Vanguard Magazine

April/May 2015

Preserving capacity, General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, Keys to Canadian SAR

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Page 47 of 51

for more information about CASIS, including its recent Symposium, please see i inTelligence 48 APRIL/MAY 2015 greg fyff e is president of CASIS and teaches intelligence and strategic thinking at the University of Ottawa. he was executive director of the Intelligence Assessment Secretariat from 2000 to 2008. Who will interrogate returned foreign fi ghters? T he Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture generated acrid debate in the United States over in- terrogation methods. In Canada, coverage was brief. No one here advocates torture as an acceptable ap- proach to dealing with terrorism. Some commentators mentioned the ability of CSIS to consider information that may have been obtained through torture. CSIS needs to make judgments about material it receives because interrogation methods are not necessarily described in reports; it may not be evident that torture was used. How- ever, dubious reporting can mislead investi- gations and harm the prosecution of a case before the courts, so CSIS itself has an in- centive to consider the reliability and meth- odology of reporting from some countries. For Canadians the real signifi cance of the debate is the stress that experts put on the value of interrogations carried out within national and international legal frameworks. Proper interrogations are carried out by skilled professionals who concentrate on establishing trust and empathy with inter- rogees. If this approach is successful the result may be a large quantity of usable intelligence with no moral or legal taint. It can build bridges to communities at risk instead of perpetuating cruelty and hatred. Canada has skilled interrogators in the military and police. Many Canadians watched the video of Detective Sergeant Jim Smyth bringing Colonel Russell Williams to confess to murder. Canada's security and intelligence agencies have deep expertise on global and domestic terrorism. The question now is: do we have the interrogation capacity we need to thoroughly interview Canadians who will return from the violent civil wars and terrorist campaigns in Syria, Somalia and Northern Africa? Returnees may be implicated in war crimes. Most will have an advanced knowledge of weapons and explosives. All will be con- nected to terrorist networks which move potential fi ghters from Canada to confl ict zones, train them, carry out operations, and deal with prisoners and civilian populations. How will we establish if individual returnees have been in- volved in atrocities? Will we be able to gather intelligence through interrogations on continuing networks? Most impor- tant, will we be able to identify, through direct confrontation or third-party information, which of the returnees is intent on leading a terrorist attack within Canada? Interrogators will need to have strong professional skills, a deep understanding of Islam and its violent variations, re- ports on terrorist organizations in confl ict zones and sympathizers in Canada, and an understanding of the Canadian com- munities from which the fi ghters came. This package is a combination of the skills and knowledge possessed by the police, the military, and security and intelligence agencies. A returnees interrogation program would be different from one based abroad, questioning suspect- ed terrorists or prisoners of war. Canadians in Canada would have access to legal protections and counsel. Interrogators might be limited in their ability to make deals in exchange for informa- tion. Using the manipulative and deceptive techniques that are common in combat zones may be prohibited, or simply unwise. If a successful interrogation program is established Canadian police and security offi cials will have the best possible under- standing of which returnees represent a high risk, and which have participated in activities even beyond the horrors of terror- ist combat. We will know which of the returnees poses a minimal threat and can return to their families. It is easy to imagine what failure will look like. do we have the interrogation capacity we need to thoroughly interview canadians who will return from the violent civil wars and terrorist campaigns?

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