Ex-spy’s allegations of CSIS law-breaking need investigation, say opposition MPs

A former intelligence officer’s allegations that Canada’s spy agency routinely ignores law-breaking by its operatives needs to be investigated, say opposition MPs.

Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
A former intelligence officer’s allegations that Canada’s spy agency routinely ignores law-breaking by its operatives needs to be investigated, say opposition MPs.

NDP MP Randall Garrison, the party’s public safety critic, said the RCMP is in the best position to investigate the allegations made by former spy Danny Palmer, a 12-year veteran of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

Palmer claims in court documents that CSIS allowed a foreign intelligence agency to target two people residing in Canada for assassination. He also said CSIS agents used death threats to secure sources, according to documents filed in Federal Court.

“They are serious allegations and he placed them on the public record and they need to be investigated,” said Garrison, in an interview with APTN National News. “It is the responsibility of the RCMP to investigate alleged criminal acts. (Palmer) has placed them on the public record. I would expect the RCMP exercise its jurisdiction and look into them.”

RCMP Sgt. Greg Cox said he could not provide comment on whether the RCMP has or will investigate the allegations.

“The RCMP does not generally confirm or deny who or what may or may not be the subject of investigation,” said Cox, in an emailed statement to APTN.

Liberal MP and public safety critic Wayne Easter, who is a former solicitor general of Canada, also said in an interview Palmer’s allegations warrant an investigation.

Palmer claimed in court documents he was fired from the spy agency because he repeatedly raised concerns about some of CSIS’ practices. He said the practices undermined the agency’s operations along with national and international security.

According to the court record, the spy agency said it fired Palmer in 2003 because of his “poor performance.”

CSIS, through its chief media and public liaison officer Tahera Mufti, called Palmer’s allegations “patently absurd.”

Mufti said Palmer was an “unhappy former employee who was asked to leave our organization many years ago.”

Mufti also claimed in an email that Palmer’s dismissal was “supported by a tribunal and the court.”

According to the public record, CSIS’ reasons for Palmer’s dismissal have never been tested by the Public Service Labour Relations Board (PSLRB) or the Federal Court.

Palmer initially settled with CSIS in 2007 after taking his case to the PSLRB. Palmer has spent the past several years trying to have the settlement quashed on grounds the agency withheld important information from him during the initial hearing before the labour board.

He failed to convince the labour board to re-open his case and then went to the Federal Court seeking a judicial review of the PSLRB’s decision. The Federal Court dismissed Palmer’s application in April 2013.

Palmer’s allegations and claims are contained in letters included in CSIS’ filings with the Federal Court. The letters were addressed to CSIS’ lawyer and the labour board.

Palmer’s Montreal lawyer Jean-Francois Mercure said the allegations, that appear scattered throughout the letters, are also contained in a “detailed” 134-page supplemental grievance filed with the labour board.

“The purpose of this supplemental grievance was for its content to be reviewed and verified (or) corroborated by CSIS through its own internal database or mechanisms in place,” said Mercure, in an emailed statement to APTN. “CSIS never officially refuted the accounts in the supplemental grievance.”

CSIS re-classified Palmer’s supplemental grievance from “Protected” to “Top Secret,” said Mercure. The reclassification happened sometime between 2004 and 2007, he said.

A list of documents filed in Federal Court shows the supplemental grievance is classified as Top Secret.

Document List

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Mercure said CSIS had mailed the same document to Palmer through Canada Post in 2004.

CSIS also initially claimed it was investigating Palmer’s allegations, said Mercure.

“In fact, in a letter dated October 2004 by CSIS lawyer Mr. Daniel Roussy…stated that CSIS was in the process of investigating Mr. Palmer’s ‘allegations’ and would soon be in a position to present its findings (to the labour board),” said Mercure.

By the end of the month, however, it appears the agency changed its mind and Roussy wrote the board saying CSIS would not provide the findings, said Mercure.

“One can question why CSIS did not refute the allegations or if they had in fact corroborated the accounts in the supplemental grievance at that point,” said Mercure.

In his letters, Palmer wrote it was “standard practice” for CSIS “to not investigate potential criminal matters within CSIS, as it may cause political embarrassment.” Palmer also said the agency had a habit of “omitting important facts and manipulating” information and that it “caused in the end the undermining of national and international security.”

Mercure said Palmer has repeatedly requested and denied the chance to be put through a polygraph test.

In one letter, Palmer said he issued two assessments warning of an “aerial attack” against the U.S. in April and August of 2001.

Palmer said he authored a threat assessment warning “of a possible aerial Al-Qaeda attack on a specific U.S. target at a specific time in April 2001.” Palmer said in August 2001 he issued an “assessment of a likely attack on the World Trade Centre that could have, if provided to U.S. authorities, altered the events of September 11, 2001,” according to the letter.

“My client is a private man who has not sought out any media attention at any time throughout this long, costly and difficult personal and professional process,” said Mercure.

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