In February of last year, U.S. diplomatic posts were given one month by Washington to compile and forward an inventory of critical infrastructure and key resources in their respective reporting areas "whose loss could critically impact the public health, economic security, and/or national and homeland security of the United States." The U.S. embassy in Ottawa - and the string of American consulates across Canada - were included in this "action request."
Yesterday, WikiLeaks - presumably at the direction of its increasingly besieged leader - struck back at its American tormentors by posting on its website the diplomatic cable that includes the requested compilation.
Behind its pay-wall, the Times of London, which fronts the story, reports that "Sir Malcolm Rifkind, a former British Defence and Foreign Secretary and chairman of the Commons Intelligence and Security Committee, said WikiLeaks had made no credible attempt to find out whether the material could assist terrorists.
'This is further evidence that they have been generally irresponsible, bordering on criminal. This is the kind of information terrorists are interested in knowing'.
But WikiLeaks said that the document, approved by Hillary Clinton, provided further evidence that the U.S. Administration was hoarding sensitive information on countries without their knowledge….
Kristinn Hrafnsson, a spokesman for the website, said: "This further undermines claims made by the US Government that its embassy officials do not play an intelligence-gathering role."
Not surprisingly given that we share a continent, the U.S. compilation of critical infrastructure and key resources in foreign countries includes many sites and undertakings in Canada, from Nova Scotia to British Columbia. Dams; undersea cables; oil and gas pipelines; border crossings, including bridges; nuclear power plants; defence production factories; mines; and, last but not least, pharmaceutical and vaccine production plants.
While, there has been considerable sympathy to date for WikiLeaks and for Mr. Assange, I suspect that some of this might erode once Canadians get a look at this latest cable, which is now widely available, and which sets out the juiciest targets in Canada for those looking to do harm to the United States. Moreover, once Canadians have had a chance to examine the list of sites it includes, I doubt that many of our compatriots will conclude that its compilation by U.S. diplomats serving in this country amounts to anything remotely connected to what we understand to constitute espionage:
Canada: Hibernia Atlantic undersea cable landing Halifax , Nova Scotia, Canada James Bay Power Project, Quebec: monumental hydroelectric power development Mica Dam, British Columbia: Failure would impact the Columbia River Basin. Hydro Quebec, Quebec: Critical irreplaceable source of power to portions of Northeast U. S. Robert Moses/Robert H. Saunders Power, Ontario: Part of the St. Lawrence Power Project, between Barnhart Island, New York, and Cornwall, Ontario Seven Mile Dam, British Columbia: Concrete gravity dam between two other hydropower dams along the Pend d'Oreille River Pickering Nuclear Power Plant, Ontario, Canada Chalk River Nuclear Facility, Ontario: Largest supplier of medical radioisotopes in the world Hydrofluoric Acid Production Facility, Allied Signal, Amherstburg, Ontario Enbridge Pipeline Alliance Pipeline: Natural gas transmission from Canada Maritime and Northeast Pipeline: Natural gas transmission from Canada Transcanada Gas: Natural gas transmission from Canada Alexandria Bay POE, Ontario: Northern border crossing Ambassador Bridge POE, Ontario: Northern border crossing Blaine POE, British Columbia: Northern border crossing Blaine Washington Rail Crossing, British Columbia Blue Water Bridge POE, Ontario: Northern border crossing Champlain POE, Quebec: Northern border crossing CPR Tunnel Rail Crossing, Ontario (Michigan Central Rail Crossing) International Bridge Rail Crossing, Ontario International Railway Bridge Rail Crossing Lewiston-Queenstown POE, Ontario: Northern border crossing Peace Bridge POE, Ontario: Northern border crossing Pembina POE, Manitoba: Northern border crossing North Portal Rail Crossing, Saskatchewan St. Claire Tunnel Rail Crossing, Ontario Waneta Dam, British Columbia: Earthfill/concrete hydropower dam Darlington Nuclear Power Plant, Ontario, Canada. E-ONE Moli Energy, Maple Ridge, Canada: Critical to production of various military application electronics General Dynamics Land Systems - Canada, London Ontario, Canada: Critical to the production of the Stryker/USMC LAV Vehicle Integration Raytheon Systems Canada Ltd. ELCAN Optical Technologies Division, Midland, Ontario, Canada: Critical to the production of the AGM-130 Missile Thales Optronique Canada, Inc., Montreal, Quebec: Critical optical systems for ground combat vehicles Germanium Mine Graphite Mine Iron Ore Mine Nickel Mine Niobec Mine, Quebec, Canada: Niobium Cangene, Winnipeg, Manitoba: Plasma Sanofi Pasteur Ltd., Toronto, Canada: Polio virus vaccine GlaxoSmithKile Biologicals, North America, Quebec, Canada: Pre-pandemic influenza vaccines.