Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Hewers of words and carriers of water

Recently I was asked by someone whether there were any members of the Canadian media who I thought were carrying water for CSE and other Canadian intelligence and security agencies.

"I don't really think so," I replied.

There is one reporter in Canada who has consistently covered intelligence issues for many years, and he does a good, solid job of it. There is another who recently has been doing excellent work on CSE. There is a third who has covered the intelligence community quite a bit, usually from a highly skeptical point of view, although his work has focused mainly on CSIS. He certainly doesn't carry any water for the spooks in Ottawa.

Going into the more distant past there have been a few others who have done outstanding work.

Aside from those, reporters assigned to these topics have mostly been new to the subject and haven't known very much about it. The agencies in Ottawa may have taken them for a ride from time to time, but for the most part they've done their best to report the various sides of contentious questions fairly. And then the next day they've gone off to work on some completely different topic, never to address the subject again.

A bigger problem than reporters acting as mouthpieces, in my opinion, has been that editors have only rarely given their writers enough time and space to get past the learning curve and really take a good, long look at Canada's intelligence community.

So that (or more likely some garbled version of that) was the view I expressed.

And then we get this:

Peter Koven & Stewart Bell, "Canada has ability to spy on Brazil, but lacks motive, security officials say," National Post, 7 October 2013.

Steven Chase, "Brazil spying allegations part of a ‘war game scenario,’ former official says," Globe and Mail, 7 October 2013.

I mean, really.

Not what I'd call their finest hour.

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