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Canadian Security Intelligence Service
Service Canadien du Renseignement de Sécurité

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) provides advance warning to government departments and agencies about activities which may reasonably be suspected of constituting threats to the country's security. CSIS does not have the mandate to conduct foreign intelligence operations outside of Canada. CSIS is a defensive, domestic security intelligence service. Other government departments and agencies, not CSIS, have the responsibility to take direct action to counter the security threats. CSIS does not have law enforcement powers, therefore, all law enforcement functions are the responsibility of police authorities. The splitting of functions, combined with comprehensive legislated review mechanisms, ensures that CSIS remains under the close control of the federal government.

The Service uses a variety of collection methods to monitor individuals or groups whose activities are suspected of constituting a threat to national security. Through such monitoring, the Service is able to identify individuals with suspected connections to terrorism and persons operating in Canada on behalf of hostile intelligence services. In addition to monitoring potential espionage and sabotage efforts, the Service is mandated to inform the government of foreign-influenced activities within or relating to Canada that are detrimental to the interests of Canada and are clandestine or deceptive or involve a threat to any person.

The 120-year old interlocking of Canada's security intelligence service with the federal police force was brought to a close with the establishment of the civilian Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the disbanding of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Security Service by an Act of Parliament in 1984, which recognized the differences between security intelligence activities and law enforcement work. CSIS was created following the McDonald Commission of Inquiry of the late 1970s and the MacKenzie Commission of the 1960s.

In its early years, much of the Service's energy and resources were devoted to countering the spying activities of foreign governments. In response to the rise of terrorism worldwide and the demise of the Cold War, CSIS has made public safety its first priority. This is reflected in the high proportion of resources devoted to counter-terrorism. CSIS has also assigned more of its counter-intelligence resources to investigate the activities of foreign governments that decide to conduct economic espionage in Canada in order to gain an economic advantage or try to acquire technology in Canada that can be used for the development of weapons of mass destruction.

CSIS, through its mandated investigations in Canada and its international liaison network, seeks to identify attempts by countries of proliferation concern to acquire Canadian technology and expertise. The resulting analysis is shared with relevant government departments and agencies. In its efforts to counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, CSIS works closely with federal government departments and agencies such as Foreign Affairs and International Trade, National Defence, Revenue Canada, Customs, Excise and Taxation, the National Research Council and the Atomic Energy Control Board. These have either an enforcement role or the expertise to support a thorough and comprehensive assessment of the threat.

CSIS reports to and advises the Government of Canada. CSIS intelligence is shared with a number of other federal government departments and agencies, including Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, Immigration, the Department of National Defence and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. As well, CSIS has arrangements to exchange security related information with other countries. The vast majority of these arrangements deal with visa vetting. A small number deal with exchanges of information collected by CSIS in its investigation of threats to national security.

As well as investigating threats to Canadian security, CSIS provides security assessments, on request, to all federal departments and agencies with the exception of the RCMP and the Department of National Defence, which conduct their own. These assessments are made with respect to applicants for positions in the Public Service of Canada requiring a security clearance and for immigration and citizenship applicants.

The Solicitor General is responsible to Parliament for CSIS as a whole and for its general direction. The Solicitor General also issues policy guidelines concerning basic operational procedures. The Director of CSIS is responsible to the Solicitor General for the control and management of the Service. The Director must consult with the Deputy Solicitor General on the operational policy of CSIS, on applications for warrants, and on any other matter for which the Solicitor General indicates such consultation is needed.

CSIS Operational Branches

Counter Intelligence (CI) Branch

Counter Intelligence Branch monitors threats to national security stemming from the espionage activities of other national governments'intelligence operations. The Branch is focusing its resources on the areas of transnational crime, economic security, and issues surrounding the proliferation of weapons.

Counter Terrorism (CT) Branch

The Counter Terrorism Branch is one of the Service's two main investigatory sections (the other being Counter Intelligence) and its role is to provide the Government of Canada with advice about emerging threats of serious violence that could affect the national security of Canada.

Analysis and Production (RAP) Branch

The Service's research arm, the Analysis and Production Branch, underwent a major reorganization in 1996-97. The goals of the reorgani- zation were two: to improve the coordination of intelligence production with the Privy Council Office's Intelligence Assessment Secretariat, 27 and enhance the intelligence support to the main consumers of its product inside the Service - the operational desks, the Executive, Security Liaison Officers, and the like. The Analysis and Production Branch adopted a new structure with three divisions: one responsible for counter intelligence and foreign intelligence matters, a division that deals with counter terrorism matters, and a division to prepare documents such as the public annual report and the classified annual report to the Solicitor General.

Between 1992 and 1998, the Service's staff will be reduced by 760 or 28%. The Service's budget, including reductions resulting from Program Review, will decrease by 37% between 1993/94 and 1998/99. If the capital costs of the National Headquarters are excluded, the reduction is 21%. This includes the reductions associated with Program Review Phases I and II, which comprised cuts of five per cent in each of the 1995/96 and 1996/97 fiscal years, along with an added 3.5 per cent in 1998/99, amounting to a base reduction of $22.7 million.

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Page last modified: 28-07-2011 00:52:02 ZULU