Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Welcome to the Blame Game

Of course the ex-Mountie doesn't seem to blame the RCMP at all. CSIS does seem to have been very negligent in the case but then the seeming lack of co-operation and communication between CSIS and the RCMP was no doubt the fault of both parties. The two seem to act as if they were rival gangs fighting over their turf rather than agencies that were united in fighting terrorism. Taking the old security service away from the RCMP in the light of their ridiculous and bizarre dirty tricks and coverups seems like a reasonable move rather than trying to reform the service! It was later response that gave some aspects back to the RCMP that is questionable.

Politicians, CSIS criticized by ex-Mountie at Air India inquiry
Last Updated: Monday, June 18, 2007 | 10:43 PM ET
The Canadian Press
The 1985 Air India bombing represented an intelligence failure of massive proportions and could have been averted by better investigative work, says the man who was second-in-command at the time for the RCMP.

Henry Jensen, the former deputy commissioner of operations for the Mounties, shouldered little of the blame Monday at an ongoing public inquiry that is studying the bombing that killed 329 people on a flight from Canada to India.

Instead, he pointed the finger at politicians who he said "gutted" the national police force by taking away its security service. He also blamed the new civilian spy agency CSIS that took over the job just a year before the tragedy on June 23, 1985.

"I've always carried the view that this is the biggest and most disastrous civil intelligence failure that Canada has faced," Jensen told the Ottawa-based inquiry headed by former Supreme Court justice John Major.

"I firmly believe that. I, for one, feel that somehow, somewhere, there were some dots that could have been linked and should have been linked. And had that been done, then who knows, it might have been prevented."

As he did in a previous appearance at the inquiry last spring, Jensen took issue with the decision by the Liberal government of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau to abolish the old RCMP security service and replace it with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

The move was sparked by an earlier royal commission that found the Mounties had committed arson, theft and a variety of other illegal acts in the name of fighting Quebec separatism.

Jensen, who is now chairman of the Ottawa Police Services Board, said the reform left an "enormous gap" in the RCMP's ability to detect terrorist plots and head them off before they could come to fruition.

He said he wouldn't have objected to hiving off some intelligence functions to a separate agency — such as background checks on civil servants and counter-espionage operations — but he insisted anything related to terrorism was a criminal matter that the RCMP should have handled.

"I think that was a gross error on the part of government to make that change," he said.

Turf battles between RCMP, CSIS
Critics have long blamed turf battles between the RCMP and CSIS for the failure to head off the bombing, and for hampering the criminal investigation that followed the attack.

Documents tabled at the inquiry show the infighting reached to the very top of both organizations, with Ted Finn, then director of CSIS, complaining to Robert Simmonds, then commissioner of the RCMP, that the Mounties were trying to undercut the civilian spy agency and set up a parallel intelligence branch to replace the old security service they had lost.

Flight 182 stopped in Montreal after leaving Toronto, en route to London's Heathrow Airport and then India.

The explosives — allegedly planted by Sikh extremists in luggage that was loaded in Vancouver — exploded off the west coast of Ireland and killed everyone on board, mostly Canadians. A bomb also killed two baggage handlers at a Tokyo airport.

The inquiry, which started in 2006, was called because the Air India investigation and prosecution was the costliest and one of the longest in Canadian history — yet led to no murder convictions.

Investigators believe extremists who wanted India to create an independent Sikh homeland carried out the bombings.

Only one person was ever convicted in the plot. Inderjit Singh Reyat pleaded guilty to manslaughter in 2003 and received a five-year sentence.

The suspected ringleader, Talwinder Singh Parmar, died in India in 1992 and the RCMP's two main surviving suspects were both acquitted in March 2005, after a 19-month trial.

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