Poppy quarter led to U.S. distrust

WASHINGTON — How much does the U.S. government really trust Canada? Maybe less than you think.

WASHINGTON — How much does the U.S. government really trust Canada? Maybe less than you think.

Espionage warnings from the Defence Department caused an international sensation a few years ago over reports of mysterious coins with radio frequency transmitters, until they were debunked. The culprit turned out to be a commemorative quarter.

But at the height of the mystery, senior Pentagon officials speculated whether Canadians were involved in the spy caper, according to emails marked “Secret/NoForn” and obtained this week by The Associated Press under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.

In the emails, released to The AP with names blacked out but job titles disclosed, Pentagon officials question whether they should warn military officers in the U.S. Northern Command, who regularly met Canadian counterparts about classified subjects inside bug-proof, government meeting rooms. The rooms are known as secure compartmentalized information facilities, or SKIFs.

“Isn’t the Canadian piece something that should be briefed to Northcom since the Canadians sit in their SKIFs?” asked the Pentagon’s deputy director for counterintelligence oversight.

“Good point,” replied the Pentagon’s acting director for counterintelligence. “It is possible that DSS (the U.S. Defence Security Service) sent their report to Northcom. Then again, I don’t think it is an issue of the Canadians being the bad guys, but then again, who knows.”

In sensational warnings that circulated publicly in late 2006 and early 2007, the Pentagon’s Defence Security Service said coins with radio transmitters were found planted on U.S. army contractors with classified security clearances on at least three occasions between October 2005 and January 2006.

In January 2007, the government abruptly reversed itself and said the warnings were not true. But the case remained a mystery until months later, when AP learned that the flap had been caused by suspicions over the Canadian “poppy” quarter.

What suspicious contractors believed to be “nanotechnology” on the coins actually was a protective coating applied to prevent the poppy’s red colour from rubbing off.

Just Posted

Schizophrenia a misunderstood illness, an Alberta expert says

Schizophrenia Society of Alberta campaign kickoff features TSN’s Michael Landsberg in Central Alberta

WATCH: Collecting coats and donations from drivers in Red Deer

Central Albertans made donations to keep children warm and neighbourhoods safe from… Continue reading

PHOTO: Fall Harvest Festival in Red Deer’s West Park

The West Park Community Association hosted the Fall Harvest Festival near West… Continue reading

Man dies in Hwy 2 collision near Ponoka

A 46-year-old man is dead following a three-vehicle collision on Hwy 2… Continue reading

Canyon Ski Resort aiming to open Nov. 10

The finishing touches are being put on Canyon Ski Resort trails just… Continue reading

WATCH: Blackfalds Fire teaches families about fire safety

An open house was held Saturday in support of Fire Prevention Week

Five things about what’s legal and what’s not in Canada’s new pot law

OTTAWA — Canada’s new law legalizing recreational cannabis goes into force on… Continue reading

4 men killed in shooting at child’s birthday party in Texas

DALLAS — An argument at a toddler’s birthday party in South Texas… Continue reading

German bus crashes on Swiss highway, 1 dead and 14 injured

BERLIN — A German bus crashed into a metal post on a… Continue reading

4 days after storm, large swath of Panhandle suffering

MEXICO BEACH, Fla. — Crews with backhoes and other heavy equipment scooped… Continue reading

Immigrants face hurdles to prove abuse by US agents

HOUSTON — Within hours of being booked at a Border Patrol station… Continue reading

Unicorns and pipelines: Notley and enviro-activist square off on Trans Mountain

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, with her arch pipeline foe sitting… Continue reading

A year into #MeToo, survivors’ stories resonate online and off: experts

Jenny Wright remembers scrolling through her social media feed a year ago… Continue reading

Emergency buzzer had been disabled in young man’s prison death: report

HALIFAX — An emergency intercom in the jail unit of a young… Continue reading

Most Read