Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Coulter speaks again

More tidbits from the soon-to-be-departed Chief of CSE, Keith Coulter. On 4 May, Coulter testified to the Subcommittee on Public Safety and National Security of the House of Commons' Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, which is examining the operations of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001. He previously testified to the Special Senate Committee on the Anti-Terrorism Act on the same subject (blogged about here).

Coulter, accompanied by Deputy Chief Corporate Services Barb Gibbons, Director General Policy and Communications John Ossowski, and Director and General Counsel Legal Services David Akman, provided extensive new details on CSE's budget and staffing.
  • CSE's budget prior to September 11th, 2001 was $140 million per year.
  • The December 2001 federal budget approved a 25% increase in CSE's budget, to take effect over several years.
  • The March 2004 budget approved an additional 25% increase in CSE's budget, to take effect by fiscal year 2007-08, for a cumulative increase of 57% , at which time CSE will have a budget of $220 million per year.
  • The 2001 budget also approved a 35% increase in CSE's staffing, from about 950-1,000 full-time equivalents (FTEs) to about 1,300.
  • The 2004 budget approved a further 25% increase in CSE's staffing, i.e., another 350 FTEs, for a total staff of 1,650 in FY 2007-08.
The 1,650 figure is more than 100 FTEs higher than the previous publicly acknowledged figure of 1,546. (CSE's current staff size is 1,381.)

The testimony also provides some general information on CSE's intelligence-gathering priorities. Coulter's written submission (PDF file) notes that
CSE has greatly increased its focus on security issues. CSE now devotes the majority of its foreign intelligence efforts to gathering and reporting intelligence on issues such as terrorism, proliferation and cyber threats. CSE also supports deployed Canadian Forces operations abroad.
His spoken testimony, however, provides the more precise claim that
Right now, if you look at the reporting as one metric on this, over 75% of our business is in the security domain, and that's a little broader than terrorism. That's proliferation as well. It is counter-intelligence as well. It's cyber-threats as well. And these days it is hugely a support to military operations ... because we have troops deployed abroad and we're very involved in helping to intercept communications so they can paint the picture of what the local threats are to them.
The testimony contains lots of other interesting comments as well.

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