BRIAN LILLEY | QMI AGENCY
OTTAWA — CBC’s bombshell claim that the National Security Agency (NSA) spied on Canadian soil with the support of the Harper government was blown to bits Monday after the state broadcaster released its source documents.
Last Wednesday, CBC’s The National trumpeted a story of American spies targeting foreign leaders.
“Stephen Harper’s government allowed the largest American spy agency to conduct widespread surveillance in Canada during the 2010 G8 and G20 summits,” the headline on CBC’s website read.
The documents, released online Monday, don’t support that claim and read more like a standard security briefing ahead of an international summit.
Wesley Wark , a visiting professor at the University of Ottawa, said the claims made by the story and the words in the documents don’t match.
“There was no support in the document for the claim originally made by the CBC that CSEC (the Communications Security Establishment Canada would lend its technical expertise to the NSA effort,” Wark said.
Security analyst David Harris of Insignis Strategic Research agreed with Wark that the documents don’t support the claims CBC made in its original story.
“As smoking guns go this is the ultimate smokeless gun, there’s no compelling evidence of any kind of CSEC collaboration with any imagined NSA plot to penetrate private discussions of visiting government leaders,” Harris told QMI Agency.
That’s a far cry from the way CBC anchor Peter Mansbridge and reporter Greg Weston played the story last Wednesday evening on The National.
“The U.S. was monitoring the communications of world leaders while they were all in Toronto for the G20 summit and Canadian officials approved it,” Mansbridge said as he introduced the story.
Weston claimed on air that the spying operation was done, “all with the blessing of the Canadian government.”
“Beyond the indication about ‘co-ordination’ with the Canadian partner there are no details about what CSEC or the Canadian government felt about this U.S. operation,” Wark said.
CBC obtained the documents from Glenn Greenwald the journalist, lawyer and former porn promoter who has been working with NSA leaker Edward Snowden. CBC paid Greenwald for access to the documents, a fact omitted from the broadcast of their original story.
Harris called it strange that CBC partnered with someone like Greenwald, a person who calls for more open government, but initially refused to release the documents.
“For people pushing governments to be more honest and transparent, it certainly took a lot to get the documents out of them,” Harris said.