Tag Archives: CSIS

Anonymous Leaks Documents, Says Stephen Harper Tried To Spy On Barack Obama

Leaked documents from the hacker group Anonymous appeared to reveal the breadth and scope of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) surveillance network. In this photo, a vehicle passes a sign outside the CSIS headquarters in Ottawa November 5, 2014. Reuters/Chris Wattie

Leaked documents from the hacker group Anonymous appeared to reveal the breadth and scope of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) surveillance network. In this photo, a vehicle passes a sign outside the CSIS headquarters in Ottawa November 5, 2014. Reuters/Chris Wattie

IBT Media

Hackers affiliated with the Anonymous group leaked confidential Canadian intelligence documents Tuesday, revealing the country’s spying activities abroad. The documents exposed the widespread reach of the surveillance network operated by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).

Officially, CSIS only operates three foreign stations — in Washington DC, London and Paris — but the leaked document marked as “secret,” purportedly from the country’s Treasury Board, lists a total of 25 foreign stations, “many of which are located in developing countries and/or unstable environments.”

The stations handle about 22,500 messages a year, though that does not include “the high volume of extremely sensitive traffic from the Washington station,” the February 2014 document stated.

The classified document also includes a plan to expand CSIS’ intelligence network at a cost of approximately 3 million Canadian dollars ($2.3 million). The document criticizes the “inefficient and labor intensive data-processing and analysis systems [used] to process and report intelligence information obtained at it foreign stations. … These outdated processes result in delays that impact the Service’s operational effectiveness and jeopardizes the security of its personnel.”

The hacker group also posted a video alleging that the Canadian Communications Security Establishment (CSE) attempted to spy on U.S. President Barack Obama under the orders of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and, when caught, endangered the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Alberta in Canada through Illinois, Texas and Oklahoma. There was no proof posted for this claim.

The documents and the video were put up after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police failed to comply with a previous deadline issued by the group, calling for the arrest of one of its members purportedly involved in the shooting last week of a British Columbia man who was allegedly an Anonymous affiliate.

In the video, an Anonymous member said that the latest leaks were the first of many to come in the near future.


“There is info … that’s explosive, we think, but we are not providing source documentation on that now or ever. If we did, someone would be in a police party van within 15 minutes,” the unnamed member says in the video.

“Canadian security forces and their Five Eyes partners in New Zealand, the U.K., Australia, and the U.S. have been extremely pro-active in developing and purchasing offensive hacking capabilities,” he adds.

“Fortunately for us, Canada has been far more lax in defending its own systems.”


Canada’s Police-State Bill Passes Final Parliamentary Hurdle

the Senate is seen in this file photo from Thursday, Nov. 24, 2011. (Adrian Wyld / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

the Senate is seen in this file photo from Thursday, Nov. 24, 2011. (Adrian Wyld / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

By Roger Jordan and Keith Jones

With yesterday’s ratification of Bill C-51 by the Senate, the Conservative government’s police-state legislation requires only royal assent in the form of the Governor-General’s signature to become law.

Framed by Stephen Harper and his Conservative government as an anti-terrorist measure, Bill C-51 dramatically expands the powers of the national security apparatus to spy on and suppress opposition to the ruling elite’s agenda of austerity and imperialist aggression.

Bill C-51 will empower Canada’s Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) to break the law and violate the Canadian constitution’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms in “disrupting” what it deems to be threats to Canada’s economic and national security, territorial integrity or constitutional order.

Under this “disruption power,” CSIS could break into properties, seize documents and other materials, tamper with bank accounts, press employers to fire “national security” suspects, forcibly detain them, or subject them to psychological torture. The only “dirty tricks” CSIS is expressly banned from mounting are those that would cause someone bodily harm, kill them, or impugn their “sexual integrity.”

In response to a public outcry, the government passed a minor amendment to this part of the law during parliamentary hearings, stipulating that all protests, not just “lawful” protests, would be exempt from CSIS disruption. This is no more than a fig leaf. CSIS can and will justify its use of “dirty tricks” against strikes in defiance of anti-worker laws and other mass social protests by claiming they are threatening economic or national security. Already, CSIS and the RCMP carry out blanket surveillance of protest movements on the grounds that some of their participants might engage in vandalism or otherwise break the law.

The requirement that CSIS obtain the permission of a judge, in a secret court hearing, before breaking the law represents no significant impediment to its targeting government opponents en masse. Those targeted will have no knowledge of the proceedings, let alone the opportunity to challenge CSIS’s designation of them as threats to Canada’s security. Moreover, the proceedings will remain secret, giving rise to a secret jurisprudence, where the security agencies working in concert with a handful of carefully vetted judges will decide which groups and individuals Canada’s premier spy agency can use criminal means to “disrupt.”

Bill C-51 also guts Canadians’ privacy rights. It eliminates virtually any restrictions on the sharing of information between government agencies and departments in “national security” investigations.

The legislation also creates a “speech crime” of promoting terrorism “in general,” not tied to the incitement of any specific terrorist act. Persons will be liable to a five-year prison term for anything they say or write, in public or private, that the state deems promotes terrorism. Combined with new powers permitting the courts to remove websites and ban other publications judged to contain terrorist “propaganda,” this will be used to target critics of government policy, such as Canada’s staunch support for Israel.

Under Bill C-51, the state is arrogating new powers to restrict the movements and activities of alleged terrorist suspects—persons who have not been charged, let alone convicted of any crime.

It is also significantly expanding its powers of preventive detention. Instead of the upper limit of 72 hours, police will now be able detain terrorism suspects for seven days and on a lower evidentiary basis.

In keeping with the bill’s antidemocratic character, the Conservative government steamrolled it through parliament. Debate was kept to a minimum at all stages, with many prominent critics of the bill denied the right to appear before the House of Commons committee tasked with studying it. Even the Conservative government-appointed Privacy Commissioner was excluded.

At the same time, the government stepped up its campaign of lies and disinformation, portraying Canada as under terrorist siege. Harper seized on the twin attacks by disoriented individuals last October to portray Canada as a country under threat from Islamic extremists so as to justify both the strengthening of the national security apparatus and the expansion of Canada’s role in the new US-led war in the Middle East. It was thus no coincidence that as Bill C-51 was being rushed through the House of Commons, the government pushed through a parliamentary motion extending the Canadian military intervention till April 2016 and expanded it to include Syria.

If the Conservatives have proceeded so ruthlessly, it is because the assault on democratic rights has the support of ruling circles around the globe and domestically.

In recent months, Britain and France have passed or announced new legislation that in the name of combating terrorism and extremism gives vast new powers to their national security apparatuses. US President Barack Obama, who presides over far and away the world’s largest spy network and who has baldly asserted the right to order the summary execution of US citizens considered terrorists, explicitly called for Washington’s allies to strengthen their coercive powers at an “anti-terrorism” conference in February.

This is only the latest stage in a systematic drive, initiated over a decade ago under George W. Bush, to gut basic democratic rights and erect the scaffolding of a police state under conditions of deepening social inequality and growing popular alienation in every major capitalist country.

Canada’s ruling elite is also fully on board with the project of expanding the already existing authoritarian state structures. The opposition Liberals joined with the government in voting Bill C-51 into law. While they claimed to oppose certain aspects of the bill, Justin Trudeau and his Liberals said its passage was necessary to protect Canadians from terrorism.

The Globe and Mail, Canada’s “newspaper of record,” emerged as a prominent opponent of the bill. But its criticisms said nothing about the comprehensive spying network already in place in Canada, nor the fact that the Globe has stood firmly behind Harper over the past nine years, including backing his antidemocratic constitutional coup in 2008 and his campaign for a parliamentary majority in 2011. The Harper government has used this majority not only to attack democratic rights and expand Canada’s participation in imperialist wars, but also to effectively outlaw strikes in the federal-regulated sector, slash unemployment insurance, raise the retirement age, and cut tens of billions in social spending.

The Globe was subsequently joined in its opposition to Bill C-51 by four former Prime Ministers and various retried Supreme Court Justices and Solicitors-General. This opposition, as exemplified by the focus on the Conservatives’ refusal to provide for greater “oversight” of the national-security apparatus—was motivated by the fear that under conditions of mounting class tensions and social anger, such an outright break with traditional bourgeois-democratic norms would discredit parliament and the other key institutions of bourgeois rule.

The official opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) delayed taking a clear stance on Bill C-51 for almost a month. When it became clear that a section of the ruling elite felt that Harper was going too far, the NDP belatedly declared that it would oppose the bill in parliament. However, its opposition was purely on tactical grounds, as shown by the fact that it focused the majority of its attacks on the lack of “oversight,” whether by a vetted parliamentary committee or some third-party body of trusted ruling-class representatives, like the existing Security and Intelligence Review Committee.

The NDP proposed a series of amendments to the bill in parliament. But it made no appeal to the growing popular opposition, which has found limited expression in a series of demonstrations nationwide. Nor did the NDP use the debate over Bill C-51 to draw attention to the systematic spying on Canadians’ electronic communications being carried out by the Communications Security Establishment (CSE).

With public hostility to the Harper government’s sweeping attack on democratic rights mounting and the Liberals increasingly under fire for their support for Bill C-51, the NDP has cynically shifted its position in the expectation it will bring electoral dividends. Initially, NDP leader Thomas Mulcair said an NDP government would not repeal Bill C-51, only amend it. But last month he changed his tune and vowed the NDP would scrap Bill C-51.

Such rhetoric is being employed even as the NDP persists in making overtures to the Liberals to form a coalition government after October’s federal election. Not only did the Liberals vote for Bill C-51, they implemented Canada’s first post-9/11 anti-terrorist legislation and subsequently authorized the CSE to collect and sift through the metadata of Canadians’ electronic communications.

The lesson to be drawn from the passage of Bill C-51 is that the defence of basic democratic rights falls to the working class. It is the only social force which has no interest in the maintenance of the vast national security apparatus built up to spy on the entire population, or the use of authoritarian state powers to suppress opposition to militarism and war. Only through the emergence of a mass working-class political party committed to a socialist and internationalist program can the unending destruction of social and democratic rights by the ruling elite be halted.


CSIS Warns Of ‘Extremist’ Opposition To Oil And Gas Sector

A burned police vehicle blocks a road in Rexton, N.B., as police began enforcing an injunction to end an ongoing demonstration against shale gas exploration in eastern New Brunswick in October 2013.

A burned police vehicle blocks a road in Rexton, N.B., as police began enforcing an injunction to end an ongoing demonstration against shale gas exploration in eastern New Brunswick in October 2013.

By: Alex Boutilier | Toronto Star, Published on May 14 2015

OTTAWA—Canada’s spies are warning the federal government about an “extremist” threat to natural resource development, internal documents show.

“Extremists” have united both in person and online in their opposition to Canadian natural resource projects, according to a September 2014 “threat overview” prepared by CSIS for Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney.

The heavily censored document does not outline specific threats or projects, nor does it single out particular groups. But it lists the threat between sections on terrorist travellers and a growing anti-Muslim movement advocating violence in Canada.

The CSIS report, obtained under Access to Information law, mirrors strong language in a January 2014 report from the RCMP warning of an “anti-Canadian petroleum movement.” The report, obtained by Greenpeace, said that movement is well financed and organized, and includes “peaceful activists, militants, and violent extremists.”

The RCMP specifically referred to 2013 shale gas protests in New Brunswick, where protesters from the Elsipogtog First Nation clashed with police.

Canada’s spies and police have monitored all manner of protests — including environmental activism — even if those demonstrations remained peaceful.

The Conservative government has defended the practice of monitoring that dissent, saying even peaceful protests can turn ugly and public safety must be maintained in the event of violence.

Activists have expressed concerns that expanded powers for CSIS, contained within the government’s anti-terror legislation, Bill C-51, will mean increased monitoring and “disruption” of environmental and First Nations protests.

Craig Forcese, who specializes in national security law and has been a vocal critic of Bill C-51, says violent protests may fall under CSIS’s purview. The question for Forcese, however, is how many people fall under CSIS’s definition of extremist.

“It’s not improper, it seems to me, to be concerned about someone who might be preparing a pipe bomb, or might be involved in the sabotage of a pipeline,” Forcese said in an interview Thursday.

“The question is how broad the brush stroke is, and that’s really difficult to answer.”

The Star requested an interview with Blaney’s office, and included specific questions about how the government defines “extremist” activity and what natural resource projects have been threatened by extremists.

“The safety and security of Canadians is of the utmost importance to our government, and we take any threat to the security of Canadians and their livelihood seriously,” said Blaney’s spokesperson, Jeremy Laurin, in a written statement.

“Our police officers have a mandate and responsibility to investigate threats as they arise.

“Our government respects and protects the right of Canadians to participate in lawful protest activities.‎”

NDP environment critic Megan Leslie said there are valid reasons to monitor people suspected of plotting attacks or violence. But Leslie worries that the “extremist” label could be applied too broadly.

“Because of the way (the government is) so carelessly using language, or purposefully using language to be very broad and apply to everyone, that’s where the danger lays,” Leslie said Wednesday.

“Either they’re tossing around words like ‘extremist’ willy-nilly, which is pretty terrible, or they’re doing it intentionally, which is just as terrible. People are going to get scooped up in this who are not threats to national security.”


House Of Commons To Hold Final Vote On Anti-Terror Bill Tuesday

Canada's spy agency is getting new powers. Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Canada’s spy agency is getting new powers. Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS

By Ian MacLeod | Ottawa Citizen

The federal government’s controversial anti-terror legislation is set to pass in the House of Commons Tuesday on a whirlwind journey into the law books by the time Parliament recesses in June.

Since Bill C-51 was tabled Jan. 30, it has been fought over like few other government bills.

The Opposition NDP, supported by the Green Party, have attacked it at every opportunity, proposing dozen of unsuccessful amendments. The Liberals have vowed to vote for the bill, despite largely failing to win any significant amendments as hoped.

The Commons’ debate and voting on four mostly minor amendments to the bill were to conclude Monday. A final vote is to be held Tuesday.

The proposed set of laws would dramatically change the mandate and powers of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) from its current intelligence-collection-only role to one of actively reducing and disrupting threats to national security whether in Canada or globally.

The legislation criminalizes the promotion of terrorism, makes it easier for police to arrest and detain individuals without charge as suspected as national security threats, and much more. It also would allow more than 100 federal departments, agencies and other entities to share information about Canadians with 17 departments and agencies that have national security responsibilities. The information would only have to be “relevant” to a suspected national security threat. The 17 agencies also could share and collate information among themselves.

The government clearly wants to project an image of being capable and serious about protecting national security against the evolving scourge of terrorism and ever-sophisticated cyber attacks.

The Tories are rushing to enact it before Parliament’s scheduled June 23 summer recess. A Senate committee is now fast-tracking the legislation through the upper house.

Police, security agencies, prosecutors, Conservative MPs and several terrorism and security experts have strongly endorsed its sweeping reform of Canada’s national security laws, the biggest such overhaul since its progenitor, the Anti-terrorism Act of 2001, was rushed into law after the 2001 terror attacks in the United States.

The bill’s supporters, however, have been outnumbered by its critics. They include former prime ministers, former Supreme Court justices, business leaders and the Canadian Bar Association, civil liberty and privacy advocates, national security law scholars, aboriginals, environmentalists and many others. Their criticism has been backed by a series of cross-Canada demonstrations.

Critics accuse the government of launching an unprecedented attack Canadians’ personal freedoms and the nation’s legal traditions.




Why Bill C-51 Is A Threat To Aboriginal Rights


By Matthew Coon Come | The Globe and Mail

In January, the federal government tabled Bill C-51, the Anti-terrorism Act, 2015. The bill has generated widespread uncertainty and concern. It fails to safeguard the dignity, human rights and security of indigenous peoples and individuals. It is inconsistent with good governance.

The bill would allow federal judges to grant Canada’s spy agency, CSIS, the right to violate any law of Canada, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Such permission would be granted in a secret hearing with no appeal. Only the government side would be represented.

The bill contemplates the global sharing of information obtained by CSIS, which may or may not be accurate. International human rights law is not considered. This directly contradicts Canada’s international commitments. Last December, the UN General Assembly affirmed by consensus that states must ensure that “any measure taken to combat terrorism complies with all their obligations under international law … in particular … human rights”.

Disputes relating to indigenous peoples should not be criminalized, especially through anti-terrorism legislation. Indigenous peoples are human rights defenders and our issues often include environmental, natural resource development and other essential concerns. For example, in Quebec, the James Bay Crees continue to oppose uranium mining, but such democratic protest is fully accepted by the provincial government. We are not being criminalized or spied upon. Bill C-51 could change this.

Important lessons on “security” can be learned from Canada’s history. The security and human rights of indigenous peoples have been, and continue to be, severely impacted by non-indigenous governments and other third parties. A non-discriminatory approach would require that the “security of Canada” be inclusive of all peoples, including indigenous peoples.

Security is a human right. This right of indigenous peoples includes: environmental security; food security; economic security; social security; cultural security; human security; and territorial security. The 2003 Declaration on Security in the Americas affirms: “the traditional concept and approach must be expanded to encompass new and non-traditional threats, which include political, economic, social, health, and environmental aspects.”

Environmental, cultural and other dimensions of security are reflected in the landmark ruling of the Supreme Court in Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia. The Court emphasized the fiduciary duty of the Crown and added: “… incursions on Aboriginal title cannot be justified if they would substantially deprive future generations of the benefit of the land.” This has far-reaching implications for the security of indigenous peoples, particularly in the contexts of resource development and climate change.

In the past nine months, the federal government has not publicly acknowledged the indigenous victory in Tsilhqot’in Nation. Bill C-51 fails to consider “security” from the perspectives and inherent human rights of indigenous peoples. The rights, security and well-being of present and future generations of indigenous peoples must be ensured.

Since its election in 2006, the federal government has refused to acknowledge within Canada that indigenous peoples’ collective rights are human rights. In November, 2010, Canada endorsed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The federal government concluded: “We are now confident that Canada can interpret the principles expressed in the Declaration in a manner that is consistent with our Constitution and legal framework.”

The Declaration is a consensus, universal international instrument. No country in the world formally objects to it. The Declaration applies to all indigenous peoples globally. It promotes harmonious and co-operative relations between states and Indigenous peoples. It affirms our right to live in freedom, peace and security as distinct peoples and our right to our lands, territories and resources.

At the 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, an Outcome Document was adopted by consensus by the General Assembly. The centerpiece of the document is the Declaration. However, Canada indicated that it could not support the commitment by states to “uphold the principles of the Declaration”.

Such a position has no credibility. It fails to uphold the honour of the Crown and constitutes bad faith. The government of Canada has a legal obligation to uphold indigenous peoples’ human rights, including those affirmed in the Declaration. Bill C-51 undermines this duty and threatens our security and well-being.

Matthew Coon Come is the Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee) and the Chair of the Cree Nation Government.

Matthew Coon Come

                          Matthew Coon Come