Tuesday, January 07, 2014


Curious word, that.

Once upon a time spy agencies were tasked with monitoring legitmate defence-related threats, say the Soviets and their allied and proxy forces, armed insurrectionists in Canada and abroad (e.g. FLQ, armed Aboriginal groups, Islamist terrorists), or Canadians in the habit of trading defence secrets to enemy powers. Part of how this game was played would have involved adherence to Canadian and international law. An allowance might be made for rare but ultra-secret and calculated breaches because that's also part of how the game was played. Don't get caught.

Since 9/11 the spooks have gone from a small and more or less under the radar business to a Five-Eyes multinational corporation complete with a shiny massive campus-style corporate HQ. The very serious business of protecting Canadians and our interests, which normally involve preventing global nuclear war or stopping Quebec nationalists from blowing up parliament or some radical Islamist a GO train, has swelled into a Walmart operation of cheap snooping on everyday citizens and residents. People, as it happens, with no interest in anything other than maybe objecting to the idea that their coastline and oceans might be slimed in Alberta bitumen bound for China because some helmsman at the wheel of gargantuan ship turned too late coming out of Kitimat and sailed into an island.

The spies are fat and dumb. 9/11 changed it all, I suppose. It consolidated the Anglosphere allies to the point where their military forces and spy agencies are effectively the same organisation. Snowden revealed the intelligence sharing between them is virtually seamless. The British and the American military and security forces are now so identical that even their troops (probably soon ours too - ahem CSOR) now wear the same corporate trademarked camouflage pattern. This isn't the quaint-sounding "interoperability" often spoken of. This is a full-on corporate merger.

Their mandate, at least in Canada, has also considerably expanded. As I stated in my last post the next merger, now well and truly advanced, is between the Conservative Party, the corporate [energy!] sector, and the security services.

Further, the careful, calculated, truly incidental rule-breaking of yesteryear is now a routine tactic to get around domestic law in cases where outright lying to the courts or Odaing a warrant or document won't do. Simply pass it off to another 'department' (GCHQ, NSA, etc), law be flouted. Like all massive mergers, the resulting organisation loses the unique skills each agency had as the the talent pool becomes diluted and conformity for "interoperability" reasons is stressed (F-35, anyone?). High-grade alloy gets replaced with cheap plastic and work is outsourced. Incestuous group-think sets in. Dissenting voices are discouraged and careerism is emphasised, to the point I'm sure where none will notice when the bit about allegiance to "Queen Elizabeth the Second and all her heirs and successors" is replaced with the "Conservative Party of Canada and all its now and future designates and manifestations" in their swearing-in oath.

So where does this spy-drama lead, incidentally?

In Canada, it effectively conflates a political party, the intelligence services, and the corporate sector and positions them at odds with a potential majority of Canadians. Today's data gathering capabilities the intelligence services, as the Snowden files reveal, would make the most skilled Stasi analyst weep and twitch with envy. No good has ever come from this kind of thing and a lot of good people end up suffering.

Abroad, it situates Canada well within the far-flung anglosphere, which in turn is pitted against heretofore friendly states such as Germany and Brazil that were subject to unprecedented intimate spying by the USA and it its allied toadies. The long-term implications of this remain to be seen, but could very well lead to new security and perhaps economic alliances between non-UK Western European states and those in South America. After all, Canada spied on the Brazilians too, mostly for Bombardier and giggles it seems.  Give it ten or fifteen years, and without a course change, the world will see a Euro-Latin American power centre in addition to China and Russia, and an untrusted heap of English-speakers congealed around a morbidly dysfunctional USA to which Canada is petro-state worked by the cheapest available labour from around the globe.

The USA, Canada, and now thanks to Abbott, Australia, are also some of the highest per capita emitters and most intransigent when it comes to addressing climate change. Not that this matters. Incidentally.

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