Monday, May 19, 2008

CSIS and CSOR in Afghanistan

From the Globe and Mail:

Rules urged for spies in Afghanistan

May 9 - Canada's spies working in Afghanistan are doing so without a rulebook, the watchdog that reviews CSIS's operations says.

Eva Plunkett, Inspector-General of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, says the agents are doing "commendable work" but that laws governing the spy service need to be updated now that agents are being dispatched to war zones.

A "suitable policy framework" is needed to tell the spies what they should and should not do, she says in her "Top Secret" annual report to Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, which was posted, partly censored, on a federal website this week.

The findings allude to - but don't actually explain - the nature of CSIS's clandestine support for Canadian soldiers battling the Taliban.

"As you are aware, the Service has been in Afghanistan [CENSORED]," the public report says. "As such, the Service's role in Afghanistan is relatively new, but I am impressed with [CENSORED] on which I am informed."...

Earlier this year, it was revealed that CSIS asked a Federal Court judge to sign off on spying warrants that would have allowed counterterrorism agents to follow Canadian citizen suspects to unidentified countries, and then intercept their communications. The judge said he had no authority to endorse any such warrants.

When CSIS was formed in 1984, it was envisioned as an agency that would operate within Canada under strict checks and balances... (link)
In an otherwise uninteresting profile of General Rick Hillier in Legion Magazine, the military chief reveals that CSOR is operating in Afghanistan:
As the battle for Kandahar province moves away from conventional force-on-force confrontation, the fight is increasingly becoming the kind of thing special operations forces were designed to do. While Joint Task Force 2—Canada’s top-end counter-terrorist force—has been in Afghanistan since 2002, Hillier confirmed that the Canadian Special Operations Regiment (CSOR) is now conducting operations in Afghanistan as well. While details of the operations are secret, Hillier makes it clear that Canada’s special operations forces are actively hunting Taliban leadership across Kandahar province.

“(Canada’s special operations forces) are a major factor. We’re a significant player in going after and helping disrupt Taliban coherence"... (link)

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