When President Obama fired Afghanistan commander General Stanley McChrystal following highly critical remarks about Obama and his advisors by the General and his staff in Rolling Stone magazine, the President used these words:
The conduct represented in the recently published article does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general.”
Change the setting to Canada. Apply it to the injudicious interviews given to CBC-TV by the Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Richard Fadden.
On the eve of the arrival in Toronto of G20 leaders from around the world, including China, Fadden tells Peter Mansbridge that cabinet ministers in two provinces, which he did not name, and British Columbia municipal politicians are under control of foreign governments.
In the interview, Fadden hinted darkly that the foreign government was China. He spoke of the compromised ministers as being ethnically from the foreign country, and said they were influenced by free trips to their homelands and other considerations.
These statements have been variously described as astonishing and troubling.
Made without supporting evidence, they smack of McCarthyism, the technique U.S. Senator Joe McCarthy used to smear respected public officials with charges of being Communist, or under the influence of Communists.
If there is evidence for these charges, their public disclosure represents a betrayal of Canadian security, and blows the whistle on Canada’s efforts to keep foreign intelligence under control. It’s a betrayal of CSIS, or a betrayal of the principles of democratic governance. Hard to say which is the worst sin.
Premier Gordon Campbell of B.C., which has two cabinet ministers of Chinese ethnic origin, is outraged.. He says the statements are shocking and irresponsible.
“To cast aspersions and doubt on people in public office — we don’t know which cabinet ministers and which provinces he’s talking about — but to say that kind of thing at a public function and then release it to the media without talking to people directly involved is to me … I’m frankly incredulous by it,” he said.
In Ottawa, Prime Minister Harper’s people are dodging questions about Fadden’s outburst. An official in the Privy Council office says “we have no knowledge of these matters.” Yet Fadden had told Mansbridge that CSIS was “in the process of discussing with the centre (the PCO) how we’re going to inform those provinces.”
In a move for damage control., CSIS says in a statement that the agency “has not deemed the cases to be of sufficient concern to bring them to the attention of provincial authorities. There will be no further comments on these operational matters.”
Yet they were of sufficient concern for Fadden to blab on national TV that Canadian officials are doing the service of foreign governments.
Of course, many Canadian officials are favorable to the positions of certain foreign governments. Notably Israel and the United States. But that wasn’t what Fadden was talking about.
So much for the CSIS pr exercise that was no doubt designed to attract positive attention (and more funding), timed to hit the headlines just when we’re all nervous about world leaders meeting in Toronto.
Director Fadden has displayed either colossal misjudgment or has engaged, wittingly or unwittingly, in smear-mongering. He should resign. As the President said of his General, “the conduct does not meet the standard.”