CSIS official clarifies comments on agency's use of torture
A top CSIS adviser acknowledged he might have sparked some confusion when he said the agency would use information extracted by torture.
"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."
O'Brian, a lawyer who advises the agency on operations and legislation, outraged many MPs when he told the committee on Tuesday that CSIS would use information extracted by torture.
"Do we use information that comes from torture? And the answer is, we only do so if lives are at stake," O'Brian said.
Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan, who also appeared before the committee on Thursday, said government policy is clear — it doesn't condone torture, nor does it knowingly use information obtained through torture.
"I'm happy to write it down, put it any kind of directive, any kind of memo and continue to restate it in any form."
But Liberal MP Mark Holland, the public safety critic, said he believed O'Brian wasn't confused when he made his initial statement.
"He was very clear over two hours of testimony that there were circumstances where CSIS would use information obtained through torture, and where they would continue to work with countries that we know to be involved with torture," Holland said.
With files from the Canadian Press