CSIS fails accountability standards

posted on May 21, 2011 | in Category CSIS | PermaLink

By Jim Bronskill, CP
Source: The Chroncicle Herald (Halifax, NS)
URL: [link]
Date: May 21, 2011

Watchdog report: Spy agency isn’t keeping all notes

OTTAWA — Canada’s spy service has failed to meet strict new accountability standards set by the Supreme Court, says a watchdog report obtained by The Canadian Press.

The latest annual review from the inspector general of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service says the spy agency hasn’t lived up to a high-court ruling that requires it to retain all operational notes, electronic intercepts and other investigative material.

Almost three years ago, in the case of Montrealer Adil Charkaoui, the country’s top court found the agency’s destruction of notes violated its legal duty to keep documentation and — out of fairness — disclose the material during judicial proceedings.

Charkaoui, a native of Morocco, was arrested in 2003 under a national security certificate for suspected terrorist links. He was set free in 2009 after the case buckled and the certificate was quashed. As a result of the 2008 high court decision, CSIS made it a policy to file away all notes and other information that make up a case record. The agency also gave personnel a training seminar on note-keeping. During her review, CSIS inspector general Eva Plunkett asked the service for original, hard-copy notes cited in agency reports.

"In a number of cases the service was unable to locate hard copies of the operational notes," Plunkett wrote.

After further examination, CSIS determined that its own reports were wrong and that no notes had been taken to support the information in them, she found.

The Canadian Press obtained a declassified version of Plunkett’s top secret November 2010 evaluation under the Access to Information Act.

Overall, Plunkett concluded CSIS had not strayed outside the law, contravened ministerial direction or exercised its powers "unreasonably or unnecessarily." She also praised CSIS employees for their "level of commitment and dedication," saying they "deserve our respect and appreciation."

© 2011 The Halifax Herald Limited.