[an error occurred while processing this directive] FactsCanada.ca -- Friday Feature 2000-09Fr -- CSIS -- Canadian Security Intelligence Service -- Part Four
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CSIS -- Canadian Security Intelligence Service -- Part Four.

October 20, 2000.

Another CSIS installment for you. If you have any feedback, we'd love to hear it. Either reply to this message or contact Mike directly at mike@factscanada.com .


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CSIS -- Canadian Security Intelligence Service -- Part Four
By Michael Hora (mike@factscanada.com)


How does CSIS pick its targets and just what qualifies as a target? Although many of its operations are, by their very nature, secret (after all this is a spy organization), it is not too hard to have a go at the spy group and find out just what it takes to get onto their shopping list. After all, they readily advertise just who gets the nod and who doesn't. It is spelled out in their mission mandate as supplied by their upper echelons and under grant of fiat by the federal government. In plain words, their charter defines what is bad and what is good. Where it gets fuzzy though, is how CSIS determines what is bad and what is good. Just who does get to be on their dance card? Do they actually have a glossary of terms that defines what a bad guy or group should do to make them worthy of notice? Can they look up a word such as "seditionist" and beside it find a photo of one? Or do they have to abide by the same rule of law that Joe Canada does?

The quick answer is "no" on both counts. A good case that illustrates this point is to be found in the transcripts of a court case that took place last month in a Vancouver courtroom. Two men, thought to be violent animal rights protesters, were accused of sending mail bombs and razor blades through the post. The intended targets, mostly hunters and researchers, were meant to be killed and or maimed. Instead of the trial proceeding, the two were sent home. They, even in the face of overwhelming evidence, were given a stay of charges, according to the presiding judge. The reason? CSIS officials refused to allow the RCMP to bring forth their evidence on the grounds that it would compromise the CSIS agents working on the case. If the RCMP had introduced their evidence, it would have meant that the agents would have had to testify, thereby blowing their cover and exposing their real identities. How did CSIS manage to get away with this apparent contravention of Canada's evidentiary rules? They simply refused to hand over their files to the Crown prosecutor. The emphasis here should be on the word "Crown". This word refers to the government of Canada, or an agent thereof. You may also know it as "Regina".

CSIS was first brought into being in 1984 as a successor organization to the RCMP divisions used to combat espionage and terrorism. It has a mandate and that means that it has to have rules to follow and that there is a governing body to which it must answer, and it, as a taxpayer-funded organization, must also be subject to the scrutiny of an oversight committee. So far so good, but they don't have to make public any findings by the various bureaucrats to whom they answer. In their mission statement, to which they purportedly adhere, are codicils, or terms, that define what they can do and what they cannot do. They are charged with the task of catching spies, terrorists, and providing counter-intelligence. They are also expected to do their jobs within the limits of Canadian law. This is where the fuzzy areas begin to emerge. The reasoning here, and maintained throughout the force, is that the agency must do things that are illegal, or "extra-legal" as they like to refer to them, in order that they net their prey. They have the power to obtain court orders that are not open to scrutiny by the public even after they are enacted and the results obtained. They did it at the APEC protest in Vancouver several years ago and they just did it in court there last week. To put this in perspective, consider the plight of a reporter who refuses to divulge a source, for fear of compromising it, and is then thrown into jail for contempt of court. The contempt is against the Crown. It is the law and it has been done in this country more than one time. Ask Terry Milewski, former CBC guy at the APEC hearings, about sources being protected while his were compromised. He almost lost his job too.

Back to the question asked at the start of how qualifiers are picked that meet the CSIS criteria for surveillance. CSIS has warned us of "parading malcontents" as recently as August of this year. What is a "parading malcontent" and what does one look like? The news wire service that dutifully reported this, Southam, reports that the CSIS people are warning ordinary Canadians that the "parading malcontent" is likely a member of an anti-free trade group, an anti-globalisation group, or possibly a protester all fired up against multi-national corporations. Is this counter terrorism or is it a political tool wielded clumsily? Are ordinary Canadians being served or are they being served up? Ironically, the CSIS people may be defending the positions of people who may have the ultimate power over them. In the name of free trade there has been access to information litigations launched that will force Canadian Cabinet documents into the open air for a good look by all. It would be a set back to the force if a third party, a member of a trade pact or a third nation, was able to do what a Canadian citizen is unable to do, that being to bring their secrecy into the light. If the challenge to the Cabinet is successful (it is being mounted by a US lumber company) its implementation will have far reaching ripples on the Canadian pond.

So. Back to the profile of a person of interest or a group of interest. Do you know anyone who fits this bill? If you do, warn them. Or better not. They may be agents. You never know.


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See you on Sunday.


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