Former CSIS head slams Canadian courts: WikiLeaks
The former head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service said Canada's courts had an "Alice in Wonderland" worldview that made it more difficult for the spy agency to prevent terror attacks, according to 2008 U.S. diplomatic note released by WikiLeaks.
Jim Judd, then CSIS director, also said the organization was "vigorously harassing" Hezbollah members in Canada and said then soon-to-be released video of Omar Khadr's interrogation at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, would trigger "knee-jerk anti-Americanism" and "paroxysms of moral outrage, a Canadian specialty."
The July 2, 2008 cable discusses a meeting between Judd and U.S. State Department official Eliot Cohen.
The note says Judd was frustrated with Canadian legal requirements, which he thought made it more difficult to combat terrorism.
"Director Judd ascribed an 'Alice in Wonderland' worldview to Canadians and their courts, whose judges have tied CSIS 'in knots,' making it ever more difficult to detect and prevent terror attacks in Canada and abroad," the cable says.
"The situation, he commented, left government security agencies on the defensive and losing public support for their effort to protect Canada and its allies."
The note says Judd "derided" court decisions that undermined information-sharing between foreign governments and Canada.
"These judgments posit that Canadian authorities cannot use information that 'may have been' derived from torture, and that any Canadian public official who conveys such information may be subject to criminal prosecution," the cable says.
"This, he commented, put the government in a reverse-onus situation whereby it would have to 'prove' the innocence of partner nations in the face of assumed wrongdoing."
Judd was also negative about progress in Afghanistan, and partially blamed Afghan President Hamid Karzai for his "weak leadership, widespread corruption, the lack of will to press ahead on counter-narcotics."
Judd also expressed worries about Iran.
"CSIS recently talked to Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) after that agency requested its own channel of communication to Canada, he said. The Iranians agreed to "help" on Afghan issues, including sharing information regarding potential attacks."
However, Judd added Iran wanted NATO forces in Afghanistan "to bleed ... slowly."
The CSIS revelations are some of what Ottawa has been bracing for as WikiLeaks promised to release more than 2,600 sensitive diplomatic documents pertaining to Canada-U.S. relations.
Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said earlier Monday the two countries will continue to enjoy "great" relations, despite the leaks.
WikiLeaks released the first of an expected deluge of 250,000 classified U.S. State Department documents on Sunday, and confirmed it will release as many as 2,648 pertaining specifically to Canada in the coming days.
Talking to reporters on Parliament Hill on Monday, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said the relationship between Ottawa and Washington remains "the most important between two countries on this planet."
"I don't think that these documents imperil or endanger relations between Canada and the U.S.," Cannon said in French.
When pressed to explain his reaction, Cannon said the fact such documents have been leaked is "deplorable," but the documents themselves are "not that significant" to Canada.
"I don't think it's a matter of national concern," the minister said.
Anticipating the diplomatic communiques yet to be made public, former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations Paul Heinbecker said there is no doubt the scale of the leak is already significant.
"Even if it's just five files, its a pretty big leak," Heinbecker told CTV News Channel, noting that the habit of classifying all manner of communication means many may prove interesting, if ultimately trivial.
Nevertheless, Heinbecker said the leaks should reinforce a long-standing tradition in the Canadian diplomatic corps.
"There was a culture in the Canadian foreign service that you didn't put material into telegrams that would embarrass you if you saw it in the newspapers the next morning, because you always knew the possibility that it could leak no matter how good the security system is."
Those who didn't, he said, could expect a short career.
Opposition parties in Canada condemned the leaks as illegal and dangerous to national security, but also said there is a public interest in the information.
"Ultimately, governments need to share more information with their own public . . . but this can't be condoned," Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh said on CTV's Power Play Monday. NDP MP Jack Harris said, "Canadians are very keen to know what (the U.S.) has to say about us."
Harris said the Canadian government is not open about the Afghanistan mission and the Canadian public may learn more about the Afghan detainee issue from the leaks.
For those implicated in the documents now coming to light, former CSIS officer Michel Juneau-Katsuya believes that, far from hurting bilateral relations, any politically damaging revelations could prove beneficial, at least in the short-term.
"Now the U.S. will be trying to court us for a little moment to rectify the situation," Juneau-Katsuya told CTV News Channel, suggesting the revelations should serve as a wake-up call to Ottawa.
"Since the end of the Cold War we've moved from a military confrontation to an economic confrontation and now it's everybody for themselves," he said, explaining that any nation that can, will use their diplomats to gather as much information as possible.
Former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson agrees that the diplomatic tradition should emerge from these revelations intact, if slightly red-faced.
"It's not going to shake our relationship.... they represent a picture in time of a perspective of the relationship," Robertson said in an interview from Ottawa on Monday.
Robertson expects the documents to cover a broad range of subjects including border issues, the Alberta oilsands and the U.S. president's recent visit to Canada.
Even if unflattering portrayals of Prime Minister Stephen Harper emerge, Robertson says they are unlikely to impact his ongoing working relationship with U.S. President Barack Obama.
"They have a personal relationship," Robertson said, noting that their two governments are echoing the reaction from leaders worldwide: that such communications are par for the course.
"These things are not intended to be made public ... you do so with candour and trust thinking that what you write for your leadership is never going to be revealed to the other leadership. That's how diplomatic relations have been conducted for centuries."
The vast majority of the cables that refer to Canada are not expected to be made public until sometime this week at the earliest. On its website, however, WikiLeaks suggest they will touch on subjects from arms control, to energy technology, foreign trade, Haiti, intelligence, military nuclear applications, provincial affairs, Syria, and terrorism.
With files from The Canadian Press