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CASIS 2004 STUDENT REPORTS
Friday 15 October
Panel 4: Canada and International Security Post 9/11: Are We Getting It Right?
Chair: George Kolisnek, DND
Presenters: David Charters, University of New Brunswick; MGen Andrew Leslie, Former Deputy Commander International Security Force Kabul; Ambassador David Wright, University of Toronto
Rapporteur: Sergio Koc-Menard, Carleton University.
Charters presented a methodology for assessing the progress on the War on Terror, and applied it to Iraq. The methodology is not new, since it has been used during the years of the Vietnam War. It focuses on the strategic and tactical dimensions of insurgency and counterinsurgency. It has four components: (1) insurgency's strategic battle for legitimacy, (2) insurgency's tactical battle for control, (3) counterinsurgency's strategic battle for legitimacy, and (4) counterinsurgency's tactical battle for control. Each component is disaggregated into a number of questions. The answers make possible to build an assessment on the relative strength of insurgency and counterinsurgency. Charters tailored the questions to the Iraq War and used open sources to answer them. Although he concluded that the insurgents were winning the war, he emphasized that the defeat of the United States was not inevitable.
Leslie examined the role of Canada and the international community in Afghanistan. Kabul (not Iraq) is the epicentre of international terrorism. The cause of this problem is not religious fundamentalism, but individuals that propose or endorse radical interpretations of the Koran in order to advance their private interests. In Afghanistan, the military forces of the international community are organized in two groups. On the one hand, there is the U.S.-led coalition, which focuses on hunting and killing terrorists along the Afghan-Pakistani border. On the other, there is the International Security Assistance Force, which assists the Afghan authorities to secure the rule of law. The major security threats in the country are: warlords, narco-terrorism and terrorism itself. The objective of terrorists is to compel the international community to leave the country. Leslie concluded that Canada and its allies are getting it right in Afghanistan. In his view, Canada has the capabilities required to successfully intervene in failed countries, and should intervene more. In fact, the defence of Canada will be strengthened if Canadian forces go overseas and help build stable regimes.
Wright analyzed the political dimension of the intervention in Afghanistan. At first, the United States was reluctant to accept the involvement of other members of the international community in the country. In the end, however, it consented that they participate in the task of nation-building. Canada's contribution to Afghanistan has been excellent. The contribution of other countries, by contrast, has not been so good. Canada has participated in both the hunting of terrorists and the design and implementation of development programs. At present, Canada treats the demand for its troops abroad as an exceptional circumstance. Wright criticizes this attitude. In his view, Canada should be prepared to constantly deploy between 3000 and 5000 troops abroad.
Panel 5 was not submitted.
Panel 6: A Debate and Vote: Should Canada Have a Foreign Human Intelligence Collection Service?
Debaters: Wesley Wark and Peter Anderson
Rapporteur: Mike Haluch, Carleton University
The sixth panel was presented in the form of a lively, lighthearted debate. The question whether Canada should have a humint collection service was the topic of the debate. Arguing in favor of such a service was Wesley Wark of the University of Toronto. Peter Anderson made his case against this proposal.
Dr. Wark stated that the lack of a foreign humint service points to a five-fold ignorance. We are ignoring: i) the wisdom of the ages - the best way to avoid war is to be well informed with the aid of good intelligence; ii) the wisdom of others - we are the only G7, G8, and NATO member not to have a foreign humint service; iii) the new realities of terrorism and other global threats - suggest a need for a global intelligence capability; iv) national security at our peril - foreign humint is an essential part of that security; v) and the realities of intelligence itself - it is important to draw intelligence from all sources and by all means possible. In conclusion, Dr. Wark argued that Canada cannot rely on her neighbours (notably USA and UK) for all of our humint, nor should we rely solely on sigint or other forms of intelligence gathering.
In opposition to the idea of a foreign humint service, Peter Anderson raised several questions. Where does such a service fall into Canada's current defence and foreign policies? Is humint a priority to the Canadian intelligence community? Would the focus of this service be dictated by our allies (USA, UK) to simply lighten their current intelligence burden? Would this service make Canada more of a team player in our international intelligence alliances? The answers offered for all of these questions did not support the establishment of a foreign humint service. Mr. Anderson concluded that many disadvantages could be linked to the creation of such a service (such as failing to get it right), and that we would be better off focusing our resources and efforts in other areas; most notably, in analysis.
The debate stirred up considerable interest, and was followed by several apt points from the audience. The arguments given on both sides of the debate were so compelling that, after several (unsuccessful) attempts to count the votes of the audience, it was called a tie.
The John Tait Memorial Lecture
Lecturer: Keith Coulter, Chief, Communications Security Establishment
Rapporteur: Hazel Gray, Dalhousie University
Mr. Coulter began by observing that the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) has generally been portrayed as an ultra secret organization with very little public scrutiny. In light of Bill C-36, however, and in a post 9-11 world, Mr. Coulter discussed how CSE is now required to share an increasing amount of information with the public in order to hold it to accountability for its actions and to ensure that it is not encroaching on public security breaches under its newly broadened rights with regard to the collection of intelligence data. Mr. Coulter emphasized that CSE was working diligently to ensure that it was staying within its clearly defined legal boundaries by giving several examples of how it is being reviewed and held accountable. He highlighted the role of the CSE Commissioner who was given full access to CSE employees and databases in order to compile an annual review which is then presented to the Minister of National Defence and various parliamentary committees. Mr. Coulter noted that of the past eight reports presented so far, the CSE has been found to be working in accordance with the law and citizen protection under the Charter of Rights. He added, however, that countries such as the UK, US and Australia had led the way in revamping citizen protection laws in order to allow intelligence agencies greater freedom in intercepting intelligence when that interception involved tapping into internal (rather than foreign) communications. Canada has modeled some of our safety precautions on those presented by these countries and is now able to intercept a greater degree of domestic intelligence, but only when it is granted written permission from the Minister of National Defence.
In considering the many changes being made to the CSE over the past several years, Mr. Coulter emphasized the growing focus on cyber security strategy and noted that more strategic dialogue is needed on the issue of cyber security and the rapidly expanding phenomenon of cyber technologies. He also noted the continuing importance of cryptology to the CSE as a means of both providing and protecting information through leading edge technologies. He noted that the government has acknowledged the need to grant greater funds in order to keep the CSE up to date with new technologies and infrastructure, and that CSE had received greater funding in the post 9-11 time span.
Another change currently underway with the CSE is an attempt to better facilitate strong collaboration with CSIS and the RCMP. He also noted that the CSE is continually exchanging intelligence threat assessments with the National Security Agency in the United States. It was emphasized that this exchange of information with the United States was not a one-way street, but rather noted that the CSE brought many unique capabilities to an intelligence sharing relationship (such as a renewed focus on cryptology as mentioned above).
In conclusion, Mr. Coulter re-emphasized the importance the CSE placed on ensuring it was staying within legal boundaries in intercepting intelligence data within Canada. He pointed out that for both value driven and pragmatic reasons this legality was in the best interest of the CSE, and that through these new review processes of accountability, the need in a post 9-11 world to tap more intelligence resources was not working counter to privacy protection rights granted to all Canadians.
Panel 7: Proliferation Challenges Post 9/11: Are We Getting Them Right?
Chair: Louise Doyon, CSIS
Presenters: Michael Byers, UBC; Ron Purver, CSIS; Gavin Cameron, University of Calgary
Michael Byers' (UBC) presentation spoke to the issue of the American creation of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), arguing that it has been an innovative and positive initiative from both a policy and a legal perspective. The PSI, headed by John Bolton, was signed in September, 2003 and is composed of 15 countries including France, Germany, and Russia. Bi-lateral treaties have been signed between the U.S. and Liberia and the U.S. and Panama, allowing consensual access to both countries' registries and giving them the right to 'stop and seizure' of each other's navy. There have been containers of centrifuge found, for example on a German freighter en route to Libya, which lead Byers to conclude that this 'ad hoc' multilateralism - outside of the UN - is a sophisticated effort to enforce and create international law, and that other countries, including Canada, should be supportive. John Bolton made a controversial statement saying that pre-emptive strike was part of the initiative; however, Byers feels that this type of self-defense will not be needed as PSI grows stronger and more countries sign on. (For further information refer to Byers' article in the American Journal of International Law.)
The second panelist, Ron Purver of CSIS, gave a detailed account of the security and analytical challenges of proliferation. The discussion included the breakdown of the NPT in North Korea and Iran. North Korea, now a de facto nuclear state, may encourage a new wave of proliferation in neighbouring states such as Japan, South Korea and possibly Taiwan; while Iran's determination to acquire nuclear capability may do the same in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and Syria. The increased threat of biological, chemical and radiological weapons was also stressed as a serious challenge, in addition to the development of longer range, more accurate and reliable ballistic missiles as threats to stability. In terms of intelligence challenges Purver argued that a variety of intellectual disciplines should be utilized; however, even with such diversity of sources it will be difficult to ensure accuracy of information. Specifically the secrecy and sensitivity of WMD programs, combined with the 'dual use' issue, makes analysis and/or enforcement difficult at best.
The final panelist was Gavin Cameron (University of Calgary) who concentrated on the issue of changing the proliferation situation as it stands today. Cameron reiterated many of Purver's concerns about the lack of enforcement mechanisms, and the increasingly complex and potentially dangerous developments in WMD. A positive initiative in his view has been the creation of a G-8 Global Partnership to aid the former Soviet Union, and other states, to safeguard nuclear weapons. He also argued that while there is a need to focus on prevention, there is also a need to emphasize consequence mitigation and that more funding is needed to adequately deal with these issues. He believes Canada should take an 'all points approach' to non-proliferation within a multi-lateral framework. Moreover, Cameron stressed the unique role that Canada should play in revising and promoting a more robust NPT for the future.
Panel 8: Practical Problems of Analysis Post 9/11: Part 1: International Perspectives
Chair: Greg Fyffe, Privy Council Office
Presenters: David Chuter, United Kingdom; Michael Herman, Oxford University; Markus Ederer, Germany
David Chuter argues that western countries are still operating in the Cold War paradigm of threats from outside, while risks actually arise from western policies which the rest of the world sees as a threat to them. He suggested that intelligence analysts should be like sophisticated risk management consultants, making governments aware of the risks of their chosen policies in the international arena. Three factors make this difficult. First, close association between intelligence agencies and government defense and foreign policy departments can lead to "group-think". Second, the risks of policy may not be immediately apparent, and some risks are contingent. Third, a risky course may be the only course of action open to government. Humans assess risk poorly and this is complicated by lack of organizational memory within society and institutions; difficulty in distinguishing passing fads from underlying realities; and the need for politicians to respond to low-risk but high-profile situations so they are not seen as complacent.
Michael Herman dealt with the importance of analytical capacity and good judgment within the intelligence community, and with some of the potential effects of collapsing the barrier between producers and consumers of intelligence that has existed in the form of central agencies (US) or committees and collegial work (UK) for the past half-century. Drafting of intelligence analysis can focus equally on "what are we trying to say" or "how do we best put this over to government", but in the case of Iraq, the problem was the over-all message about WMD and not the drafting of specific documents. The Joint Intelligence Committee failed to judge the totality of the evidence and to act as a constructive skeptic, in part because not enough attention was paid to all-source analysis at the point between covert collection and top-level assessment, and because the intelligence community was too close to government at top levels. The Butler Commission made very sensible recommendations - that a specialized analytical capacity be created and given adequate support, and that the JIC chairmanship be assigned to a person demonstrably beyond influence who is in his last post - but did not address the question of JIC structure.
Markus Ederer identified three current issues which can be turned into opportunities to get things right. First, we need to improve our culture of prevention in dealing with failed states, regional conflicts and weapons of mass destruction. Second, we need to improve our ability to think the unthinkable, by recruiting and training analysts who have the historical and cultural knowledge and background to imagine themselves into the mind of jihad terrorists, by including cultural aspects as part of data collection, and by encouraging those who think outside the box. Third, bilateral exchanges of finished intelligence will not suffice in future; networking among intelligence agencies is efficient but must go further. The EU has embarked on joint assessment, creating a situation centre for decision-making by Ministers. He concluded that we cannot face new threats by running away from them and that unilateral action leaves problems unsolved and partners exposed. We must avoid the paradox of pressure for common solutions driven by diverse intelligence assessments.
Panel 9: The War of Persuasion - The National and International Media Response Post 9/11: Are They Getting It Right?
Chair: Stewart Bell, The National Post
Presenters: Paul Rutherford, University of Toronto; David Ignatius, Washington Post; Hugh Winsor, Globe and Mail
Rapporteur: Rachel Lea Heide, PhD Candidate Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Paul Rutherford studied the Canadian audience's response to the television coverage of the Iraq War of 2003. He chose his subject group from the political class since these consumers of the news understood from experience the process of using the media for persuasion. Mr Rutherford found that Canadians were not pleased with the journalistic products they were offered. Censorship made media questions seem unreal and resulted in the anti-war and Iraqi perspectives being neglected. Audiences felt that there was a hidden but untold story (Iraqi casualties, true effects of precision attacks, friendly fire incidents, hidden agendas about oil reserves were some supposed possibilities). The coverage seemed to be propaganda from Washington, and embedded reporters appeared to be little more than spokesmen for the military. Networks were packaged their coverage as entertainment with music, hype, sensationalism, and video game-like animation. According to this group of views, the coverage of the war on television had lost its objectivity. And the media was not getting it right.
David Ignatius argued that the American media failed to get pre-9/11 Al-Q'aeda threats and the 2003 War in Iraq coverage right. Concerning the pre-9/11 coverage, the media was too skeptical of this threat and failed to cover it sufficiently. Even in the months just before 9/11, the Washington Post ran only a small number of stories about the subject. Often, these reports downgraded the threat, describing Al-Q'aeda as merely a gang with many problems hampering their effectiveness. Coverage of the War in Iraq, on the other hand, failed to be skeptical enough. The media did not question government suppositions, assertions, idealism, and lies. Journalists' reports were less effective because they were only reporting what people said rather than analyzing truth value and intentionally stimulating debate. Newspapers lost potential impact by following normal rules of reporting and spiking stories on topics that had already been covered recently. The media also failed to show the public that the government was going to war without sufficient war plans. Perhaps this lack of skepticism lies in the fact that the removal of Saddam's regime was seen as a good thing: Iraqis disliked the leader, and his torturous ways were well known. In retrospect, the media failed to do its job, which is to hold the government accountable for its actions, examine the truth of statements made, and bring other possible truths to the public's attention.
Hugh Winsor described the skepticism deficit in the Canadian media's coverage of 9/11 aftermath. The media pays little attention to the possibility of terrorist attacks emanating from Canada until after a serious mishap has actually occurred (ex: millennium bomber going to Los Angeles via Canada) and has finally given the risk and threat credibility. Bill C-36 has received little analysis by the media and Parliament despite the 'overkill' nature of the legislation. The Conservative party's position on the War in Iraq (leader Stephen Harper was in favour of helping our American friends) was given little attention, even when the opinion polls indicated that the party could have won the June 2004 election. Journalists have failed to question Prime Minister Paul Martin's intentions to improve relations with Washington and show this policy for what it is - a blatant attempt to 'cozy-up' to the Americans. Even the Arar case attracted media attention only after Mr Arar returned home and told a compelling story that changed the public atmosphere. Journalists have failed to effect greater change in Canadian foreign policy, and this has been a detriment to the profession and the public good.
Emerging Scholars Roundtable
Chair: Sarah-Jane Corke, Dalhousie University
Presenters: Allison Pitlak, University of Toronto, Weller Prize winner for Undergraduates; Robert Frost, Simon Fraser University, Weller Prize winner for Graduates; Craig Forcese, University of Ottawa; Arne Kislenko, Ryerson University; Andrew Preston, University of Victoria
Rapporteur: Jordan Michael Smith, Carleton University
Chair Sarah-Jane Corke introduced the panel as "the rising stars in Canadian security scholarship." The panel consisted of the two scholars whose papers were awarded the Weller Prize, as well as three other scholars who commented on the papers and their relevance to security studies.
As the first speaker, Allison Pitlak summarized her paper on "economic espionage." She was chiefly concerned with espionage conducted by states, as that comprises the bulk of economic espionage. Ms. Pitlak mentioned that the U.S. is simultaneously the biggest target and victim of economic espionage as well of one of its biggest perpetrators.
Robin Frost's prize-winning paper examined the threat of nuclear terrorism. He found that the gigantic mushroom cloud so prevalent in the public imagination is a myth; the greatest threats, he said, come from terrorists attacking nuclear reactor and so-called "dirty bombs."
Arne Kislenko's topic was the future of intelligence studies. Mr. Kislekno felt there was a dramatic increase in interest in intelligence and security studies following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. This has manifest itself in several ways, he said: in more students taking intelligence courses at universities and in public attention being focused on news and entertainment about intelligence.
The fourth speaker, Andrew Preston, gave an overview of the two prize-winning papers. Both papers address US and Western vulnerabilities, Mr. Preston argued. Allison Pitlak's paper deals with economic and industrial espionage as practiced by the large powers, while Robin Frost "debunks myths" while raising other concerns. Mr. Preston read a passage from Frost's paper that he finds particularly chilling, a passage that predicted a dirty bomb would be set off in North American within the next 18 months.
Craig Forcese concluded the roundtable by emphasizing the similarities in the two papers: both essays point to problems to public security coming from the private sector. Mr. Forcese specifically mentioned Frost's discussion of rogue agents employing ex-Soviet scientists to develop nuclear technology as an example of this private-sector threat.
Two questioners followed the presentation: one concerned Pitlak's definition of economic espionage, while the other inquired as to Frost's feelings on the dangers ex-Soviet scientists pose to the Western world.
Evening Lecture: The Importance of Spy Fiction
David Ignatius, author of five spy fiction novels and Washington Post columnist
Rapporteur: Heather Tilley, Carleton University
David Ignatius' public lecture provided the audience with insight into his two lives: the life of fact in journalist, and the life of fiction. He pointed out the dangers of straddling the two lives by likening it to driving down the middle of the road as a compromise to driving in England and driving in Canada. Similarly, he quoted Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein: "If you can't say it, you can't whistle it either." There are things that you can't say as a journalist that you can say as a novelist.
His lecture centered on his seven experiences in Iraq and the images that were etched in his memory (perhaps for future spy novels). Each of the images was eloquently described, and this summary could not do them justice. Rather, the summary will focus on the themes he established and his political comments.
His first image was of the preparations for war taking place in Kuwait and the massive logistical strength of the United States. However, he noted that the fact that the US could do this doesn't mean that it should do this. His second image was of the fear and haunting presence, to the extent of being a "voodoo-like power", of Saddam Hussein over his people. His third image was of Easter Sunday, 2003, and the sense of rebirth that was in the air after the statue had fallen. Political parties were coming out of the woodworks, most interestingly and amusingly the Communist Party of Iraq. Tens of thousands of young male Shia Muslims were now free to march towards Karbala.
His fourth image was when he had gone to see the head of the Suni tribe in Fallujah, as things were turning bad in Iraq. After an unappetizing feast, the head said that he didn't want the Americans to leave, despite the fact that Fallujah was the centre of the resistance, because the strong would eat the weak. His fifth image came from being with Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense. He was explaining the US federal papers to an audience that didn't appreciate his enthusiasm. For Ignatius, this image proved that the war was primarily one of immense idealism, to prove that American power could have a transformational role in the world. However, just after the speech Wolfowitz's hotel was rocketed, proving that the idealism was facing considerable resistance. His sixth image came from his encounter with Paul Bremmer. Although Bremmer likened his role to be a "pro-council", Ignatius asked his whether instead an apt term would be a bankruptcy-trustee, where the creditors for power are the Shiites, Sunnis, and the Kurds. What if they all call in their loans? Bremmer hoped that they would be rational players who accept that unilateralism can't work. His final image came from the driver for the Washington Post in Iraq; a very decent, average Iraqi who was completely shattered after his Jeep was attacked.
Ignatius then described his novels, primarily Agents of Innocence, published in 1987. It is now used as a teaching tool for the CIA because of the level of detail he was able to obtain about the operations in Beirut. He concluded his conversation with some comments about his two worlds of thought. Journalism requires conscious thought, where reality is organized based on facts. Fiction is pre-conscious thought, an almost passive experience similar to the plots of our dreams. Ignatius assured the audience that the pretension of fiction authors that the novels "just write themselves" is actually true. For spy novels to be really good, they must incorporate the high level of human trust that must be achieved. Fortunately, he has had that experience in his journalism life that can be translated to his fiction.