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OpenMedia.ca: Digital Journal: What will it take for CSEC spying to spark more outrage?

In this hard-hitting op-ed, George Arthur asks what it will take for Canadians to get answers about out-of-control spy agency CSEC.

Article by George Arthur for the Digital Journal

This is the question I am left with as I consider what it will take for Canadians to demand answers about the true operations of the spy agency that is set to move into the most expensive governmental building in the nation’s history.

According to the careers page for Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), “2014 promises to be an exciting year.” The organization is scheduled to move into “a newly (Read more…)

OpenMedia.ca: The Day We Fight Back

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Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff: That Old Joke

How can you tell a spy is lying to Parliament? Their lips are moving. Or at least I’d assume they were moving while he was telling us that they didn’t conduct mass spying on Canadians, while also defending illegal mass “meta-data” spying on us.

MT @CBCAlerts "#CSIS says they don't have authority to engage in 'mass surveillance' of Canadians" — That's what makes it a crime. #Snowden— John Klein (@JohnKleinRegina) February 03, 2014

UPDATED: PM adviser defends metadata collection by spy agency. Watch live + follow our blog fw.to/woiZpwC #cdnpoli #hw #csec #csis— CBC Politics (Read more…)

A BCer in Toronto: Being a good guy doesn’t excuse Chuck Strahl’s lack of judgment

I don’t know Chuck Strahl, but I’ve always thought he seemed like a pretty good guy, all in all. He certainly has won many friends on all sides of the political fence and in the pundit class, and they were quick to shower him with praise last week when he resigned as head of the federal body that oversees Canada’s spy agency.  They weren’t acting as real friends, though, because real friends tell each other the truth, and there was nothing remotely “ethical” or resembling “the right thing” in the way Strahl handled himself in this affair. Strahl, a (Read more…)

Peace, order and good government, eh?: There’ll be no help from Mary Dawson

Ethics Commissioner Distances Herself From Strahl Complaints

Mary Dawson, the Federal Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner released a statement today distancing herself from recent complaints filed as a result of SIRC Chair Chuck Strahl engaging in lobbying activities for Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines while serving in his appointed function as Canada’s Spy Watchdog.

Commissioner Dawson states: “While we may advise caution in certain circumstances, it is the public office holder’s responsibility to determine how to manage his or her private affairs in a way that does not give rise to perceptions of unethical behaviour, and risk bringing the institution (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Friday Morning Links

Assorted content to end your week.

- Jim Stanford writes about the myth of a labour shortage in Canada: In this context of chronic un- and under-employment, it is jarring that so many employers, business lobbyists, and politicians continue to complain about a supposed shortage of available, willing, and adequately skilled workers. Employers routinely claim they can’t find qualified Canadians to perform even relatively straightforward jobs. They can’t entice Canadians to move from depressed regions, to areas with jobs. They can’t elicit desired levels of effort, discipline and loyalty.

According to this worldview, the biggest challenge facing our labour market (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: For What It’s Worth

There’s something happening here What it is ain’t exactly clear There’s a man with a gun over there Telling me I got to beware

Paranoia strikes deep Into your life it will creep It starts when you’re always afraid You step out of line, the man come and take you away

For What It’s Worth – Buffalo Springfield, January 1967

After reading this post by Alison at Creekside, and this one by Doctor Dawg, both dealing with Chuck Strahl and CSIS, and the latter’s collaboration with Enbridge in spying on Canadians exercising their democratic rights, please enjoy the entire song:

(Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Wednesday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your mid-week reading.

- Thomas Walkom points out that many Canadians can expect to lose jobs without any social supports due to the Cons’ focus on political messages over real-life impacts. And Blake Zeff offers a reminder that while progressive economic policy may be receiving more attention over the last year, it’s always been extremely popular among the public (even as it’s been ruled out by policy-makers who focus primarily on serving corporate interests): Way back in 1992, President Clinton ran an explicitly populist campaign, telling voters, “The rich get the gold mine and the middle (Read more…)

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- George Monbiot criticizes the UK Cons’ latest effort to outlaw any form of individual action or expression which might intrude upon the corporate bubble: The existing rules are bad enough. Introduced by the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act, antisocial behaviour orders (asbos) have criminalised an apparently endless range of activities, subjecting thousands – mostly young and poor – to bespoke laws. They have been used to enforce a kind of caste prohibition: personalised rules which prevent the untouchables from intruding into the lives of others.

You get an asbo for behaving (Read more…)

OpenMedia.ca: Toronto Star: Independent Investigation of CSIS oversight is needed

This hard-hitting piece by Professor Michael Geist argues for a full, independent investigation into CSEC’s spying activities. As Parliament is set to resume shortly, the time has come for MPs to take a far greater interest in what our security services are doing in our name.

Will 2014 be the year when our out-of-control spy agency is finally reined in? Call for an end to all illegal spying on Canadians at https://OpenMedia.ca/CSEC

Article by Michael Geist for the Toronto Star

Months of surveillance-related leaks from U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden have fuelled an international debate over privacy, spying, and (Read more…)

Peace, order and good government, eh?: It’s business as usual at CSIS

The Postmedia article reporting it describes it as part of a shakeup in the ranks, but the announcement that Michel Coulombe has been formally named as director at CSIS looks like more of the same to me.

Five months ago, when Richard Fadden was moved over to the DND, Coulombe became interim director after serving with the agency for over twenty-five years. He got some press a few years back when he appeared before a parliamentary committee investigating the treatment of Afghans detained by Canadian Forces and subsequently transferred to Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS). He essentially confirmed what (Read more…)

Peace, order and good government, eh?: "a substantial substitute for full disclosure"

Is there a precedent in the making here?

A lawyer for the federal government argued before the Supreme Court of Canada yesterday that there is such a thing as “a substantial substitute for full disclosure” and that the security certificate process, as currently constituted, meets that standard. So when someone like Mohamed Harkat is accused of being a terrorist but is denied knowledge of the specific evidence against him or the sources on which that accusation is based, the federal government believes this “satisfies the principles of fundamental justice.” Whatever happened to the right to face your accuser?

If (Read more…)

Montreal Simon: General Alexander’s Scary Star Trek Fantasy

He is the man most responsible for taking the surveillance state into a new and even more sinister Orwellian age. The General who while working in Iraq decided that instead of just monitoring terrorists and suspects he should monitor EVERYONE. And as the head of the National Security Agency is now doing the same to us.But who knew that Keith Alexander had turned his Information Dominance Center into a Star Trek fantasy? Read more »

The Disaffected Lib: Why PRISM Matters

The Guardian has done an excellent and vital job digesting the U.S. National Security Agency PRISM data leaked by Edward Snowden.  A good deal of it had come out, in part, in dribs and drabs but it was the British newspaper that put it all together in chilling context.

It’s partly a warning about our governments spying on us and why.  It’s also a warning of  what they might have in mind for us in the future.   They foresee unrest and potential upheaval in the future from climate change impacts.  Theirs is a world in (Read more…)

Peace, order and good government, eh?: Why should CSIS have all the fun?

We learned recently that the policy framework which allows CSIS to trade in information that might be the result of torture, or might lead to torture, or both, was actually a collaborative effort involving several federal agencies and departments. Now we have confirmation that CSEC is playing by the same rules.

The Harper government has quietly given Canada’s electronic eavesdropping agency approval to exchange information with foreign partners even when it may put someone at risk of torture.

Communications Security Establishment Canada is following a federal policy on the risks of ill-treatment when sharing information with other countries, says Ryan (Read more…)

Peace, order and good government, eh?: A bunker-style session

Colin Freeze has a piece in the Globe and Mail reporting on an unprecedented session of the Supreme Court of Canada scheduled to take place on Oct. 11th of this year. The hearing will take place in a secure, undisclosed location and will involve lawyers who have been sworn to secrecy. Most of us will probably never know what happens in that room even if events there become the basis of rulings that affect us. It’s all part of Mohamed Harkat’s challenge of the Security Certificate that has turned his life upside down for eleven years.

Why the secrecy? Why (Read more…)

Peace, order and good government, eh?: A group effort

A year ago last March, I took Vic Toews to task for granting CSIS the authority to trade in information derived from torture. In that post, I described a scenario in which the torture of one, possibily innocent, person of interest could easily lead to the torture of additional, possibly innocent, persons of interest. And all that could happen on the authority of the CSIS Director or a deputy minister and with no accountability.

It turns out that Toews didn’t dream up that policy all on his own.

Canada’s highly secretive electronic eavesdropping agency helped develop a federal directive that (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Attempted Terrorist Attack at BC’s Victoria Legislative Buildings Foiled.

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

RCMP foiled an attempt to detonate pressure cooker bombs that were about to be set off at the BC Legislature. The attempt could well have resulted in fatal results as it was set to explode while large crowds were attending Canada Day celebrations..

Two Surrey residents, John Stewart Nuttall and Amanda Marie Korody had prepared the that were bombs similar to those used at the Boston Marathon bombing attack.

CSIS agents had been tracking the pair for several months feeding the needed intelligence to the RCMP.

The BC Legislature was targeted and could have resulted in fatal results (Read more…)

Politics and its Discontents: Is Our Freedom More Illusion Than Reality?

That is a question you may be prompted to ask yourself after reading this piece by Kevin Logan and watching the video below. Described therein are the measures and efforts designed to realize what I suspect is Mr. Harper’s fondest dream: a compliant, unquestioning, ‘disciplined’ and very passive populace, not surprisingly the same goal of the corporate agenda.

Recommend this Post

Cowichan Conversations: Yes Mildred, The Government Is Spying On You!

Richard ‘Hub’ Hughes- Political Blogger

Many of you have heard of how the Americans spy on their own citizens. Certainly you have heard about the 29 year old CIA computer guy Edward Snowden who saw the grave threat to democracy in America as so significant that he blew the whistle.

He could no longer stomach the government’s undemocratic freedom threatening behaviour.

Snowden is now hiding in Hong Kong as the US government freaks out about traitors in their midst.

On the other hand they are making a mockery out of their celebrated freedoms through the chilling realities of the gross invasion into the (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: There’s A Man Going Round Taking Names

Politics and its Discontents: But MacKay Is A Man of His Word, Isn’t He?*

So I am sure there is nothing to get alarmed about with this revelation.

* Well, I suppose some would disagree. Recommend this Post

Peace, order and good government, eh?: Holding CSEC to account isn’t enough to protect our rights

Open Media, with support from Leadnow, has begun a campaign to demand answers from the Harper government about exactly what kind of information our national signals intelligence agency is gathering about us. While it’s certainly worth trying to get answers to Open Media’s questions, let’s not lull ourselves into thinking that will be enough to protect our privacy.

The National Security Agency (NSA), the primary signals intelligence agency in the U.S., has been in the news since a whistle-blower, who has since revealed himself to be Edward Snowden, began leaking information to journalist Glenn Greenwald. Theoretically, the NSA (Read more…)

Alberta Diary: The Doctor of Panama: a strange tale of Harperite politics and national security

Positive vetting? Where’s George Smiley when you really need him? Not in Canada, by the sound of it. Below: Dr. Arthur Porter with his former pal Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Globe and Mail photo).

It’s almost bizarre, and almost certainly driven by political expediency, that no one seems to have so much as commented on the serious security implications posed by Arthur Porter’s troubles with the law.

Dr. Porter, as is by now well known, is the former head of what’s constantly referred to in journalistic shorthand as “Canada’s spy agency watchdog,” the federal Security Intelligence Review Committee.

But (Read more…)

Peace, order and good government, eh?: Abdelrazik’s still looking for answers

Abousfian Abdelrazik has decided that if the Canadian government refuses to disclose information about its actions, he’ll have to ask someone else. Like Sudan.

A Montreal man who believes Canada’s spy agency had a hand in keeping him behind bars in Khartoum is pressing the Sudanese government for documentation about his case.

Abousfian Abdelrazik, flanked by about a dozen supporters, hand-delivered a letter Monday to the Embassy of Sudan in Ottawa seeking records that might reveal the full role Canada played in his ordeal.

He hasn’t been left with many other options. Much of the documentation the government has produced (Read more…)