I’ve seen a number of media stories since yesterday about the CSIS documents that were leaked to La Presse and supposedly reveal that Abousfian Abdelrazik and Adil Charkaoui once plotted to blow up a plane. Oddly, none of those stories seem to report any concern from any government official at the unauthorized release of this so-called intelligence. Obviously these documents weren’t intended to be public information. You would think that when our national intelligence agency loses track of confidential documents — and not for the first time — that in itself would be a story.
But the only official government reaction I’ve seen came from Jason Kenney who appears to be pleased about the leak because it gives him the opportunity to lecture us on the need to trust governments and intelligence agencies rather than question their conclusions. Of course Kenney has it exactly wrong, particularly as it concerns the issue of guilt or innocence. The onus is never on the citizenry to just trust government. The onus is on government to present the facts and make its case. But then Jason Kenney and democratic principle aren’t all that well acquainted. And his case isn’t exactly strengthened by the fact that he wants us to trust people who can’t seem to keep track of the keys to the filing cabinet.
One of my favourite analysts talks about security, secrecy, and trust, with a couple of pertinent observations about Jason Kenney. The idea that confidential information can be leaked and then used for partisan political purposes is a novel one, but it does kinda put a different spin on the whole notion of national security.
In fact, this puts me in mind of an earlier post from the same blogger, reacting to a complaint from a senior Canadian intelligence official about what he considered inadequate deference from ingrates like us. The speech is posted here.
Apparently, we’re supposed to just trust him and be thankful, and run along after he pats our heads. And don’t worry about creeping authoritarianism or erosion of fundamental civil rights or anything.
I’ve always struggled with the whole notion of deference to authority, and it’s especially troubling at a time when significant sectors of our political and media establishment seem more and more bent on turning ignorance into a civic virtue. Having people like this in charge of sensitive information and matters of intelligence makes it easier to understand things like what happened to Maher Arar, but it doesn’t exactly do much for one’s comfort level. But maybe that’s just me.
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