In The Media

Former top security boss says it's 'almost impossible' to trace defence leaks

by Murray Brewster (feat. Richard Fadden)

CBC News
February 6, 2017

A former top national security adviser says that during his career leaks of classified information at National Defence prompted him to call in the RCMP "a couple of times" in recent years.

Richard Fadden, who served as head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, deputy minister of defence and national security adviser to two prime ministers, says he never thought that top secret information was being allowed to slip.

But lower grades of classified records and data ending up in the media — or in another public domain — was a continuing irritation, Fadden told CBC News in a recent interview.  

"Over the course of my career, I've either asked for or ordered a number of [RCMP] inquiries to be made when classified information has been leaked," said Fadden. "It is almost impossible to find who does it."

He would only say he took the extraordinary step "a couple of times over the course of the last five or six years, but none of it was very high level" information.

Admiral investigated

Fadden was quick to put distance between his remarks and the current RCMP probe into the military's second highest-ranking officer, Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, who was temporarily relieved of duty on Jan. 13 without explanation.

The Liberal government, National Defence and the RCMP have all refused comment, but a number of sources have said the federal police service is investigating Norman for a leak of classified information, possibly involving the shipbuilding program.

"I think that's under investigation. I don't know a great deal about it. So, I am going to decline to answer," Fadden said when asked about the Norman case.

The silence on the investigation has been unusual, particularly since it involves one of the most senior, sensitive jobs in the Canadian military.

RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson has refused to comment, but will appear before the Senate security and defence committee on Monday.

Previous navy leaks

Some of the investigations that may have been ordered on Fadden's watch include inquiries made by the RCMP, during late 2015, into how the media got hold of a federal cabinet decision that temporarily halted plans to lease a new military supply ship. CBC News and The Canadian Press both reported that story.

Two weeks ago, CBC News reported that the Mounties also probed a 2014 leak about the former Conservative government's decision to sole-source the $800-million purchase of new Sea Sparrow missiles for the frigates. That 2014 story was reported by Postmedia.

There has been speculation that the investigation into Norman is part of a wider-ranging attempt to plug leaks at the Defence Department.

Fadden said that in his experience many large departments have chatty people.

"I think, in any organization that has more than 50,000 people, it is almost impossible for information to be kept entirely secret," he said.

"So I come back to the point, it depends on what kind of information you're talking about. I really had no worries when I was [national security adviser] or when I was deputy at defence about top secret information, really core information being let out."

Different levels of secrecy

Fadden underlined the distinction between top secret, classified and protected information, the different levels of government secrets.

Those levels were blurred under the former Conservative government and continue to be hazy under the current Liberal administration.

Under former prime minister Stephen Harper, the definition of what could be considered secret cabinet information was expanded through regulations rewritten by the federal Treasury Board in 2013.

Departmental lawyers were given wider discretion to decide what constitutes a cabinet secret — known as a "confidence."

The result has been that data — previously considered innocuous — was labelled a state secret and hidden not only from the public, but from members of Parliament, parliamentary watchdogs and even the information commissioner.

Fadden tacitly acknowledged the confusion and said he always looked at the contents of the leak and where it ended up.

"You go down two or three levels [of classification] and you know, you're starting to deal with the private sector, and it's not always clear what's classified and what isn't."


Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTERS
 
SEARCH
PODCAST

An Update on the NAFTA Renegotiations

May 21, 2018


On today's Global Exchange Podcast, we touch base with CGAI's North American trade experts in light of a busy week on the NAFTA file in Washington. After months of hard-pressed negotiations, and 6 weeks of 'perpetual' discussions in Washington, the deal has reached its next turning point, with Congressional leadership signalling that they'd need a new deal by May 17th in order to have it passed before U.S. mid-term elections in the Fall. With no deal in sight, and the Congressional deadline now in the rear-view mirror, we sit down with Sarah Goldfeder, Laura Dawson, and Eric Miller to ask where we go from here.


IN THE MEDIA

Between Trump, Iran and North Korea, Canada’s G7 has a high potential for chaos

by Chris Hall (feat. James Trottier & Colin Robertson), CBC News, May 18, 2018

The struggle Trudeau could face if Kinder Morgan walks away from Trans Mountain

by Robert Tuttle & Michael Bellusci (feat. Dennis McConaghy), Bloomberg News, May 18, 2018

Canada 'a laughing stock': Experts react to Trans Mountain indemnity

by April Fong (feat. Dennis McConaghy), BNN Bloomberg, May 18, 2018

AUDIO: NAFTA update

with Danielle Smith (feat. Sarah Goldfeder), Global News Radio, May 18, 2018

VIDEO: NAFTA Deadline Day (@ 3:00)

with Don Martin (feat. John Weekes), CTV Power Play, May 17, 2018

VIDEO: Deal or no deal on NAFTA: Canada and U.S. send mixed messages

with Rosemary Barton (feat. Colin Robertson), CBC The National, May 17, 2018

Trump’s 'submission' strategy is not working so expect NAFTA talks to drag on

by Kevin Carmichael (Feat. Eric Miller), Financial Post, May 17, 2018

Backstop deal may be last hope for TransMountain pipeline, says former oil executive

by CBC News (feat. Dennis McConaghy), CBC News, May 17, 2018

Stuck with limited oil export options, Liberals may regret B.C. tanker ban

by John Ivison (feat. Dennis McConaghy), National Post, May 17, 2018

Feds OK early start to construction of navy’s new supply ships

by Lee Berthiaume (feat. Dave Perry), The Canadian Press, May 17, 2018


LATEST TWEETS

HEAD OFFICE
Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Suite 1800, 421-7th Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2P 4K9

 

OTTAWA OFFICE
Canadian Global Affairs Institute
8 York Street, 2nd Floor
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1N 5S6

 

Phone: (613) 288-2529
Email: contact@cgai.ca
Web: cgai.ca

 

Making sense of our complex world.
Déchiffrer la complexité de notre monde.

 

© 2002-2018 Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Charitable Registration No. 87982 7913 RR0001

 


Sign in with Facebook | Sign in with Twitter | Sign in with Email