Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Adams speaks

The latest issue of Canadian Government Executive carries an interview with CSE Chief John Adams (Paul Crookall, "Gathering Intelligence: The challenges of the Communications Security Establishment," Canadian Government Executive, December 2006). In fact, Adams is the cover story (no pun intended).

The interview covers the challenges facing the CSE in an interesting but necessarily generic way.

Some comments on CSE support to military operations that I found intriguing:
We work more intensively with the uniforms; we provide direct support to Canadian Forces deployed abroad, particularly in Afghanistan. We work much more closely with the tactical side now.... We provide intelligence in real time to operations in Afghanistan. The information we gather, if accurate, can provide the tipping point for the success of an operation – or if inaccurate could have serious consequences.
SMO is not news, but the point about real time is interesting. Presumably, Mr. Adams is not referring to the local interception/analysis that may be done by the CFIOG "291ers" who deploy to Afghanistan. So where is CSE getting the raw material to analyse for Afghanistan operations? Local collection that is remoted back to Ottawa for analysis? There could be some of that I suppose. But I have long suspected that CSE helps to analyse some of the material collected by the so-called TRUMPET satellites operated by the Aerospace Data Facility at Buckley Air Force Base in Colorado – maybe that's where the Afghanistan material is coming from.

The Taliban, like Al Qaeda, are of course aware of the existence of SIGINT satellites and the fact that people are listening to their communications. But don't expect Mr. Adams (or anyone else from CSE) to comment yea or nay on the question of the specific collection systems CSE may be using.

I wonder if 771 Communications Research Squadron is missed now that SMO has taken on such importance?


Blogger Pete said...


A fascinating blog. Your one of the few holistic commenters on sigint matters who goes beyond the "shock, horror, NSA bad" convention.

Note that I occasionally refer to sigint matters on my own blog. Though not in the systematic way you've achieved.

Australia's own DSD seem far more secretive than CSE so I have to look overseas to get a handle on the sigint world. I imagine DSD operates in many way similar to CSE given their joint British and American heritage and likely reliance on standard UKUSA interception and computing technology.

I hope you continue to write.

I look forward to visiting and commenting frequently in the future.


January 04, 2007 8:09 am  
Blogger Bill Robinson said...

Hi, Pete.

Thanks for the comment!

I think you're right about CSE and DSD being very similar organizations. They use essentially the same technology and methods, and are closely allied as common members of the UKUSA community. As you probably know, CSE staff members are even occasionally posted to DSD and vice versa.


January 06, 2007 10:30 pm  
Blogger Pete said...

Thanks BILL (and not "Adam")

My powers of observation clearly failed me.



January 07, 2007 10:08 am  

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