About Wesley Wark

Visiting Professor, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs

The Rise and Fall of Arthur Porter

Published in the National Post, September 29, 2014 Arthur Porter led a seemingly charmed life, which took him from the impoverished country of his birth, Sierra Leone, to elite Cambridge University, where he earned a medical degree. The young Arthur Porter, “ambitious and driven,” as he describes himself, embarked on a dizzying rise to the top ranks of hos… Read More

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Can Al Qaeda Compete With ISIL?

By Archana Sundarachari and Wesley Wark The world’s attention has been riveted for weeks on the military exploits and brutal excesses of a relatively new jihadist entity, the Islamic State of Syria and the Levant (ISIL, or ISIS or IS). ISIL traces its roots to the U.S. occupation of Iraq and was once an affiliate of Al Qaeda, operating under the banner of ‘Al Qa… Read More

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Where’s the Megaphone on the Threat to Canada?

Published in the Ottawa Citizen on September 6, 2014 The Conservative government has a strange way with public pronouncements on security issues. When it comes to the gravest of international crises, the government is prone to bold, headline-grabbing statements, whether on Putin’s role in stoking the flames in the Ukraine, or the threat posed by Iran, o… Read More

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Spy Agency Watchdog Strikes a New Pose

Published in the Ottawa Citizen, August 23, 2014 The old adage in the spy business, when it came to publicity, was “no news is good news.” That ceased to pass democratic muster in Canada only in the mid-1980s and we have been slowly turning our minds to greater scrutiny of the intelligence game ever since (and with increased earnestness after 9/11). Over the pa… Read More

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Security Certificates Are Flawed Tools

Published in the Ottawa Citizen, May 14, 2014 It was not a jailhouse door that slammed in Mohamed Harkat’s face this week, but something ultimately more definitive: a Supreme Court ruling. Harkat has lost a long legal battle that commenced in 2002 when he was detained under a security certificate and faced allegations that he was engaged in terrorism, in fac… Read More

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Reforming the Spy Game

When it comes to secret intelligence, the United States sometimes behaves like a true democracy.  It reminds me of the Leonard Cohen line, “democracy is coming…to the U.S.A.” President Barack Obama’s speech on January 17 marked an important occasion in the ongoing American struggle to conduct espionage while remaining true to democratic values. The U.S… Read More

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Six Ways for Harper to Reclaim the National Security Agenda

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he is “very concerned” about revelations of Canadian spy activity targeting Brazil. So he should be. The operation by the Communications Security Establishment Canada, our electronic spy agency, looks to have been ill-advised and a waste of finite Canadian resources, unless the world has grown very much safer than we h… Read More

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Canadians Shouldn’t Be Surprised About Alleged Terror Plot

Published on CNN.com, April 23, 2013 When it comes to terrorism, North America is a shared space. That has always been the conviction of Canadian officials and is written into our official counter-terrorism strategy.  It is also a belief shared by much of Canadian society, though subject to a multitude of interpretations. Sometimes the reading of this sha… Read More

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Thoughts on the Future of Intelligence Accountability in Canada

The decision of the Harper government to close the Office of the Inspector General of CSIS and end its 28-year history opens a new and challenging chapter for the process of keeping watch over the Canadian security and intelligence community. It’s hard to be optimistic that this change will be for the better. The Government has indicated that the functions o… Read More

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What to Do With Khadr

Published in the Ottawa Citizen, April 19, 2012. Reprinted in full with permission. The Conservative government has now run out of wiggle room in the case of Omar Khadr, the son of the notorious Canadian al-Qaeda loyalist, Ahmed Said Khadr. Omar was a child soldier, left behind in Afghanistan by his father after the 9/11 attacks. He was caught up in a firefigh… Read More

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