Olympic watchdog demands CSIS disclose Games-related activities

What are Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s plans for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games? And—perhaps the more pressing question—what are they up to in Vancouver right now in relation to the Games?

Am Johal, chair of the Impact on Communities Coalition, an Olympic watchdog group, recently asked the intelligence agency these questions.

“There are things that CSIS is carrying out that are separate from the Integrated Security Unit,” Johal told the Straight, referring to the RCMP-led security force for the Games. “Given the fact that activists have already been visited, it is quite possible that they are also having their e-mails monitored or their cellphones tapped.”

On July 17, the ICC sent a letter to Richard Fadden, director of CSIS. In that letter, Johal wrote that his group is concerned that “the tactics of the ISU and CSIS seriously compromise free speech rights in Canada”.

The letter goes on to state that “citizens have a right to know what CSIS is up to” and asks specific questions of the agency, which conducts both overt and covert operations in Canada and abroad.

Those questions are:

- What is the role of CSIS related to the 2010 Olympics and what is the budget?
- How many individuals are under surveillance?
- Are e-mails and phone conversations being monitored of individuals critical of the 2010 Olympics?
- What are the professional standards that your officers are asked to comply with?
- Is CSIS planning to use agents provocateurs in the lead up to 2010?
- Will information be available both in the lead up to 2010 and after the Olympic Games are over to ensure public scrutiny of CSIS?

The ICC’s letter then goes on to read, “Parliament has given CSIS extraordinary powers to intrude on the privacy of individuals. It is imperative that CSIS fully disclose their monitoring activities both prior to and after the 2010 Olympics so that appropriate public scrutiny can be brought to bear on the activities of CSIS. It would be highly inappropriate and anti-democratic if national security guidelines were misused to protect the interests of CSIS as an institution.”

If information is not provided by CSIS in a timely manner, the letter concludes, the ICC will file a complaint with the official CSIS watchdog, the Security Intelligence Review Committee.

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Mike Hansen

Jul 24, 2009 at 3:49pm

What will csis do about the "guns and drugs smuggled by gang insurgents from the u.s.a. night and day". Start today, not 2010!