Annual Report 2007-2008 - An Operational Review of CSIS Activities
Every year, the Director of CSIS submits a classified report to the Minister of Public Safety. It describes in detail the priorities and operational activities of the Service. The Inspector General of CSIS examines this report and submits to the Minister a certificate that attests the extent to which she or he is satisfied with its contents. Next, the Minister sends a copy of both documents to SIRC for its review, as required by Section 38(a) of the CSIS Act.
In the 2006-07 edition of the report—the first one to be issued following the realignment of operational resources within CSIS—the Director noted that the realignment provides the Service with a flexible organizational structure that can be easily modified to future operational needs.
In addition to summarizing the Service’s use of human sources during the year, the report identified the activities of each operational branch and specialized group within CSIS, as well as all domestic and foreign arrangements, as provided under Section 17 of the CSIS Act.
The Director reported that CSIS had suspended its relationships with five human sources because of criminal activity. He further noted that CSIS had not directed the sources to undertake this activity and that the Service immediately took corrective measures upon learning about the incidents. The Director highlighted CSIS’s role in identifying suspected Russian spy Paul William Hampel, and of the Service’s role in expelling this individual from Canada. The Director also reported that the Service’s Middle East and Africa Branch terminated an investigation because of a lack of reporting of threat-related activities.
Of particular note, the Director drew the Minister of Public Safety’s attention to the challenges that CSIS faces with the rapid growth and changes to Internet-related technologies. He indicated that a remedy for these challenges would be for Parliament to pass legislation, such as the Technical Assistance to Law Enforcement Agencies Act. The legislation was tabled in November 2005 but was not passed because of the federal election that was called immediately afterwards.
Readers should note that CSIS posts public, unclassified reports on its website
Established in 1984 under the CSIS Act, the Inspector General of CSIS functions as the “eyes and ears” of the Minister of Public Safety, reviewing the Service’s operations and providing assurance that CSIS is complying with Ministerial Direction, operational policy and the CSIS Act.
Every year, the Inspector General submits a certificate to the Minister stating the extent to which he or she is satisfied with the CSIS Director’s Annual Report. This certificate informs the Minister of any unreasonable or unnecessary exercise of CSIS powers, as well as any instances of the Service failing to comply with either the CSIS Act or Ministerial Direction.
In the latest certificate, the Inspector General was satisfied with the CSIS Director’s 2006-07 Annual Report, stating that the Service has not acted beyond the framework of its statutory authority, had not contravened any Ministerial Directions, and had not exercised its powers unreasonably or unnecessarily.
However, the Inspector General expressed concern that there had been an increasing number of instances of non-compliance with CSIS operational policy, as well as a greater number of transcription errors in documents. Most of the instances of non-compliance were administrative errors. She also remarked on the length of time required to develop or update operational policies in response to changing requirements and activities.
For more information about the Certificate of the Inspector General (CSIS), please refer to the Public Safety website (www.publicsafety.gc.ca).
Under Section 20(2) of the CSIS Act, the Director of CSIS must submit a report to the Minister when, in the Director’s opinion, a CSIS employee may have acted unlawfully in performing his or her duties or functions. The Minister, in turn, must send the report with his or her comments to the Attorney General of Canada and to SIRC. In 2007-08, no CSIS employee acted unlawfully, and no such reports were issued.
Section 19 of the CSIS Act prohibits the disclosure of information obtained by the Service in the course of its investigations except in the following specific circumstances:
Of note, Section 19(2)(d) gives the Minister of Public Safety the power to override any invasion-of-privacy concerns, authorizing the Service to disclose information deemed to be in the national or public interest. When such information is released, the Director of CSIS must submit a report to SIRC. This is an exceedingly rare occurrence—there have been only two disclosures under this section of the Act.
The Service may also disclose information verbally or in writing to any law enforcement body or federal government entity, such as the Department of National Defence and Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. When CSIS permits the use of its information by the RCMP in judicial proceedings, it must do so in writing.
The Service provided over 90 disclosure letters during fiscal year 2007-08.