Thanks to a well known whistleblower, the CBC came into possession of some secret U.S. documents concerning spying in Canada. We reveal the story of what's in the documents and how the CBC and other news organizations struggle with classified information, freedom of the press, public interest, and national security.
Yesterday, the CBC released a top secret document by the National Security Agency. The four page report revealed Ottawa let the NSA spy in Canada during the 2010 G8 and G20 summits.
It's the latest in a series of revelations from documents leaked by the former National Security Agency
whistleblower Edward Snowden. They are revelations that put a spotlight on a massive U.S. domestic and foreign spying program, one that's also implicates Canada.
The document raises more questions than answers - like who and what information was targeted and what role, if any, Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC)
had in the actual surveillance.
But for media outlets, another problem involves the possession of classified information... and the proper balance between national security and press freedom.
In our occasional series, Eye on the Media
, The Current
takes a critical look at the ever-changing state of journalism... and how journalists do their jobs.
For the CBC
, this release meant a request from Washington to redact any identifying names in the document.
For other media outlets, like the Guardian
newspaper in the UK, it included the destruction of the organization's hard drives by British agents.
newspaper was among the first to publish reports based on the classified documents Edward Snowden secreted out of the United States. And in the months since those first reports, the British paper faced considerable pressure.
Here is what Sir John Sawers
, chief of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service MI6
, told a parliamentary hearing on November 7, 2013:
The leaks from Snowden have been very damaging. They put our operations at risk. It's clear that our adversaries are rubbing their hands with glee. Al-Qaeda is lapping it up. The alerting of targets and adversaries to our capabilities means that it becomes more difficult to acquire the intelligence that this country needs."
It's all led some to say that the balance between British freedom of the press and protecting national security may have swung too far in the direction of secrecy.
We spoke with:
Let us know what you think.
Are we finding the balance between security and freedom of the press? Tweet us @thecurrentcbc. Follow us on Facebook. Or e-mail us through our website. Call us toll-free at 1 877 287 7366. And as always if you missed anything on The Current, grab a podcast.
This segment was produced by The Current's Idella Sturino, Peter Mitton, and Debbie Pacheco.