Wesley Wark: Post-9/11 fatigue sets in – Wesley Wark, security specialist at the University of Toronto. A next chapter written by law enforcement sounds a lot better to Canadian ears than one written by a CSIS driven into Stasi terrain
By Wesley Wark
Canada’s front-line national security agencies have been subjected to enormous and unprecedented stresses and strains in the past eight years. The fault lines are starting to show.
Remember that scene in John le Carré’s classic The Spy Who Came in from the Cold when the spy chief twists the knife in the wounded pride of his Berlin station chief, Alec Leamas, and wonders whether he’s suffering from “metal fatigue” and needs to come in from the Cold War cold? Whether Canadian security agencies are suffering their own version of metal fatigue, after flying into the headwinds of post-9/11 threats for so long, is a question that’s beginning to look urgent.
Much frenzied activity occurred after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to confront Canadian resource and capability gaps.
By Christmas of 2001, Canada had passed its first anti-terrorism legislation, reached to the tune of $7.7-billion out of our fiscal pockets to provide for our first national security budget, and forged a border-security deal with the United States that promised to somehow square the circle of heightened security and free trade.
In a second wave of activity, started in earnest in 2004, the Canadian government created a host of national security institutions, including the Department of Public Safety, the Canada Border Services Agency and the Integrated Threat Assessment Centre. All would suffer, and continue to suffer, from growing pains.
We toyed with the idea of creating a national security “czar,” but watered our wine with a national security adviser as a part-time post – a compromise that’s looking increasingly unworthy.
We allowed ourselves to imagine setting up an independent foreign intelligence service to cope with the new global threats, only to have that idea swallowed up by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, which wished to expand its mission beyond domestic frontiers (or at least did not wish a rival agency to form).
Short URL: http://tinyurl.com/ygxq593