What a lot of nonsense! The sexy sexist story about the ugly girl in effect says nothing more than what in officialese would add up to the claim that the service needs to obtain intelligence from countries that torture. I guess his addition is that you chose the one that will torture least-the least ugly girl. Of
course that is pure crap! They do not care if anyone is tortured; they want verification of their own theories, verification being confessions or "info" extracted often through torture, In Arar's case this classified info was then leaked to the press to blacken his name.If they wanted a country that tortured least they would not pick Syria.
Hooper's remarks about O'Connor are also completely off base. O'Connor did not suggest there should be less intelligence sharing. Exactly the opposite: he recognises its necessity. What he wants is to put caveats on the use of intelligence and to make sure that the intelligence is properly evaluated and filtered before being sent. In the Arar case reams of raw data were transferred with no caveats and no prior evaluation. Of course Hooper fails to even mention this.
Ex-top spy breaks silence
JEFF BASSETT FOR THE TORONTO STAR
Jack Hooper, a former top Canadian spy, retired five weeks ago to sleepy Peachland in the B.C. interior.
JACK HOOPER: 'Whenever they needed something done in an ugly place . . . I never said no to anything' May 26, 2007 04:30 AM
PEACHLAND, B.C.–Jack Hooper used to be Canada's top spy, a maverick, speak-your-mind agent who liked to wear cowboy boots and make bureaucrats squirm.
Before Canadian troops ventured into the Taliban stronghold near Kandahar, Hooper went to Afghanistan to check it out.
When a bagman was needed in 1997 to pay Peruvian security services so they'd protect Canada's embassy and refuse bribes from leftist rebels, Hooper got on a plane to Lima.
Hooper has also touched down in Uzbekistan and Yemen, two of the thorniest countries in the world.
Over the years, he has spent time with terrorists, double agents, gun dealers and dissidents, but this is the first time he's talking to a journalist. He wants CSIS out of the shadows.
Hooper was a man of action. But perhaps more than any of his exploits – and there were many during his 22 years with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service – he is remembered for what he said.
At CSIS they're called "Jackisms," often politically incorrect sayings or metaphors to plainly describe complex issues. A recording of the Top 10 Hooper expressions was played at his retirement party in Ottawa last month, read out by a host of characters, including Toronto's police chief Bill Blair, and Don Juan, the Front St. hotdog vendor popular with Toronto's spies.
Today, he uses a Jackism to answer perhaps the most pressing, and unresolved question facing CSIS in the wake of the Maher Arar affair: How does the Canadian spy service deal with countries that have a record of human rights abuses?
"Here's the deal. Everybody would like to believe that we have an array of choices that are good choices and bad choices. But we're going to a dance where every girl is ugly, okay," he said this week.
"They're all ugly. And all we can do is get the least ugly girl to dance with. But you know, when you bring her home your dad is going to tell you, 'That is one ugly woman'. And you're going to say, 'Yeah dad, but she was the best looking of that lot'. Does that make you smart? Not in the eyes of your father."
Hooper has decided to dish on his often ugly business in an incongruent setting – the Red Rooster Winery in the heart of British Columbia's picturesque interior.
The ex-spook is now a tanned, fit, 55-year-old retiree who calls this sleepy area home.
Canada's spy service has always been the poorer, younger cousin of the CIA and Britain's MI5 and MI6.
As University of Toronto professor Wesley Wark noted in his review of former CIA chief George Tenet's new book At The Center Of The Storm, Canada rates only two page references out of 520 in the index.
All that may change.
This year's federal budget allotted the spy service $80 million and there's a promise of millions more over the next five years.
Then there's the "citizen-engagement strategy," Ottawa's way of saying CSIS is doing more community outreach.
It may be working – an unprecedented number of Canadians (more than 14,500 last year) are sending CSIS their resumes.
Hooper swirls a glass of red and inhales deeply as he reflects on the agency's past and future – as well as the world-class wineries he lives beside.
"I would never let my guys drink Merlot. It's not allowed. It's a sissy wine," Hooper tells the clearly amused Okanagan University student offering a sample – his drink has always been dark rum and coke.
"It's light and girls drink it. And it sounds funny when you say it. Mer-lot. Men should never say that."
Hooper says he's not sure how he rose through CSIS's ranks to retire at the top.
He certainly wasn't a government yes-man and whenever he appeared publicly his political masters held their breath.
But he did do a lot of jobs no one else wanted.
"Whenever they needed something done in an ugly place, or something that needed to be kept quiet, or if they needed somebody to testify, or be the straw man for the service somewhere, you know it was always down in my office with a crooked finger and, 'Here's what you're going to do,' and I never said no to anything."
Those who know Hooper say his bluntness put him at odds with CSIS director Jim Judd, a pro at navigating the political scene who's credited with securing the service's increased funding this year.
Although there's no suggestion Hooper was pushed out, it's clear Judd has a better relationship with his replacement, Luc Portelance, who emerged during last summer's arrest of 18 Toronto terrorism suspects as the young, telegenic face of CSIS.
That's not to say Hooper has been reckless.
His answers were careful at the Arar inquiry two years ago, even if he did sit with one arm bent, leaning forward as if at any moment he would leap forward from the witness chair.
Commission counsel Paul Cavalluzzo showed no mercy in questioning Hooper about Canada's relationship with Syria, trying to determine if CSIS prolonged Arar's detention.
Arar languished in a notorious Syrian jail for a year without charges after the U.S. covertly flew him there as a suspected terrorist in 2002.
He was awarded $11.5 million and an apology from the Canadian government earlier this year after Justice Dennis O'Connor's report revealed that the RCMP erroneously told the U.S. Arar had connections to Al Qaeda.
But questions linger about the role of CSIS.
Did agents who visited Syria during Arar's incarceration leave the impression that they didn't want Arar released?
"Is it likely that the questions we ask the Syrian military intelligence could enable them to make inferences about who he is and treat him better or worse? Possibly," Hooper says now.
"But we have a choice. You talk to the Syrians or you don't talk to the Syrians."
Others see the issue differently.
"The important point, and O'Connor said this, is that information sharing is crucial but if you're going to share information with countries with poor human rights records you have to be very, very careful," says Cavalluzzo. He argues the public would respect CSIS more if it released more information and was more accountable.
CSIS's role may not have figured prominently in O'Connor's report, but former Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci is now investigating the agency in the cases of three other Canadians who were detained in Syria.
And John Major's inquiry into the 1985 bombing of Air India is putting CSIS and the RCMP in the headlines, especially with Ontario Lt.-Gov. James Bartleman's revelation that Canada was warned days before the attack that Air India would be hit.
An RCMP email disclosed in a Toronto extradition hearing earlier this month called the trio of inquiries "judicial jihad." Hooper likes that phrase.
But he's no stranger to oversight – one of his first jobs at CSIS was to answer questions for the agency watchdog, the Security Intelligence Review Committee.
"He was a young bright guy filled with loyalty for the cause and what he was doing," recalls Jacques Shore who himself was a budding human and civil rights lawyer when he took the position of SIRC's director of investigations in June 1985.
Now two decades later Hooper will likely again face Shore at the Air India inquiry. Shore represents the families of the Air India bombing victims and the ex-spy chief is a potential witness.
Hooper wants to reserve his comments about Air India and the mysterious Bartleman document until he is on the stand.
But he offers this: "I want somebody to write an article that compares and contrasts the criticisms that flow from the O'Connor inquiry and the criticism that will logically flow from the Major inquiry."
Hooper predicts that if O'Connor's criticism was that too much intelligence was shared – putting Arar's life in danger – Major's criticism will likely be that not enough was, thwarting any chance to stop the bombing that killed 329.
"O'Connor's going to say white and Major's going to say black and we're going to sit back and say, 'Yes, thank you very much, now tell us the right thing to do,' and that's where you'll hear the deafening silence.
"Nobody knows what the right thing is to do so it's left to us to make the decision about who the least ugly girl is."
He still says "we," even though he has been out of the service now for five weeks.
It's hard to picture the spy who can't count the number of countries he has worked in staying in wine country for long – or joining the other retirees on their morning power walks.
This week his focus is on getting furniture delivered, and pity the company that has somehow sent his buffet to Toronto.
"I guess I just don't understand what's so difficult," he says into his BlackBerry, in a manner that's somehow both jovial and stern.
"Tell me. Who do I have to kill?"
That BlackBerry used to vibrate constantly with emails and meeting reminders.
Now he rarely carries it.
"My wife says I always need to have a fight," he explains as he hangs up the phone.
"It's not that. It's just about accountability," he says, taking off his glasses and smiling. "I really believe people have to be held accountable."