Spy Agency Refuses to Confirm Details About Transparency Award It Received
I can confirm that a Canadian spy agency can neither confirm nor deny that it was photographed holding a transparency award gifted to it for ethically confirming and denying things. Allow me to explain:
Caroline Maynard is a lawyer who is currently Canada's information commissioner. She gives out transparency awards, and this year recognized the Access to Information team from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), for doing secret stuff that spy people do, in a good way.
Maynard was willing to admit that she did this.
“This year’s winners are inspiring role models for the Access to Information and Privacy community,” she said in June. “While CSIS is mandated to protect secrets in order to keep Canada safe, this team has demonstrated their commitment to transparency and is deserving of this award.”
The "award ceremony" was held at the CSIS headquarters in Ottawa. It was a quickie -- just 30 minutes -- and in that time Maynard presented the award herself. (According to Ottawa Citizen, documents had to be obtained using the Access to Information law just to get information about the award.)
But because the CSIS has a policy of not identifying staff members, it couldn't say whether a photo had been taken of the staff members. They could only give a metaphoric deadpan to the media, trapped eternally in a bind of inconspicuousness.
Prior to the award presentation, Maynard’s staff said people were likely going to take issue with the chosen recipient. This is nothing new. Last year Maynard's office awarded the Access to Information co-ordinator at the Canada Revenue Agency an Information Commissioner's prize, even though the organization was known for violating information law. There have been similar cases for years. It's all kind of a mess, and people think that when investigators start giving out awards to the people they survey, there becomes a conflict of interest.
I can neither confirm nor deny that I agree, nor can I deny that I confirm that I nor.