Cold War redux

Before its recent arrest of a U.S. journalist on espionage charges, Russia suffered a string of embarrassing setbacks to its foreign intelligence operations as hundreds of suspected agents were expelled or charged abroad. Among other things, Poland recently arrested nine suspected nine Russian rail saboteurs and Britain says roughly half of Russia’s spies working under diplomatic cover in Europe were expelled within six months of the invasion of Ukraine. [node:read-more:link]

Australia to ban TikTok

Security concerns have prompted Australia to follow its partners in the Five Eyes security group in prohibiting the use of TikTok on government devices. Attorney Attorney General Mark Dreyfus said today that the ban would take effect “as soon as practicable” but that there could be exceptions. [node:read-more:link]

Governments accused of ignoring CSIS

Former Canadian Security Intelligence Service officials have told a parliamentary committee that successive governments have failed to act on the agency’s reports on foreign election interference for at least three decades. [node:read-more:link]

Canadian leaks no issue for allies?

A U.S. Administration official said today that leaks about alleged Chinese meddling in Canadian electoral processes have not affected Five Eyes intelligence sharing. “There's no breach of trust […] whatsoever,” said John Kirby, strategic communications coordinator at the National Security Council, adding that the U.S. supports Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s approach to the issue. [node:read-more:link]

Poland breaks up spy ring

Six foreign nationals “from across the eastern border” have been charged by Poland with preparing acts of sabotage and spying for Russia. “Their tasks included recognising, monitoring and documenting weapons transports to Ukraine,” says Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski. “The suspects were also preparing sabotage actions aimed at paralysing the supply of equipment, weapons and aid.” [node:read-more:link]

PM sets out Johnston’s mandate

Former Governor-General David Johnston, tasked with looking into foreign interference in Canadian politics, has been promised “complete access” by the Prime Minister. While he has two months to decide whether a public inquiry is warranted, Johnston’s mandate letter gives him more time to dig into the “extent and impact of foreign interference”, to determine “what the government did to defend Canada”, and how it could be improved. [node:read-more:link]

Globe & Mail protects anonymous source

An anonymous veteran federal public servant was identified today as the source for a series of internationally embarrassing disclosures about foreign interference in Canadian affairs and about seeming government indifference or reluctance to act over the years. Acknowledging the prospect of eventual prosecution if identified, the whistleblower explains the reasons for sharing concerns about an evolving threat. [node:read-more:link]

Ex-NSICOP member calls “B.S.”

Retired Conservative Senator Vern White is challenging Opposition Leader Pierre Poilievre’ characterization of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians. Poilievre described NSICOP’s work as “secret hearings, secret evidence and secret conclusions” controlled by Prime Minister. “Obviously that’s B.S.," says White, insisting that “our work was […] totally unfettered” even though the PM ensures security elements are redacted before NSICOP reports are made public. [node:read-more:link]

Registry consultations begin

Several months after indicating late last year that the federal government wanted to address concerns about foreign influence in Canadian politics, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino jump-started the process today. “There are few greater challenges that we face than foreign interference,” he said, announcing plans to consult hrough to May 9 about a proposed registry of foreign agents. [node:read-more:link]

Scientists’ dismissal still a puzzle

Nearly four years after two Chinese scientists were fired from a federal laboratory in Winnipeg on alleged national security grounds, the RCMP investigation continues. “Investigations are often complex, multijurisdictional and resource-intensive,” an RCMP spokeswoman offered without further comment. The two scientists have since returned home. [node:read-more:link]

Election fuss going to NSICOP

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today that the question of foreign interference in Canada’s electoral processes is being referred to the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians. NSICOP is comprised of members of the Commons and Senate from all parties with “top secret” security clearance. The opposition parties, meanwhile, continue to push for a “public inquiry” even though that could go behind closed doors when reviewing issues of national security. [node:read-more:link]

Clock running out on TikTok

After the federal government, taking its cue from the European Union and the U.S. by banning the Chinese-owned TikTok social media app from on all government mobile devices. The roster of governments concerned about data protection and security vulnerability continues to grow with Nova Scotia the latest addition. [node:read-more:link]

PM denies CSIS warning report

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is dismissing as “fasle” a report that his office had been advised by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to drop a Liberal candidate in the 2019 general election because he had China’s support. The PM also said February 27 that questioning the loyalty of Han Dong, who was re-elected in 2021, is “actually damaging to people’s confidence in our democratic and political institutions.” [node:read-more:link]

New U.S. focus on northern border

Canada’s border with the U.S. has largely avoided partisan politics in Washington but that may be changing. Twenty-eight members of Congress have formed a “northern border security caucus” focused on immigration, crime and national security. [node:read-more:link]

U.S. steps up tech protection

Tighter controls on supply chains and enforcement of export controls are the tools whereby a new U.S. interagency “strike force” hopes to safeguard technologies from foreign adversaries. “We will use intelligence and data analytics to target illicit actors, we will enhance our public and private partnerships,” says Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco. [node:read-more:link]


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