Mike Cabana (alternately Michel Cabana) is a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officer who is most well-known for his role at the centre of the controversy over the extraordinary rendition of Maher Arar by American security officials. Prior to being assigned to count-terrorism Cabana investigated money-laundering. Cabana's subsequent rapid promotion to the RCMP's senior ranks triggered comment. Subsequently Cabana has held senior posts concerned with border security and international liaison. In January 2012 Cabana was appointed the RCMP's Deputy Commissioner for Federal Policing.
Early RCMP career
Proceeds of Crime investigator
Cabana served as an Inspector, assigned to the Integrated Proceeds of Crime section, in Ottawa. His office investigated criminal money laundering.
Role in the murder of Sean Simmons
According to the National Post Cabana had been a frequent handler for an informant named Paul Derry, who told him details about the up-coming assassination of Sean Simmons. The assassination was paid for by a Hell's Angels chapter president, who suspected Simmons had an affair with one of his mistresses. The National Post reported that RCMP officers had Simmons under surveillance, at the time of the murder, but took no steps to prevent it.
- “Should this matter proceed to court, this information will likely be disclosed, thereby tarnishing the force’s reputation, not to mention any potential civil liability that might flow from this situation.”
Derry, who has been assigned a new identity under a witness protection program, wrote a book about the killing.
Role in the extraordinary rendition of Maher Arar
Following al-Qaeda's attacks on September 11, 2001, Cabana was then assigned to counter-terrorism duties, where he was one of the officers responsible for sharing RCMP files with United States security officials. This sharing lead to US security officials capturing Maher Arar, Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad Abou El-Maati, Canadian citizens of Syrian descent. Through a process the US calls extraordinary rendition all three men were sent to Syria, which tortured the men over associations with other individuals who were suspected terrorists. After judicial inquiries in Canada determined none of these men had a genuine association with terrorism the Canadian government apologized to all three men, and offered them multi-million dollar compensation packages.
As the controversy over his rendition became more public American officials, including Secretary of State Colin Powell and Attorney General John Ashcroft claimed that American officials rendered Arar to Syria because they were told by Canadian officials that Canada didn't want him back.
Cabana was called to testify before the inquiry several times. Cabana's account has differed from that of a more senior colleague, Deputy Commissioner Garry Loeppky. Cabana's version is that the RCMP had been directed to cooperate more fully with American security officials, following the terrorist attacks of late 2001, going so far as to drop the assurances they would normally have extracted from the Americans that information provided to them was for background, and would not result in arrest, or harassment. Cabana's more senior colleague's version was that increased cooperation would stop short of requiring the assurances which would protect Canadians who fell into American hands.
Director general of border security
Cabana was promoted to be responsible for border security with the USA in 2006. In March 2006 Cabana, described by Military.com as the RCMP's "Director General of border security", said the Canadian government was working to eliminate "impediments" to working more closely with US security officials. According to Military.com his rank at that time was Chief Superintendent.
In his role as head of border security Cabana was quoted on the dangers posed by illegally imported counterfeit good. He was also quoted explaining the special problems foreign organized crime gangs posed for Canadian border communities.
Appointed Assistant Commissioner
By 2008 Cabana had been appointed one of the RCMP's Assistant Commissioners.
Conflict with Commissioner William Elliott
In November 2007 William Elliott was appointed the first RCMP Commissioner who had not been promoted from within the ranks of the RCMP. Elliott was a career civil servant, who, according to the Globe and Mail had been brought in by the Stephen Harper government "to reshape the force after years of scandal and controversy." He clashed with his senior staff, including Cabana.
December 2011 visit to Afghanistan
- Ottawa hampering Arar testimony: RCMP investigator, CBC News, 2005-06-13. “Supt. Mike Cabana was the head of Project AO Canada, an RCMP investigation looking into possible al-Qaeda activity.” mirror
- Anti-terror probe targeted Arar colleague: RCMP, CTV Television Network, 2005-08-09. “Ottawa engineer Abdullah Almalki was the "main target" of the investigation that evidently led to the deportation and imprisonment of acquaintance Maher Arar, a senior RCMP officer confirmed Tuesday. Supt. Mike Cabana told the inquiry into Arar's case that Almalki and Toronto truck driver Ahmad Abou El-Maati also came under scrutiny following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.” mirror
- Mike Cabana. Integrated policing: towards the future, Canadian Police College, 2003-08-18. “Inspector Mike Cabana is responsible for the Ottawa Integrated Proceeds of Crime Section. He has led many integrated teams in local and international money laundering investigations.” mirror
- Key Mounties in Arar case promoted, cited for merit, Canada.com, 2006-09-28. Retrieved on 2012-05-29. “Also moving on after the Arar case was Insp. Mike Cabana, the officer in charge of Project A-O Canada, the RCMP anti-terrorism unit that conducted the Arar investigation. His investigators conducted surveillance on Arar, alerted Canada Customs to search him at the airport and later shared information about him with the FBI. He later became the criminal operations officer for Quebec and was made responsible for national security and border integrity.” mirror
- Jim Bronskill. UN report criticizes Canada for sharing Arar info, Canadian Press, 2009-03-10. Retrieved on 2012-05-29. “After the meeting, Cabana confirmed he was referring to the Arar file. But he declined to comment further, citing continuing civil litigation stemming from cases tied to the Arar file. "I will not talk about the Arar case," said Cabana, who has risen to the rank of assistant commissioner from inspector when he headed the post-9-11 probe code named A-O Canada.” mirror
- Senior Executive - Mike Cabana, Deputy Commissioner, Federal Policing, RCMP, 2012-04-30. Retrieved on 2012-05-31. “Originally from the Eastern Townships in Québec, Mike Cabana joined the RCMP in 1981 and was posted to Hillsborough, New Brunswick shortly upon graduation from Depot.” mirror
- Geoff Nixon. RCMP accused of failing to stop Hells hit, Canwest News Service, 2009-06-02. Retrieved on 2012-11-07. “Paul Derry is a former drug dealer whose testimony helped send four men to jail for the murder of Sean Simmons, a dockworker who fell afoul of the biker gang's Halifax chapter. It's a case that current RCMP Assistant Commissioner Mike Cabana -- and Derry's closest police contact -- once warned could tarnish the force's reputation were it ever to become public.”
- Gary Dimmock. Ex-Angels informant wants cash to testify again at drug dealer’s new murder trial, Ottawa Citizen, 2012-11-02. Retrieved on 2012-11-07. “Internal Mountie memos show that RCMP assistant commissioner Mike Cabana feared that if the decision not to pursue the tip became public, the force’s reputation could be scarred and a door opened to “potential civil liability.””
- Paul Derry (2009). Treacherous: How the RCMP Allowed a Hells Angel to Kill. Coastal West Publishing. ISBN 9780981240800. Retrieved on 2012-11-07.
- Gary Dimmock. RCMP reputation on line after Ottawa man awarded new trial for 2000 contract killing, National Post, 2012-05-07. Retrieved on 2012-11-07. “In a March 2001 letter to the RCMP, a Halifax police major crimes staff sergeant informed senior Mounties that he knew their officers were there. He also informed the Mounties that his officers’ notes “indicate that one Paul Derry (the informant) had direct conversation with (RCMP) Inspector Mike Cabana (Ottawa), Staff Sergeant Douglas Hayre and Corporal Wayne Williams prior to the death of Mr. Simmons. Also on the day of the homicide, Halifax Regional Police Officers notes state that Corporal Phil Barrett and Corporal W. Williams were in the area of 12 Trinity Ave.””
- 'I am proud of our investigative work', Canada.com, 2006-09-26. Retrieved on 2012-05-29. “At the time, Chief Clement was assistant criminal operations officer for the RCMP's "A" Division in Ottawa and helped select investigators for Project A-O Canada, including the project's officer-in-charge, then-Insp. Mike Cabana.” mirror
- Matt Hillburn. Border crossings, Military.com, 2006-03-23. Retrieved on 2012-05-29. “Chief Superintendent Mike Cabana, director general for border integrity with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, would also like to see something like “ Shiprider ” become a normal way of doing business on the Great Lakes. “This is new territory,” he said. “The laws that are in place were not put in place with cross-border law enforcement in mind.” Cabana added that the Canadian government is currently working on a legal framework that would address “impediments” to working more closely with the U.S. Coast Guard, such as sovereignty, governance, oversight and other issues. The Canadian parliament would have to approve any changes in the law, and Cabana said he hopes that will happen in 2007.” mirror
- Julian Beltrame. Industry lobbies for crack-down on fake goods, Toronto Star, 2007-04-02. Retrieved on 2012-05-29. “"Counterfeit goods seized in Canada now include almost any product you can think of," said RCMP Chief Superintendent Mike Cabana. He said that in Quebec alone, authorities seized over two-and-a-half tonnes of "fake" batteries in 2005, giving dramatic testimony to the committee about the day one counterfeit battery actually exploded on his desk. "It made quite a bang," he said.” mirror
- Border towns face security crackdown, Canada.com, 2007-10-27. Retrieved on 2012-05-29. “The authorities recognize the difficulties as well. "We cannot lose sight of the fact that if we deal with specifics of that area in that way, it just might mean displacement to other areas," said RCMP chief superintendent Mike Cabana, who is in charge of border integrity and who stressed that shared intelligence was the best way to combat the crime.” mirror
- RCMP Commissioner Elliott learned from controversies, CBC News, 2011-08-18. Retrieved on 2012-05-31. “A career civil servant, Elliott faced some controversy during his time in the job. Senior officers criticized his management style and suggested he needed anger-management training. Elliott reorganized his office following the criticism, including demoting then deputy commissioner Raf Souccar, who was among the commissioner's critics.” mirror
- Daniel LeBlanc. William Elliott on remaking the culture of the Mounties, Globe and Mail, 2010-11-08. Retrieved on 2012-05-31. “Mr. Elliott is continuing to work on the task that was given to him in the summer of 2007, after a series of scandals led to the departure of then-commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli. At the time, the RCMP was scrutinized by a series of commissions and inquiries, culminating in the assertion by David Brown, a government-appointed investigator, that the management of the force was “horribly broken.”” mirror
- Assessment underway in RCMP conflict: Toews, CTV News, 2010-07-27. Retrieved on 2012-05-29. “Sources say Deputy Commissioners Raf Souccar and Tim Killam are two of the Mounties involved in laying complaints against Elliott, along with four assistant commissioners: Francois Bidal, Pat McDonell, Mike Cabana and Mike McDonell, who quit in frustration.” mirror
- Police brass visit officers in Afghanistan, RCMP, 2011-12-12. Retrieved on 2012-06-03. ““With eight years of experience in Afghanistan, Canadian police bring an expertise that is valued by their Afghan and international partners,” explains A/Commr. Mike Cabana, officer in charge of the RCMP’s Federal and International Operations. “By helping the ANP build their capacity to fight crime in their communities, our police are helping to reduce the spread of crime to our communities.”” mirror
- Fifteen RCMP employees being invested into the Order of Merit of the Police Forces, RCMP, 2011-06-08. Retrieved on 2012-05-31. mirror