The costs of spy vs. spy

CSIS might blow our ef­forts abroad if caught by author­i­ties: RCMP

Cape Breton Post - - NEWS• - OT­TAWA

The RCMP is con­cerned new anti-ter­ror­ism leg­is­la­tion might hurt — not help — its se­cu­rity ef­forts over­seas, in­ter­nal notes say.

The Cana­dian Se­cu­rity In­tel­li­gence Ser­vice’s new pow­ers to dis­rupt threats “could in­ad­ver­tently jeop­ar­dize ex­ist­ing re­la­tion­ships” the Moun­ties have fos­tered if author­i­ties dis­cover what CSIS is do­ing, RCMP brief­ing notes warn.

There will be ad­di­tional pres­sure on the Moun­ties to co-or­di­nate with the spy ser­vice so that crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions are not “neg­a­tively af­fected,” add the notes, pre­pared for RCMP deputy com­mis­sioner Mike Ca­bana’s ap­pear­ance at a Se­nate com­mit­tee.

The Cana­dian Press used the Ac­cess to In­for­ma­tion Act to ob­tain the de­tailed doc­u­ments, drafted in ad­vance of Ca­bana’s April 20 tes­ti­mony on the gov­ern­ment’s sweep­ing se­cu­rity bill, known as C-51. The bill, which has since be­come law, ex­plic­itly em­pow­ers CSIS to thwart se­cu­rity threats — go­ing well be­yond its tra­di­tional in­for­ma­tion-gath­er­ing role — by med­dling with ex­trem­ist web­sites, di­vert­ing il­licit ship­ments or en­gag­ing in myr­iad other schemes.

The newly dis­closed notes un­der­score the need for a fed­eral se­cu­rity czar to over­see and di­rect the anti-ter­ror­ism ac­tiv­i­ties of Cana­dian agen­cies that might oth­er­wise trip over one another, said Univer­sity of Ot­tawa law pro­fes­sor Craig Forcese.

“What we’ve done with C-51 is we’ve en­hanced the prospect of traf­fic col­li­sions and road car­nage with­out putting in place the traf­fic-light sys­tem.”

Na­tional se­cu­rity in­ves­ti­ga­tions, es­pe­cially ones with in­ter­na­tional di­men­sions, are com­plex and chal­leng­ing for all par­ties, said CSIS spokes­woman Ta­hera Mufti.

“The Ser­vice has al­ways un­der­stood, re­spected and sup­ported the dis­tinct but com­ple­men­tary man­dates of our var­i­ous part­ners, and is work­ing closely with the RCMP on this as­pect of our re­la­tion­ship.”

The Moun­ties have li­ai­son of­fi­cers in Tur­key, Kenya and Pak­istan — among other places — pur­su­ing crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions of Cana­di­ans who have trav­elled to take part in ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­i­ties in Afghanistan, So­ma­lia and Syria, the in­ter­nal notes point out.

“The RCMP, with sig­nif­i­cant re­la­tion­ships with in­ter­na­tional law en­force­ment agen­cies abroad, is con­cerned that CSIS threat-di­min­ish­ment ac­tiv­i­ties in a for­eign coun­try, if de­tected by the author­i­ties, could in­ad­ver­tently jeop­ar­dize ex­ist­ing re­la­tion­ships on par­tic­u­lar in­ves­ti­ga­tions.”

CSIS and the RCMP have a history of turf wars and lim­ited com­mu­ni­ca­tion, given their com­mon in­ter­ests — but dif­fer­ent man­dates — and the spy ser­vice’s long-stand­ing con­cerns about se­cret in­tel­li­gence be­ing in­tro­duced in open court pro­ceed­ings.

In re­cent years the agen­cies have worked un­der what they call “de-con­flic­tion pro­to­cols” that al­low them to con­duct sep­a­rate in­ves­ti­ga­tions of the same tar­get.

Sgt. Harold Pflei­derer, an RCMP spokesman, said the na­tional po­lice force is con­fi­dent its “strong and co-op­er­a­tive” rela- tion­ship with CSIS will al­low the spy ser­vice to in­ves­ti­gate threats out­side Canada with­out “neg­a­tively im­pact­ing” RCMP ef­forts.

“The RCMP and CSIS are in the process of strength­en­ing pro­to­cols to en­sure the con­tin­u­ing abil­ity to main­tain sep­a­rate and dis­tinct in­ves­ti­ga­tions and in­tel­li­gence col­lec­tion on par­al­lel tracks.”

CSIS and the RCMP work to­gether while main­tain­ing “an ap­pro­pri­ate de­gree of sep­a­ra­tion be­tween the two agen­cies,” said Jeremy Lau­rin, a spokesman for Public Safety Min­is­ter Steven Blaney.

The in­ter­nal RCMP notes say CSIS’s new man­date will mean re­vis­ing the Moun­ties’ na­tional se­cu­rity-re­lated train­ing cour­ses.

The notes also sug­gest that, in the end, the Moun­ties will chart their own course re­gard­less of what the spies do.

The RCMP has a “ro­bust range of dis­rup­tion tools” and con­tin­ues to de­velop its own abil­ity to di­min­ish threats in light of rapidly evolv­ing changes. “Should there be any ques­tions: The RCMP is en­ti­tled to in­ves­tiga­tive in­de­pen­dence and no of­fi­cial may di­rect how RCMP in­ves­ti­ga­tions are con­ducted.”

“What we’ve done with C-51 is we’ve en­hanced the prospect of traf­fic col­li­sions and road car­nage with­out putting in place the traf­fic-light sys­tem.” Law pro­fes­sor Craig Forcese

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