Friday, August 15, 2008

Leaky, leaky, number nine

The security breaches under the rule of Stephen Harper keep piling up. The war game plans that were left at a minister's girlfriend's apartment. The blueprints for the new headquarters of the military's anti-terrorism platoon. And now, found on a rainy Ottawa street, a sensitive document from Environment Canada detailing the risk assessment for its database of those who violate pollution laws -- and saying, quite plainly, the system itself was at risk of being hacked by corporations or by environmental activists, making the prosecution of offences next to impossible.

The clearance level of the documents was "Protected B" and not "Top Secret," but clearly not meant for public consumption. The status requires a forwarding and return address -- and neither, it seems, was on the envelope either. Again, as before, what if Al Qaeda or another undesirable group got its hands on the information?

Stuff happens, Harper will no doubt say.

But isn't it interesting that we have a government that keeps citing national security to not explain its entire agenda, and can't keep a handle on keeping important day to day materials that do affect our national security and public health, under wraps?

There's a time to be open and a time to be discreet. Harper and his team seems to have gotten the two concepts mixed up on numerous occasions. A failure to admit when one is wrong also continues to be a pattern of repetition with the incumbent government in Ottawa. This, too, is something the opposition parties should pounce upon when Parliament resumes sitting -- or at the election that he seems so willing to call now.

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Anonymous said...

I was quite surprised to see this AGAIN especially after the Bernier incident & also the architectural plans of the new military "spy" complex that is in the process of being built. Pathetic.

Out of curiousity, Blast Furnace, do you know if any documents, Top Secret or less, have ever been lost & then found by a citizen? I can't recall ever hearing anything.

BlastFurnace said...

No, Penlan -- not in Canada, anyway. Maybe it's been in the news at some point but I don't recall off hand.

I do remember a story on "60 Minutes" some years ago about a guy who bought an abandoned warehouse from the US government at auction. He then went to inspect the place. For some reason, the front desk had not been cleared out -- and on it was a spiral bound book containing the instructions on how to build a nuclear weapon. Definitely top secret or higher.

He tried to give it back to the government but they initally refused claiming it was a fake. So CBS had a nuclear expert look at it and he or she confirmed it was actually legit. It turned out to be just one of several major lapses of security.

I'm not saying we go into total lockdown mode -- we don't want to be like the former Soviet Union. But doesn't The Man run background checks on people who access or have potential access to such important information? And what does it say when something so important just gets discarded like common garbage?

Anonymous said...

I think the Cons are a very sloppy bunch. I just remembered that video that was found, I think in Saskatchewan, with Tom Lukiwski that had been left behind for the NDP to find. It was revealed to the public quite a few months ago. It seems to be a pattern here.

They really ARE novices. And this is very dangerous, or could be, for our country.

Thankyou for answering my question. There may have been an incident in the States, something is nagging me at the back of my mind about that.

BlastFurnace said...

It is very dangerous indeed. If something that's meant to be on a "need to know" basis slips through the most elementary security checks, then how are we supposed to feel safe?

Certainly, the Libs aren't completely blameless either. Neither are many provincial agencies -- remember the Radio Canada reporter who broke into a Hydro Québec dam with a simple pair of bolt cutters and no security guard to stop him? He then drove several hundred metres underground vertically to the control room -- also unguarded.

But the pattern emerging under the Conservatives is very, very dangerous. Last weekend's incident with the RCMP sending out a page to a reporter, which linked to a very sensitive operation, is just another example of not applying even the most common sense standards on security.

Frankly, our income tax records have better security than defence and foreign affairs does. That says something in itself.