Harper’s new $1.2B CSEC spy complex “a waste of money”: ShitHarperDid
On Wednesday, peaceful Shit Harper Did (SHD.ca) activists questioned the $1.2 billion being spent by the Harper government on a new “spy castle” for the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), a secretive military spying agency.
The activists attached a provocative 24-foot banner that said “I SPY A WASTE OF MONEY” to the fence outside the building on Ogilvie Road in suburban Ottawa. They also installed two huge eyeballs below the banner.
The activists had hoped CSEC would accept and keep the banner as a permanent feature at the new complex. But security details intervened in police-state style. They cut the banner with scissors and carted the shredded remains into the complex. They filmed and photographed the activists.
The action was led by SHD Action Coordinator Brigette DePape and SHD founder Sean Devlin as part of the group’s planned documentary on Canada’s spying programs, due for release early next year.
“The Harper government is increasingly invading our privacy while telling us less and less about what they’re doing with our money,” said DePape. “These are unprecedented actions that undermine democracy in order to help the Conservatives maintain power.”
SHD released the following statement:
The Harper Conservatives are building the most expensive building ever constructed. It’s a $1.2 billion office for 2 000 CSEC spies who hack into computers, read private emails and intercept phone calls. The building, dubbed “Camelot” will be made out of glass – “transparency” – get it?
It was even supposed to feature a skating rink and hobby garden until those plans were leaked to the media. It’s virtually impossible for the media and taxpayers to verify the specifics of how that money is actually being spent.
A lawsuit recently filed by the BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) in the B.C. Supreme Court challenges legality of CSEC’s spying activities against Canadians. The lawsuit argues that two aspects of CSEC’s operations violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms’ protections against unreasonable search and seizure and infringe on free expression. The two concerns are:
1) The interception of the private communications of Canadians;
2) The sweeping collection of metadata information produced by Canadians in their everyday activities online and through phone conversations.
The SHD activists also wanted to know whether CSEC shared intelligence with foreign spying agencies such as the National Security Agency (NSA) of the U.S.
As I blogged earlier, documents released by whistle-blower and former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden confirm that CSEC works closely with foreign intelligence agencies in the so-called “Five Eyes” global spying program involving Canada, Australia, Britain, New Zealand and the U.S. These agencies share intelligence on each other’s citizens.
Citing Snowden’s leaks, the CBC reported earlier this week that the Harper Conservatives allowed the NSA to conduct extensive surveillance operations in Canada during the G8 and G20 summits in 2010. The operations were “closely coordinated with the Canadian partner”. CSEC is the Canadian equivalent of NSA.
The Snowden documents also revealed that CSEC spied on Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy, and helped foreign agencies to spy on diplomats during the 2009 G20 summit in London.