Csis Essay, Research Paper
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) is responsible for safeguarding Canada against activities or persons who could pose a threat to national security. These threats include terrorists activities, espionage activities or foreign influenced activities in Canada. The CSIS is a civilian Service that gets its roots from the RCMP. While the Service has the ability to use very intrusive powers, it must balance these powers with the rights and freedoms of persons living in a democratic society. This paper will outline the duties CSIS performs and why Canada needs a domestic security intelligence service.
Canada did not always have a civilian security intelligence service like the CSIS. The first sign that Canada needed an organization or agency to collect intelligence was during the late 1930’s between the world wars. It was the RCMP who first assumed this role in 1939 when there was a very small number of RCMP officers involved in monitoring threats to national security. It was not until 1945 with the defection of Igor Gouzenko a Russian cipher clerk did the Canadian government realize the extent of espionage operations going on in Canada. It was from the information provided by Gouzenko that the government realized the extent of espionage activities taking place in Canada. It showed that the Russians were interested in stealing military, scientific and technological information by whatever means possible. Just as the Second World War was winding down the “Cold War” was just beginning for Canada and other western countries around the world. The 1960’s provided new challenges for the RCMP which had created a new section to deal with security intelligence issues. This section became known as the RCMP Security Service. These new challenges included domestic political violence in the form of the Front de liberation (FLQ) in Quebec. The FLQ used bombings, kidnappings and assassination to try and achieve their political objectives. Other issues such as the deployment of nuclear weapons on Canadian soil and foreign influenced activities in Canada required that the government have the necessary information on which to base decisions to counter these growing threats to national security.
The RCMP Security Service continued to fulfil the role of a security intelligence service and came under review by two separate Royal Commissions. The Mackenzie Commission in 1969 and the McDonald Commission in 1977 reviewed the activities of the RCMP Security Service and recommended that a civilian service would be in a better position to carry out security intelligence functions and the RCMP should deal with criminal matters only. Finally, in 1984 the government of the day passed Bill C-157 in June and the CSIS was officially born on July 16, 1984. The CSIS Act also created a Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) which is responsible for reviewing the CSIS and providing an annual report to the government.
THE CSIS MANDATE
The CSIS Act established a clear foundation for the Service and their mandate in which work was to be done. The Act created CSIS as a domestic service fulfilling a uniquely defensive role in investigating threats to Canada’s national security. CSIS provides advance warning to the government as well as government departments and agencies on any activities which may pose a threat to the country. Those departments and agencies have the responsibility to take direct action to counter these threats. Threats to Canada’s security can be found in Section 2 a, b, c and d of the CSIS Act. In brief, the threats that CSIS is responsible for investigating are as follows:
a) Espionage and Sabotage:
Espionage is the acquiring by unlawful or unauthorized means information or assets on sensitive political, economic, scientific or military matters.
Sabotage is any activity conducted for the purpose of endangering the safety, security or defence of vital public property.
b) Foreign Influenced Activities:
This refers to activities detrimental to the interests of Canada which are directed, controlled or financed by a foreign state, organization or their agents. As an example, a foreign government or group who interferes with the affairs of an ethnic community in Canada.
c) Political Violence and Terrorism:
Political violence and terrorism are activities that use the threat or use of acts of serious violence which could compel the Canadian government to act in a certain way. Serious violence involves acts that cause grave bodily harm or death to persons or serious damage or destruction of public or private property. Hostage taking, bombings or threats of bombs, assassinations are examples of political violence or terrorism. The act must have a political objective, (IE) to pressure a government into changing its policies on a certain issue or persons.
Activities intended to undermine or overthrow Canada’s constitutionally established system of government by violence.
In order to investigate and provide assessments on the above threats, the CSIS Act gave the Service certain investigative powers. Section 12 of the Act states the Service can investigate the above as is “strictly” necessary. This could include interviewing people, following suspects and developing confidential sources (persons who work undercover) who can provide information on persons suspected of being a threat to Canada’s security. Section 21 of the CSIS Act allows the Service to obtain a federal court warrant to put wire taps on suspect’s telephones, place hidden microphones in their houses (bugs) and search their houses without their knowledge.
CSIS AND THE SECURITY INTELLIGENCE CYCLE
Outlined above were the duties and powers that CSIS can use to prepare assessments for the government. In order to inform the government CSIS must be able to provide meaningful assessments in a timely fashion. In order to meet the needs of the government, CSIS follows a five phase intelligence cycle.
The first phase in the cycle is government direction. What this means is that CSIS takes direction form the federal government on what the intelligence priorities are, which are given to the Director of CSIS. There is a Government Liaison Unit which CSIS has established that is responsible for maintaining regular contact with government departments in order to obtain their security intelligence requirements. This enables the Service to provide information according to the government’s specific requirements.
The second phase is the planning process. This process begins with the threat assessment phase. Plans are made and are geared towards meeting the government’s security intelligence requirements. CSIS then determines a coordinated approach to meet these requirements. This enables CSIS to use all its resources based on government-approved criteria.
The third stage is the collection phase. CSIS has many ways of collecting information for their assessments. Some ways are through members of the public, foreign governments, technical interceptions of communications which is combined with information from open sources, which could include, newspapers, periodicals, academic journals, foreign and domestic broadcasts, official documents and other published material. The Service uses different methods of monitoring individuals to collect information relating to threats against Canada’s national security.
The fourth stage is the analysis phase. All the information that has been collected by a CSIS investigator in the regional office throughout Canada are sent to CSIS Headquarters in Ottawa. In Ottawa a CSIS analyst organizes all the information into a report and looks at it from a national perspective; then, this information is compiled with other information from other government agencies, other intelligence agencies and open sources. Further analysis on the information is carried out and a final intelligence report is produced.
The final stage in the Intelligence Cycle is the dissemination of the finished intelligence reports or assessments. The Service distributes a variety of reports, including threat assessments to various departments of the Federal Government and law enforcement authorities. The RCMP depends on threat assessments in order to determine the level of security required to protect foreign diplomatic missions and Canadian VIPs. The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade uses these threat assessments to determine the proper level of protection required for Canadian missions and personnel overseas. Transport Canada uses the assessments when considering security concerns for the traveling public.
THE NEED FOR CSIS
In the early years, CSIS devoted most of its energy to monitoring the spying activities of foreign governments. Today, CSIS has focused its attention on public safety through its anti-terrorism program. Terrorism has become a serious issue in the world today. “After a decline in incidents through 1989 and 1990, international terrorist attacks rose by 20 percent in 1991, making terrorism a continuing, direct concern for Canada”. CSIS has made public safety its number one priority since terrorism can greatly affect the safety of the public. Most Canadians can still recall the terrorist attack against an Air India plane in 1985 when it was blown out of the sky by a terrorist’s bomb. CSIS must be in a position to collect information on groups who may be planning similar attacks before they happen and be able to warn the proper authorities such as the RCMP.
Another example of the work done by CSIS and why Canada needs a security intelligence service was described in a recent “Ottawa Citizen” article. The article describes how CSIS collected information on a woman who belonged to the “Kurdish Workers Party” an anti-Turkish terrorist group commonly known as the PKK. CSIS provided this information to a Federal Court Judge who decided she should be deported from Canada. In the article, the Judge commented, “Lies were the norm, and no real truth was forthcoming until the applicant realized just how effective CSIS was in gathering information about her”.
It is seldom that the public ever learns of CSIS success stories as their work is done in secret in order to protect their methods and the sources who provide them with information. Unlike the RCMP, who hold news conferences after making big drug busts in order to ensure the public that they are out their doing their job and protecting Canada from criminals, CSIS can only very rarely do the same thing to demonstrate their ongoing public need. Although a security intelligence service like CSIS can be very intrusive with its powers, it seems given the changing world environment, that Canada must have some method of obtaining the necessary security intelligence information needed to make political policies or counter such violent activities like terrorism. If Canada did not have its own security intelligence service then it would have to rely on other countries for this type of information. This would certainly place Canada in a difficult spot when it came time to make decisions concerning Canada’s national security. Hopefully, the Canadian people will recognize through the few public examples of CSIS’s work and through reading CSIS public reports, the valuable role CSIS plays in protecting Canada from the numerous threats facing it today.