column was published in the North
Shore News on
May 3, 2000)
spins huge security scandal
By Leo Knight
Robert Read said that he had just been suspended by the RCMP for
allegedly breaching the Official Secrets Act.
you will recall, was assigned to investigate alleged corruption
and improprieties at the Canadian Consulate in Hong Kong, the
third such investigation since former Foreign Services Officer
Brian McAdam blew the whistle on the scandal.
discovering evidence of the corruption in our consular
operations which reached into the upper echelons of the federal
government, Read was inexplicably taken off the file.
then fought to have the investigation reopened going through
several levels of RCMP bureaucracy, the Public Complaints
Commission, the auditor general, then finally, the media in the
form of Vancouver Province news editor Fabian Dawson.
Province broke the Sidewinder story shortly after the
Read revelations, and it has been much discussed in this space
as well as the national press.
Sidewinder report alleged the government of the People's
Republic of China and various high ranking triad gangsters were
conspiring to obtain significant influence in Canada through a
variety of means.
October, the Toronto Globe & Mail reported that CSIS
director general Barry Denofsky ordered the destruction of all
copies of the report and, amazingly, all other material
associated with the file -- e-mails, drafts, notes and all other
bits and pieces with any link to the investigation.
spokesman Phillip Gibson confirmed the destruction of the
material, saying, "We do not report conspiracy theories ...
rumour and innuendo."
resulting outcry in the media and in the House of Commons
prompted the civilian watchdog of CSIS to announce an inquiry
investigating allegations that the original Sidewinder report
was suppressed because of political pressure. It is expected to
complete its investigation and release the results to Parliament
week CSIS director Ward Elcock spoke publicly for the first time
on the issue in an interview with the Ottawa Citizen.
Elcock denied it was public pressure that shut the report down,
still toeing the party line that the report was based on rumour
and innuendo, not facts.
were some disagreements about what the facts were, what you
could say in that paper," he said. "And while we
thought it was an interesting theory, we don't publish papers on
the basis of just theories. We publish papers on the basis of
the facts we can put in the papers," he was quoted as
saying in the Citizen story.
didn't try to explain why, if they thought it was
"interesting," they ordered everything shredded.
the shredding of the Sidewinder material couldn't prevent loyal
agents and officers from helping to get the story in the public
eye. And so we learned this weekend, not all the documentation
was destroyed in the shoddy attempt to cover up what may well
prove to be the most important story of the last decade.
Saturday's Globe & Mail, reporter Andrew Mitrovica
quoted segments of the document obtained by him through sources
that obviously thought Elcock's comments were the last straw.
the time the report was produced in 1997, the Criminal
Intelligence Directorate of the RCMP objected strenuously to a
CSIS executive request to file a watered-down version, so
frightening were its findings.
the end, the RCMP investigators who had worked in the project
were left dangling in the wind, and CSIS bowed to the political
pressure to soften the blow of the report. The disclosure left
CSIS to ultimately claim they had destroyed the file in its
entirety because it was unsubstantiated rumour.
In the foreword to the report, investigators fearful of the spin that would be attempted said, "... this report presents concrete facts, not just ideas or speculation."
this: "This document does not present theories but
indicators of a multi-faceted threat to Canada's national
security based on concrete facts drawn from the data banks of
the two agencies involved, classified reports from allied
agencies and various open sources."
of the information in the report has already been made public
through various sources.
the absence of the documentation until now has allowed the spin
put out by CSIS senior management.
document itself describes how Beijing's spies and the triads
worked in concert in matters like stealing high-tech secrets,
engineering control of Canadian firms in real estate, security,
media and other influential sectors, money-laundering and
political influence through substantial party donations.
aftermath of the Sidewinder collapse is also shocking. The
inter-agency peeing contest and political interference in the
management of CSIS has left the agency woefully inept for its
CSIS agent caught up in the fallout told me, "We're so
handcuffed now, we couldn't find an elephant in a zoo. If it's
not open-source material, we can't use it."
episode shows what's wrong with our government. We have allowed
Beijing and its criminal partners to steal our sovereignty,
piece by piece.
have bought and paid for our political leaders through campaign
donations and ensured their co-operation.
the people we pay to protect us from this insidious corruption
try to investigate, they and their message is stifled and
week a Federal Court judge allowed a convicted Chinese espionage
agent to remain in this country after immigration officials
tried to remove him.
immigration minister is in China playing footsie with the
Chinese government on the subject of illegal aliens, pleading
with them to please, take their citizens back.
Prime Minister Chretien is planning another trade mission to
China next year to bestow some more of your hard-earned tax
dollars on the communist regime.
By the way, Cpl. Robert Read is still on suspension.