Who’s who in the Canadian counter-terrorism zoo? It’s worth knowing. After 9/11 Canada has reorganized its counter-terrorism efforts and often folded different agencies into multi-agency task forces. The net benefit has been a quantum improvement in efficiency… partly undone by the perennial shortage of resources and sometimes by the inability of politicians to refrain from meddling.
Success largely speaks for itself, although serendipity has also sometimes played a role. On personal acquaintance, most players in these agencies appear very professional and serve Canada very well. However, most of us don’t know that much about what they are doing. So….
CBSA – Canadian Border Services Agency: Who has come/returned into the country and what did they bring with them? They fuse the old Canada customs and the border functions of Immigration.
CSE – the Community Security Establishment: One of the oldest and most furtive of Canadian intelligence agencies, the highly automated CSE is responsible for foreign signals intelligence and protecting the integrity of Canada’s communications. Officially debarred from monitoring domestic communications, they can do so in some situations related to terrorism. Thanks to our “Five Eyes” partnership with the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand, CSE doesn’t need to break our privacy laws. Our closest allies do it for us and we reciprocate.
CSIS – the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. A purely domestic intelligence agency with other duties besides counter-terrorism, CSIS officers have no powers of arrest and are not police officers. Once they develop enough intelligence to warrant a criminal investigation, they hand things off to the INSETs.
FINTRAC – Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre. When terrorists or transnational criminals (who are often joined at the hip) start moving money around, FINTRAC gets interested.
IBETs – Integrated Border Enforcement Teams. Notwithstanding the powers of the CBSA, borders are complex jurisdictional environments. Created nested task forces with all the involved parties (US agencies, First Nations Police, Coast Guards, etc), makes investigation and prosecution so much easier.
INSET – Integrated National Security Enforcement Teams: Okay, now we’re really interested in you. Canada has five of these teams, each a task force based on the RCMP with participation from provincial, regional, and municipal police forces as well as liaison officers with sundry Federal agencies.
ITAC – Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre: Housed by CSIS, this is where all the intelligence comes together to be analyzed and assessed.
PCO: Privy Council Office – specifically the National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister and the Associate Secretary to the Cabinet. Ultimately, everybody reports here and this civil servant has the unenviable task of trying to convince the PM and the cabinet about the saliency of terrorist threats. Usually this figure keeps a quiet profile, although apparently Richard Fadden was instructed by Prime Minister Harper to shake things up once or twice.
Other ingredients in our counter-terrorism stewpot include the Canada Revenue Agency (who would know something about instilling terror in the hearts of Canadians), the Correctional Service of Canada, the Department of National Defence, Foreign Affairs Canada and Transport Canada.
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