«Martin Rudner OCCASIONAL PAPER No 22 – 2000 CANADA’S COMMUNICATION SECURITY ESTABLISHMENT: FROM COLD WAR TO GLOBALISATION Martin Rudner ...»
CANADA’S COMMUNICATIONS SECURITY ESTABLISHMENT:
FROM COLD WAR TO GLOBALISATION
No 22 – 2000
COMMUNICATION SECURITY ESTABLISHMENT:
FROM COLD WAR TO GLOBALISATION
OCCASIONAL PAPERNo 22 – 2000 The Norman Paterson School of International Affairs Carleton University 1125 Colonel By Drive Ottawa, Ontario K1S 5B6 Telephone: 613-520-6655 Fax: 613-520-2889 www.carleton.ca/npsia This series is published by the Centre for Security and Defence Studies at the School and supported by a grant from the Security Defence Forum of the Department of National Defence.
The views expressed in this paper do not necessarily represent the views of the School or the Department of National Defence.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ii Abbreviations iv
THE BEGINNINGS OF CANADIAN SIGINT 2
CANADA’S SIGINT COLLECTION EFFORT 6
COLD WAR SIGINT OPERATIONS 8
CANADA AND THE UKUSA AGREEMENT 11
SATELLITE COMMUNICATIONS AND ECHELON 13
SIGINT TECHNOLOGY ACCESS AND SHARING 16
CANADA’S POST-COLD WAR SIGINT AGENDA 18
THE ECONOMIC INTELLIGENCE CONUNDRUM 22
FUTURE CHALLENGES 25Notes 34 About the Author 41
LIST OF OCCASIONAL PAPERS 42i
ABSTRACTThe Communications Security Establishment (CSE) is Canada’s largest, best funded and most highly secretive intelligence agency, and is the main provider of foreign intelligence to the Canadian government. CSE collects, analyses and reports on signals intelligence (SIGINT) derived from interceptions of foreign electronic communications, radio, radar, telemetry, and other electromagnetic emissions. In fulfilment of its foreign intelligence function, CSE collaborates closely in a special SIGINT sharing arrangement with the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand known as UKUSA. CSE is also responsible for providing technical advice and guidance for protecting Canadian government communications and electronic data security.
The present study reviews the structure of authority and control over CSE within the Canadian intelligence community. It traces its origins back to the early post-war Communications Branch of the National Research Council, and examines its subsequent evolution during the Cold War. A survey of CSE operations during the Cold War covers local interceptions of adversarial diplomatic and clandestine communications, in-country intercepts from Canadian diplomatic posts abroad, and long-distance radio and satellite communications interceptions from listening posts in Canada. Particular attention is given to CSE’s role in the UKUSA alliance and its Echelon sharing arrangement.
After the end of the Cold War, the Government of Canada issued, for the first time in 1991, a directive setting out its priority requirements for foreign intelligence collection. Signals intelligence has come to play a significant role in addressing these priority requirements, including foreign security threats, international terrorism, ethnic and religious conflict, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, illegal migration, transnational organised crime, and economic intelligence. Today, economic intelligence presents a major conundrum for CSE and for its relationships with erstwhile partners in UKUSA and other nominally friendly countries.
Current trends in SIGINT imply two major challenges for CSE’s future capability to perform its signals intelligence collection and processing ii functions. The first of these challenges stems from ongoing trends in communications technology which tend to favour communications security over penetration, protection over interception. A second set of challenges arises from prospective changes in the dynamics of UKUSA once competition outstrips co-operation in the emergent globalised agenda for economic intelligence collection. Canada depends on CSE to develop its capabilities and international linkages in a way that safeguards its future capacity to respond to Canadian foreign intelligence requirements in an increasingly predatory international environment.
BRUSA British-US Agreement CANUSA Canada-US Communications Intelligence Agreement CBNRC Communications Branch of the National Research Council CFIOG Canadian Forces Information Operations Group CJIC Canadian Joint Intelligence Commitment COMINT Communications and Intelligence CRIM Centre de recherche informatique de Montréal CSE Communications and Security Establishment CSIS Canadian Security and Intelligence Service CSO Commonwealth SIGINT Organisation DND Department of National Defence DSD Defence Signals Directorate GC&CS Government Code and Cipher School GCHQ Government Communications Headquarters GCSB Government Communications Security Bureau HF High Frequency HF-DF High Frequency Direction Finding ILETS International Law Enforcement Telecommunications Seminar Intelsat International Telecommunications Satellite Organisation ITS Information Technology Security NSA National Security Agency PCO Privy Council Office SIGINT Signals Intelligence UKUSA SIGNET sharing alliance of the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada
INTRODUCTIONThe Communications Security Establishment (CSE) is Canada’s largest and costliest intelligence organisation and the main provider of foreign intelligence to the Canadian government.1 It is, arguably, also the most secretive component of the Government of Canada. For decades the very existence of CSE was unconfirmed, it has no statutory mandate, and virtually all details of its resources, objectives and operations are still shrouded in official secrecy.2 What is known is that CSE collects, analyses and reports on signals intelligence (referred to as SIGINT) derived from interceptions of foreign electronic communications, radio, radar, telemetry, and other electromagnetic emissions. In fulfilment of these foreign intelligence functions, CSE participates in international collaboration and exchanges as part of a special SIGINT sharing arrangement with the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. CSE is also responsible for providing technical advice and guidance for protecting Canadian government communications and electronic data security.
CSE is a civilian agency of Canada’s Department of National Defence (DND). Ministerial responsibility for CSE is vested in the Minister of National Defence; however, in a unique bifurcation of executive authority, administrative and operational controls are divided between DND and the Privy Council Office (PCO), the federal government’s central agency, headed by the Prime Minister. Administrative and financial matters are under the control of DND, through the Deputy Minister of National Defence, its most senior official, whereas policy and operational controls over CSE are exercised by the Deputy Secretary, Security and Intelligence in PCO. At the policy level, the direction and co-ordination of Canada’s intelligence effort involves a complex web of PCO secretariats and inter-departmental committees.3 At the operational level, the actual staffing of Canada’s SIGINT interception land sites is undertaken not by CSE as such, but by specialised military detachments of the Canadian Forces Information Operations Group (CFIOG), working under the overall direction of CSE. CFIOG deploys about 1000 personnel, mainly military Communications Research Operators (known colloquially as "291ers"), at Canadian Forces Base Leitrim, who also service the remote stations at Alert, Gander and Masset. An exchange arrangement with the United States has some 25 291ers posted to US Navy stations in California, Hawaii and Texas, while a similar number of American personnel are attached to the Leitrim facility.4 During the Cold War the Canadian signals intelligence effort was directed primarily at the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies. That lent Canada’s foreign intelligence requirements a certain stability and predictability.5 Following the collapse of Communism in Europe and the end of the Cold War, however, CSE found itself impelled to alter the scope and direction of its activities in response to shifting perceptions of the threat environment confronting Canada. A more variegated and volatile security situation had a far-reaching impact on Canadian foreign intelligence requirements. Thus, in 1991, for the first time ever, the federal Cabinet issued a directive on foreign intelligence priorities.6 The study that follows traces the historical evolution of CSE in performing its signals intelligence functions from the Cold War to this more diverse and globalised security agenda. Given the sensitivity of SIGINT issues, this study relies on open sources.
THE BEGINNINGS OF CANADIAN SIGINTCanada has never had a consolidated, dedicated foreign intelligence service, unlike most of its allies. Historically, Canadian requirements for foreign intelligence have been addressed through an array of functionally differentiated agencies, most of which were linked to international intelligence sharing arrangements. Canada’s involvement in SIGINT began prior to the Second World War, when the Royal Canadian Navy put in place a monitoring station on the West Coast to supply raw intercepts to the British Admiralty. During the war the army, navy and airfare set up their own respective signals intelligence units in collaboration with their British counterparts.7 These separate SIGINT units were later combined into a socalled "Joint Discrimination Unit." Meanwhile a civilian entity, styled the "Examination Unit", had been established in 1941 to provide communications intelligence and cryptanalysis, primarily of diplomatic traffic, for the Department of External Affairs (as it was then). In April, 1946, Prime Minister MacKenzie King approved the creation of a peacetime communications intelligence organisation, and in September of that year the existing military and civilian units were merged to become the Communications Branch of the National Research Council (CBNRC).8 In 1975 the functions of CBNRC were relocated in their entirety to DND, and reconstituted as the Communications Security Establishment.
No statutory framework for CSE (or its predecessor) was ever put in place.
In fact, for virtually all this period the very existence of a Canadian signals intelligence capability was itself an official secret.
While the decision to create a peacetime Canadian SIGINT capability preceded the onset of the Cold War, the looming confrontation with an expansionist Soviet Union gave a powerful impetus to this incipient foreign intelligence initiative. As it happened, a coincidence of events around the pivotal years 1945-1949 underscored the strategic value of signals intelligence in the Cold War context. In 1945, a cipher clerk in the USSR embassy in Ottawa, Igor Gouzenko, defected, bringing with him documentary evidence of a Soviet espionage network.9 Although there is nothing to indicate that the Gouzenko defection impacted directly on Canadian SIGINT operations, the accompanying cipher material itself underscored the potential role for signals intelligence in the defence of Canadian and allied security.10 Meanwhile, in 1946, US code breakers succeeded in deciphering previously intercepted Soviet KGB signals. This operation, code named Venona, paved the way for future SIGINT attacks on Soviet diplomatic, military, and intelligence communications.11 In so far as just knowing the capabilities of communications intelligence can suffice to give warning of target vulnerability, these SIGINT organisations, technologies and operations were generally treated as matters of utmost secrecy.
By then, the senior echelons of the Canadian foreign policy and defence establishment would have become aware of the wartime contributions of Ultra and Magic, the British and American SIGINT breakthroughs against German and Japanese diplomatic and military communications, respectively.12 They certainly knew of the ongoing British and American initiatives to develop new modalities for post-war co-operation in communications intelligence. Early on, in October 1945, the British SIGINT organisation, then styled as the Government Code and Cipher School (GC&CS), predecessor of what became in 1946 the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), approached the Canadian authorities to solicit their participation in a combined Anglo-American communications intelligence initiative that would involve a complete sharing of intercepts.