In his first public speech, the new director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service chastised those critical of Canada's efforts to fight terrorism.
"Many of our opinion leaders have come to see the fight against terrorism not as defending democracy and our values, but as attacking them," Richard Fadden told an Ottawa conference of security and intelligence experts Thursday.
"Almost any attempt to fight terrorism by the government is portrayed as an overreaction or an assault on liberty. It is a peculiar position, given that terrorism is the ultimate attack on liberties. If terrorists believe in anything, it is nihilism and death, and they are equal opportunity oppressors."
Why, he asked: "Are those accused of terrorist offences often portrayed in media as quasi-folk heroes, despite the harsh statements of numerous judges?"
"It sometimes seems that to be accused of having terrorist connections in Canada has become a status symbol, a badge of courage in the struggle against the real enemy, which apparently is government.
"To some members of civil society, there is a certain romance to this. This loose partnership of single-issue NGOs, advocacy journalists and lawyers who double as public relations consultants has succeeded, to a certain extent, in forging a positive public image for anyone accused of terrorist links or charges."
Fadden also revealed the service's dilemma in the recent security certificate case of suspected terrorist Adil Charkaoui.
A Federal Court this month killed the government's case against the Montreal man after government lawyers refused to reveal their detailed evidence against him, citing national security concerns.
The disclosure demand, "pushed us beyond what we could accept," explained Fadden.
"We were faced with a dilemma: to disclose information that would have given would-be terrorists a virtual road map to our tradecraft and sources; or to withdraw that information from the case, causing a security certificate to collapse.
"We chose the path that would cause the least long-term damage to Canada and withdrew the information. We did this because an intelligence agency that cannot protect its sources and tradecraft cannot be credible or effective."
© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service
*The Director forgot to add that not only are the suspects portrayed as heroes, it is the agent that is portrayed as villain. ;)