Spy agency clarifies torture policy

OTTAWA The top spy at CSIS says it was “unfortunate” that a senior CSIS official got the agency’s policy on torture wrong.

Jim Judd, director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, distanced the spy agency from the testimony of Geoffrey O’Brian, a 25-year CSIS veteran, lawyer and adviser on operations and legislation.

“It’s unfortunate that Mr. O’Brian may have been confused in his testimony,” Judd said.

“I know of no instance where such use of information has been made by our service.”

Judd told the Commons public safety committee the policy of the spy agency is as outlined by the public safety minister.

“We do not condone torture. We do not rely on information obtained by torture,” said Judd.

Earlier this week, O’Brian had said: “Do we use information that comes from torture? The answer is we only do so if lives are at stake.”

Judd said O’Brian was asked to formally “clarify” his testimony for the record, but he would not say whether the government or he, as O’Brian’s boss, ordered the clarification.

But he did say that O’Brian has not been punished or otherwise reprimanded.

O’Brian sent a three-paragraph letter to the committee yesterday saying his testimony “may have provoked some confusion.”

“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,” he said in the letter.

O’Brian then asked that the “clarification be brought to the attention of members of the committee.”

Tonda MacCharles