And Richard Fadden wants to be taken seriously

If what the CSIS director said is true, how can it possibly be acceptable not to alert the governments directly involved?

by John Geddes

Richard Fadden, the director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, has made himself look ridiculous on precisely the sort of national security issue about which he has, in the recent past, lectured the media and “opinion leaders” for failing to take seriously enough.

Fadden is backpedaling awkwardly today from the startling remarks he made in a CBC interview about provincial cabinet ministers, and other public servants, being “under at least the general influence of a foreign government.”

Earlier today Fadden beat an ragged retreat from that unprecedented public claim. “At this point,” he says in a press release, “CSIS has not deemed the cases to be of sufficient concern to bring them to the attention of provincial authorities.”

Really? Insufficiently concerning? Just as a refresher for anyone who missed the astounding CBC report on Tuesday evening’s The National, here’s the key quote: ”There are several municipal politicians in British Columbia and in at least two provinces there are ministers of the Crown who we think are under at least the general influence of a foreign government.”

If that statement is true, especially now that Fadden has said it on TV, how can it possibly be acceptable not to alert the governments directly involved? The only explanation I can think of is that CSIS really doesn’t have the information Fadden claimed it has, or whatever CSIS has doesn’t rise anywhere near the level of seriousness he suggested.

Fadden’s bizarre decision to say what he said, and his ungainly attempt to contain the resulting damage, should be considered in the context of a speech he delivered late last year to the annual conference of the Canadian Association for Security and Intelligence Studies.

On that occasion, he took aim at certain people—impossible to say who exactly he meant to criticize since he didn’t specify—for failing to understand what’s at stake in his line of work.

“Our elites tend to ignore it altogether,” he said of national security. He faulted “opinion leaders” for portraying attempts to fight terrorism as “an overreaction or an assault on liberty.” And he said those “accused of terrorist offences [are] often portrayed in media as quasi-folk heroes.”

At the time, I found it maddeningly difficult to guess what exactly Fadden was on about. In which cases did he begrudge the raising of civil rights concerns in the debate over anti-terrorism measures? In what stories did he detect an inclination on the part of journalists to turn accused terrorists into heroes?

A serious discussion about national security demands clarity about the facts and sense of proportion in airing them. Fadden has offered us neither. I suppose it’s too much to hope that he might redeem himself by clearing up this week’s confusion, since he closes today’s damage-control press release with the words: “There will be no further comments on these operational matters.”




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And Richard Fadden wants to be taken seriously

  1. And this is the guy who is our last line of defence against real, extant threats?

    • No, that would be Stephen Harper, King of the World.

    • Mike, our last line of defence is ourselves. But it certainly does not inspire confidence that this is the guy paid to staff the sentry post.

      • Well if you're going to parse it THAT closely, I can't speak for anybody else's last line of defence, so unless I've previously made arrangements with others CSIS would be "our" only hope in the matter.

    • this whole concern sounds strikingly familiar to one that was posted on youtube by an individual, June 15th 2010, at least eight days before CBC's airing of Fadden's statement on June 23rd 2010. The youtube posting, of almost 30, 10-minute video segments, describes, in excrutiating detail, the "national networks of organized foreign interests active in Canada", and, how "information about the lives of Canadians is accumulated and transmitted through certain channels, and ultimately arrives in the foreign ministries of national governments abroad, using the conduits of embassy and consular personnel present in Canada" This also seems also to answer Mr. Geddes' (the reporter of the above Maclean's story) request in the last paragraph of his story, to give: "clarity about the facts (of foreign influence in politics) and sense of proportion in airing them" here is one of the videos, cited as: "foreign government links to Canadian citizens" embedded in this reply[youtube 6fXxczytMD8 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fXxczytMD8 youtube]

  2. I think it's time for Fadden's family to have 'the talk' with him.

  3. Is it not possible that revealing compromised provincial ministers could cause problems for the federal government's political agenda? Say the "compromisor" is an ally. A politically sensitive ally.

    I think it's easy to see this kerfuffle as Fadden attempting to get around political resistance to dealing with what he believes is a real problem.

    • Municipal politicians being under 'foreign influence'??

      About what? Potholes?

      Provincial ones don't know any 'secrets' either….these are more 'housekeeping' levels of govt.

  4. As to Fadden's remarks, clearly he was out of line. Either the situation is not serious/established enough to warrant notifying the respective governments (in which case he shouldn't be airing it to the public either) or it's too sensitive to risk notifying the respective governments – e.g. a sting op is running – in which case he definitely shouldn't be airing it to the public.

    Either way, this was clearly an unclever cluster.

    But as to this: "At the time, I found it maddeningly difficult to guess what exactly Fadden was on about….In what stories did he detect an inclination on the part of journalists to turn accused terrorists into heroes?"
    Isn't that fairly obvious? Try this as just one example that popped up after a 10 second search just on Macleans.
    Tell-tale quote: "Exactly when he will arrive, or where he is going, has yet to be decided, but one thing is clear: despite his tender age, his celebrity supporters, and questionable evidence, the Americans still consider Omar Khadr a murderer."

    • Journalists have not turned Omar Khadr into a hero. Even if they only report the known facts of the case, they show him to be what he is, a victim first of his parents and their associates, second, of US authorities while the Canadian government appeared unable and/or unwilling to take any action. The only people who may make him into a hero are those who may use the story to inspire would-be young jihadists. It's not the journalists who reported the facts who are responsible for that but those who chose to handle the case in the way they did, contrary to principles of law and common sense.

      • I beg to differ Diana, did you not just read the slant on this story? And this is tame to that slant CBC has been slinging on it. Only someone with an opinion supporting the "journalist's" cannot or choose not to see the truth. And yes, there is definitely opinion involved in these news items.

  5. Gordon Campbell is fuming, Soudas says he has no idea what's going on. Not the finest day CSIS has ever had.

  6. > “Our elites tend to ignore it altogether,” he said of national security. He faulted “opinion leaders” for portraying attempts to fight against terrorism as “an overreaction or an assault on liberty.” And he said those “accused of terrorist offences [are] often portrayed in media as quasi-folk heroes.” … At the time, I found it maddeningly difficult to guess what exactly Fadden was on about.

    The reason it's maddeningly difficult to understand is that each of those statements is, at best, a strawman argument or, at worst, an outright fiction.

    • I DEMAND FAWNING DEFERENCE FROM OUR MEDIA!!!! WHY DO REPORTERS HATE THE TROOPS!!

  7. Does this mean that elected officials who have been on sponsored junkets to Israel and considered to be "under at least the general influence" of that country are being investigated too?

    • I think those "junkets" are a bit different. For one, they're funded and staffed by Canadians rather than foreign governments. Secondly, they're all publicly disclosed by MPs and, in most cases, photographed and reported upon.

  8. Fadden is a former National Security to the Prime Minister and he has an exceptional record as a public servant. We are lucky to have a Dierector of CSIS who is prepared to shed a little light on the challanges CSIS has. A public debate on what CSIS does and why we will be the only country at the G20 meeting with out a foreign intelligence service is worth Canadians questioning.

    • And how did dropping a bombshell and then retracting, it further that discussion? Seems to have totally distracted from it.

    • do you work for them?

    • "We are lucky to have a Dierector of CSIS who is prepared to shed a little light on the challanges CSIS has"

      Great. I'm so glad. Since it's my country too, if provincial and municipal officials are spies or fellow-travelers for foreign governments, I'd like him to shed more than a "little light" on the challenge. And if he's not willing to back such a broad and panic-inducing claim with facts or action, then we'll be lucky to try another director, since I'm sure there are more discreet candidates available.

  9. it looks like the cover-up has started already. i can't believe you people are even questioning this guy…he's the head of CSIS…if anyone knows it's him. what it looks like to me, is that nobody in Ottawa wanted to hear Fadden, so he had no choice but to go to the media. what is truly troubling, are the blanket deniles by everyone. we've known China has been spying in our country for decades, and we've known that some of our politicians are corrupt…how big of a stretch is this, really? especially when it comes from our most trusted intelligence expert.

    • He may have been our most trusted intelligence expert yesterday…

    • I can't believe anyone can't believe anyone is above questioning.

      And you might have a very valid point. However, the obvious question is why go to the media with the allegation if you're not going to go to the mayor or premier and name names? What was the point of that? And if there was a point, why then backpedal away from it?

  10. There's just no underestimating the beyond-the-grave influence of that
    Tommy Douglas guy.

    • Well we have to remember that his grandson IS an American agent of some kind.

      • Spoiler alert:

        Not anymore.

  11. What a mess.

    I object to "CSIS owes the involved provincial governments" the warning. That is incomplete. If the allegations are true, CSIS owes the criminal justice system the evidence so that charges may be laid, and it owes the PEOPLE of the respected provinces the warning that elected representative so-and-so is serving other interests.

    As it stands, all we have is "we have evidence that certain governments have been corrupted by international interests, but we won't tell you or those governments which ones they are." I would like to think that it does not take a so-called security expert much thought to realize that leaving the kick to the hornet's nest at that is untenable.

  12. Macleans jumps to the defense of their "friends" how bloody predictable. Watch for the front cover of the next issue it will feature a bunch of Cons burning a effigy of Mr. Fadden in front of the TSX.

    And Macleans wants to be taken seriously, clear the runway here comes another porker.

    • Don't forget the CBC – they seem in on this – they gave Fadden the interview. So CSIS and the 'liberal' media are conspiring against Harper, is that it?

      • Not so secret agenda if one has been paying attention. What is your perceived differences between the Liberals and Conservatives please enlighten me.

  13. As I heard it on his interview when asked about our current Federal government ministers , he mentioned that there are no irregularities so far found within the last five years but articulated that he could not say anything farther back than five years. After hearing that Mansbridge just smiles and ends up the interview. I wonder why Mansbridge did not ask him more about that comment of "beyond five years". Was he afraid that the previous governments foreign influence might come out in the open? As a liberal propaganda machine, CBC might not like to rock the rocky boat of the Liberals?

    • He probably smiled because of the absurdness of what Fadden was saying. If there is any level of Canadian govt under the influence of foreign nations, its the federal conservatives (US, Israel, and UK). But no, he goes off on some absurd tangent about China and provincial politicians. And then says the Feds are clean. I'd have laughed out loud instead of smiling politely.

      • If there is any level of Canadian govt under the influence of foreign nations, its the federal conservatives (US, Israel, and UK).

        That's a pretty serious charge. I don't suppose you might like to offer some accompanying evidence? Permit me to warn you that "Well, just look at them!" and variants do not constitute evidence.

        • Perhaps you mean, "do not constitute evidence unless you are the head of the Canadian security service" ?

          • Nope. See my other comments on this page. Fadden blew this one. But Ramrod typed his blather for the pleasure of its accompanying ill-informed smirk, and deserved to be called out for the "ill-informed" thing.

      • I doubt it… he smiled as if that is not what he definitely wished nor want his viewers to know. That was plane and simple a cover up smile from a bias broadcaster. When the interview is just getting warming up, he cut it up at that point. Boy what a failure of an interviewer.

        • "Plane and simple"

          You mean it was all about Air India after all?

    • I recall the interview right before the 2006 election, right after Harper had made his ill-considered comments about the judiciary being too liberal. He said he wasn't going to ask Harper to name names – which was ridiculous.

  14. Fadden is an idiot. The only thing that he accomplished is to further discredit CSIS.

    I, for one, have a serious problem with seeing CSIS using the press to finger govt officials. Mind you, this is the same agency who fingered Arar and God only knows who else as terrorist.

    I do not believe that this man should be allowed to get away with making such serious accusations against people. Either he produces proof and we deal with these so-callled traitors or Fadden loses his job.

    Retractions are unacceptable. Was he telling the truth or not? That's what I want to know.

    • Took the words right out of my mouth, and these are not "operational matters" anymore Fadden you knob. For crying out loud you cant say stuff like this and then try to hide under your desk when you've spoken them to the nation as the DIRECTOR OF CSIS!!

  15. The only notion I can come up with that might make this less awful: Maybe he "went public" with this cryptic info in order to see how certain monitored individuals (be they politicians or be they foreign agents) might react, thereby obtaining more useful intelligence.

    And, even with that generous spin, it is still awful. "Dear Canada, for some of you, your democracy is broken, but we're not telling you any more." Pathetic. Serve the public, you bloody public servant, would you?

  16. Well what do you know? I agree with Fadden that some Canadian officials may have a dubious alliance. Nice not to be alone on the soap box.

    • Yeah, but you're a nutjob commenting on an internet comment board. He has an important position in Canadian security.

  17. Is Treason no longer a crime?

    • NOT WITH THOSE COMMIES RUNNING OUR MEDIA!!!!!

    • Don't be so insensitive.

  18. Nice.

    We have a news service that has become the organ of the PM to further control the message.

    We have official portraits and hallways dedicated to showing the PM at work (Leni eat your heart out!)

    We have fake lakes and props to show everybody how things are nice and peachy in this land of ours.

    And we have whispers of "traitors holding public office".

    All hail our dear Leader!

  19. Is Fadden a dual citizen of some other country?

  20. I would like to see what happens to the staffer who approved the MEP for Fadden's interview.

  21. This on National Newswatch right now…

    EXPLOSIVE CLAIM: Halifax talk radio host Andrew Krystal claims he has information from agent friends within CSIS that finger NDP MP Olivia Chow as a federal politician targeted by Chinese spy agencies.

    • Breaking News: Toronto phone book full of Chinese surnames!

    • Let The Inquisition begin…

      Unreal!

    • Interesting. When directly asked (on CBC P&P) if she HAD been courted by Chinese intelligence, she gave a somewhat confusing half-sentence answer in the negative, and then went on at length about how the person making the claim had been discredited, and then went on to say something like "there is no proof — show me the proof".

      Nowhere did she say, and I've been watching for this for years, that her loyalty is unequivocally to Canada. Neither did she allow for the possibility that this may be true for other politicians, nor assert or imply in any way that this would be something to be condemned.

      I'd read that Jack had to learn Cantonese because, after 30 years in Canada, Ms. Chow's mother still doesn't speak English. Really, you don't have to connect many dots to realize that there are some red flags here that at the very least could bear closer scrutiny.

      • "Layton's competence with Cantonese has become important for him to "survive in the household," said Chow. Her mother, who lives with them, "doesn't speak much English." " http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNe

        There is a large number of Chinese immigrants who came here to escape Communist China and who embraced Canadian values, who feel threatened and intimidated by the subsequent waves of very vocal pro-China immigrants who seem to get all the press these days. Those immigrants who, like Mr. Dossanjh, are very clearly and emphatically Canadian are the ones we should be endeavouring to support.

      • You .Anonymous, implied someone is guilty because she response to a serious allegation in a negative way. Are you a mind reader? Fadden should and will be condemned, And how about you, You invisible coward. What you are saying is more nutty than Fadden's comments. and you are not held accountable for anything. How can any body know if they've been courted by intelligence. I would say the only thing that matters is, if they are working for the interest of all Canadians.
        Xain Kain

  22. Here is the real reason as to why the C.S.I.S Investigation was called off http://dailymailnews.com/0610/18/ChinaPage/ChinaP… , can't investigate one of their own, but why wont they investigate the Multinational Corporations that are the real criminals that keep our Governments corrupt?

  23. One has to wonder why CBC held the CSIS story back for ages until the eve of the G8! It is obvious CBC is politically motivated.

    They are doing their best to make the Harper Government look bad even though it is our tax dollars that prop them up.
    Disgraceful newscasting ethics. All Government funding should be cut off these huge monopolies like CBC & Air Canada.
    A business should survive on their own, not through taxpayers. The monopolies fees are never less to the public.

    Write your Government asking them to stop funding private business with our tax dollars.

    • One has to wonder why CBC held the CSIS story back for ages until the eve of the G8! It is obvious CBC is politically motivated.

      You are propping up Harper with lies. That is a lie someone started and I think you need to retract it. Brian Stewart has outlined the fact that Fadden was interviewed by Mansbridge less than 24 hours prior to it airing. Don't lie.

  24. If we are to believe the PMO (which I am not inclined to do), then Fadden has no choice but to resign.

    However if the PMO knew about these allegations and for some reason is denying them, then that is a whole other matter altogether.

  25. Fadden should stick to his guns and not backtrack from his accusation. If true, this is very serious as it compromises Canada. Let the bleeding heart media and their leftist cohorts cry and complain all they want. They are the ones who don't want to get to the bottom of the truth and are preventing us from discussing whether this is a problem or not. Instead they concentrate on idiotic things like G20 lakes.

    • The ball is in Harper's court.

  26. Fadden is the head of CSIS, he's supposed to know better than this.
    I'm sure there's more to this than meets the eye.

  27. With the protestations from the PMO that they knew nothing about this, one has to wonder if the whole incident is similar to what happened to Richard Clarke when the "W" White House ignored his warnings about impending terrorism on American soil. I just find it rather odd that Mr. Fadden would choose to go to the media before the PMO.

    http://viableopposition.blogspot.com/

  28. Fadden a Harper appointment is an embarrassment . Dudley Doright would inspire more confidence. I suspect it was a ploy to draw attention away from Harper's mis government.

  29. I can't believe the naivete of some of the posters here. My in-laws have a relative – a federal senior servant – that they have long suspected has been influenced in exactly the way the CBC coverage described.

    My FIL has been warning about exactly this type of thing for years now, and wondering why the federal government hasn't been seen to do anything. The Tamil Tigers (for instance) are known to have obtained copies of voter registration lists to strong-arm ex-pats into providing financial support. What makes us think that Chinca, or any other country, might not be doing the same?

  30. Worried that the RCMP has taken away the terrorism file, CSIS appears to be desparately trying to find an new line of business: foreign interference.

    • So this is some sort of turf war?

  31. I would point out that Bill C-36 (used to be Bill C-6, before Harper padlocked Parliament and killed all the unfinished bills) contains language making Canadians "subject to the dictates of foreign authorities", which remain unnamed but which would be typified by the WTO, the WHO, NAFTA, SPP, GATT, and other trade agreements which are in fact CONTRACTS. (see WTO.org under "sovereignty" for verification).
    Like it or not, we are ALL under the influence of foreign authorities thanks to these and many other trade agreements. Why should it surprise us that in the midst of all this international making-nice of corporations and governments, a little skulduggery might occur? What is surprising is the candor of Mr. Fadden, in a day of government opacity.
    We can see the pressure being brought to bear on Fadden already, and that rather than answer the questions we all have as Canadians, he might have to backpedal all the way to 2009 to keep his political hide. I hope he does as Tim says, and sticks to his guns. There are a lot of us out here who happen to believe he's onto something.

  32. Leave it to Canada's failed politicians to jump on the comments as opposed to the subjects of those comments. There probably is something going on with a few politicians — and by the way, Olivia Chow's post about "spurious allegations" was just one bad rant and made me more suspicious of what she is actually hiding — and so I am glad that he made the argument. The only thing treasoness in my mind is that government "leaders" in Canada would be willing to tolerate some foreign-influence as long as they never had to deal with it. Thanks Mr. Fadden for speaking out! Bullocks to every other politician in Canada — including you Harpo — for hanging the guy out to drive. Shame, shame, shame.

  33. I think Fadden's outspoken comments are one of two things.

    He's another Richard Colvin who HAS indeed warned the government of possible problems and has been ignored so went public with his concerns and I think there are very many more than he actually alluded to.

    or

    He's losing it. I pick the first choice myself.

  34. I have written to two MPs who have spoken out about Richard Fadden's interview. I pointed out the contents of a report regarding a recent US conference on the inherently unethical nature of spying, as well as Canadian laws regarding libel, slander, and defamation. I doubt if one mere citizen can expect to affect the outcome in an issue such as this unless by the very unlikely possibility that I could become an object of CSIS's ethically "flexible" spying practices. (I doubt if I am that important, though I certainly believe that CSIS frequently spies on Canadian citizens without any cause.) However, I hope Mr. Fadden discovers that at least one Canadian – me – takes him very seriously. I hope he discovers this by the gravity of the consequences I think he ought to be facing.

  35. idiots and morons posting on here. Who here knows the first thing about how to run CSIS?!?!?!? Fadden is stating the obvious – now pop that bubble you live in – wilful blindness is NOT what CSIS does.

  36. Now I'm thinking about search engines of influence. If you go to google and enter Richard Fadden it brings you to two articles and lists 29. If you click on the 29 other articles link it only brings you to the original two and won't bring up Macleans. If you go to Bing.com (another search engine) and enter the same information it brings you to over 60 full articles.

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