Thursday, May 19, 2011

North American Intelligence Security Perimeter

CBC, via WikiLeaks :

SECRET 2/10/2009
Subject : Visas Viper : The "Toronto 18" as candidates for Visas Viper Program

SUMMARY At Embassy Ottawa's monthly Visas Viper meeting on September 09, 2009, a list of 27 indidivudals (sic) who were involved in the so-called "Toronto 18" conspiracy, a plot to engage in terrorist activities in the Toronto metropolitan area, was submitted for consideration. All of these individuals are watchlisted in the Consular Lookout and Support System (CLASS). Post is submitting their names to be included in the Visas Vipers program.
The Visas Viper program is the entry level into US terrorist watchlists.

Pogge, yesterday : Apparently we need to hold the Arar inquiry all over again
"The Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Canada's principal intelligence agency, routinely transmits to U.S. authorities the names and personal details of Canadian citizens who are suspected of, but not charged with, what the agency refers to as "terrorist-related activity."

In at least some cases, the people in the cables appear to have been named as potential terrorists solely based on their associations with other suspects, rather than any actions or hard evidence."
Evidently even working as an undercover police informer busting terrorists will get you on that list.
In addition to the Toronto 18, the embassy cables name nine others.
Among those nine names is Mubin Shaikh.

Mubin Shaikh, a Canadian Muslim, was recruited by CSIS in 2004 to infiltrate possible terrorist groups.
Shaikh infiltrated the Toronto 18, secretly taping them and setting up the RCMP sting resulting in their arrest.
He testified against them at their trial as the Crown's star witness. Without him there would have been no trial, no convictions.
And now he's in the US terrorist database.

I'm sure other Canadian Muslims will be really keen to help CSIS out now.

So did CSIS put their own mole on that list? Or do they just have no autonomy at all over their own data.

“Clearly it’s a mistake,” Mr. Shaikh said in an interview. He argued that most people who are on watch lists belong on the lists, and that he has “compete confidence” in Canada’s ability to safeguard intelligence sources.
Good for you. I don't.

Yesterday CSIS gave a damage-control response to breaking news of their continued handing over of Canadian names and personal details to US watchlists :
" ... any decision to hand over names is the result of a detailed process, in which an individual's threat level is assessed by a committee of Canadian security officials, including a senior executive at CSIS.

Lawyers from the Department of Justice also participate, and often a representative of the RCMP.

As part of the process, someone plays the part of devil's advocate, challenging the information gathered on the individual being considered.

Even then, said the official, the decision to hand over a name to the Americans is subject to written ministerial directives and internal CSIS policies.
None of which explains how Mubin Shaikh got on there.
But as Evan Dyer pointed out during RCMP Commissioner Zaccardelli's grilling about Maher Arar four and a half freakin' years ago, all that rigorous bureaucratic bullshit doesn't mean fuck all if US security forces are already physically present in the room when "persons of interest" are being discussed at INSET meetings.

INSET, the Canadian Integrated National Security Enforcement Teams, are the Canadian counter-terrorist forces comprised of CSIS, the RCMP, Border Services, and other security groups. They handled both the Arar and Toronto 18 cases.

As Pogge put it : "Our "principal intelligence agency" doesn't work for us; it works for American intelligence agencies."
"We don't want another Arar," said the security official. But at the same time, he said, CSIS is acutely aware that if it did not pass on information about someone it suspected, and that person then carried out some sort of spectacular attack in the U.S., the consequences could be cataclysmic for Canada.
U.S. authorities, already suspicious that Canada is "soft on terror," would likely tighten the common border, damaging hundreds of billions of dollars worth of vital commerce.
So we're just haggling about the price of our sovereignty and Charter rights then.
Or, as most of the WikiLeaks-released Ottawa Embassy cables usually sign off :

"Visit Canada's North American partnership community at /"

Yeah. Thanks. How's our security perimeter coming along?

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