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Journalist who spotlighted Snowden leaks predicts security crackdown in Canada

Journalist Glenn Greenwald poses for a photograph in Montreal, Thursday, October 23, 2014.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
October 23, 2014 - 1:48 PM

MONTREAL - Canadians should expect sweeping security and surveillance measures following attacks against the military in Quebec and Ottawa, says the man who helped expose wide-ranging government monitoring of citizens in the United States.

"I will be shocked if the events of this week don't result in far greater secrecy powers and far greater surveillance powers than existed previously," Glenn Greenwald told The Canadian Press on Thursday.

"I've seen it so many times where the fear and nationalism that get generated by these events render almost inevitable not just the enactment of legislation that was already pending but I'll bet new and wholly more extreme measures as well."

Greenwald, a journalist and author, chronicled Edward Snowden's revelations of extensive National Security Agency surveillance programs last year.

Shortly after Greenwald's comments, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the Commons the "surveillance, detention and arrest" powers of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service will quickly be toughened.

"They need to be much strengthened, and I assure you, Mr. Speaker, that work — which is already underway — will be expedited," he said.

Greenwald was in Montreal to deliver a lecture at McGill University as part of a swing through several Canadian cities.

While working at the Guardian newspaper in Britain, Greenwald put the spotlight on a treasure trove of data from top-secret documents leaked by Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor and whistleblower.

Greenwald has since become co-editor of The Intercept, which looks at security issues.

He said Canada should not be underestimated when it comes to intelligence gathering, noting it is part of the so-called "Five Eyes" alliance of countries that includes the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

"They literally want to collect and store every electronic communication activity that takes place by and between human beings everywhere in the world, which is another way of saying they want to eliminate privacy in the digital age," he said.

"Canada is a recipient of enormous amounts of information that come from this alliance and they are contributors of enormous amounts of information that come from this alliance."

Greenwald questioned government arguments that increased surveillance has thwarted terrorist plans, saying the avalanche of information collected may have even hindered efforts.

He said intelligence activity didn't prevent this week's killing of Canadian soldiers in Quebec and Ottawa, while the significant capabilities of the National Security Agency didn't stop the Boston Marathon bombing last year or an attempted attack on New York's Times Square in 2010.

"Once you allow a government to engage in massive surveillance, rather than targeted surveillance, they end up collecting so much information, so much data that it's impossible for them to know what it is they have," he said.

"It actually subverts the goal of counter-terrorism."

He said Canadians still have a greater risk of dying from slipping in the bathtub or getting hit by lightning than from a terrorist attack.

Greenwald acknowledged there could be some pressure from the United States for Canada to toughen its laws.

He also said Canadians have to realize that their foreign policy, such as the decision to help fight ISIL in Iraq, has consequences despite the country's peaceful reputation.

"When you have your military in other countries, if you're sending fighter jets to drop bombs on countries, that's not peaceful." 

 

AFTER SHOOTING, RCMP INCREASING SECURITY FOR PRIME MINISTER, SAYS COMMISSIONER

OTTAWA - The commissioner of the RCMP says the Mounties will now guard the prime minister around the clock, wherever he goes.

MPs say Stephen Harper was with them but had no RCMP guard while they were holed up in a caucus room Wednesday as exchanges of gunfire echoed through the Centre Block.

It took some time for the Mounties to arrive and hustle him away.

RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson says that's going to change in the aftermath of the shootout on Parliament Hill.

Paulson also says Michael Zehaf Bibeau, who killed a Canadian soldier at the National War Memorial before dying himself in the Centre Block gunfight, was not on the RCMP's watch list of potential high-risk travellers.

Paulson also says there's no evidence of a link between Zehaf Bibeau and Martin Couture-Rouleau, who ran down two Canadian soldiers in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., on Monday.

 

HOUSE SPEAKER ORDERS HILL SECURITY REVIEW; RCMP, CSIS RE-EVALUATE THREATS

OTTAWA - House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer has ordered a comprehensive review of Parliament Hill security after a gunman stormed the Centre Block.

Scheer says parliamentary systems and procedures will be examined to identify any needed improvements.

The Speaker says Canadians will rightly ask how the man — who shot a soldier Wednesday at the National War Memorial — could have made it on to the Hill with a rifle.

A national security expert is urging the federal government to reflect calmly on the shooting incident before changing counter-terrorism laws.

Wesley Wark, who teaches at the University of Ottawa, says the key question is whether the security laws passed after the 9-11 terrorist attacks have served Canada well.

Wark says only once there are answers should the government consider changes to resources, organizations or laws.

Otherwise, officials will just be flailing in panic — something he would like to think is un-Canadian, he warns.

The Conservatives were already poised to introduce changes to the law governing Canada's spy service before the shooting.

The proposed amendments would give the Canadian Security Intelligence Service more power to track terror suspects abroad and provide blanket identity protection for the agency's human sources.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the Commons the changes would be "expedited" but there was no indication as to when a bill would be introduced.

 

THINK CAREFULLY BEFORE USHERING IN NEW ANTI-TERROR MEASURES: EXPERT

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

OTTAWA - A national security expert is urging the Harper government to reflect calmly on the shooting incident in Ottawa before changing counter-terrorism laws.

Wesley Wark, who teaches at the University of Ottawa, says the key question is whether the security laws passed after the 9-11 terrorist attacks have served Canada well.

Wark says only once there are answers should the government consider changes to resources, organizations or laws.

Otherwise, he warns, officials will just be flailing in panic — something he would like to think is un-Canadian.

The Conservatives were already poised to introduce changes to the law governing Canada's spy service when a gunman fatally shot a soldier Wednesday at the National War Memorial before storming Parliament Hill.

The proposed amendments — Harper told the House of Commons today they would be "expedited" — would give the Canadian Security Intelligence Service more power to track terror suspects abroad and provide blanket identity protection for the agency's human sources.

 

LAWYERS ARGUE OTTAWA HAS NO RIGHT TO STRIP CERTAIN PEOPLE OF CITIZENSHIP

TORONTO - Constitutional lawyers are in Federal Court today, challenging a law that allows the government to strip a Canadian-born person of their citizenship.

Toronto lawyers Rocco Galati and Paul Slansky, who is representing the Constitutional Rights Centre, say the new law is unconstitutional.

Previously, someone could be stripped of Canadian citizenship for attaining it through false representations.

A new law expands the list of those vulnerable to revocation to include people born in Canada but eligible to claim citizenship in another country — for instance, through their parents — as well as on grounds such as treason and terrorism.

Galati says people born in Canada are citizens, "period," and once a citizen has been naturalized they have the same rights as someone who is natural born.

Galati, who is himself a naturalized citizen, says unless there has been fraud in the naturalization process, the government does not have the legal authority to "yank back" that citizenship.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2014
The Canadian Press

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