Saturday, December 06, 2003

What the hell is going on here?

The SIS has lost an hour from a videotape of their interview with Ahmed Zaoui.

The whole story is outrageous. The SIS and/or the police interviewed Zaoui shortly after his arrival, taped the interview without telling him (a clear violation of police procedure), and of course failed to inform him of his rights. When queried, they point the finger at each other, and the SIS claims that the tape is classified.

But it gets worse. They deliberaely withhold information from the Inspector-General, and don't tell him that the tape exists (shows how effective that "check and balance" is). Then, when the IG is told, they claim that an hour of the tape's audio is missing, and provide him with written reports. They don't provide the original interview notes, because they've destroyed them.

What the hell is going on here? Do we have the keystone cops for an intelligence service, or is there something they don't want the Inspector-General to know?

For an intelligence service to show such disregard for the evidence they're supposed to be basing their decisions off is shocking. For them to then try and hide their laziness or incompotence from the person appointed to check their decisions is worse. It smacks of a service which believes it is unaccountable, and does not have to justify its decisions to anyone. This simply is not good enough in a democracy...

(I'll ignore their excuses about being unable to hide agent's faces if they provide the tape to Zaoui's lawyers, because that's what they are - excuses. They don't want to provide it, and so they trot out something in the hope that people will stop asking...)

This whole sorry affair has exposed both incompotence and some dangerous attitudes within the SIS. They collect "evidence" by uncritically surfing the net; they "lose" things; they think they are not accountable to anyone, and are actively hostile to any attempts to impose democratic oversight. We don't just need a review of the law - we need a full-on purge to destroy these undemocratic attitudes and bring the SIS back into line.