Thursday, November 10, 2011

Arthur Porter steps down as Canada's spy watchdog

The chair of Canada's spy watchdog committee has resigned his position, Thursday, amid reports he had questionable ties to a lobbyist. Dr. Arthur Porter is also the chief executive officer of the McGill University Health Centre. Porter has been noticeably absent from that job busy with a few other enterprises.

Porter’s moonlighting has raised questions after the National Post reported about his activities as chairman of Canada’s Security and Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC). The article revealed that Porter wired $200,000 in personal funds last year to an international lobbyist named Ari Ben-Menashe based in Montreal for an infrastructure agreement in Sierra Leone that ultimately fell through.

A former Israeli government employee, Mr. Ben-Menashe was arrested in the United States in 1989 and charged with illegally attempting to sell three military transport airplanes to Iran. He went to trial and was acquitted in 1990; a jury believed his account, that he had simply acted on orders from his government in Israel to attempt the aircraft sale. He then wrote a memoir called Profits of War, filled with accounts of international espionage and conspiracies he says he either participated in or was privy to.

“This is the book the Israelis tried to stop, written by the man they said didn’t exist — the book that the CIA tried to sabotage,” reads the book’s provocative dust cover.

Wow, an Israeli government employee, accused of selling military planes to Iran but that was OK because he was simply acting on orders from his government. He even mentions the "C" word - conspiracy. His book is about US and Israeli arms dealing tied to Iran Contra. Surprise surprise. It sure does sound like a spy novel.

In June, 2010, Dr. Porter signed a consultancy agreement prepared by Mr. Ben-Menashe and his privately owned, Montreal-based company, Dickens & Madson (Canada) Inc. Dr. Porter signed on behalf of his own company, Africa Infrastructure Group (AIG), which is one of numerous private “entities” he says he maintains in his native Sierra Leone and in other countries.

The contract obliged Mr. Ben-Menashe to secure a US$120-million grant from Russia “for infrastructure development in Sierra Leone managed by the Africa Infrastructure Group.” Dickens & Madson also agreed to “use our best efforts to secure an opportunity for Sierra Leone to be considered as a site for the development of new port facilities for the use of the Russian Federation for non-military purposes.”

This all sounds like CIA shell companies to me. So here we have a crook, keeping eye on crooks that reports to crooks. Why does this not surprise me?

Arthur Porter is the federally appointed chairman of Canada’s Security and Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC). The committee reviews on a regular basis the activities of Canada’s spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), and examines complaints made against it. According to SIRC, its committee members have “access to all information held by CSIS, no matter how highly classified that information may be,” with the exception of federal cabinet secrets.

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