Thursday, May 03, 2007

Intercept warned of Air India attack?

Ontario lieutenant-governor James Bartleman testified to the Air India Inquiry on 3 May that he saw a CSE communications intercept during the week before the 22 June 1985 bombing of Air India flight 182 indicating that the flight was to be targeted that weekend. Bartleman is the first current or former government official to allege that the Canadian government had specific warning information prior to the downing of the aircraft, the worst terrorist attack in Canadian history. Bartleman was Director General of the Intelligence Analysis and Security Bureau at the Department of External Affairs at the time, and he received CSE intercepts and other intelligence information on a daily basis.

Bartleman would not provide specifics about the intercept in a public forum, but said that he could provide further details in private testimony. The inquiry was told that CSE has been unable to find such a document in its files. It was also told, however, that test searches for known documents had also failed in some cases to produce the document sought.

No indication was given of how CSE might have made such an intercept. However, former CSE employee Mike Frost wrote in his book Spyworld that CSE began targeting Sikh extremist communications from an intercept site codenamed "Daisy" inside the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi in early 1984 (see chapter 8, pp. 179-197). The operation was reportedly highly productive and continued well past the date of the Air India attack. If Frost's information is correct, it may explain how CSE obtained the intercept. The telephone conversations between known Sikh activists in Canada and India may also have been intercepted, but the monitoring of communications involving people in Canada would presumably have been done by CSIS, not CSE.

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