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Why CSEC and CSIS Should the Subject of an Independent Investigation

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Wednesday January 08, 2014
Months of surveillance-related leaks from U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden have fuelled an international debate over privacy, spying, and Internet surveillance. The Canadian-related leaks - including disclosures regarding spying on the Brazilian government and the facilitation of spying at the G8 and G20 meetings hosted in Toronto in 2010 - have certainly inspired some domestic discussion. Ironically, the most important surveillance development did not involve Snowden at all.

My weekly technology column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that late last year, Justice Richard Mosley, a federal court judge, issued a stinging rebuke to Canada's intelligence agencies (CSEC and CSIS) and the Justice Department, ruling that they misled the court when they applied for warrants to permit the interception of electronic communications. While the government has steadfastly defended its surveillance activities by maintaining that it operates within the law, Justice Mosley, a former official with the Justice Department who was involved with the creation of the Anti-Terrorism Act, found a particularly troubling example where this was not the case.

Mosley's concern stems from warrants involving two individuals that were issued in 2009 permitting the interception of communications both in Canada and abroad using Canadian equipment. At the time, the Canadian intelligence agencies did not disclose that they might ask their foreign counterparts (namely the "five eyes" partners in the U.S., U.K., Australia, and New Zealand) to intercept the foreign communications.

In June 2013, the CSEC Commissioner, who is responsible for reviewing CSEC activities, issued his annual report. It included a cryptic recommendation that the agency "provide the Federal Court of Canada with certain additional evidence about the nature and extent of the assistance CSEC may provide to CSIS."

That recommendation caught Mosley's attention, who ordered CSEC and CSIS to appear in court to disclose if the recommendation was linked to the warrants he had issued and discuss whether the additional evidence might have had an impact on the decision to grant the warrants in the first place.

It turns out that the additional evidence - which involved several warrants including those issued by Mosley - was indeed the fact that CSEC was tasking foreign agencies to conduct interceptions on its behalf.  Based on the new submissions, Mosley concluded that Canadian intelligence agencies strategically omitted disclosing the information as it admitted that the evidence provided to the court "was ‘crafted' with legal counsel to exclude any reference to the role of the second parties."

The failure of Canada's intelligence agencies to meet their legal obligations of full and frank disclosure raises serious questions about the adequacy of oversight over Canada's surveillance activities. When concerns were raised last year about the activities, then- defence minister Peter MacKay assured the public that there is "rigorous" oversight and that all aspects of the programs were carried out in compliance with the law.

The federal court ruling raises real doubt about the validity of those assurances. Indeed, there are lingering questions about both the impartiality of Justice lawyers who provided advice to "craft evidence" and the ability for the federal court to serve as a key oversight mechanism for Canadian surveillance, particularly when some programs do not require court approval and reports from the CSEC commissioner have faced lengthy delays.  

The deliberate attempt to mislead the key oversight body by omitting relevant information should anger more than just Mosley, who clearly felt that he was duped by CSIS. In response, the government should commission an independent review to examine current oversight mechanisms, identify shortcomings on both oversight and the law, and recommend potential reforms to salvage a system that is under increasing public scrutiny and criticism.
Comments (5)add comment

Gregg said:

And the disturbing reality...
... going by the responses on CBC reports on the same subject are f**ks given by the government = 0 and a good deal of the people = 0. Heck, it seems the "Big Three" telecommunications companies care more about this than anyone else.
January 12, 2014

Michael Heroux said:

Intelligence Harassment Thanks Judge Mosley
My wife and I are the two people Justice Mosley was refering to.
We have been following this decisition very closely, we are being
spied on right here in Canada. My wife and I and our 3 children
have been abused by the RCMP CSIS CSEC and other police forces in
Ontario and British Columbia for over 5 years now. I have a mental
disability and the police started harassing my family and I when I
started using Craigslist 5 years ago. It sounds strange but I have
been poisoned and my wife has been poisoned for speaking out publicly
about the abuse. We have also been assulted numerous times in the last
5 years. They are listening to us in our bedroom and living room because
they let us know by telling us what we are talking about in the privacy
of our home. We contacted the BC Human Rights and Civil Rights office
last year because the police were trying to run me and my family over
on the streets, but they never got back to us. We got a lawyer a couple
years ago and the lawyer was able to get them to lay off for a bit.
They sent a gunman to murder us last year, we managed to evade him.
It also sounds strange but we have a spy monitoring us right now in the
adjacent suite to us and they have been there for 10 months now. Since
Judge Mosleys decision they quit harassing us but they are still messing
around with our internet and phone communications. Thank God for judge
Mosley, I think he saved our lives. Thankyou
January 12, 2014

Michael Heroux said:

UPDATED God Bless Judge Mosley Part 1

My wife and I are the two people Justice Mosley was refering to when he ruled CSIS was end running the law. We have been following this decision very closely, we are being spied on right here in Canada. My wife and I and our 3 children have been abused by the RCMP CSIS CSEC and other police forces in Ontario and British Columbia for over 5 years now. I have a mental disability and the police started harassing my family and I when I started using Craigslist 5 years ago, what can I say, we're swingers. My wife slept with a few of them while I watched. We are not terrorist. It sounds strange but I have been poisoned and my wife has been poisoned for speaking out publicly about the abuse. We have also been assulted numerous times in the last 5 years. They are listening to us in our bedroom and living room because they let us know by telling us what we are talking about in the privacy of our home. We contacted the BC Human Rights and Civil Rights office last year because the police were trying to run me and my family over on the streets, but they never got back to us. We got a lawyer a couple years ago and the lawyer was able to get them to lay off for a bit. They sent a gunman to murder us last year, we managed to evade him. It also sounds strange but we have a spy monitoring us right now in the adjacent suite to us and they have been there for 10 months now. Since Judge Mosleys decision they quit harassing us but they are still messing around with our internet and phone communications. Thank God for Judge Mosley, I think he saved our lives. We think the reason they are still watching over us is because of what Judge Mosley refered to as "invasive survailence techniques" used against the people who had those warrents issued on them. They don't want us to tell anyone about the techniques used against us for the last 5 years. Pretty sophisticated alien technology if I do say so myself. Pretty cool actually but we don't plan on telling anyone. We are patriotic Canadians and we hate terrorist like everyone else but we don't want to see people abused. Caught up in the fish net so to speak. They have tried to set us up numerous times for arrest over the last 5 years to get their hands on us and make us look like the bad guy's but we have managed to evade those atempts also.
January 29, 2014

Michael Heroux said:

UPDATED God Bless Judge Mosley Part 2

My wife and I are concerned because Canada Post is being scaled back and it has got us worried. We use open source software for our operating system. In the last 5 years our privacy has been majorly violated. We are most concerned about our communications being sanitized. We no longer have control over who we can make contact with through electronic means. We can only contact people in person for representation so most people not within our city are off limits to us. We realize we are being followed and are being listened to in the privacy of our own home and our home has been entered numerous times when we are not home by intelligence but our means of communications are being sanitized. 5 years ago we noticed rootkits being installed on our operating systems and I was able to set up honey pots and found they were being installed by the military. Since, we switched to virtual machines from static medium verified with sha512sums (DEBIAN KNOPPIX) to get a malware free system each boot. The only website we use is Craigslist and we have met RCMP agents through Craigslist who wanted us to work for them to help them entrap people from terrorist to gangsters. We believe they were just looking for patsies though. I used to work for the RCMP over 20 years ago to infiltrate criminals and make arrests but I quit working for them because they wanted me to set people up that weren't even breaking the law. For the last 5 years we have used Gmail and we have had numerous internet suppliers and numerous Gmail accounts and we have noticed people we have been emailing and people emailing us have not been getting the emails even though Gmail says they have been sent. We use an SSL connection so our communications are encrypted. The same thing applies to our text messages, we have used Rogers for internet, text and phone for the last 5 years. We have noticed our posting on certains forums are not showing up or they are being deleted as we are writing them right before our eyes or our browsers are being closed as we are writing stuff. Our computers are being shut down and our cell phones are being shut down as we are trying to correspond with people. We have realized that people have been contacting us through our email and our cell phones claiming to be people we know like family members for instance but we know they are imposters. We have tried contacting Human and Civil Rights advocates through electronic means but have had no replies. We have even tried to contact legal representation through electronic means but have never heard anything back over the years. It sounds strange but a gunman was sent to kill us early last year but we managed to evade him. Shortly after that someone tried hiring a hitman through the SILK ROAD website to kill us. At first when the website was taken down by the FBI the owner said the hit was for a father of 3 from Vancouver but later he admitted it was for the whole family of 5, a husband, wife and 3 children. We have been poisoned numerous times in the last 5 years and I have numerous painful swollen lumps throughout my body. Strangers have come up to us on the streets and have told us I have cancer. I went to the emergency room last year because my brain was swelling in my head and my eyes were bulging and I was having severe headaches and the doctor didn't want to treat me and sent me home. Thanks for reading.
January 29, 2014

Michael Heroux said:

Intelligence Harassment

Michael Heroux said

My wife and kids and I finally got a reply back from The Justice Department Of Canada. They were ignoring us just like the Privacy Commisioner Of Canada is now. They finally acknowledged our statements to them about us being poisoned and assaulted numerous times and the assasination attempts on our lives, and the fact that I have cancer because of the poisonings that they did against us. I think my cancer is getting worse, it is really painful now and the lumps are spredding throughout my abdomin. They sent us a letter the other day and said the information we are looking for on the 30-08 warrants against us are not under their control and told us to contact CSIS. I hope I live long enough to see those bastards pay.
April 06, 2014

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