After reading the book “Inside Canadian Intelligence”, I had the opportunity to look at “Whose National Security?”</a>, which was a nice change of pace from the book written by Canadian Intelligence Officers in the military. The book was edited by Gary Kinsman, Dieter K. Buse and Mercedes Steedman. I’ve seen other books written by Kinsman before, most of which to do with his Queer Activism, but I wasn’t aware of this particular book other than a Google Books search that I did about looking for my CSIS file back in November of 2010.
I also signed out a bunch of other books about the RCMP Security Service and their history of suppression, and they are all the same. It appears that the end of all the dirty deeds is on 1984 when the RCMP is forced to stop its activity in this area and CSIS is created. This book does attempt to go past that showing the after effects of the 1984 decision, namely how to get your record, as well as some of the state repression that happened during APEC, that then lead to the APEC inquiry.
I highly recommend purchasing this book, despite it’s age, and I am definitely looking forward to checking out Kinsman’s newest book, The Canadian War on Queers</a>, which covers a LOT of the same subject matter as his book in 2000, but is updated to the modern day.
The thing that’s frustrating me personally about how social movements deal with surveillance is the fact that we don’t organize a clear way for us to counter their surveillance and hiding of information. The People Commission Network does some good work, but it seems to be entirely reactive, and it revolves around News Articles, Testimonials and furthermore just tells people to not talk to CSIS when they come knocking. There’s no idea about getting intelligence on them. People keep talking about the failures of the Access to Information Act, and yes, it’s pretty bad, but it would be more helpful if people that actually get their documents come forward and post their documents online for us all to see. We should be requesting our files (either directly, or indirectly through a 3rd party, depending on whether you value your privacy or not), and we should be sharing what they have on us with each other so that we have better intelligence and know how to act. The fact that the state knows something that we don’t know is a major weakness, and we should try to become more willing to share the results of ATIP and of the Privacy Act, since it helps to verify a story if you have the source material.
I understand that people wouldn’t want to disclose everything, and your personal file is up to you, but seriously, if we had an idea of what was requested, and what files were requested at the very least, we can then request copies of that information, get it faster and not have to deal with giving the government more of our money! Everyone who is involved in any sort of movement, and uses any tactics should find a way to obtain their file, redacted or not. If you fear the state getting your address, you can always use a shared address, or have someone request that data on your behalf, such as a lawyer, or another trusted person who the state would be less likely to mess with.
In conclusion, I HIGHLY recommend “Whose National Security” as a book, and it would be great to see another exercise such as this be done again in the Post-911 era where numerous activists over the past 25 years (the CSIS timeframe) share their stories, and their files so that we can fill the blanks and find out which huge multitude of institutions (CSIS, CSEC, RCMP, CBSA and others) have been spying on us, since this book was part of the inspiration for me to request my file and investigate the Canadian Security “Community” from the outside looking in.