The CBC is reporting on a four-page, top-secret, "hyper-sensitive" Snowden leak that shows that the Communications Security Establishment Canada was used as a kind of innocent-faced bagman by the NSA, going to places where the Americans were not well-liked or trusted in order to install surveillance stations for the NSA's use. Canada established spy-posts in "approximately 20 countries" for the NSA, as well as "transnational targets." The CBC quotes an expert who predicts that the revelation will undermine Canada's diplomatic standing and relations around the world (duh), and who speculates that the Prime Minister himself may have signed off on the arrangement.
The briefing notes make it clear that Canada plays a very robust role in intelligence-gathering around the world in a way that has won respect from its American equivalents.
Wesley Wark, a Canadian security and intelligence expert at the University of Ottawa, says the document makes it clear Canada can take advantage of its relatively benign image internationally to covertly amass a vast amount of information abroad.
"I think we still trade on a degree of an international brand as an innocent partner in the international sphere," Wark said. "There's not that much known about Canadian intelligence.
"In that sense, Canadian operations might escape at least the same degree of notice and surveillance that the operations of the U.S. or Britain in foreign states would be bound to attract."
[Greg Weston, Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Gallagher/CBC News]