Enemy of the State

Posted: April 11, 2013 by jasprdha in Uncategorized
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For almost 30 years a government agency called PROFUNC, which stands for “PROminent FUNCtionaries of the communist party” produced lists and maintained these lists of people suspected to be involved with the communist party. PROFUNC would allow members of the communist party who were placed on these lists to be picked up at a moment’s notice and be detained, if there was a perceived threat to national security and a threat to the state. The RCMP who started this initiative would spy on Canadians and gather intelligence about Communist party members, going so far as becoming friends and maintaining relationships with people they are spying on. The state believed some Canadians were a national threat just for being associated with someone having political beliefs which is completely legal. The RCMP would gather a list and create files called C-215 which were detainment orders. The people on these lists were to be gathered on a certain day called M-day. Luckily M-day never came and the majority of Canadian citizens who were labelled communists, according to PROFUNC, never had to deal with this situation. This raises questions of ethics within the RCMP and the state spying on their own citizens.

National security, a term which has no solid meaning yet can cause so many problems. It is a term that can cut through citizens’ rights as if they never existed. PROFUNC was in complete violation of Canadian citizen’s rights. All Canadian citizens have the same rights despite their political ideology. The initiative was carried on for decades and no one knew it was happening. To this day many people on those lists do not know that they were being spied on. Not until a public official stumbled across it which ultimate resulted in the initiative being shut down.

PROFUNC can be seen as police deviance in a way that the police are in place to protect the citizens of the state. So why would the state issue orders for the police to spy on their citizens. Though it is not the traditional form of deviance there certainly are ethical concerns. Just like a police officer who commits perjury is keeping information from the public and the state, the state is keeping information from their citizens. Granted there are things that cannot be made public for obvious reasons such as giving intelligence to other countries. Though the government might have taken spying on their own citizens too far, the federal government felt a need to protect their “national security” even though considering someone to be an enemy of the state based on suspicion and political beliefs is wrong and represents a form of deviance. We see in our times many threats to our nation and after September 11 the caution level was escalated 10 fold. Many allegations were brought forth about people being detained for no apparent reason, for example Maher Arar.

Though many try to seek blame for PROFUNC it is hard to pin point who had authorized this order. Though it had come from the prime minister’s office, was it the RCMP who escalated and made the circumstance seem worse than they actually were? National Security operations are generally done behind closed doors and with no supervision. PROFUNC continued for a number of years which kept a lot of people in Canadian society and the government of Canada ill informed. The fact is, the RCMP gathered intelligence for over a thousand individuals in Canada based on suspicions, and to this day the state could be doing the exact same thing, but because of “national security” we will never know…

http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/2010-2011/enemiesofthestate/

Arar, M. (2013). Mahers story. Retrieved from http://maherarar.net/mahers story.php

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Comments
  1. Mike Larsen says:

    Not that PROFUNC is the name of the program, not the name of an agency. The RCMP was the principal agency in charge of the administration of PROFUNC.

    You ask: “So why would the state issue orders for the police to spy on their citizens”?

    This is something that states do, and has always been a core function of the public police. “A policed society”, notes Allan Silver (1976), “is unique in that central power exercises potentially violent supervision over the population by bureaucratic means widely diffused throughout civil society in small and discretionary operations that are capable of rapid concentration”.

    Question: If political policing that violates democratic principles is authorized by the federal government and backed by law and policy, can it still be conceptualized as *police deviance*, or is the concept too narrow to encapsulate the practice?

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