Saturday, April 24, 2010

Return of the Combating Terrorism Act

Your government announced yesterday, on a Friday just before the playoffs, that it needs more powers to combat terrorism.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson : "These provisions are necessary to protect our country from the threat of terrorism."

A redo of the panicky now defunct Anti-terrorism Act of 2001, the new Combating Terrorism Act includes preventive arrest and forcing people to testify at secret hearings about terrorist acts that might happen in the future, and if you don't like it you can go to jail for up to a year with a judge's option to extend.

There are more safeguards included this time round - you can have a lawyer! at any time! - which will only allow the Libs to go along with it so as not to be painted as soft on terrorism. Mark Holland, Liberal critic for Public Safety and National Security, already looking to cave.

The argument in favour of anti-terrorism legislation is that criminal law only deals with crimes already committed. What to do about people who feel that crimes perpetrated by the state against their people require a response like blowing things up?

The argument against it is ... well, let's look at how they're doing with the laws they've already got.

The federal government case against Ottawa terror suspect Mohamed Harkat appears to have suffered a significant blow Wednesday when a document was introduced in court showing that Abu Zubaydah, once considered a master terrorist and 9/11 mastermind, actually had nothing to do with the attacks.

Even more surprising, the document, which quotes U.S court filings declassified last week, shows that Zubaydah, once believed to be one of the top leaders in al-Qaeda, was not even a member of the terrorist group.

The unfortunate Mr. Zubaydah got waterboarded 83 times in the US, coughed up Harkat's name, and the Canadian government obligingly held Harkat for 3 1/2 years.
A clue about the reliability of Abu Zubaydah's "testimony" might have been found in his confession to terrorist acts committed after his imprisonment, but sadly, no, it wasn't.

Abdelrazik? "Closely associated" with the same hapless Abu Zubaydah.
Result? Abdelrazik was tortured, then exiled in Sudan for six years. Still on the UN's 1267 terror list, and the Canadian government has frozen his bank account and he can't work.
Help him get off that list? Blow me, said Minister of Public Security Peter Van Loan and Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon.

Maher Arar - the first inkling for many of us that something had gone terribly wrong.
Adil Charkaoui - in custody 21 months, now free.
Hassan Almrei - in custody for 8 years, now free.
Mahmoud Jaballah - in custody for 6 years, now free.
Mohammad Mahjoub - in custody for 7 years, freed, requested return to jail in 2009 to protest bail conditions worse than jail.
Benamar Benatta - rendered to US for 5 years
Ahmad El Maati, Abdullah Almalki, Muayyed Nureddin

And then there's the ever-expanding definition of just what constitutes terrorism.
According to Jason Kenney's "infandous" Mr. Velshi, George Galloway's proposed visit to Canada last year to give a speech entitled "Resisting war from Gaza to Kandahar" was sufficient for him to prevent a sitting British MP already on tour in the US from entering Canada on the grounds he is "a terrorist supporter".

Nothing about these vile clowns inspires any confidence in their wanting to accrue more secretive powers to their already abused arsenal of abominations.

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