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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Another Canadian history lesson

Cloakofgreencover_1 You may have seen this story in the Globe and Mail: Canada urged to build foreign spying agency.

"Canada has always been dependent on the free intelligence handouts that it receives from its close allies, notably the U.S. and the U.K.," Sir Richard Dearlove, the head of MI6 from 1999 to 2004, recently told a University of Toronto audience.

Huh? "always been dependent"? Okay, maybe the government proper has been dependent, but certainly not everybody in Canada. A couple of weeks ago, I was going over Elaine Dewar's excellent 1995 book Cloak of Green looking for background material on Maurice Strong, the subject of the cover story in the May 8 issue. As I read over the above-mentioned G&M piece, I recalled the following passage from Dewar's book, in the chapter "The Honourable Poor Boy":

By the time Strong got to the part in his story about how he used SNC as a private front for federal government skullduggery in Africa and Quebec it was Saturday afternoon. He had invited me over to his rented house in Aniers, a village outside of Geneva. His house was a plain modern box with French doors opening onto a nice rolling lawn. We sat in his living room. His second wife, Hanne Marstrand, drifted around. She showed little interest in this conversation about SNC and CIDA, as if she'd heard it all before, but it was news to me. I found myself sitting bolt upright. His meaning was quite clear. He had helped create a federally funded but semi-private intelligence/influence network that could have impacts both in Canada and abroad. He later confirmed this interpretation, although he said he had never described it that way before. I was shocked. It had never been acknowledged that Canada had a foreign intelligence or influence capacity outside its embassies. Yet Strong was telling me that he had created one out of virtually nothing. There was no reason to suppose that this network wasn't still running through CIDA and its cousin IDRC: I had reason to believe it was.

So there you go, Sir Dearlove. Canadian foreign spying agency? We already got that covered, at least somebody does, or did, or might have. Uh... actually, maybe we'll try to get back to you on this.

Posted by Kevin Steel on May 4, 2006 in Canadian Politics | Permalink


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we're obviously good at covert operations if no one knows we exist!

Posted by: Ottawa Core | 2006-05-04 10:44:33 PM

As to the issue of an official foreign intelligence agency, see this guest-post at "Daimnation!":

'"Smiley's Canadians?" Not the answer'


Posted by: Mark Collins | 2006-05-05 6:26:06 AM

The book Camp-X covers Canada's covert intelligence network in WW2. Canada trained the Americam OSS which was the predecessor of the CIA.

Canada had a very healthy spy network in South America until , having trained the OSS, the Americans claimed South America to be their baliwick and insisted Canada's spys get out. This from late comers to WW2.

Interestingly, Canadian spooks invented the 'disappearing donkey trick' which involved tying up an explosive laden donkey in front of German/Italian hangouts in Arab towns in the North African campaign and BOOM, you know the rest.

Posted by: Speller | 2006-05-05 7:48:29 AM

At present, Canada's foreign intelligence network consists of electronic Signal Intelligence gathering. Not counting embassies which every nation uses for human intel.

Canada gathers so much SigInt that 90% of it is handed over to the CIA in raw form. Canada is only capable of processing about 10%.

This parallels the CIA's intel posture which has been criticized for not developing enough human intel, which many believe lead to the disaster on 9/11.

Posted by: Speller | 2006-05-05 8:11:54 AM

Speller: As I note in my piece at "Daimnation" CSIS is also engaged collecting "security intelligence" (i.e. counter-terrorism intelligence) abroad. And the Canadian Forces are almost certainly collecting human intelligence abroad relevant to their missions.


Posted by: Mark Collins | 2006-05-05 8:17:11 AM

You're probably right about CSIS, Mark. Although CSIS is mainly like the FBI, domestic security intelligence.

CSIS was created to replace the RCMP intellegence arm after police abuse of intelligence security occuring from October 1970, as well as the infiltration and destruction of the Waffle Party.

Of course all western military services have recon/intel. The digging of wells, clinical operations, building roads/bridges, are used for unit intel gathering in situ. Now we can add UAV gathered intel as well.

Posted by: Speller | 2006-05-05 8:35:35 AM

FYI.Powercorp,Strong's money. has a 2 billion dollar stake in a natural gas field in Iran.Follow the links from powercorp to total s.a. to Iran.Two years ago it was o.k. to kill and torture a canadian journalist.What else will be alright? Machiavelli would bow down.

Posted by: wallyj | 2006-05-05 9:58:38 PM

He obviously should do a Google on "Echelon". Of course he's never heard of Canada's secret spy agency, it's a secret, dummy! :D

Posted by: Kriilin Namek | 2006-05-05 11:05:36 PM

Funny how Strong kept getting all these lucrative positions without even knowing how to use a computer. He's a well-connected guy, that's for sure.

Posted by: Howard Roark | 2006-05-05 11:24:31 PM

Kriilin Namek: CSE is no secret.

It's just that our lazy media keep rediscovering it about every three years, having forgotten all their ealier "discoveries".


Posted by: Mark Collins | 2006-05-06 8:48:08 AM

It always seemed ironic to me that for a socialist anti-Yank liberal government, Canada sure loves the US security sector's ability to spy on its citizens....we hate guns but we seem in love with the US style police force that is armed to the teeth with paramilitary training and weapons....it seems that statists think alike and love the trappings of the police state.

Show me a politician who thinks it is not only immoral but unconstitutional to spy on citizens and I'll show you a principled conservative.

Posted by: Wlyonmackenzie | 2006-05-06 9:39:22 AM

Weasle Strong looks like a bowl of custard and I think his looks (he resembles Beri of Soviet Russia) make people inclined to underestimate him. I found alarming information on this little fellow at Hawkins Cafe -just google David Hawkins - apparently the Mstrong outfit had internet control ideas though a control thing called e-speed. I thank the good Lord for the election of President GW Bush and the nomination of Mr. Bolton to the U.N. everyday. Mstrong is full of pro state slavery ideas and he had HUGE influence in Canada. I also never fail to Bless the Canadian people for electing Stephen Harper and his Conservatives. Thank-you all who voted for our PMSH.

Posted by: jema54j | 2006-05-06 12:49:52 PM

...wonder if these secret organizations are aware of the presence of Chinese and Vietnamese secret agents living and operating in Canada?

These low lifes hassle the local population of the same nationality, either by threats or death. Almost like the Mafia.

But bliss bliss, seems CSIS, RCMP and local cops don't really care about it.

Till this thing blows up literally in their face.

Posted by: tomax7 | 2006-05-06 1:21:13 PM

tomax7: CSIS is well aware.

And this from the CSIS 2003 Public Report:

"Espionage and Foreign Interference
Intelligence services of foreign governments continue to seek information related to Canada’s scientific and technological developments, critical economic and information infrastructures, military and other classified government information, putting at risk Canada’s national security. Adversaries are utilizing new skills, specialized knowledge and cutting-edge technology to acquire their intelligence, challenging the Service to find new and innovative ways to counter these threats. Certain [read China for one] countries also continue to use intelligence services to monitor, manipulate, threaten or exploit expatriates who reside in Canada, despite strong warnings from the Canadian government. Investigating traditional intelligence-gathering and foreign-influenced activities is subtle by nature and consequently resource-intensive, and the Service continues to dedicate substantial resources to countering this threat."


Posted by: Mark Collins | 2006-05-06 1:42:01 PM

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