Monday, December 10, 2007

Revenge of the CROs

Two former CSE employees testified to the Air India Inquiry on 6 December that, contrary to James Bartleman's testimony last May, no CSE intercept provided warning of the attack on Air India flight 182. W.D. (Bill) Sheahan, who retired as Acting DG Intelligence at CSE and was the CSE Client Relations Officer at the Department of External Affairs at the time of the attack, and Pierre LaCompte, a CSE liaison officer who focused on security-related issues at the time, testified that no CSE end product report, including reports received from Canada's SIGINT allies, warned of a threat to the 22/23 June 1985 flight.

News coverage of their testimony can be found here:The truly interested can also watch the testimony on CPAC (click the "next" button on the viewer 4 times to advance to the CSE-related testimony).

In addition to discussion of the Bartleman claim, the testimony provides considerable background discussion of CSE's history and activities. Sheahan, for example, outlines his analytic duties early in his career (largely analysis of "Soviet military sales and Soviet military assistance to other countries, particularly Third World countries").

He also describes CSE's Client Relations Officer (CRO) program, explaining that it was established in July 1984 "for the main purpose of enhancing the use of SIGINT by decisionmakers in key government departments". [Presumably this development was related to the new CSE collection and processing capabilities that were starting to come on stream around that time (embassy-based collection, satellite monitoring, acquisition of a supercomputer for cryptanalysis, and the first significant increase in staffing in over 20 years).] Under the initial pilot program, since expanded and made permanent, four CROs were embedded in government departments: one each in the Privy Council Office, External Affairs, Finance, and Industry, Trade and Commerce. Sheahan also explained that in addition to receiving SIGINT via CSE CROs and liaison officers, departments with indigenous intelligence capabilities such as External Affairs and National Defence were able to perform "bulk pulls", using daily keyword queries to receive printouts from CSE's end product database.

I'll try to add more notes and comments in another post soon.


Blogger Pete said...

Thanks Bill

This is a mighty interesting organisational picture partially resulting from emerging technical tools (eg. supercomputer, customer keyword search) coming on stream.

I assume the other UKUSA equivalents, FAPSI and the DGSE Technical Directorate experienced similar.


January 22, 2008 7:49 am  

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