Friday, May 12, 2006

Dial "N" for NSA

According to USA Today (Leslie Cauley, "NSA has massive database of Americans' phone calls," USA Today, 11 May 2006), "network analysis" is indeed the big secret (see previous discussion of this possibility here and here): NSA is apparently doing traffic analysis on virtually the entire US telephone network.

You can bet that they and their SIGINT allies are also doing the same sort of analysis on as much of the rest of the world's communications as they can reach. Which again raises the question, is Canadian telephone data also being analyzed? I don't know, but what happens at NSA often happens at CSE, so I'd still like to know whether similar data-gathering and mining would be legal in Canada and, if so, whether such mining is in fact being done.

Update: 12 May 2006
There are a couple of comments on the possibility of similar data-mining in Canada in the Globe and Mail today (Paul Koring, "Tracking of calls sparks furor in U.S.," Globe and Mail, 12 May 2006).

Update: 13 May 2006
No Such Activity, sez CSE (James Gordon, "Our phone calls not being tracked, spy agency says," CanWest News Service, 13 May 2006).

Update: 12 June 2006
Nonetheless, they are collecting enough of some kind of data somewhere to justify the hiring of additional employees to improve the agency's ability to "mine" it. CSE is currently "looking for people with the following qualifications: ... Experience in the development, testing and evaluation of new techniques to advance data mining, data enrichment, social network analysis and analytical discovery applications" (see Career Opportunities: Information Exploitation Analysts on the CSE website).

Monday, May 01, 2006

Canadian SIGINT sites past and present 2.0

Here's an update of my list of the main Canadian SIGINT operating sites past and present and their years of operation (previous version here). This version benefits both from the very comprehensive information in the recently published History of Canadian Signals Intelligence and Direction Finding and from Jerry Proc's recent efforts to improve the list of sites. Available information on the Second World War sites still tends to be somewhat spotty, so a lot of the dates associated with those remain uncertain. Also, my guesswork still differs in a few places from the estimates made by others (and maybe all of us are wrong on some dates), so further refinement is undoubtedly needed.

Canadian SIGINT sites past and present

Location Years of operation
Aklavik, Northwest Territories (RCN) 1949 - 1961
Alert, Nunavut (RCAF/RCCS/SRS/CFIOG) - experimental ops began in 1956 1958 - present
Alliford Bay, British Columbia (RCN @ RCAF) 1941 - 1943
Amherst, Nova Scotia (RCCS) 1941 - 1942
Augsburg, Germany (SRS detachment) 1989 - 1993
Bermuda (RCN/SRS) 1963 - 1993
Botwood, Newfoundland (DOT) 1939 - 1946
Cap D’Espoir, Quebec (RCN @ RCAF) 1941 - 1946?
Cheltenham, UK (CANSLO @ GCHQ + SRS/CFIOG det from 1953?) 1953 - present
Churchill, Manitoba (RCN/SRS) 1948 - 1968
Coal Harbour, British Columbia (RCN @ RCAF) 1941 - 1942
Coverdale, New Brunswick (RCN/SRS) 1944 - 1971
Darwin, Australia: McMillan’s Road Camp (RCCS) 1945 - 1945
Eastcote (London), UK (CANSLO @ GCHQ) 1949 - 1953
Esquimalt, British Columbia (RCN intercept for RN) 1925 - 1940?
Esquimalt, British Columbia (MARPAC support element) ? - present?
Flin Flon, Manitoba (AFTAC only) 1959? - ?
Forrest, Manitoba (DOT) 1940 - 1942
Fort Chimo (now Kuujjuaq), Quebec (RCN) 1949 - 1952
Fort Gordon, Georgia, USA (CFIOG det @ Gordon RSOC) 2003 - present
Fort Meade, Maryland, USA (CANSLO @ NSA HQ + SRS/CFIOG det from 1993) 1956 - present
Frobisher Bay (now Iqaluit), Nunavut (RCN) 1953 - 1967
Gander, Newfoundland (RCN/SRS/CFIOG) 1942 - present
Gloucester, Ontario (RCN HF-DF/training/admin site) 1943 - 1972
Gordon Head, British Columbia (RCN) 1940 - 1945
Grande Prairie, Alberta (RCCS) 1942 - 1947
Halifax, Nova Scotia (MARLANT support element) ? - present?
Harbour Grace, Newfoundland (RCN) 1940 - 1946?
Hartlen Point, Nova Scotia (DOT) 1941 - 1946
Inuvik, NWT (RCN/SRS) 1961 - 1986
Kingston, Ontario (SRS/CFIOG training) 1972 - present
Kingston, Ontario (21 EW Regt/2 EW Sqn of 1 CSR/1CDHSR/CFJSR) ? - present
Kingston, Ontario (Res EW Sqn/772 EW Sqn) - merged with 21 EW Regt in 2010 1986 - 2010
Ladner, British Columbia (RCCS/SRS) 1949 - 1971
Leitrim, Ontario (RCCS/SRS/CFIOG) 1942 - present
Louisbourg, Nova Scotia (DOT) 1939 - 1946
Lulu Island, British Columbia (DOT) (AKA Steveston) 1944? - 1945
Masset, British Columbia (RCN/SRS/CFIOG) 1942 - 1945 and 1949 - present
Nanaimo, British Columbia (DF outstation for Victoria) 1942? - ?
Northwest, Virginia, USA (SRS/CFIOG det @ NSGA Northwest) 1997 - 2001
Ottawa, Ontario (various headquarters) 1939 - present
Ottawa, Ontario (DOT) 1939 - 1945?
Ottawa, Ontario (771 CRS) 1987 - 2002
Pennfield, New Brunswick (RCN @ RCAF) 1941 - 1945?
Point Grey, British Columbia (DOT) 1940 - 1945?
Portage la Prairie, Manitoba (RCN @ RCAF) 1941 - 1945?
Prince Rupert, British Columbia (RCN) 1946 - 1948?
Resolute, Nunavut (RCAF) - experimental site only 1956 - 1956?
Riske Creek, British Columbia (RCCS; never operational) 1944 - 1946
Rivers, Manitoba (RCN @ RCAF) 1941 - 1945?
Rockcliffe, Ontario (RCCS) 1939 – 1942
San Antonio, Texas, USA (SRS/CFIOG det @ Medina RSOC) 1995 - present
Shediac, New Brunswick (DOT) 1939 - 1946
St. Hubert, Quebec (DOT) 1939 - 1946
Ste. Hyacinthe, Quebec (training) 1944 - 1945?
Strathburn, Ontario (DOT) 1939 - 1945?
Sydney, Nova Scotia (RCN @ RCAF) 1941 - 1945?
Ucluelet, British Columbia (RCN @ RCAF) 1941 - 1942
Victoria, British Columbia (RCCS) 1942 - 1949
Washington, DC, USA (CANSLO @ AFSA/NSA) 1949 - 1956
Whidbey Island, Washington, USA (SRS/CFIOG det @ NSGA Whidbey Island) 1997 - 2002
Whitehorse, Yukon Territory (RCAF/SRS) 1948- 1968
Winnipeg, Manitoba (DOT) 1942 - 1945
Winnipeg, Manitoba (1 Cdn Air Div support element) ? - present?

The list does not include the various operating sites of the Special Wireless Sections Type “A” and Type “B” in Britain, Italy, and North-West Europe from 1941 to 1945 or similar operations that may have taken place in the years since the Second World War when Canadian forces have been operationally deployed. Also not included are the covert intercept sites reported to operate in some Canadian embassies and consulates.

In addition to the personnel posted to the Canadian Special Liaison Offices (CANSLO) at NSA and GCHQ, a number of CSE personnel are posted to exchange positions inside the agencies of Canada's UKUSA partners. Canadian military personnel are also posted to a number of U.S. sites under the CF-USN Personnel Exchange Program (PEP). The History of Canadian Signals Intelligence and Direction Finding (p. 18) lists the following PEP locations as of 2005: Naval Security Group Headquarters (now the Naval Network Warfare Command Information Operations Directorate, Fort Meade, Maryland); NSGA Norfolk (now Naval Information Operations Command Norfolk), Virginia; Kunia RSOC, Hawaii; and Gordon RSOC, Georgia. The Gordon RSOC is also listed as the location of a CFIOG detachment (p. 133); these listings may refer to the same personnel. Sites reported in 2009 are listed here. At various times, Canadians have also been posted to other U.S. sites under the PEP program, including Northwest, VA; Homestead, FL; Skaggs Island, CA; Imperial Beach, CA; and Wahiawa, HI. There was also at one point during the Cold War a personnel exchange program with the British Army that saw Canadian personnel serving with the 13th Signal Regiment at Birgelen, West Germany.

[Update 7 September 2008: The Lulu Island DOT site was also known as Steveston.]
[Update 24 January 2012: Added listing for Resolute and notes on 21 EW Regt, Birgelen, and exchange locations in the U.S. as of 2009.]

In the news: CSE watchdog checks CSE tactics

Jim Bronskill reports (Jim Bronskill, "U.S. wiretapping controversy sparked inquiries from Canadian spy watchdog," Canadian Press, 30 April 2006) that CSE Commissioner Antonio Lamer questioned CSE earlier this year about whether it is running domestic surveillance programs similar to the controversial NSA warrantless surveillance program revealed last December. Details of the questions raised by the Commissioner and the responses provided by CSE were not revealed in the censored documents released to Bronskill under the Access to Information Act. But Joanne Weeks, executive director of the CSE Commissioner's office, told Bronskill that the Commissioner "was satisfied with the responses to the queries he posed to the chief of CSE."

I have to quibble with Bronskill when he contends that "the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001 gave the CSE authority to tap into the conversations and messages of foreigners even if those communications began or ended in Canada." As long as the target of the interception is the communications of a foreign entity located outside Canada, such as Osama Bin Laden or the Al Qaeda network in general, and a suitable ministerial authorization has been provided, the Act permits CSE to collect communications that have Canadian participants as well as those with foreign participants. The Act requires that unspecified measures be taken to safeguard the privacy of Canadians during such operations, but this does not constitute a blanket ban on collecting "private communications" that involve Canadians. Such communications can be intercepted, used, and retained by CSE as long as the collection was "directed at" the foreign entity or its activities and the collected material is considered by CSE to be "essential to international affairs, defence or security". Only those communications not considered to be of intelligence value must be discarded.

Quibble aside, this is another useful and informative article from the only Canadian reporter who consistently covers intelligence issues.

My own comments about the NSA program and questions about possible Canadian implications are here and here.