."

Arar's lawyer Lorne Waldman noted yesterday what while the letter says they acted unilaterally, it doesn't answer whether Canadian officials were aware of the plans to deport.

"The commissioner is going to have to look very carefully at all the evidence to see if there were Canadian officials who were advised of (the deportation)," Waldman said. "This letter doesn't close that possibility down and if they were advised, they didn't consent, but did they acquiesce by not doing anything."

Responding to his comments, justice department lawyer Barbara McIsaac said no Canadian officials were aware of the U.S. intention to deport Arar.

Commission counsel Paul Cavalluzzo said yesterday he was disappointed but not surprised by the U.S. response, since testimony from American officials could compromise a lawsuit Arar has filed in the U.S. against the government there.

He also said he's confident the inquiry will be able to determine the role of Canadian officials without the help of American witnesses or documents.

The office of the inspector general with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is conducting its own internal audit into the Arar case.

Cavalluzzo hopes to review its findings if the audit is completed before the inquiry delivers its own findings.

Arar's case is often highlighted in the United States as an example of a controversial practise known as rendition, when a citizen is removed to a country with questionable human rights records.

Former Central Intelligence Agency director George Tenet reportedly told senators in a briefing shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, that it might sometimes be better for suspects to remain in the hands of foreign authorities who could interrogate them more aggressively.

U.S. authorities at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport detained Arar, a 34-year-old Syrian-born Canadian, on Sept. 26, 2002, as he was returning home to Ottawa from a visit to Tunisia.

He was subsequently deported to Syria, via Jordan, and held for most of his incarceration in what he described as a "grave-like" cell.

The federal inquiry is hearing information behind closed doors this week from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

A ruling is expected early next year as to how much of that evidence can be made public.


Ambassador gave Syrian information to CSIS
Pillarella 'briefed' on Arar: Report
False confession came after torture

Canada's ambassador to Syria passed sensitive intelligence obtained from Syrian authorities to Canada's spy agency, according to a document made public yesterday at the Maher Arar inquiry.

Franco Pillarella was given a written report and a "verbal briefing of the results of the Syrians' investigation of Arar," in November, 2002. He then passed the information on to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), states a report prepared by the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC), the civilian oversight body for CSIS.

The heavily censored document was made public at the inquiry probing the 2002 detention and deportation of Arar. Arar has said that whatever information he gave Syrian authorities was only to appease them during torture sessions, including the confession that he had travelled to Afghanistan in 1993. He maintains that he has never set foot in Afghanistan.

Details of his false confession were published in the Ottawa Citizen after a reporter was leaked a confidential report, which then prompted a Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigation and included a raid on reporter Juliet O'Neill's home and office.

Yesterday's revelation that it was the former ambassador who provided CSIS with details from Syrian intelligence came as a shock to Arar and his lawyers, who surmised CSIS obtained information from their own agents or RCMP officers.

"My view of external affairs had been that they're there to protect Canadians (and) now we see that in this case the ambassador seems to be meeting with the intelligence to gather information that the Syrians had extracted from Mr. Arar, which Mr. Arar states had been extracted under torture, and bringing that information back to Canada," Arar's lawyer, Lorne Waldman, said yesterday.

Commission counsel Paul Cavalluzzo said last night that Pillarella, who is now Canada's ambassador in Romania, would be called as an inquiry witness.

The report, marked "top secret," also states that MPs Sarkis Assadourian and Marlene Catterall, who travelled to Damascus last year to meet with Arar while he was in custody, were disappointed they hadn't been briefed more fully about "serious security dimensions" of Arar's case before they left.

"Both MPs indicated that had they been more fully briefed in Ottawa, they would have reconsidered undertaking their mission to Damascus," read a passage in the SIRC report that they had obtained from a Department of Foreign Affairs briefing. At the time of the visit, Syrian authorities were preparing to put Arar on trial on charges of belonging to Al Qaeda.

Catterall was shocked by the Foreign Affairs report.

"That's simply not true," she said last night. "There was certainly no thought at any time that I might not have gone to Damascus on that mission. I am concerned that something could be in an official report that simply isn't true."

A spokesperson for the government's legal team said it would be inappropriate to comment on specifics of the Arar case during the inquiry.

"The government of Canada by calling an inquiry has clearly shown a desire to get to the bottom of the role of Canadian officials in the detention and deportation of Mr. Arar," Stephen Bindman said. "The inquiry will be addressing all aspects of this case and witnesses will be called to testify as part of that process."

Arar, 34, a Syrian-born Ottawa resident, was detained in New York on Sept. 26, 2002, on a stopover on his way to Montreal from a family vacation in Tunisia. He was later deported, via Jordan, to Syria, where he said he was tortured for almost two weeks and held in a "grave-like" cell for a year.

One of SIRC's conclusions was that CSIS had no knowledge that American officials were planning to deport Arar.


Arar private hearings start
Counsel confident of probe's outcome

Civil liberties, security are key issues

Despite recent setbacks and delays, the inquiry into the role Canadian officials played in the detention and deportation of Maher Arar is still on track and will have no trouble revealing what exactly happened to the 34-year-old Syrian Canadian.

And the inquiry's findings, to be eventually delivered by Justice Dennis O'Connor, may alter the way the Canadian government investigates potential threats to national security.

That's the confident outlook from lawyer Paul Cavalluzzo, the commission's counsel, who has spent the summer poring over more than 20,000 documents, some hundreds of pages long, submitted to the inquiry by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Foreign Affairs Department, among other governmental agencies.

"It seems to me we are dealing in this inquiry with the most important legal question that is facing liberal democracies today and that is how do we protect national security and at the same time protect our civil liberties. That balance is the crucial one in this century," Cavalluzzo said Friday in an interview from his Toronto office.

Starting today, Cavalluzzo will join federal government lawyers and O'Connor in a secure, undisclosed courtroom in Ottawa to begin the debate that will pit the federal government's requests for the protection of national security against the need for public accountability.

It won't be the first time the seasoned Toronto lawyer has demanded answers from the government.

In 2002, again with O'Connor at the helm, Cavalluzzo was commission counsel at the public inquiry into the tainted water scandal in Walkerton, where at its conclusion, the provincial government shouldered part of the blame for the tragedy.

But this time Cavalluzzo's responsibility during the public inquiry is even more crucial.

"My role in the in-camera hearings is somewhat different than it was in Walkerton and the main reason for that is that the evidence that was given in-camera will only be tested by me and I feel a heavy responsibility to ensure any evidence that the government says is confidential is vigorously and thoroughly tested," Cavalluzzo said. Although Arar and his counsel had argued to be part of the private hearings, O'Connor excluded them, later appointing Ron Atkey, former chair of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, which oversees CSIS, to also participate in the in-camera hearings as the appointed amicus curiae (friend of the court) to help test the government's requests for national security confidentiality.

Arar's lawyers, Lorne Waldman and Marlys Edwardh, have criticized the volume of documents the government is arguing should be private - blaming that censorship for the lengthy delays in the hearing - but are satisfied with Cavalluzzo and Atkey's participation.

"I have complete confidence at the end of the day enough of the documents will be made public to have a meaningful understanding of what happened to Mr. Arar," Waldman said last week.

That understanding, however, will come without the input of at least two important witnesses.

Earlier this summer the Syrian government declined requests to participate in the inquiry.

Ahmed Elmaati, an Egyptian Canadian who also argues that he was detained in Syria and later in Egypt at the behest of the Canadian government, and perhaps provides a crucial link in why authorities investigated Arar, is also unlikely to testify.

His lawyer called the commission a "whitewash," after being denied official standing at the inquiry.

Then there's the participation of the American government. Arar was detained in 2002 in New York by U.S. authorities during a stopover flight from Tunisia to Montreal.

It was U.S. authorities who ordered Arar deported to Syria, via Jordan, after telling him he was suspected of being tied to Al Qaeda.

Arar's case has been highlighted in the U.S. as an example of the government's rendition policies, where terrorism suspects are surrendered to countries with questionable human rights records for questioning.

The commission requested the participation from the American government back in May, but still has not received a response.


Arar blames Ottawa as in-laws interrogated
Wife's brother, father targeted by Tunisian police in 3-hour probe

OTTAWA - Maher Arar and his wife Monia Mazigh are blaming Canadian officials for the recent interrogation of their relatives in Tunisia.

Mazigh said yesterday that on Aug. 3, agents with the Tunisian secret police spent three hours questioning her brother Mourad, who will be one of the witnesses called at a public inquiry probing the detention and deportation of Arar. Escorting him to the country's interior ministry, they asked him questions about Arar, people he knew and his business endeavours, Mazigh said at a news conference.

Just last week, the same officials visited her 75-year-old father to ask about Arar, she told reporters.

"Is this a devised technique to intimidate a witness called to the inquiry?" Mazigh asked.

The inquiry, before Justice Dennis O'Connor, is investigating what role, if any, Canadian officials played in Arar's arrest in New York as a terrorism suspect and his deportation to Syria in 2002. The Syrian-born Canadian was detained for almost a year and endured two weeks of physical torture.

With her husband, lawyer and Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada at her side, Mazigh demanded that the government investigate the new allegations, noting a letter she sent last month to Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan went unanswered.

McLellan, who was in Kelowna, B.C., yesterday, told the Canadian Press that she will look into the allegations that Arar's in-laws were investigated at the behest of Canadian security officials. But she defended the right of the government to share information with other countries.

"The collection of intelligence, its analyzing and its sharing either within this country or within those countries with whom we have agreements, is absolutely key" to the fight against terrorism, she said.

Arar's lawyers also sent a letter last week to Barbara McIsaac, counsel for the justice department at the inquiry. Spokesperson Stephen Bindman said McIsaac will reply in writing to the letter but denied the accusations made by Arar and Mazigh yesterday, saying "the intimidation of witnesses is illegal."

"The government of Canada would never condone such activity," he said.

The public inquiry, which began this summer, will resume behind closed doors Monday with government lawyers arguing against the public release of evidence that could jeopardize national security.

Over the next few months, in the absence of Arar or his lawyers and the public, O'Connor will have to review this evidence, with the help of counsel Paul Cavalluzzo and Ron Atkey, former head of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, and ultimately decide what can be released.

That decision, and the resumption of the public inquiry, may not come until next year.

At the heart of the inquiry is determining in what capacity the RCMP, Canadian Security Intelligence Service or officials with the Department of Foreign Affairs or from other federal departments were involved in Arar's case.


RCMP passed along Arar's name, U.S. says

The name of Ottawa software engineer Maher Arar name was entered on a U.S. border watch list because of intelligence that came originally from Canada, U.S. sources say.

Mr. Arar, who was deported from New York last year to Syria, where he was tortured, was unknown to U.S. law-enforcement agencies until the RCMP passed his name along as a terrorist suspect, the U.S. sources said Friday.

"Arar first came to our attention from information from the Canadian government," a U.S. official who has been closely involved in the case said.

RCMP co-operation with the United States after Mr. Arar's arrest in September, 2002, has been documented previously. But the U.S. officials' disclosure yesterday is the first time the Americans have said the Arar case had its genesis in Canada.

The U.S. sources would not disclose the nature of the information the Mounties passed along. But they said it was of sufficient interest to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. immigration officials for them to place the Canadian man's name on a computerized watch list known as Viper.

Mr. Arar had travelled freely to the United States many times on business. In fact, he had a U.S. visa that allowed him to work in Boston for a computer firm before his name got on the Viper database.

The RCMP would not comment specifically on the U.S. sources' claim that the Arar case originated with the force. But RCMP spokesman Paul Marsh said the force "routinely and lawfully shares information with foreign law-enforcement agencies."

Mr. Marsh reiterated the RCMP's position that any decision to deport the Ottawa man was made solely by the United States.

The Arar case has ignited a political firestorm in Ottawa: MPs, many of them Liberal backbenchers, are demanding a public inquiry into the role of Canadian federal agencies in the 33-year-old man's deportation.

Prime Minister Jean Chrétien has tried to deflect criticism, saying it was a U.S. decision to send Mr. Arar to Syria, a country known to use torture to interrogate prisoners.

The U.S. sources acknowledge that the decision to deport Mr. Arar to Syria instead of to Canada was indeed made in Washington.

But that is only part of the story, they insist.

They say information from the RCMP got the ball rolling. The Mounties continued to work closely with the Americans even after Mr. Arar was arrested at New York's Kennedy Airport 14 months ago.

Mr. Arar was sent to Syria as an al-Qaeda terrorist suspect. He was held in a tiny rat-infested cell for more than 10 months and tortured.

Now home in Canada, he says he has never been involved with the terrorist group. He said this week that he was forced under torture into making a false confession that he had trained at an al-Qaeda camp in Afghanistan in the 1990s.

The U.S. government sources' claim Friday that Canada first raised suspicion about Mr. Arar is consistent with earlier statements by U.S. Ambassador Paul Cellucci. He has said that elements of the Canadian government were pleased that Mr. Arar had ended up in Syria instead of in Canada.

Mr. Arar has never been charged with anything in the United States, Canada or Syria.

The Syrian ambassador in Ottawa, Ahmad Arnous, said last month that even a after a yearlong investigation, his government never had enough evidence to link Mr. Arar to al-Qaeda despite U.S. government claims. "We didn't find complete [or] concrete evidence of his link."

Mr. Arar said he suspected Canadian government complicity in his ordeal right from the start. During his initial questioning in New York, Mr. Arar said, U.S. authorities had private information about him that could have come only from Canada. They even produced a copy of his 1997 apartment-rental agreement to show he knew another Canadian man of Syrian origin, Abdullah Almalki.

Mr. Almalki, who is in Syrian custody, had witnessed Mr. Arar's signature on the lease.

Solicitor-General Wayne Easter, the minister responsible for the RCMP, has resisted demands for a public inquiry. He said the RCMP complaints commission is looking into the matter.

Mr. Easter has said, however, that he is open to the idea of a review of the quality of the intelligence that Canadian agencies share about Canadian citizens with the Americans and other allies.

This is also a question that has troubled officials in the Department of Foriegn Affairs.

"The fundamental issue is the standards that are used here," said Gar Pardy, former head of consular services at the Department of Foreign Affairs. "Particularly the standards when information is transferred between countries. That's the key issue here.

"Nobody is saying that police shouldn't co-operate with one another, particularly given the issue of the bloody world out there. But there is a requirement for standards to be in place," he said.

He argued that that Canadian agencies must place clear conditions on how other countries use the information Canada swaps.

"The standards that you use, with respect to the information that is passed, and the hold you put on that information in terms of its use by another country: That's what you have to look for," he said. "If those two elements are not active in terms of the exchange of information, then you are going to get cases like Arar.

"You do it all the time. These are part of the agreements one works out with foreign governments. And if police are not prepared to place conditions on it, then we've got a problem.

". . . We don't have a lot to bring to the table in these areas other than information about possible Canadian citizens. We're not active internationally in the way the agency or FBI is.

"All of these issues take place in the shadows. It's not something that government stand up and talk about. And there is no question the American agencies have been given a lot more freedom to act in the nasty areas of this business after Sept. 11," Mr. Pardy said.


Handling of Arar could result in charges: Dershowitz

Prominent Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz said Wednesday that the United States broke its own laws by deporting Maher Arar to a country that practises torture and warned that those responsible could face criminal sanction or civil suit.

Mr. Arar, who was born in Syria but emigrated in his teens and took Canadian citizenship, says that he was arrested at New York's Kennedy airport and deported to Jordan and then Syria. Although never charged with anything, he says that Syrian authorities tortured and mistreated him during a year-long imprisonment.

Abruptly released last month and flown home, Mr. Arar on Tuesday broke his silence to denounce his deportation and call for a public inquiry. Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham and Solicitor-General Wayne Easter were quick to dismiss the need for a public inquiry, saying that a review procedure at the RCMP is looking into Mr. Arar's allegations.

Mr. Dershowitz said that Canadians should be furious about this case and that Ottawa should do whatever it can to hold to account the people responsible for sending Mr. Arar into harm's way.

"If that person knew or should have known that he was sending the person to be tortured, he's violated treaties, probably violated criminal statues as well. Clearly there are consequences," he told globeandmail.com from his Boston office. "So far nobody's produced any evidence of guilt, but there has been evidence of torture."

Badgered during Question Period on Wednesday, the government repeatedly brushed aside calls for an inquiry into the Arar case.

Hours earlier, though, University of Toronto professor Wesley Wark, a specialist in security and intelligence issues, said that a full investigation may be crucial to ensure that the public retains its faith in CSIS and RCMP.

"What is at stake, or may well be at stake," he said, "is the whole question of public confidence in the activities of the security-intelligence community. There's a public interest question here and there's a public confidence question here which simply I don't think will go away even if [the government] would like to think it will."

"If it was proved that Canada was complicit in sending him to Syria for no good reason, then there is a question of political and governmental accountability. Careers should be at stake."

Mr. Dershowitz agreed that the Canadian government has a responsibility to take an active role in investigating the case.

"[Mr. Arar] has no standing to raise objections under treaties. Only governments do. So it's up to the Canadian government to file a formal protest with the United States, and I hope they'll do so," he said.

Mr. Wark warned, though, any public inquiry may ultimately show that Canada cannot to hold the United States to its legal and treaty obligations. "Does Canada the clout in the United States to be able to protect its own people?," he asked rhetorically.

Mr. Dershowitz - who raised eyebrows when he argued that torture will inevitably be practised clandestinely during the U.S. war on terror and that it should instead be regulated and controlled under the rule of law - said Wednesday that the habit of farming out torture is "widespread."

"This the paradigm case, where the United States can maintain deniability, but it sends this guy off to Jordan and Syria, knowing that those are two of the countries that excel in torture," he said.

"That way we have clean hands and get the benefit of the information; or, if not, at least the guy is taken care of. What happened with this guy is he came back, and he's appropriately complaining."

An unidentified intelligence source quoted in the Washington Post agreed that the practice is relatively common. "The temptation is to have these folks in other hands because they have different standards. Someone might be able to get information we can't from detainees," the source said.

Mr. Wark was reluctant to rush to judgment but noted that "on the face of it" the case seems "shocking and quite egregious."

"In a way, it's the worst face of the domestic war on terrorism. It seems to show how things can go terribly wrong."