Sears: Convoy inquiry reveals another Canadian intelligence fiasco

One of the better commentaries. Paul Wells on substack continues to have a number of must read commentaries:

The developed world grudgingly accepts that its intelligence agencies have a perennially poor performance record. Despite the tens of billions of dollars we spend on them, their list of failures is breathtaking: Iraq, 9/11, prediction that Afghanistans would survive and Ukraine wouldn’t. 

In Canada, we have our own humiliations: Air India and the rendition of Canadian citizens to be tortured in police states. The most recent horror is CSIS’s employ of a human trafficker as its agent, then lying about it to allies.

The guru of intelligence history, Christopher Andrew (“The Secret World”), observes that these disasters are rarely a failure in intelligence collection. More often it is failures in sharing, analysis, and execution. However, as the convoy inquiry (officially, the Special Joint Committee on the Declaration of Emergency) has made glaringly clear, Canadian intelligence and police agencies often fail at collection, as well. 

Bizarrely, CSIS, RCMP and OPP have for years failed to understand and master the power of social media. They monitor the obscure hate sites peripatetically. They fail to see patterns, share findings, or dig into identities and connections. Shopify does a better job at it than Canadian security agencies. Perhaps we should retain them. 

It is the absence of an aggressive outbound social media strategy that is even more astonishing. No agency smacks down misinformation, calls out lies and disinformation, let alone offers a more Canadian view on issues from race to terrorism. The reason may be that they fear to be seen to be “political.” No other NATO country’s spooks are so meek, they use surrogates.

Several police and intelligence agency leaders have shared with me their frustration at their bosses failure to understand the essential role an effective social media strategy has today. It is predictably, generational. Mine doesn’t get it, my son’s generation do.

The OPP’s nose-stretchers are a case in point. Their witnesses claimed on the one hand that the Ottawa Police Service did not digest their intel warnings about the convoy’s potential for violence. Then in the same testimony they concede they did not have any “specific” evidence of such tendencies. Nor can they claim that they raised the alarm with any other agency or police service with the intensity their intel teams were shouting for.

A teen at a screen in their basement could have pointed them to the dozens of cases of inciteful rhetoric and the open calls for violent overthrow of the government, months in advance. The Inquiry has made clear this needs to be addressed urgently: work the social media platforms faster, more deeply, and share your findings. 

The second revelation of the Inquiry: little has changed since Bob Rae revealed the staggering cost in lives of CSIS and the RCMP’s mutual enmity. They treat each other, and their political masters, as interfering and untrustworthy threats. Why was their no high-level forum among three levels of government, and their agencies, weeks before the convoy arrived.

Blaming the dysfunctional state that the Ottawa police had descended to is a useful out for the OPP and RCMP. It is no defence, however, for their failure to do everything they could to ensure public safety. John Morden in his blistering assessment of the G20 Summit disaster made all of these points crystal clear more than a decade ago. No one, apparently, took him seriously.

The politicians hiding under their desks for the first two weeks are the most galling: Premier Ford refusing to even attend a high-level meeting, Justin Trudeau clinging to his “separation of powers” fig leaf until dropping it in favour of the Emergency Declaration, as his inner circle finally realized that this was going to bite them too; and the slippery mayor of Ottawa conspiring behind his own chief’s back to hire a completely unqualified negotiator who reached a deal to move even more trucks to Parliament Hill. Some deal! Political vanity made a bad situation even worse. 

The inquiry has been a blessing already. It has revealed incompetence, infighting, and childish jurisdictional games in texts, emails and testimony. Let us hope some of those tarnished by its revelations now sit down and apply its lessons — before the next armed attack on Ottawa.

Source: Convoy inquiry reveals another Canadian intelligence fiasco

ICYMI: Wesley Wark: Intelligence lessons from France

Wesley Wark on the intelligence lessons from the Paris attacks and sensible conclusion:

French intelligence and security agencies are highly experienced with terrorism threats and have particular knowledge and capabilities in the Middle East, North Africa and the sub-Saharan region. But there are lessons to be learned, for France, and for other countries, in the failures of counter-terrorism on display last week. Those lessons point in four directions: perseverance in maintaining a strategic watch on presumed lower tier threats; better technological capabilities; better intelligence sharing at home and abroad; and better external scrutiny.

Wesley Wark: Intelligence lessons from France | Ottawa Citizen.