The Canadian government is no longer using evidence gained from CIA interrogations of a top Al Qaeda detainee who was waterboarded.
According to documents obtained by NEWSWEEK, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the country’s national-security agency, last month quietly withdrew statements by alleged Al Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah from public papers outlining the case against two alleged terror “sleeper” operatives in Ottawa and Montreal.
The move, which so far has received no public attention, is the latest sign of potential international fallout from the CIA’s recent confirmation that it waterboarded a handful of high-profile Al Qaeda suspects in 2002 and 2003.
Asked why the statements from Zubaydah had been dropped from the dossiers against Harkat and Charkaoui, Bernard Beckhoff, a spokesman for Canada’s public safety ministry, which oversees CSIS, said he could not comment on developments in either case because they are both still before the courts. But he then added, pointedly: “The CSIS director has stated publicly that torture is morally repugnant and not particularly reliable. CSIS does not knowingly use information which has been obtained through torture.”
But the development was immediately seized on by human-rights advocates as proof that the Bush administration’s use of interrogation techniques rejected by the rest of the world will undermine counterterrorism cases in foreign courts. “This shows how the United States is shooting itself in the foot in terrorism cases,” said John Sifton, the director of One World Research, a public-interest group that investigates human-rights abuses internationally.