CSIS in Afghanistan (II) - Macleans.ca

CSIS in Afghanistan (II)


Defence Minister Peter MacKay comments on the involvement of CSIS in Afghanistan.

“Officials from the Department of Public Safety (which includes CSIS) clearly do play an important role depending on what particular Taliban prisoners may have to say, what information is being sought, and clearly it’s in all our interests to have accurate information as we attempt to protect people – which is what we’re there to do,” he said in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.


CSIS in Afghanistan (II)

  1. I'm no fan of CSIS, but it's lost on me as to why this revelation is called a "bombshell"…

    • Read the newspaper stories.

      • What, they interrogated prisoners? So what? They are an intelligence collection agency.

        • C'mon, you know very well it's a question of how or who they got to interrogate for them.

          • And somehow the involvement of CSIS (as opposed to Military Intelligence officers) raises the risk, how?

  2. That's a curiously meek response from the guy who savaged Colvin for making much milder allegations. Very interesting. Cons taking a different approach or as individuals are they now starting to imagine themselves having to testify one day?

    If we see more leaks over the coming weeks, this could become explosive.

  3. How can Peter Mackay comment on documents that were blacked out for national security reasons? Isn't he breaking the law by confirming that the redacted part refers to CSIS? Shouldn't his response have been, "I can't comment until I hear from Frank Iacobucci?"

    It's obvious that the Conservatives aren't serious about national security. They hand out documents to retired generals and friendly journalists, and blab on about them in the media, but can't let a parliamentary committee do its work.

    Here's hoping that Derek Lee just goes forward with his point of privilege given this continuing insult to parliament.

  4. As a follow-up to the announcement that CSIS plays an important role in gathering information, the Dept. of agriculture has announced that they frequently comment on farm-related issues.

    It is expected that the Dept, of transport may also update information on airports and highways soon.

    Meanwhile some members of the media will continue in their never-ending search for anything that will forward their agenda.

    • Your blogonym suggests you are male.

      However, I read what you type and what all y'all right-leaners type and all that passiive-aggression has me thinking y'all must have gender identity issues?

      Seriiously, are you a guy or a gal or Laureen Harper's escort?

      • And, might I just add from where I stand, all three points of view have value.

      • It is difficult to understand how Dunbar can diagnose personality traits and gender-guessing from a satirical comment I made to illustrate the transparency of Mr. Wherry`s post.

        I suspect Dunbar is only a convenient liberal. We should let him-her deal with their own issues about how to respond to people he-she may disagree with.

        Meanwhile I am deeply deeply hurt by the intolerant and homophobic remarks of Dunbar. ( well no, not really but I could be.)

  5. If the PMO bots read the news rather than their talking points exclusively – they would note that the Military's top lawyer raised questions back in 2006 about CSIS using "persuasive interrogations" that might cross the line into breaches of Geneva Convention…
    Of course, all the trolls put ALL Afghanis into the same melting pot – they are all Muslims and therefore must all be potential terrorists…
    In that case Bubbas – why are we over there trying to save the country – surely – it's a lost cause right from the get-go right?

  6. Or are you suggesting that there should have been no interrogation allowed, whatsoever?

    • But there are these allegations, right? I didn't concoct them.

  7. Actually it's highly unlikely CSIS interrogated anybody.

    1. They aren't trained to do so, nor are they cleared to do so. Do you think CSIS agents speak the local language?
    2. Outsourcing interrogation to the NDS is also unlikely since that would imply we could get the intel back.
    3. Canada was under a 72-hour catch and release program in 2007. Most detainees weren't even asked basic questions, let alone interrogated.
    4. NDS and ANA followed Canadian troops into battle, and would take custody of detainees on site.

    But don't let any of this get in the way of a good fairytale.

  8. Totally tangential question: how is it in CSIS's mandate to be interrogating random Taliban prisoners? Or, rather, do we actually think they are following the letter and spirit of their mandate in what they are doing?

    • My guess: the prisoners may not have been so random.

      • And upon what basis do you place your "guess"? Do you have any experience in the operational details of the military? Intelligence protocol? Are you aware of the 72-hour rule? Do you have any evidence to back up the assertion that CSIS had the capability to interrogate random prisoners? On what basis would CSIS have been able to find high value targets when most captured fighters went through the catch and release program because of the 72-hour rule?

        • Yeah, sounds weird, eh, that maybe federal civil servants might actually be competent in their jobs. But maybe, on occasion, it happens. I am "guessing" that CSIS might have been ready to recognize a high-value target when it saw it/him, and might have acted accordingly. It COULD have happened.

          If I HAD any evidence about CSIS activities, I would of course leak it immediately to the Canadian Press or Terry M at CBC, which seems to be the fashion these days. So no, I have no evidence about CSIS activities, Hence my offer of a "guess."

        • Oddly, the premises for my questions somewhat sit me between you and myl. It seems apparent that CSIS is in Afghanistan, given that MacKay's comments suggest that (although he's been very vague).

          It's just that CSIS was always specifically intended to be a domestic intelligence service, and the act of parliament went out of its way to specify that. Now, that "within Canada" clause is widely said to have been, er, reinterpreted to not mean that any more in a geographic sense, but the idea was always to retain a domestic focus (terrorism, counter-espionage, etc.)

          Assisting the Forces in Afghanistan certainly falls under "national security" if you want it to, but it is clearly something CSIS was not originally constituted to do (moreover, it isn't entirely clear why they should institutionally have much expertise in the Taliban, to be candid, given the big differences between the Taliban and Al Qaeda – they aren't the same thing). At this point, there is almost no conceptual distinction between CSIS and, say, the CIA, which is neither necessarily good nor bad, but is surely worth a few days discussion in the house of commons and a new act.

          • Anon,

            That is correct. He has been vague, which is why to infer such direct involvement really seems, to me, to be a case of editorial connecting-the-dots.

            And what you say about CSIS is also true, although we've learned since, and shouldn't really be surprised by this point, that CSIS has been involved more in foreign affairs since 9/11. We've seen this with Abousfian Abdelrazik, Omar Khadr, and other potential terrorist targets they've been watching.

            Intel gathering may be their primary directive, but their presence in Afghanistan does not provide a smoking gun that we are interrogating or torturing anybody, nor that we've enlisted the help of JTF-2 special forces to acquire targets.

          • Wow. Interesting discussion, stemming merely from my commentary on the word "random."

            FWIW, to the extent that CSIS has some clue about the gathering of intelligence, I would be pleased to (not?) know that they were assisting DND personnel in the gathering and use of intelligence, wherever DND personnel might happen to be.

  9. A lot of things "could" happen. You "could" find WMDs in Iraq any day now. But the fact is that you have zero basis to establish an argument for how CSIS would be able to:

    1. Identify high-value targets from incoming prisoners
    2. How such an interrogation would take place
    3. The 72-hour rule precluded such interrogation
    4. Interrogate anyone when NDS and ANA were riding along with CF and took most detainees on site

    I could "guess" that you an embezzler from your workplace, and that someone with secret documents has evidence to back up that claim. But until that evidence shows up in your hands, something tangible, corroborated and substantiated, it's just a filthy smear.

    • So what were csis doing there in your opinion…picking daisies? No reason to accuse them of anything without evidence, but no reason to be completely credulous either.

      • Gathering intel on the enemy sounds to me like a prudent decision for their presence.