|CSIS director Jim Judd outside the Ottawa headquarters in 2005|
Much has been happening within Canada's prime intelligence agency, the "Canadian Security Intelligence Service" or CSIS. It has been granted increased powers for preemptive strikes against threats to the "True North Strong and Free" nation that lies just north of the U.S.
The spy agency had a unique beginning. In 1984, the Government of Canada passed an Act of Parliament for the creation of a civilian security intelligence service. This legislation not only gave birth to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), it also clarified the differences between security intelligence activities and law-enforcement work, bringing to an end the 120-year interlocking of Canada's security intelligence service with the federal police force.I find this unique legislative clarification of the differences between counterintelligence and law enforcement a useful tool, one which the U.S. should study intensely. There has always been a rift between the law enforcement and counterintelligence cultures within the U.S. and it has led to a less effective homeland security establishment.
Enjoy these recent happenings with the Canadian intelligence establishment:
Anonymous releases hacked top-secret Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) document after member’s death, threatens to leak ‘stunning secrets’ about the foreign activities of Canada’s spy agency, the size of its network of foreign stations, the volume of sensitive communications they handle and their deeply antiquated system of information sharing. Anonymous hacked a top-secret government document and released the info on Monday in a vendetta against Canadian authorities.
|The majority of Canadians want more oversight on the new CSIS powers|
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service has been granted new powers and is doing more than simply catching up to its allies. With its new powers, CSIS could take measures, at home and abroad, to disrupt threats when it had reasonable grounds to believe that there was a threat to the security of Canada. "Intelligence services in most of Canada's close democratic allies have had similar mandates and powers for many years."- Public Safety Canada backgrounder on proposed anti-terrorism bill, January 2015.
~The federal government has abandoned its high-profile appeal to the Supreme Court on overseas spying by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. The court agreed last February to take the case after federal lawyers argued for guidance on whether CSIS needed a warrant to seek allied help in spying on Canadians abroad.
~The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) relied on no-torture 'assurances' from foreign agencies. Newly released memos show Canada's spy agency, the CSIS, revealed its interest in people to foreign partners in two cases after receiving assurances the individuals would not be tortured- a practice human rights advocates say shirks the law and puts vulnerable detainees at risk. In one case, the CSIS got the green light from a high-level internal committee to interview a Canadian detained abroad as long as captors gave "proper assurances" the person would not be abused, the CSIS documents say.
~Canada’s Communications Security Establishment (CSE) claimed that its signals intelligence agency was not hit by a cyberattack on Thursday, saying its website was “functional and accessible” all day. A spokesperson for the CSE said the agency’s website was not offline at all.
~Most Canadians want the heavy-handed Anti-Terrorism Act repealed. The act received royal assent last month and involves a lot more than housekeeping. It puts Canada on a slippery slope, some say, and allows information-sharing on a scale that dwarfs what CSIS and CBSA appear to have been contemplating. Many believe it is a threat to civil rights and has been roundly decried by former prime ministers, former Supreme Court justices, the Canadian Bar Association and civil libertarians.
Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. is a member of the Association Of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) and writes about the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC). He is author of the spy series "Corey Pearson- CIA Spymaster in the Caribbean."