For journalistic integrity, we note that podcaster Shawn Ryan has commented on this article:
This is typical media today. How can people not see how biased this article is? The Canadian SOF unit was the only one offered a statement, neither Dallas nor myself was contacted in any way, shape or form. @ShawnRyanShow https://t.co/L1mfeppZ8y
— Shawn Ryan (@ShawnRyan762) February 16, 2023
The Canadian military has demanded a U.S. podcaster remove parts of an interview with a former JTF2 commando as well as classified video of a long-range sniper shot in Iraq because it could harm this country’s national security.
Former JTF2 sniper Dallas Alexander went on the Shawn Ryan podcast last week to discuss details of his time in the Ottawa-based counter-terrorism unit as well as the killing of an Islamic State gunman in 2017. The U.S. podcast also included classified JTF2 video of that killing.
The military confirmed it never authorized publication of the video and it was looking into how the JTF2 imagery was released into the public domain.
Ryan, who is in Tennessee, later posted on Twitter that he had pulled the video, but it had already been copied and shared on other social-media sites.
In the podcast, Alexander described his conversation with another JTF2 member named Josh who was on his sniper team in Iraq. He told Ryan the bullet travelled around 10 seconds before it struck the gunman. JTF2 commandos could be heard cheering on the video once the man was hit by the bullet.
The Canadian Forces has previously acknowledged a special forces sniper conducted the shot from more than 3,500 metres away, but it has declined to release any further information. The shot is considered a world record for a sniper. JTF2 continually refuses to acknowledge many aspects of its operations and equipment, claiming the release of such information could help enemy forces.
Alexander stated in a separate video on social media that the demands to remove the material were akin to censorship and that he consulted with fellow special forces members before going on the podcast. “It appears that I’m in some hot water,” Alexander said.
But he also claimed he had received widespread support for his actions from military personnel.
Lt. Cmdr. Jordan Holder, a spokesperson for Canadian Special Operations Command, or CANSOFCOM, noted in an email to this newspaper that the command had been in touch with the podcast company over its concerns about the content. “We have no additional information to provide at this time,” Holder added.
Ryan posted a copy of a Feb. 10 letter he received from a military lawyer assigned to CANSOFCOM. It was a notification that the podcast “contains information or material that has been properly classified and protected, and which is sensitive information such that its release is injurious to Canadian national security, national defence and international relations.”
The letter also noted that any photographs or data provided by Alexander had been collected during his service with the military and was Canadian government property.
Ryan’s lawyer responded with a letter to CANSOFCOM pointing out that, since Ryan is a U.S. citizen, the Canadian government has no authority over his actions. The letter also noted that a second podcast with Alexander was edited to remove discussions of military operations.
Current and former members of Canadian special forces are required to sign agreements prohibiting them from discussing classified information.
In a Twitter post, Ryan claimed the letter from CANSOFCOM was linked to the Canadian government’s “attempt to silence Dallas from explaining that he left the command for refusing the COVID vaccine.”
In a second podcast, Alexander explains his opposition to Canadian government vaccine mandates, although he claimed he was not an anti-vaxxer. He stated that, when he was in JTF2, he refused to get a COVID-19 vaccine or to wear masks. “I’m starting to get into administrative trouble because I’m not playing the mask charade,” he recalled of his time in JTF2.
During the podcast, the two men talked about how COVID-19 death numbers were supposedly overblown and how the government was using the pandemic to try to scare the population.
Alexander also talked about his concerns about supposed plans by governments around the world to create an international digital identification system for people.
He also complained the military, including JTF2, had embraced a woke agenda and he was required to take “sensitivity” courses because of that. The Canadian Forces has been conducting training to reduce the large number of sexual assaults and harassment that have hindered its recruiting efforts.
In addition, Alexander said, next on the government agenda would be efforts to deal with climate change.
Alexander said he asked for and received a medical discharge from the Canadian Forces. The podcast, however, claimed he was “fired” from the military.
Last year, Alexander tweeted out a number of photos of JTF2 personnel, including some of himself on overseas missions. “Justin Trudeau thinks I’m a misogynist and racist with unacceptable views,” he tweeted with the hashtag “Trudeau Must Go.”
This newspaper reported last year that two serving members of JTF2 were under investigation after taking part in convoy protests in downtown Ottawa.
Protesters in Ottawa wanted the government to remove the rules intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but other demonstrators called for the overthrow of the Canadian government and Trudeau’s execution.
JTF2 is the unit that would be called upon to deal with terrorism and at times provides protection for VIPs such as the prime minister.
The actions of a third Canadian Forces member, who had served with JTF2, but is now assigned to the Department of National Defence procurement section, were also under scrutiny last year for their involvement in the convoy protest.
CANSOFCOM has not released the outcome of the investigations. It did not reveal the names of JTF2 members that took part in the convoy protests, but retired and serving Canadian Forces personnel were the ones who sounded the alarm about the involvement of serving JTF2 personnel.
They alleged that some serving members of JTF2 had openly voiced anti-vaccination and anti-government views while at work at the Dwyer Hill counter-terrorism training centre. Some of those anti-government views have been directed specifically at Trudeau and have centred on Liberal government gun control policies, they allege.
Around 10 members of CANSOFCOM refused to be vaccinated and decided to leave the military.