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Thread: Judge throws the book at RCMP over 9/11 hysteria and Maher Arar

  1. #1
    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Judge throws the book at RCMP over 9/11 hysteria and Maher Arar

    Oh she be pissed right the fuck off..

    Oct. 20, 2006. 01:00 AM
    TONDA MACCHARLES
    OTTAWA BUREAU


    OTTAWA—In a ruling hailed as a victory for press freedom, an Ontario Superior Court judge tossed out archaic sections of Canada's national secrecy law, quashed RCMP search warrants used to raid a reporter's home and office, and left the Mounties' investigation in limbo.

    The ruling by Judge Lynn Ratushny also casts another shadow on the actions of the national police force in the Maher Arar affair.

    Ratushny found the RCMP acted in an intimidating manner when it obtained search warrants to raid the home of Ottawa Citizen reporter Juliet O'Neill in search of the source of leaks that were meant to discredit Arar but ultimately proved embarrassing to the force.

    "The message to all police forces is that you can't use a journalist as your investigative arm," said one of O'Neill's lawyers, Richard Dearden. "You can't interrogate the journalist and tell them, `You're going to be charged', in the hope that you intimidate them into coughing up the source. You can't use a search warrant for that purpose."

    The judge declared as unconstitutional the anti-leak provisions in the Security of Information Act, an integral part of Ottawa's post- 9/11 anti-terror package.

    Those provisions, largely imported from a 1920 British law into Canada's 1939 Official Secrets Act, prohibited the receipt or communication of "secret official" information — a category Ratushny said is too broad, too vague, and criminalizes behaviour that goes to the heart of freedom of the press.

    It uses "a blunt club of criminal sanction (to) restrict freedom of expression including freedom of the press," Ratushny wrote.

    O'Neill said yesterday she was informed of the ruling by her lawyers, who faxed her a copy with a note: "We won, with costs."

    "I was flabbergasted because I wasn't expecting it right now," she said. "I was absolutely thrilled, but I'm not totally relieved because of the appeal period."

    She has reason to be cautious.

    The case has taken on enormous political significance for the RCMP, which is fighting to protect its reputation in the affair.

    A two-year inquiry by another judge last month said erroneous information passed on by the RCMP to U.S. authorities "very likely" led to Arar's deportation to Syria where he was jailed and tortured.

    Ratushny condemned the RCMP's targeting of O'Neill, and said the Mounties gave "no evidence that reasonable alternative measures to discover the source of the leaks had been exhausted."

    Instead, the force raided O'Neill's home and office, and suggested to her she would be charged criminally — an act the judge said was "abusive conduct ...that amounts to an intimidation of the press and an infringement of the constitutional right of freedom of the press."

    It offends the public's sense of decency and fairness and undermines the integrity of the judicial process, Ratushny said.

    O'Neill was "not the focus of the investigation, but instead an after-the-fact casualty of the resolve of some senior administrators in the RCMP to discover the source of embarrassing leaks," the judge found.

    The federal Crown attorney's office, acting for the RCMP, has 30 days to decide whether to appeal.

    In the meantime, by mutual agreement of the parties, the notebooks, computers, files and other seized material stay sealed at least 10 days, after which if the Crown has not indicated its intentions, it all goes back to O'Neill and the Ottawa Citizen.

    Yesterday, Conservative Justice Minister Vic Toews — who in Opposition slammed the scope of the law as overly broad — said the decision on any appeal would be "made on a legal rather than a political basis."

    "I'm quite aware of my past practice," Toews said, when reminded of his recent support for rewriting the law, but said he will wait to see if department lawyers recommend an appeal.

    (Toews, who was then Conservative Opposition justice critic, said at the time: "The way I read the legislation, my fear is that virtually any document released by a civil servant in an unauthorized manner to someone else could then be the subject of a criminal investigation...Certainly never should the scope of the criminal law be this broad."

    O'Neill's story appeared just days after Arar went public, following his return to Canada from Syria, with his tale of torture after being deported by the U.S. to Jordan, then to Damascus. The federal government was coming under intense public pressure to explain the role of Canadian officials in his deportation or call a public inquiry.

    O'Neill's Nov. 8, 2003 story cited a "security source" and a document that referred to information Arar allegedly told his Syrian captors. Justice Dennis O'Connor — who last month completed a two-year inquiry — said the O'Neill leak and others were part of a damage control effort by as-yet unidentified government officials to discredit Arar.

    RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli told a parliamentary committee last month the Mounties want to get to the bottom of the leaks "if we possibly can" but noted the items seized were "held up" by the Citizen's court challenge. He said the investigation was among the force's highest priorities.

    "Those leaks go right to the very heart of what we stand for, those go to the heart of trust in a society. It is deplorable what happened. ...It does not matter who ultimately is found culpable, we will get to that person or people."

    But yesterday, the RCMP said there would be no comment about the impact of the ruling on the current investigation. Sgt. Nathalie Deschenes referred all calls to the federal Justice Department media relations, which in turn referred calls back to the RCMP.

    In a statement, Bob Carty of the group, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, said the ruling is "a major victory for press freedom in Canada."

    "It seems that increasingly the courts are recognizing that to have a healthy media, and thus a vigorous democracy, governments must respects the rights of journalists to protect their sources."

    The NDP's justice critic Joe Comartin said yesterday the investigation into the source of the leaks should continue, but should be done by some force other than the RCMP.

    http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/Con...path=News/News
    Good for her! ALL HAIL THE BENEVOLENT AND LOGICAL JUDICIARY!

    .... AND THE HYPNOTOAD!
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

  2. #2
    Gold Member ohmygoodness's Avatar
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    See, this is why I love the Supreme Court. They ARE the check and balance, and so far I've seen them do a very good job!

  3. #3
    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    Yeah, and it isn't stacked with ideological freaks and religious nuts
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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    Hit By Ban Bus! AliceInWonderland's Avatar
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    WoW thats awesome; let that serve as a lesson to the US

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