The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) is a civilian intelligence agency of Canada's federal government that collects, monitors and analyses information that may affect national security. CSIS activities encompass security intelligence of both national and international scope.
CSIS may also be referred to by its French name: Service canadien du renseignement de scurit (SCRS).
CSIS's official mission statement declares: "The people of CSIS are dedicated to the protection of Canada's national security interests and the safety of Canadians".
CSIS was founded in 1984 by an act of the Parliament of Canada, following a recommendation of the McDonald Commission. That Commission advised removing responsibility for intelligence from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, specifically the RCMP Security Service. Prior to the establishment of CSIS, the RCMP, which is Canada's federal police service, was responsible for intelligence and counterintelligence activities.
The agency officially commenced operations on 16 July 1984, with Thomas D'Arcy "Ted" Finn appointed as its first Director.
CSIS National Headquarters is located in Ottawa, Ontario. There are several branch offices throughout Canada.
The Operational Programs of CSIS include:
- Counter-proliferation (eg. preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction)
- Research, Analysis and Production (eg. creating strategy for the implementation of the Operational Programs)
- Environmental scanning (eg. monitoring the global flow of information, see also: ECHELON)
- Facing Technological Challenges
CSIS works closely with the intelligence agencies of the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Under the post-WWII Quadpartite Pact all intelligence information is shared between the intelligence agencies of these four countries. While largely relying on information gathered by other countries, CSIS performs its own analysis.
Security Liaison Officers (SLOs) of CSIS are posted at Canadian
embassies and consulates to gather security-related intelligence from
other nations. This information may be gathered from other national
intelligence agencies, law enforcement services and public sources.
SLOs also assess potential immigrants to Canada for security issues.
As a civilian agency rather than a law enforcement agency, CSIS employees neither have arrest powers nor may they carry weapons.
The actitivies of CSIS are regularly reviewed on behalf of Parliament by the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC). It is also under the portfolio of the federal Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness (Canada).
CSIS has come under repeated criticism for some highly publicized failures, such as the apparent fumbling of the investigation into the 1985 Air India bombing.
In 1999, classified documents were stolen from the car of a CSIS agent who was attending a Toronto Maple Leafs hockey game. The Security Intelligence Review Committee reportedly investigated this incident.