Report on the Fact-Finding Trip to Washington D.C.
The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence
February 4 -7, 2002
Monday, 4 February
the morning the Committee was briefed by officials from the Canadian Embassy.
The material presented was brief and succinct.
It covered the following topics, among others:
activities since 11 September with a particular emphasis on Canada’s
contribution to the war on terrorism and on the steps that both countries
have agreed to take to increase security at the border and to focus
attention on the people and shipments that might pose a security problem.
The theme of this part of the briefing was that Canada was not part
of the security problem of the United States, but part of the solution.
Nevertheless, there remains a well-embedded image of Canada as a weak
link in United States security.
of energy. The United States is
aware of its dependence on off shore energy. It is not well-known that Canada, not Saudi Arabia, is
the largest supplier of energy to the United States market, nor is much
known about Canada’s vast energy reserves – the tar sands, gas fields
and untapped hydro potential.
irritants, such as softwood lumber and steel exports.
mood on Capitol Hill was described as tense with a strong bipartisan
consensus on security issues and prosecution of the war against terrorism.
Beyond these issues, Congress was narrowly divided and its work had
been disrupted for three months by the anthrax incident.
expenditure will rise quickly and Canadian-United States relations will be
dominated by security issues involving: security at the border, the Missile
Defence System, and Homeland defence. The build-up of United States conventional forces will
be powered by technology and will exacerbate the problem of interoperability
with its allies.
United States is appreciative of Canada’s role in accepting 30,000
stranded travellers and of its military contribution to the war on
terrorism. This balances
questions about Canada’s low expenditures on defence, the “wide open
border,” “hundreds” of terrorist organizations, etc.
Defence has been voted a large increase this year by Congress.
Administration officials understand the non-committal position
adopted by Canada, but are irritated by it.
On Monday afternoon the Committee heard presentations from Commander Steven Flynn, United States Coast Guard and Senior Fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations and from Dr. Jane Alexander, Deputy Director of the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
the past several years Commander Flynn has become very concerned about the
security problem posed by maritime cargo containers.
In 2000, 11.6 million of these containers passed through the United
States border inspection systems. The
vast majority of these containers, however, were never inspected.
Very little is known about many containers – their cargo manifest has
only sketchy information about the contents and may include no information about
the original sender or the ultimate customer.
Roughly 2% of the containers are subjected to some form of inspection
which usually just involves opening the back-end and looking inside rather than
actually unloading and inspecting the contents.
Choosing which containers to inspect is too frequently based on a simple
study of documents rather than on intelligence about the shipper, the shipping
line, the ports-of-call or the ultimate customer.
Anything which caused United States authorities to stop the movement of
containers to inspect the contents of each one would have a devastating impact
on Ports like Halifax which receive and forward thousands of containers whose
ultimate destination is the United States.
Commander Flynn presented a plan to the Committee to separate the vast majority of containers which are low risk from the 2% which must be subjected to careful inspection. Most of the world’s overseas trade passes through a handful of mega ports such as Long Beach, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Singapore, Hamburg, Antwerp and Rotterdam. If these ports agreed on common standards for security, reporting, and information-sharing for operators, conveyances and cargo, these standards would become universal almost overnight. The standards would require that containers be loaded in approved, high-security facilities, that they then be equipped with high-security seals and sensors to determine whether the seal had been tampered with. The movement of containers would be monitored to and from seaports and onward to their final destination by the global positioning system.
Dr. Jane Alexander
Alexander briefed the Committee about the work of the United States’ main
research and development agency. DARPA has a budget of more than $2 billion to fund the search
for “radical” solutions to technological problems that might arise 10-15
years in the future. Its
investigation of the technological aspects of biological terrorism, for example,
began 8 years ago – as a result, while the United States was not completely
prepared for something like the anthrax incident, its preparations proved
adequate. In the same way, a
project has been underway to determine whether and under what circumstances a
particular group might engage in acts of terrorism and what kind of events might
trigger an attack.
In a discussion of the growing technological superiority of the Unites States Armed Forces over their allies, including Canada, Dr. Alexander noted that problems of interoperability exist within the US forces as well as between them and their allies.
Tuesday, 5 February
On Tuesday morning the Committee met with the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Select Committee on Intelligence. Senator Kenny, Chair of the Canadian Committee began by noting that Canada considered the attacks of 11 September to have been an attack, not just on the United States, but on North America as a whole – Canadians had also died in the World Exchange Centre. He further noted that Canada was not part of the security problem facing the United States, but part of the solution. Both Canada and the United States had to work together to enhance border control and improve their intelligence cooperation.
United States members expressed their appreciation for Canada’s friendship and
co-operation, particularly the cooperation of the Canadian Security Intelligence
Service in identifying the terrorists of 11 September.
The Canadians pointed out that each country had to work on unifying the
product of their intelligence agencies –at present there was a high risk that
vital information would not be passed on in a timely fashion, and hence could
not be shared internationally.
parties agreed that good intelligence and the sharing of intelligence were key
to both improving security at the border and to ensuring the free flow of goods
and persons. To achieve both free trade and security, means had to be
found to identify the 98% of low risk border traffic.
Discussion turned to some of the technology – biometric means of
identifying persons – and the possibility of a single inspection system for
containers and joint border patrols that could make the border both more secure
and more efficient.
members of Congress asked for a briefing on the Canadian anti-terrorist
legislation and discussed how the two countries would treat potential
terrorists. Members of the Canadian
delegation brought up the issue of refugees passing through the US on
easy-to-get tourist visas and then applying at the Canadian border for refugee
policy – interest in the US reluctance to agree to a 3rd country safe haven to
stop “shopping” for a country of refuge. The differences in US and Canadian treatment of refugees were
Tuesday afternoon the Committee heard briefings from Michael O’Hanlon, a Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Studies with the Brookings Institute and Joseph Cirincione, Senior Director of the Non-Proliferation Project of the Carnegie Foundation.
O’Hanlon analyzed the recent $48 billion US increase in the United States
defence budget, noting that the latter will increase from about $350 billion US
this year to $450 billion by 2007. Procurement
had dropped as a percent of the budget, but would rise from about $60 billion to
by the Canadians, he admitted that the issue of the treatment of the Taliban
and Al Queda prisoners had become a public relations disaster – the
Taliban met the criteria of POW, the Al Queda prisoners did not.
terms of Missile Defence he noted that both Iraq and North Korea had Scud
missiles and were working to develop longer-range missiles nuclear missiles.
Initially allies were strongly opposed.
Value of a ballistic missile much greater than the threat of a
suitcase bomb as an instrument of blackmail.
Canadian participation would be useful in both Homeland defence and
Missile Defence because of NORAD.
Mr. Cirincione noted that he Bush Administration was turning away from the arms limitation treaties of the 60’s and later – non-proliferation, the ABM Treaty, etc, in favour of the 1950’s Eisenhower policy of export controls on technology. Bush Administration believed too many countries were cheating and not observing the treaties.
sold nuclear technology to North Korea, which diverted fuel from power
plants to weapons production.
known to have violated chemical treaties and non-proliferation.
suspected of violating biological and nuclear treaties.
characterized the nuclear status of the three members of the Axis of Evil as
North Korea, closest to becoming a nuclear power; Iraq had a plan, but lacked
material; Iran had neither plan nor material.
Tuesday afternoon the Committee met with members of the Senate Armed Services
Committee. Attention was drawn to
the difference in US and Canadian expenditure on their Armed Forces with US
expenditures approaching 3%. Canadian
level of expenditure based on different level of security/insecurity.
Canadians noted the importance of improved security to the future of ports such
as Halifax, to the fact that the anti-terrorist legislation had sacrificed a
degree of individual rights, and to the necessity of each country to unify
communications within their own agencies as a prelude to exchanging information
Americans raised the issue of North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities
and missile defence. The Canadians
responded that Canadian support for missile defence/widening the war in
Afghanistan would be based on convincing arguments, but that Canada would
approach the question with an open mind. Treatment
of the Taliban and Al Queda prisoners was raised.
In terms of Homeland Defence, it was noted that Canada likes the NORAD model with its binational command structure. The proposal that would be placed before the President would include Canada, but little was known about it.
meeting the Committee had Wednesday morning with the House Armed Services
Committee was extraordinary. It was attended by both the Chair, The Honourable Bob Stump,
and the Ranking minority member, The Honourable Ike Skelton, as well as by a
number of other members.
his opening remarks Mr. Skelton spoke of how in good times we all tend to take
our friends for granted; nevertheless, when we really need them, they are there
for us. Discussion then turned to a
number of different issues such as: the need to work together to meet the
terrorist threat; border issues and the need to ensure the safety of containers;
reductions in defence expenditure by NATO allies; the Missile Defence System and
how any “weaponization” of space would set off alarm bells in Canada, etc.
member of the United States committee then proposed the establishment of direct
committee-to-committee relations – a binational ad hoc or permanent task force
on terrorism which would meet on a regular basis to discuss anti-terrorist
policy and tactics and to ensure that the United States committees developed a
sensitivity to the concerns of the Canadian and European allies of the United
States. Members of both the
Canadian and United States committees agreed that regular meetings would be very
the end of our discussion with members of the House Armed Services Committee,
defence Secretary Rumsfeld joined the discussion.
He opened his informal remarks by saying he still remembered the role
Canada had played in protecting Americans during the Iranian hostage taking
incident and then thanked Canada for its support since 11 September.
He outlined his current thinking about the creation of a unified military
command to include North America and to complement the civilian homeland defence
organization being put together by Governor Ridge.
Rumsfeld noted than any proposal put before the President would be sensitive to
Canadian concerns about command structure, particularly of NORAD.
The latter’s command structure would continue to be binational and to
respect the sovereignty of each nation. Within
the new command it would be possible to have both United States and Canadian air
and naval units because they were already accustomed to training, exercising and
fighting together. With regard to
interoperability he noted that NATO budgets had been in decline as a percent of
GDP and that even the United States’ expenditures were down from the 6% level
of the era of President Eisenhower. Other
than increase defence spending, he suggested increased specialization: within a
broad range of capabilities, each country should choose something – air lift,
special forces, etc. – to do exceptionally well.
the end of the discussion the Committee was invited to listen the Secretary
Rumsfeld’s opening address to the hearing.
Once again, at the hearing a warm public tribute was paid to Canada for
its friendship and assistance.
its meeting with the House Armed Services Committee, the Committee was also
warmly received by the officials of the Canadian section of the State
Department’s Western Hemisphere Affairs.
The officials went out of their way to say that no country had responded
to 11 September as well as Canada and that they had excellent relations with Mr.
Manley and his staff as well as with the Canadian security organizations,
particularly the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the RCMP.
Defence cooperation was described as “fighting shoulder-to-shoulder in
Afghanistan.” The officials were
also open in saying that in terms of the negotiations over security issues, they
did not see a “deal breaker”; joint facilities/inspection, integrated border
patrols, refugees, the NEXUS pilot project (whose expansion was considered
almost certain once agreement was reached on a biometric identity card for
frequent border crossers), everything was on the table.
regard to defence issues, the officials noted that all the NATO allies had to
develop their capabilities and increase their expenditures.
This having been said, they acknowledged the large increase in Canada’s
expenditure on security and that in certain respects the Canadian air and naval
forces were the most interoperable among the allies.
its briefing at the State Department, the Committee met with Major General Dunn
and defence officials at the Pentagon. General
Dunn began by asking the members of the Committee how they saw the future of the
Canadian Armed Forces. The response
was that while Canadian public opinion saw the need for increased expenditure on
security, it had yet to be convinced of the need for major increases in defence
spending. In terms of homeland
defence, the new command would pull together into a command military units and
establish links to the Coast Guard and the separate National Guard forces.
Certainly, Canadian air force units could be integrated into this
structure, but the United States Department of defence was also open to
expanding NORAD to the sea and land. The Canadian response to this was that Canada had to have a
clear idea about the “architecture” so it could be put before public
afternoon concluded with short briefing sessions on the United States view of
NATO expansion, the Missile Defence System and Homeland Defence.
Crouch seemed to suggest that the Baltic countries, perhaps Bulgaria and Romania
as well were closer to admission than Slovenia and Slovakia and that Macedonia
and Albania were definitely not ready. Expansion
would make reaching a consensus more difficult and would exacerbate the problem
of the existence in the alliance of different levels of interoperability. The challenge will be to move toward greater
Missile Defence System was represented as a turning away from a strategy based
on offensive nuclear weapons which would be systematically reduced, and toward a
strategy of building a limited defensive capacity to intercept the handful of
missiles that rogue states might develop within the next decade or so.
The implications of this for Canada were that neither missiles nor their
nuclear/biological warheads would respect borders.
new command for homeland defence was presented as a way of pulling together air
defence capability and of establishing more clear lines of communication with
the Coast Guard and National Guard to position the Department of defence to
better assist the civil authority with emergency preparedness.
Although in theory emergencies are dealt with first at the local level,
then at the State level and finally, the State Governor asks for federal
assistance, in practice the Department of defence becomes involved very soon as
local commanders react in anticipation of a request for assistance.
Committee met for a second time with the United States House Committee on
Intelligence Wednesday evening at the request of its Chair, the Honourable
Porter Goss. He began by noting how
important Canadian sympathy and support had been to the United States,
psychologically just as much as materially.
He also expressed pleasure that Canada had substantially increased its
expenditure on its security forces, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service
in particular, because the backbone of the anti-terrorist campaign had to be
Committee had been warning for years that United States intelligence was being
underfunded. He characterized
intelligence cooperation between the United States and Canada as being excellent
and noted that as federal countries we shared many of the same problems, in
particular, the flow of information from the local to the federal level, and the
difficulty of overcoming the culture of secrecy and turf wars.
He claimed that the Taliban and Al Queda prisoners were well treated – he had made a surprise visit to the compound – but had to be interrogated. He also claimed to have access to classified information that justified the references to the “Axis of Evil.” In response, members of the Canadian delegation pointed out that Canadian public opinion was turning critical of the denial of prisoner of war status to at least the Taliban captives and that a public case would have to be built against each of the countries considered to be a threat – North Korea, Iran and Iraq before Canada would consider any expansion of the war.
THURSDAY, 7 FEBRUARY
the morning the Committee met with members of both the Senate and the House
Judiciary Committees. It was noted
that terrorists exploited Canada’s more liberal immigration laws and that if
Canadian and US refugee and immigration laws remained un‑harmonized, the
US might be forced into a more restrictive policy.
Suggested formation of a joint Canada-US joint task force to catch Bin
Laden. In response the Canadians
noted that other than Ressam there was no record of a terrorist entering the US
from Canada and that 20,000 were turned back at the Canadian border with the US.
Both countries had to put more resources into the border.
The US will put $50 million into the border, about equal amounts into technology and more personnel. At the same time the Canadian anti-terrorist legislation was praised.
US legislators raised the question of at least overseas airlines sending their
manifests ahead and recording the number of a traveller’s passport before the
plane left for the US.
turned to the project for a smart border and the necessity of improving security
at ports. It was noted that Canada
was inspecting a higher percentage of containers and that almost 40% of refugees
crossed from the US. Pre-clearance
works, but more has to be done to integrate data from various sources.
discussion of 3rd country refuge. Very
strong expression of frustration of US legislators with their immigration
service, its backlogs and inability to remove those ordered deported.
Different figures for the rate of acceptance of refugees in each country,
suggestion that more should be done to harmonize refugee determination process.
Agreeing to 3rd country refuge would be a problem to the US because the
administration sets quotas.
The Committee completed its fact-finding with a briefing on homeland defence from Frank Miller, the President’s Adviser on Military Matters and Ambassador John Maisto. They fleshed in some details of the remarks Defence Secretary Rumsfeld had made.