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NSA and Canada's CSEC Spying Together

© 2013 by Linda Moulton Howe

 

“I think what Edward Snowden has done for us is to tell us
something that perhaps we should have realized before he came along,
which is that we have to have a debate about intelligence power
in a post-911 world. How much do we want? How much do
we not want? And where do protection of civil liberties fall in that debate?”

- Wesley Wark, Ph.D., Public and Int'l. Affairs, Univ. of Ottawa, Canada

     
Left: NSA's official seal. Right: badge of Communications
Security Establishment Canada (CSEC).


From left: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper; U. S. NSA
whistleblower Edward Snowden; and U. S. President Barack Obama.
Image © 2013 Canadian Press/The Guardian/Associated Press.

 

December 20, 2013 Toronto, Canada - On December 9, 2013, the Canadian Broadcasting Company's News division known as the CBC received exclusive permission from Glenn Greenwald working with American whistleblower Edward Snowden to release another NSA top secret document that reveals Canada had set up covert spying posts around the world for the American National Security Agency. The CBC redacted - blacked out - portions of the documents on its own, but most of the content is quite clear. Subject: NSA Intelligence Relationship with Canada's Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC). “NSA and CSEC cooperate in targeting approximately 20 high-priority countries. .. The intelligence exchange with CSEC covers worldwide national and transnational targets ... and has opened covert sites at the request of NSA.”


See CBC-released Snowden documents in purple links at end of this Earthfiles report.


The new CSEC headquarters in Ottawa, officially budgeted at $880 million,
but likely to cost a billion dollars or more making it the most expensive government
building in Canada. The former CSEC director says Canada's new spy headquarters
is an ‘architectural wonder.’' Illustration by Plenary Group Canada.


An artist's rendering depicts the multi-staircase architecture at the center of the new
CSEC building in east Ottawa. Illustration by Plenary Group Canada.


National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland,
25 miles northeast of Washington, D. C. NSA is the largest employer in the state
of Maryland. Its headquarters above is built on 350 acres of Fort Meade's 5,000 acres,
has 1,300 buildings and an estimated 18,000 parking spaces for a classified number
of employees somewhere in the range of 40,000. The NSA building is covered with
one-way dark glass, which is lined with copper shielding in order to prevent espionage
by trapping in signals and sounds. The NSA building contains 3 million
square feet, or more than 68 acres of floor space.

One Canadian security and intelligence expert says the leaked NSA document makes clear that the NSA has been taking advantage of the “innocent brand” that Canada has in the world. Wesley Wark is Visiting Professor at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa. He says not much has ever been known about Canadian intelligence. So that means Canada can more easily set up international operations in countries hostile to the United States. Bottom line: NSA has been using Canada to create NSA surveillance sites that are camouflaged as benign Canada offices.

Recently I talked with Prof. Wark about what he thinks the consequences of this close Canada and U. S. intelligence agencies spying together will have.


Interview:


Play MP3 interviews.


Wesley Wark, Ph.D., Visiting Professor,
Graduate School of Public and Int'l. Affairs,
University of Ottawa, Canada

Wesley Wark, Ph.D., London School of Economics and Visiting Professor, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada: “The Snowden document - what this tells us is some evidence that we had not seen before about the nature of the relationship between the American intelligence agency and its Canadian counterpart, which is called the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC).

WERE YOU SURPRISED ABOUT THIS DOCUMENT'S CONTENT?

Well, the document is redacted (blacked out) by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the CBC, which has created a rather unusual relationship between itself and Glenn Greenwald, who is the journalist providing various media outlets around the world with material from the Snowden revelations. So, the CBC had pulled various documents from Snowden via Mr. Greenwald and the CBC is the only state-supported broadcasting entity that has this kind of relationship. All the other media outlets that have been the recipient of Snowden material have been privately owned - The Guardian or The New York Times or whatever. So, the CBC is in its own kind of quandary with this material in that it has to act as both a media outlet desiring to put material out in the public interest and it also has to engage in some very careful censorship around this material. It has to kind of gauge what is really in the public interest and what is very sensitive in terms of national securities.

THERE MIGHT BE A CLOSE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY AND THE COMMUNICATIONS SECURITY ESTABLISHMENT IN CANADA BECAUSE OF — AND THIS WAS A QUOTE: ‘THE CSEC SHARESWITH THE NSA THEIR UNIQUE GEOGRAPHIC ACCESS TO AREAS UNAVAILABLE TO THE UNITED STATES.’ WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO YOU?

There was a previous revelation from the Snowden material, which I think casts some light on this language, which had to do with the NSA's spying operation in Germany, which created such a furore - particularly around the targeting of Angela Merkel's personal cell phone (Chancellor of Germany). But as part of that trove of documents, there were also indications that some of the NSA's partners, including Britain and even Canada potentially, were using some of their diplomatic missions abroad to conduct electronic espionage at the request of or in association with the NSA.

So, I think the implication of that is clear: we don't know where exactly the Canadian agency might be operating or why the NSA would feel that Canada had unique access. I think that it's probably while the United States and some of its great power allies like Britain would, in terms of their overseas outposts, come under intensive surveillance and scrutiny by suspicious internal security agencies in various countries. But the Canadians might come under less scrutiny and therefore be a little more able – even when they all have diplomatic outposts in certain countries – a little more able to operate without attracting suspicion.

So, I think that even before this (Snowden) revelation (about Canada and NSA), Canada could take advantage of its brand, a relatively innocent and benign global actor without much intelligence power or clout. The document suggests that's not always the case.

TO THAT POINT, I THINK THAT EVERYBODY WOULD HAVE ASSUMED THAT CANADA WAS NOT INVOLVED IN INTERNATIONAL SPYING WITH THE NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY UNTIL THIS LEAKED DOCUMENT. WHAT DO YOU THINK THE CONSEQUENCES OF THIS WILL BE?

It's hard to say. What Edward Snowden took away with him, whether you consider him a leaker or someone acting in the public interest — or some would say he's a traitor to national security — what he took away with him was American documentation. And his interest and Mr. Greenwald's interest is in exposing what they believe is the wrong doings of American intelligence. So I think the impact of these revelations outside the NSA, they will all come as a surprise to the publics of various countries involved – Australia, Britain, Canada – and they are all creating big questions around the issue of really whether or not intelligence agencies in the 21st Century in the post-911 world are overstepping the mark in terms of using their technological power to create dragnet surveillance of the global population, whether this is appropriate, whether it's a good way to use resources or not. You know, these are the big questions being asked, not just in the United States and elsewhere and even in my own country in Canada where we don't often have a debate about these issues. What are the appropriate limits? the appropriate use of intelligence power these days?

IN FACT, THE CBC REPORTS AND THIS IS A QUOTE: ‘THE NSA DOCUMENT DEPICTS THE CSEC AS A SOPHISTICATED, CAPABLE AND HIGHLY RESPECTED INTELLIGENCE PARTNER IN CANADA INVOLVED IN ALL MANNER OF JOINT SPYING MISSIONS, INCLUDING SETTING UP LISTENING POSTS AT THE REQUEST OF THE AMERICANS. CSEC OFFERS RESOURCES FOR ADVANCED COLLECTION, PROCESSING AND ANALYSIS AND HAS OPENED COVERT SITES AT THE REQUEST OF THE NSA.’ CAN YOU ADDRESS THAT?

We don't really know how the Canadians have responded in detail to NSA requests to help them out with this, that or the next thing. So, we're missing the Canadian end of the story, but that does not diminish the importance of the story itself. It just kind of adds to the mystery of how exactly has Canada responded and when has it responded to these requests? And has it ever turned down a request, which is another important issue in respect to questions of sovereignty because Canada is a close ally of the United States. But it's also a smaller and sovereign power.

So, in the middle of this debate there has to be a question at some point about whether we feel that we can still exercise the right to say, 'No,' when we think that requests from our great power ally come down the pike that aren't very appropriate.

 

Out-of-Control Spy Agencies?

THOMAS DRAKE, A FORMER NSA EXECUTIVE, WHO IS NOW A WHISTLEBLOWER , SAYS ABOUT THIS CANADA REVELATION, ‘THERE IS A PROBLEM THAT BOTH THE CSEC AND CANADA AND THE NSA LACK PROPER OVERSIGHT. WITHOUT THAT, THEY HAVE MORPHED INTO RUN AWAY SURVEILLANCE. THERE IS A CLEAR AND COMPELLING DANGER TO DEMOCRACY IN CANADA BY VIRTUE OF HOW FAR THESE SECRET SURVEILLANCE OPERATIONS HAVE GONE.’

We don't know that the CSEC has become a kind of rogue out-of-control agency or is posing a profound danger. We don't know if that's a true way to portray it or not. The point to draw out from this is that current technological capabilities - that is what intelligent agencies can do - has potentially run beyond policy control. To what degree are senior leaders in government - are they closely monitoring and controlling these activities?

Secondly, whether the laws that we create in various democracies including the United States and Canada to control these agencies - the laws we set have down in a previous technology era - whether they are appropriate for the current circumstances? But I think there is a compelling case to say we have to be reassured that there is appropriate political control around these activities and we probably have to take a second look at the legal controls that are meant to put limits on what intelligence agencies do.

 

Digital Technology Outstrips Citizen Ability
to Control Governments and Spies?

IS IT FAIR TO SAY THAT NSA, CANADA AND OTHER ALLIES IN INTELLIGENCE EFFORTS TODAY AS WE END 2013 ARE OVERSTEPPING ALL KINDS OF CONSTITUTIONAL GUARANTEES OF PROTECTION FROM GOVERNMENT INTERFERENCE AND THAT WE ARE NOW AT A POINTWHERE THE TECHNOLOGY ITSELF CANNOT BE CONTROLLED, THAT THE POLITICAL WILL OF THE CITIZENS ARE NOT GOING TO HAVE ANY INFLUENCE ON THE NSA OR THE CANADIAN INTELLIGENCE AGENCY OR ANY OTHER. THAT WE ARE NOW AT A CONUNDRUM - THAT THE DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY OF THE PLANET TODAY IS FAR OUTSTRIPPING ANY CITIZENRY'S ABILITY TO CONTROL ITS GOVERNMENT.

Yes, that's an interesting question, a very interesting way to put it. I think that set up a legitimate worry from that point hence that intelligence agencies can become rogue elephants. There is a review ordered by President Obama underway in the United States about signals intelligence activities. And the President has already said that he intends to rein in some of these activities. I think there is heightened scrutiny by publics, by oversight bodies, by parliaments and congresses about these activities now and hopefully that will lead to some reining in in other countries beyond the United States. I think what Edward Snowden has done for us is to tell us something that perhaps we should have realized before he came along, which is that we have to have a debate about intelligence power in a post-911 world. How much do we want? How much do we not want? And where do protection of civil liberties fall in that debate?

BUT ISN'T IT TRUE NOW AT THE END OF 2013 THAT IN THE UNITED STATES CERTAINLY AND PERHAPS CANADA AND OTHER ALLIES THAT THE TAX PAYING PUBLIC NO LONGER BELIEVES ANYTHING THAT ITS GOVERNMENT SAYS AND DOES NOT TRUST POLITICIANS?

Yes, I suppose the Snowden revelations added their own might to that issue about politicians. As Winston Churchill said, ‘Democracy is never a perfect solution, but it's better than any other known solution that we have available to us.’

BUT THE NEW TECHNOLOGIES COULD BE TRUMPING ALL OF THAT.

Yes, but I don't think so. We've already seen some interesting push back from the very, very large internet corporations and software providers saying, 'Look, our business is being affected by these revelations and we ourselves want some limitations put on global government surveillance. Maybe they are going to have to accept as part of that some limitations on the data they collect for their own business purposes. So, maybe we're making some slight progress on this thanks to the Snowden revelations.”

 

December 16, 2013 - NSA Phone Spying Ruled Unconstitutional
By Federal Judge Richard Leon.

NSA's PRISM spying violates 4th Amendment ban of
unreasonable search and seizure. See U. S. Bill of Rights.

— “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’
than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of
personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of
querying it and analyzing it without judicial approval.”

- U. S. Dist. Court Judge Richard Leon, December 16, 2013

“It’s one thing to say that people expect phone companies to occasionally
provide information to law enforcement; it is quite another to suggest that our
citizens expect all phone companies to operate what is effectively a
joint intelligence-gathering operation with the government.”

- U. S. Dist. Court Judge Richard Leon, December 16, 2013


NSA phone spying ruled unconstitutional
by Federal Judge Richard Leon on December 16, 2013,
in a stayed ruling, pending NSA appeal. Judge Leon ruled that
NSA's PRISM spying violates 4th Amendment ban of
unreasonable search and seizure. See U. S. Bill of Rights.

December 10, 2013 - While Giant Tech Companies Call for Limits on Government Spying, the NRO Launched Another Spy Satellite.

“NROL-39 (mission) is represented by the octopus, a versatile,
adaptable and highly intelligent creature. Emblematically, enemies
of the United States can be reached no matter where they choose to hide.”

- Karen Furgerson, Spokesperson, National Reconnaissance Office (NRO)

   
This octopus clutching the Earth above the words “Nothing Is Beyond Our Reach”
was the mission patch displayed on the Atlas V rocket that launched a secret spy
satellite for the U. S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) on Thursday night,
December 5, 2013, at 11:15 PM Pacific, from Vandenberg AFB, California,
into low-Earth orbit. Images © by United Launch Alliance.

This launch comes at the same time that Google, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, AOL and LinkedIn sent a formal request to President Barack Obama and Congress along with full-page ads in several national newspapers, including The New York Times, and a Global Government Surveillance Reform website laying out their concerns about too much government spying of their users and how to set new limits on government surveillance.

The Washington Post has also recently published more of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden's leaked documents that show the NSA gathered 5 billion cell phone records daily.
See Washington Post.

 

Links provided by CBC News:

Read a redacted version of the latest Snowden NSA doc.

New Snowden docs show U. S. spied during G20 in Toronto

NSA document raises questions about Canada in G8 spying

Read Snowden NSA document on G8, G20 surveillance

Inside Canada's top-secret billion-dollar spy palace


More Information:

For further information about NSA and other spy agencies, please see reports below in the Earthfiles Archive.

• 12/07/2013 — Why Is Veterans Administration Blocking Access to USAF Medical Records - Even to Request by U. S. Senator John McCain (R-Ariz)?
• 09/26/2013 — NSA Misled FISA Court
• 06/16/2013 — ACLU Lawsuit: NSA Massive Spying Unconstitutional
• 06/07/2013 — NSA Is Building America's Largest Spy Center
• 06/06/2013 — Top Secret FISA Order Requires Verizon to Deliver Daily Millions of American Phone Records to NSA
• 02/07/2013 — CIA Manipulation of Hollywood Productions About UFOs: Part 4: The Day the Earth Stood Still
• 02/03/2013 — CIA Manipulation of Hollywood Productions About UFOs: Part 3: The Mormon Connection
• 02/01/2013 — CIA Manipulation of Hollywood Productions About UFOs: Part 1: Hangar 18 in 1980
• 02/01/2013 — CIA Manipulation of Hollywood Productions About UFOs: Part 2: The Day the Earth Stood Still in 1951
• 07/12/2012 — Part 1: Is This What the CIA, NRO, DIA and NSA Cover Up About Roswell?
• 07/12/2012 — Part 2: Is This What the CIA, NRO, DIA and NSA Cover Up About Roswell?
• 07/10/2012 — CIA Responds to Former CIA Hollywood Liaison's Assertion That Roswell Had E.T. Bodies and Craft


Websites:

CBC News EXCLUSIVE: "Snowden document shows Canada set up spy posts for NSA" December 9, 2013:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/snowden-document-shows-canada-set-up-spy-posts-for-nsa-1.2456886

The Guardian, December 5, 2013, "Snowden documents show NSA gathering 6 Billion cell phone records daily":

Communications Security Establishment Canada:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communications_Security_Establishment_Canada

National Security Agency: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Security_Agency

 
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