Canada Can No Longer Trust U.S. With Sensitive Intelligence, Warns Former CIA Officer

Trump’s Russia ties mean Canada must guard secrets without angering ally, experts say.

By Jeremy J. Nuttall 13 Jul 2017 |

Jeremy J. Nuttall is The Tyee’s reader-funded Parliament Hill reporter in Ottawa. Find his previous stories here.

Canada should limit the intelligence it shares with the United States due to President Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, cautions a former CIA officer.

Glenn Carle said Canada’s security agencies should consider the risk that information it shared with Washington would be passed on to Russia.

“If the danger is real that your blood and treasure, lives, sources and methods will be compromised then you mustn’t share it,” Carle said in a phone interview.

Carle said the U.S. is “not fully trustworthy” under the Trump administration, with Russian government influence reaching into “the president’s office itself.”

Michael Byers, a University of British Columbia international relations professor, said Canada’s role in NATO, aerospace sector and troops stationed in Latvia are just some of the areas where national interest could be harmed if information was passed on to the Russians.

If Ottawa cannot trust Washington with information it should “absolutely” back away from the relationship, he said. “I certainly imagine that anything that could compromise us with regards to Russia should not be shared with the United States,” he said.

Canada now also needs to consider the quality of intelligence it receives from the U.S., Byers said.

The government and security agencies need to move carefully to protect the Canada-U.S. relationship, he said, but shouldn’t continue to share information if it sees a risk.

Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., admitted this week that he met a Russian lawyer tied to the Kremlin during the election campaign based on promises the lawyer would have dirt on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his then campaign manager, Paul Manafort attended the meeting.

And Trump and Putin met last week at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. Media reports quoted Russian officials saying Trump “accepted” Putin’s denial that Russia had interfered in the U.S. election.

Later Trump tweeted about the possibility of a cybersecurity working group with Russia, but later backed away from the statement.

Carle said the Russia-U.S. relationship should concern any Canadian intelligence agency.

Russia is aiming to diminish the power of the U.S. and separate it from its allies en route to establishing itself as a dominant influence, particularly in Europe, he said.

Carle said concerns go beyond direct Canada-U.S. information-sharing.

Canada is also part of the “Five Eyes alliance,” which mandates intelligence information sharing with the U.S., United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

In May Trump admitted sharing classified information about ISIS provided by an ally with Russia.

“Maybe Canada has sources in the Syrian government that would be routinely shared in Five Eyes,” Carle said, speaking hypothetically. “In this instance if I’m Canadian I’m not sharing that because we know this kind of information has been shared by Trump with Moscow.”

Carle said Canada faces a dilemma because the U.S. is the “big boy” on the world stage and brings indispensable intelligence to the table.

The best approach is for Canada to withhold information without acknowledging it is doing so, he said.

Canada’s Communications Security Establishment, which oversees cyber intelligence, said it would “not be appropriate” to comment on an allied country’s administration.  [Tyee]

Read more: Politics

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