Summary of Reviews, 2003-2004

SIRC carries out reviews to determine whether CSIS has acted appropriately in the performance of its duties and functions, and met all requirements set out in law, Ministerial direction and operational policy. SIRC's reviews are not intended to provide oversight of current CSIS activities, but rather to examine CSIS's performance on a retrospective basis. The findings of an individual review are not intended to be a judgement on CSIS operations as a whole.

Each review provides a “snapshot” of a Service operation or program at a defined period in time. The reviews can include findings and recommendations. Although these are not binding, SIRC's role is to advise and warn, so that CSIS and those agents of government which direct it, may take steps to modify policies and procedures as needed. SIRC's reviews are sent to the CSIS Director, the Inspector General, CSIS and in the case of s. 54 inquiries, directly to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

The six major reviews conducted during 2003-2004 provided SIRC with an overview across a range of CSIS activities. They included two relatively new areas (front end screening and counter proliferation), a counter intelligence investigation, an internal security breach, a Security Liaison Post abroad, and an examination of s. 12 investigative activities outside Canada, authorized under the CSIS Act. In addition, SIRC completed its annual review of foreign arrangements, the CSIS Director's annual report and the certificate of the Inspector General, CSIS.

Front End Screening Program

The Committee's first review of the Front End Screening (FES) Program for refugee claimants in Canada covered the period from November 2001 to March 2003. SIRC also examined the existing Port of Entry Interdiction Program (POEIP), under which CSIS provides advice to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) in screening persons, including prospective refugee claimants, whom CIC considers to be potentially inadmissible to Canada.

Under the POEIP and FES programs, CIC receives advice from CSIS at key stages of the refugee application process. SIRC found the FES Program to be an efficient means to ensure that refugee claimants in Canada are properly screened against the inadmissibility criteria of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. SIRC also found CSIS's advice to CIC to be appropriate and supported by the information in the Service's possession. SIRC concluded that CSIS had complied with the CSIS Act and operational policy when providing advice to CIC, but it had two recommendations related to reporting issues.

SIRC recommended that CSIS develop a standard reporting format for POEIP interview reports. Its purpose would be to record advice provided verbally to CIC by CSIS investigators, or to document when there was insufficient information for the Service to provide such advice. SIRC also recommended, as it has done several times in the past, that CSIS create and retain verbatim records of its s. 15 interviews, as these would be invaluable should what transpired during an interview be disputed at a later date.

CSIS Section 12 Operational Activity Outside Canada

In conducting this review, SIRC looked into operational activities and investigations between April 2001 and March 2002. The review not only confirmed that CSIS has a clear mandate to conduct s. 12 investigative activities outside Canada, it predicts that such operations will increase as the threat posed by international terrorism grows.

Although SIRC found that the operations it examined were carried out in conformity with legislation, Ministerial Direction and existing CSIS operational policy, it recommended that the policy for approving such activities outside Canada be amended to include certain information, which for reasons of national security cannot be elaborated here. The Committee also recommended that CSIS amend its operational policy to enhance its administrative rigour.

Counter Intelligence Investigation

SIRC concluded that CSIS had reasonable grounds to suspect that the foreign intelligence service under investigation was involved in threat-related activities in Canada. SIRC found that the level and intrusiveness of the Service's investigation was proportionate to the suspected threat, and the Service collected only that information strictly necessary to fulfill its mandate.

SIRC's review, covering the period from April 1999 to December 2002, showed that the Service's investigation was in compliance with the CSIS Act, Ministerial Direction and operational policy. SIRC made no recommendations.

Counter Proliferation Investigation

SIRC found that CSIS had reasonable grounds to suspect that each of the authorized targets posed a threat to the security of Canada. The level and intrusiveness of the Service's investigations was proportionate to the suspected threat, and the Service collected only that information strictly necessary to fulfill its mandate. The review period in this case was defined as April 2002 to March 2003.

The Service met all of the requirements of the CSIS Act and operational policy with respect to warrant acquisition and, in implementing the powers authorized by the warrant, the Service complied with the CSIS Act, operational policy and the conditions imposed by the Federal Court. However, SIRC discovered one case of non-compliance with operational policy by a CSIS regional office, and a small number of administrative errors or omissions in operational reporting, all of which were brought to the Service's attention and addressed prior to the finalization of the review.

Review of a Security Liaison Post

CSIS maintains a number of Security Liaison Posts abroad, only some of which are publicly acknowledged for reasons of national security. SIRC concluded that this particular Post carried out its operations in accordance with the CSIS Act, Ministerial Direction and the Service's operational policies and procedures. SIRC found that the Post had contributed to the Service's ability to perform its duties and functions under the CSIS Act. However, given the Post's role in responding to security screening requests, SIRC recommended that the Service identify why there was no master list and tracking system at the Post when the current SLO took office. SIRC also asked the Service to determine whether other posts would benefit from a uniform standard for managing security screening requests.

Internal Security Breach Investigation

In the course of SIRC review #2002-05, summarized in the 2002-2003 Annual Report, SIRC learned of a security breach within the Service that resulted in an internal investigation to determine the nature and scope of the breach. SIRC reviewed the documentation related to this CSIS investigation, and concluded the Service had taken appropriate measures to minimize the effect of the breach and had acted in accordance with operational policies governing security breaches and employee conduct.

Foreign Arrangements

In addition to the major reviews outlined above, SIRC examined 17 foreign arrangements which the Service has established with foreign partners. SIRC found that the establishment of new arrangements and the expansions of existing ones were carried out in compliance with the CSIS Act and the conditions for approval as set out in Ministerial Direction. The Committee noted that the Service had informed itself of the human rights situation in all cases, and that it proceeded cautiously with activities and exchanges of information involving countries with a questionable human rights record.

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