Tuesday, October 06, 2009

History of MI5 -- free the Canadian spy history.

Doug Saunders in the Globe reviews Christopher Andrew's Defence of the Realm, the authorized history of MI5, and considers what can be learned about Canadian spy history from the work of the Brits. (Guardian review here.)

Not that long ago, I profiled Wesley Wark, intelligence historian at the University of Toronto (sorry, not yet online), and how he was hampered and handicapped by the massive secrecy required by Canadian security officials even as they gave him access to their archives. His history of Canadian spy history is written, but also classified. So Doug Saunders has to suss out clues from reading the authorized history of the British spymasters, trying to glean what he can from the Canadian corners of their work.

Saunders notes that 9000 Canadians were removed from the civil service on grounds of homosexuality. Nine thousand? Nine thousand gay civil servants with jobs important enough to be considered security threats? Think of the enormous effort to find 9000 gay civil servants in Ottawa in the 1950s and hound them out of their work. "Security" must have been the least of the motives.

(Apparently this is post #1001 since the blog went onto Blogspot. Doesn't seem so many...)
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