Yes, no, maybe

March 31, 2009Geoffrey O’Brian, a CSIS lawyer and advisor on operations and legislation, under questioning by the public safety committee, admitted there is no absolute ban on using intelligence that may have been obtained from countries with questionable human rights records on torture. He said it would be extremely rare but in a circumstance as grave as the 9/11 attacks or the Air India bombing, the executive branch has a “duty” to protect the security of its citizens, even if such information can “never” be used in a court proceeding.

April 1, 2009Peter Van Loan said the Canadian Security Intelligence Service has been clear about rejecting information extracted through coercion. “As a practical matter, they get intelligence from all kinds of sources, a myriad of sources. An important part of their process is to try and identify how credible that is,” Van Loan said Wednesday. “If there’s any indication, any evidence that torture may have been used, that information is discounted.”

April 2, 2009“I wish to clarify for the committee that CSIS certainly does not condone torture and that it is the policy of CSIS to not knowingly rely upon information that may have been obtained through torture,” Geoffrey O’Brian wrote in a letter to the House of Commons public safety committee Thursday. CSIS Director Jim Judd, who appeared before the committee on Thursday, also said O’Brian “may have been confused” in his earlier remarks. “My supposition is that he was venturing into a hypothetical.”

TodayCSIS will share information received from an international partner with the police and other authorities “even in the rare and extreme circumstance that we have some doubt as to the manner in which the foreign agency acquired it,” say the notes prepared for use by CSIS director Dick Fadden. The notes say that although such information would never be admissible in court to prosecute someone posing an imminent threat, “the government must nevertheless make use of the information to attempt to disrupt that threat before it materializes.”