In 2002, U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss, R-GA, and U.S. Representative Jane Harman, D-CA, suggested that the United States should have a Homeland Security Information Sharing Act to assist in sharing with state and local authorities homeland security information by federal intelligence agencies. The Act would also have the President direct the coordination of various intelligence agencies. The Act was referred to the Committee on Intelligence and to the Committee on the Judiciary on April 25, 2002. It was sent to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security on May 6, 2002, and on June 13, 2002, it was reported with changes by the House Judiciary. Finally, on June 25, 2002, it was passed by the House.
After the September 11 terrorist attacks, other nations passed similar acts for the sharing of homeland security information by national intelligence agencies with local authorities and for determining the criteria as to who should be considered a terrorist risk. The terrorist risk criteria question has stirred considerable controversy, with people of Arab or Muslim backgrounds in particular claiming unfair labeling and unfair screening and civil liberties groups arguing that bills authorizing “watch-list” criteria do not adequately protect people’s privacy.
As did the United States, after September 11, 2001, the Canadian parliament enacted extraordinary police and security measures, and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), headed as of this writing by Jim Judd, was charged with determining terrorist risk criteria. In March 2005, Liberal Senator Mobina Jaffer claimed that some members of identifiable groups have had to cope with the negative impact of nondiscreet activities used by some CSIS officers. She stated the case of a professor who was not in his office when a CSIS officer telephoned repeatedly, leaving the message that the agency wanted to speak with him. Though these activities led university colleagues to suspect that he was terrorist suspect, in the end the CSIS officer apparently wanted only to have some information about Afghanistan.
In June 2006 terrorist headlines were made when the RCMP and CSIS rounded up 17 Canadian-bred terrorist suspects. Their targets allegedly included the Parliament buildings in Ottawa, the CBC Broadcasting Centre, CSIS offices, an unspecified military installation, the Toronto Stock Exchange, and the CN Tower in Toronto.
CBC: Indepth: Toronto Bomb Plot. [Online, June 5, 2006.] CBC Website. http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/toronto-bomb-plot/index.html; Center for Democracy and Technology. Legislation Affecting the Internet. [Online, July 28, 2004.] Center for Democracy and Technology Website. http://www.cdt.org/legislation/107th/wiretaps/; Sallot, J. Building Terror-Watch System Slow Work, CSIS Chief Says. The Globe and Mail, March 8, 2005, p. A4.