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 Whistleblowers Need Protection




A decade ago, a young, handsome and skilled man on the run from the communist regime in Poland resolved to settle in Canada. The word itself was a synonym across Eastern Europe for a land of milk and honey. Many saw it as all but full of gold-paved streets. His past was the bargaining chip he was going to use to buy a trouble-free entry to Canada. As a KGB-trained Polish intelligence agent, he was certain his security skills would be useful to Canadians and he was eager to prove it. Today, he can hardly call Canada home when our national government continues to do its best to deport him and erase him from the collective memory of numerous RCMP, Immigration Department and security officials.

This book attempts to recreate Ryszard Paszkowski's colourful life as an intelligence agent in Communist Poland and to trace his footsteps to Canada. Initially, his skills were in considerable demand in Ottawa circles. We'll relive his numerous battles with the Canadian immigration system. Thousands of pages of documents on him have accumulated in federal government departments, including the Justice Department, Solicitor General's Office, RCMP and Canadian Security Intelligence Service headquarters, External Affairs (now Foreign Affairs) and a host of Canadian consulates and embassies abroad. Many of them remain "top secret" and one can only guess at their contents. A small fraction of them were made available to me through Access to Information requests. Many of the thick piles of photocopies that arrived as replies contained blank or whited-out pages with one or two denatured sentences on them. Instead of internal documents, there would often be endless photocopies of newspaper articles about Paszkowski, which are available to anyone and need not be obtained through the complicated and lengthy process of an Access to Information request. Our legendary RCMP turned out to be the most secretive organization of all. It wouldn't even admit they had a single file on him: "No personal information concerning Mr. Ryszard Paszkowski also known as Robert Fisher and/or Edward Busch born March 4, 1955 was found."

It appears that it is still in someone's notion of the national interest to protect the often anonymous officials who insist Ryszard Paszkowski remains persona-non-grata in Canada. In the age of a vanished Cold War, our security mandarins cling to their secrets and intrigues. The "Great Game", as the former East-West rivalry was known among our spy fraternity, might be over, but the music plays on for some.

As the Member of Parliament for Edmonton Southeast, I was approached about five years ago by a highly-respected constituent of Polish origin to help Ryszard Paszkowski with the many hurdles being imposed by Canadian Immigration officials. His training and life as an agent fascinated me. As a former federal Justice Department lawyer, I found his immigration battles and wooden government responses to his "spying for Canada" revelations most troubling. Having since pleaded his case with various cabinet ministers in the Mulroney government and government departments, I presumed he would eventually be allowed to stay if only on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

Watching Ottawa officialdom's unceasing efforts to deport Paszkowski and probably thereby to separate him from his wife and two sons, often with underhanded tricks, convinced me the case was not being heard on its merits, but was being determined mainly by bureaucrats who were not entering the process officially. This will not soon be provable because of secrecy imposed from various quarters. In this account of the case, I was initially tempted to recreate in docu-drama style some of the missing pieces of the puzzle to try to explain the federal government's bizarre behaviour. However, as often happens, reality appeared more improbable than fiction. That's partly why I decided to unfold `the Paszkowski file' as it was known to me unvarnished. It is based mostly on Paszkowski's own detailed account of his life, having his full co-operation as far as any former spy can tell the whole truth. I have attempted to capture the `living dangerously' episodes of a now-dying breed of highly-trained spies. We follow Paszkowski's five-year long effort to stay in Canada despite a mammoth bureaucracy, which seemed to be pitted firmly against him, using both his own story and Access to Information documents.

Ryszard Paszkowski's account of his life provided the main material for this book. For the most part, it is based on his hand-written notes sent to me during his three-month stay in Europe during the spring and summer of 1992.

All quoted official documents have been obtained through Access to Information Act requests to federal government departments. Paszkowski's own descriptions of events, his feelings and thoughts occur frequently. These interludes are intended to help the reader see the events through the prism of Paszkowski's - the perspective of an individual who lived through some very bizarre incidents.

This account is not an attempt to glorify Ryszard Paszkowski's life, or to provide excuses for his various misdeeds. He was and is an ordinary person who, because of decisions made early in life, became involved in events often beyond his control. One can find considerable fault with how he reacted to events, but it is difficult not to empathize with him in his fight to carve a place for himself in a world of fast-changing political priorities by governments and their intelligence agencies. Some readers might believe neither Paszkowski's story nor Canadian officialdom's viewpoints. We will not be likely to learn the truth for at least a quarter century as the government insists our national security is still at stake. When secret files are finally opened decades from now, the account here will, I believe, prove to be essentially correct.

The book is clearly more sympathetic to Ryszard Paszkowski than to many government departments and law enforcement agencies. It is not, however, seeking to build a defense case for the former spy. In the spy world, one never knows who is really telling the truth. Often objective realities simply don't matter in the world of international espionage where schemes, intrigues and plotting are full of illusion, political paranoia and the prejudices of bosses high in the various intelligence hierarchies. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of ever scarcer taxpayer money has been spent by CSIS since 1984 when Paszkowski came to Canada to do intelligence work. When something went awry, even more public money was used to muster a case against him, using government time, expensive litigation, experts and officials. As we shall see, he is a stubborn and in many ways admirable person, who now seeks only to live a normal life in Canada with his young family.

* * * * *

First a word about some other key players.

Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS)

In mid-1984, most of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act was proclaimed in force: the new civilian service replaced the Security Service part of the RCMP, which had been seriously discredited for past illegal activities, including barn burning in Québec during the 1970s. The CSIS Act made Canada one of few Western democracies to give its security service an explicit statutory charter. In many ways, it constituted an attempt to bring the security intelligence function under democratic control.

Criticism of CSIS began almost immediately after its birth. Some said it was dead wrong to remove the security intelligence function from the RCMP; that the loss of investigative experience and the discipline of law enforcement combined with the public respect afforded to the RCMP would mean that the new agency couldn't do the job as well as the Mounties. There has also been criticism of the mandate given to the agency on the basis that it goes well beyond what is needed to protect Canada's security. Many have been critical of the new investigative powers - such as mail opening and surreptitious entry - that had been legally unavailable to the RCMP Security Service and of the weak control and review mechanisms.

The service started with 1,964 employees and a budget of $16 million. Nine years later, there were 2,465 people officially working for the agency and its 1993-1994 budget was $229 million.

The many problems the fledgling service faces have been well-documented over the years, including Richard Cleroux's 1990 book, Official Secrets. Cleroux devoted a chapter to Paszkowski's case and made the first real attempt, following many earlier newspaper articles to connect all the strands in a complex story and to pinpoint CSIS' role in it. Cleroux notes that admitting to recruiting Paszkowski/Fisher in Italy would be in direct conflict with the CSIS Act, which expressly forbids CSIS from operating covertly abroad. It was the RCMP who cleared Paszkowski to come to Canada and CSIS made its first contact with him in Canada. After the whole affair was made public, this sequence allowed CSIS to deny it had recruited Paszkowski, "which was strictly speaking true," says Cleroux. "The Mounties had sent him over."

Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC)

The SIRC is in its own words "Parliament's and the public's eye" on CSIS. It is composed of five part-time members appointed by the Governor in Council after consultation between the Prime Minister and the leaders of parties recognized in the House of Commons. According to its mandate defined in the CSIS Act, the SIRC's role is to monitor CSIS' effectiveness while making sure that the service does not make "unreasonable or unnecessary" use of its powers. The SIRC also investigates complaints against CSIS and ones about the denial of security clearances in public service employment, federal contracts, immigration and citizenship. The SIRC reports on its work once a year in an Annual Report, which is public. As national security limits are imposed on the report, its generalities do not appear to reflect accurately the controversies hidden behind the polished style of the report.

The 1987-1988 Annual Report of the SIRC admits that the year had been a difficult time for CSIS: "It was a year in which CSIS faced perhaps its darkest moments." The resignation of its first Director after the Atwal warrant affair, the failure to inform the police in advance of the conspiracy to murder a minister of the state government of Punjab in India, controversy surrounding the entry into Canada of terrorist Mahmoud Mohammad Issa Mohammad, and reports that CSIS had information that might have prevented the Air India tragedy of June 23, 1985 all surfaced that year. These as well as other reports of bungling and wrongdoing did not endear the Canadian public to the Service.

The Paszkowski affair was the last thing the Service needed during its most troubled year. The SIRC Annual Report contains this sterile statement on Paszkowski's case: "In another matter that came to public attention during the year, we satisfied ourselves that CSIS dealt properly with Ryszard Paszkowski, who went to the media in January, 1988 with a complex account of how his work for CSIS let him in for a year in a West German jail to complete a hijacking sentence. As the Solicitor General has confirmed in the House of Commons, Paszkowski did work for CSIS after entering Canada illegally, but CSIS did not bring him into the country to be a double agent, as he claims, and it ended the relationship before Paszkowski voluntarily left Canada in August, 1986, and went to Italy, where he was extradited by West Germany."

A more complete story of CSIS blunders, even with some national security limitations, would not likely lead the then SIRC Chair Ronald Atkey to conclude that 1987/88 had "brought CSIS the chance it needs to get a second wind and complete its evolution into the kind of agency that Parliament intended when it adopted the CSIS Act in 1984 - a civilian agency with contemporary priorities, its attention focused on gathering and analysing security intelligence as a basis for solid advice to the government of the day." In other words, the SIRC indicated that CSIS had had its dark moments but had `turned the corner' and the new director was providing active leadership. Although the SIRC had many criticisms of CSIS, it expressed its belief that the Service was on the right road. Paszkowski's case was considered a closed matter which would not resurface to haunt the Service. It was not to be.

The SB - Sluzba Bezpieczenstwa

The Polish Ministry of the Interior and the SB were for decades synonymous in Poland with state oppression, a machine of terror turned on it's own defenceless citizens. There are still countless untold stories of tortured and murdered Polish patriots, those illegally arrested, persecuted and jailed for the crime of free thinking, those terrorized and blackmailed into spying on their compatriots, and those denied promotion or position of status in society for not toeing the official party line. Almost two generations of Polish citizens lived with the spectre of the SB, its countless informers and wiretaps. This is something Poland on its way to democracy still has to come to terms with.

The SB began after the Soviet-sponsored communist government was formed in Poland in mid-July, 1944. Its Ministry of Public Security had eleven departments which infiltrated political parties, labour unions, churches, and others. In 1954, a new Ministry of the Interior and the Committee for Public Security were created. Two years later, the Public Security body was dissolved and all its functions were eventually taken on by the SB (Sluzba Bezpieczenstwa) under the control of the Ministry of the Interior. This structure survived for fully 34 years until Solidarity took power in 1989. The last communist Minister of the Interior, General Czeslaw Kiszczak, became a member of the first Solidarity cabinet.

Legislation passed by the Polish Parliament a year later dissolved the SB and created in its place the Office of State Protection. Members of the former SB were subjected to a clearance process by which their previous activities were scrutinized. Among 25,000 SB members, 14,000 agreed to undergo this examination. After the process was completed, some of them joined the state police, which replaced the militia. The Office of State Protection hired about 4,500 former SB staff.

The third Prime Minister in post-Communist Poland, Jan Olszewski, questioned the need for a ministry, which he referred to as a direct continuation of the notorious Stalinist Ministry of Public Security. There have since been further attempts to reform the ministry by removing its control of the Office of State Security and making it directly responsible to the Prime Minister. In fact, the fall of subsequent Solidarity-based governments prevented proposals for reforms from taking firm shape. The election victory in 1993 of a left-wing coalition over the pro-Solidarity and like-minded parties indicates that coming to terms fully with the infamous past of the SB is unlikely for the immediate future at least.

In mid-1990, the first non-Communist Minister of the Interior, Krzysztof Kozlowski, acknowledged that there was an active group of KGB agents in Poland. Its chief, with a group of other officers was accredited with the Polish Ministry of the Interior. Officially, they had diplomatic status as Soviet Embassy employees. In an interview the same year, the respected former American intelligence expert, John Barron, claimed that Polish intelligence forces were still very active on behalf of the KGB at least in the USA. Polish intelligence still functioned as an auxiliary of the KGB in America, he continued, despite the political changes in Poland. According to Barron, Poles employed in diplomatic posts worked for the KGB. The same was often true of those working for the United Nations and on scientific exchange programs with the West. Reportedly, they were sending reports directly to Moscow, from where they received their orders, completely bypassing Warsaw. As the world perceived Poland as being a country relatively independent of the Soviet Union, agents with Polish passports had an easier task doing espionage work. Richard Perle, Undersecretary of Defence in the Reagan administration, claimed in the spring of 1990 that many agents of Communist intelligence forces co-operating with the KGB remained in America not because their respective countries needed them as agents, but mainly because they were hard to remove.

Polish intelligence agents were well-placed internationally through embassies, consulates, trade and cultural missions sponsored by Poland. Interior Minister Kozlowski revealed in a 1990 interview that the number of officers working under cover abroad was in the range of 18-20 per cent of the diplomatic post staffs. He wouldn't give the number of spies in Polish diplomatic postings and refused to agree with one journalist's calculations that since Poland had roughly 100 diplomatic establishments world-wide that figure multiplied by four would give an approximate number of intelligence agents operating abroad. Kozlowski during the same interview admitted that half of the people in intelligence were gone and there was a need for "rebuilding".

East German Stasi

Former agents of East Germany's secret police, Stasi, quickly adjusted to a new political situation after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Approximately 2,600 former employees of this much-hated East German agency found jobs with a number of federal departments and ministries in Bonn according to a 1993 report by the German newspaper Bild. The newspaper says 59 ex-Stasi officers have highly-placed positions and have access to confidential national files. Other former secret agents found positions with factories and companies by using their connections with former bureaucrats. Bild reported some former Stasi employees were using their connections to co-operate with Russian organized crime and to make money operating illegal businesses.

The Ottawa Citizen reported in the summer of 1993 from Berlin that according to a leading government investigator, Manfred Kittlaus, former East German Stasi secret police agents and former officials had teamed up with organized crime and posed a threat to the united country. Kittlaus, who directs criminal investigations related to the former Communist government, said that the East Germans had formed alliances with criminal groups from the former Soviet Union and the West.

Chapter 2

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