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The 2009-2010 CSIS Annual Report

Recently, while investigating the link between HBGary and SecDev again after reading Barrett Brown’s numerous articles on ROMAS/COIN, I noticed that SecDev linked to a CSIS report for 2009-2010 talking about the Internet. Turns out that it’s their 2009-2010 Public Report</a>, which talks about more than simply CSIS and their inability to use the Internet. It also features information about CSIS activites during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

In their first section, after a LONG discussion about Islamic Radicalization and the possibility of “Lone Wolf Terrorists” and “Homegrown Radicalization” which I mostly discount as boogeymen for CSIS to get more money, I notice that CSIS is looking once again at Eco-Terroists, here’s the blurb from the report:

Eco-extremists, Aboriginal extremists and other issue-motivated groups in Canada, though very small in number, can encourage, threaten and support serious acts of violence. In certain cases, issues which provoke a sense of urgency and frustration—such as perceived policy failures or the belief that capitalism has a dehumanizing effect on society—may increase the likelihood that certain individuals or groups could adopt a more violent and destructive strategy to achieve their desired results. </em>

It then talks about the Internet, and how CSIS seems to have no fucking clue with quotes like “This was not a concern in the early days of CSIS as there was no broad, worldwide use of the Internet to speak of”. No fucking shit, perhaps it’s the fact that CSIS started in 1984, and there was no modern Internet! Honestly, I know this is a public report, but the people downloading it aren’t drooling fucking morons. Their Cybersecurity section is laughable at best. It’s literally described as “ZOMG! THERE’S THE INTERNET!” Given that this is CSIS, I would expect something more than meaningless buzzwords and a fleeting reference to a botnet.

What is interesting in the CSIS report is the Integrated Threat Assessment Centre, which is described in this paragraph taken from the report:

Additionally, the Integrated Threat Assessment Centre (ITAC) produced comprehensive threat assessments on a full range of terrorist and extremist threats to the Games. ITAC was designated by the Government of Canada as the lead government threat assessment centre. CSIS’s efforts in this regard assisted in ensuring that the 2010 Winter Games were held in a safe and secure environment.</em>

This report does not mention anything about CSIS being under the command of the V2010ISU, and instead makes it sound like this Integrated Threat Assessment Centre was the main thing that made the games secure. I have no idea whether any Anti-Olympic activists were spied on by CSIS agents, since the RCMP always appeared in the Driver’s seat. I’d assume that some were, but I don’t have any proof of that like I have of the RCMP.

Another interesting section of the report is the Domestic Cooperation section, which lists the offices:

CSIS is geographically dispersed across Canada. The CSIS National Headquarters (NHQ) is located in Ottawa, and the Service also has Regional Offices in Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Edmonton and Burnaby. Furthermore, CSIS has District Offices in St. John’s, Fredericton, Quebec City, Niagara Falls, Windsor, Winnipeg, Regina, and Calgary. This geographic configuration allows the Service to closely liaise with its numerous federal, provincial and municipal partners on security issues of mutual interest. </em>

So, there was a rumor that spread that the CSIS office was literally across the street from the ANZA club in Vancouver. Other people thought it was further out west, near the offices of the Georgia Straight. If those buildings are CSIS buildings, they’re secret buildings. The sad truth is that CSIS publicizes their number, but if you google it, you can find that CSIS at one point rented out a floor in Metrotown Tower. I have no idea if this is still the case, but if they were trying to keep this a secret, they failed. Here’s something super interesting:

Additionally, CSIS also has several Airport District Offices, including those at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport and at Vancouver’s International Airport. These offices support aviation security, and assist CIC and CBSA officers on potential national security issues. The CSIS Airport District Offices also provide information to their respective CSIS Regional Offices and to CSIS Headquarters, and liaise with other federal government departments and agencies that have a presence within Canada’s airports. </em>

So, where in YVR is the CSIS office? Who gets pulled into the CSIS office? Will I be unfortunate enough to end up in that CSIS office one day? Can I request information on the activities of the CSIS offices in the Pacific region? I know the answer to the last question already, I think.

There’s also the boring sections that talk about CSIS staff levels (3104), and the staffing page is REALLY boring. They also have a profile with CSIS in the Prarie region. I didn’t know that CSIS got invited to community events, and I find that really fucked up. We then finally make it to the fiction portion where CSIS talks about how they are accountable. The first paragraph in this section is incredibly misleading:

CSIS is one of the most reviewed intelligence organizations in the world. Fully two-thirds of the Service’s enabling legislation, the CSIS Act, is dedicated solely to ensuring that the Service is subject to proper reporting and accountability mechanisms. The activities of CSIS are subject to the review of the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC), the Inspector General (IG) for CSIS, the Federal Court, as well as by various officers of Parliament, including the Auditor General and the Privacy Commissioner. </em>

I’m pretty sure that while the Privacy Commissioner can review Privacy Act requests, they can’t really do anything about the fact that CSIS continuously refuses to reveal whether they are spying on the average Canadian. In fact, the Federal Court can’t do anything either. So, that leaves us with the Inspector General, the Auditor General and SIRC. Sadly, the Auditor General can really only get involved if CSIS is costing the government too much money, and they can also only make recommendations. SIRC is known for being completely fucking worthless, and I’ve never heard of the Inspector General reviewing CSIS at all. There are also platitudes in this report about the ATIP office, which appears to be extremely small, since they only received 301 requests under the Privacy Act and 156 under the Access to Information Act. Given the fact that CSIS is either viewed as a complete farce, or as this uber-scary outfit that can disappear their opponents, I’m kinda surprised that the workload is so small.

Overall, the CSIS Public Report is opaque, says very little about anything, and makes it sound like the majority of CSIS work is academic threat assessments written by people who did well in Political Science in university. The public report is also written like it was meant to be read by a five year old, and at times insults the reader’s intelligence. That being said, this is CSIS, and I’m certain that after reviewing the report, I’ll get yet another visit from their IP address.