Friday, December 24, 2010

About that Phil Barnesosophy degree...

When John Adams was first appointed Chief of CSE in 2005 there was a mildly amusing typo in his official bio reporting that the new Chief had received a Masters degree in "Phil Barnesosophy" from Oxford University. The typo was later corrected to read "Masters, Philosophy, University of Oxford".

So far, so good. But today I happened to check out the Chief's bio on the CSE website, and what do I read? This: "As a Rhodes Scholar, he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree at Oxford university in England in 1967." No mention of a Masters degree at all.

What's up with that? A Masters degree from Oxford isn't worth mentioning any more? Chinese cyberspies stole it?

I'm not alleging anything here. I don't know what the explanation is. I'm just curious about the discrepancy.

Update 18 January 2011:
Corrected to fix a typo about a typo -- ironically, in the original version of this post I misspelled Barnesosophy!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Adams on the new headquarters complex

CSE Chief John Adams has given the Globe and Mail some more details on CSE's new headquarters complex (Colin Freeze, "Canada's little-known spy agency comes out into the open," Globe and Mail, 22 December 2010):
As envisioned, the seven-building CSEC complex will be the equivalent of a 90-storey skyscraper turned on its side – a highly secure compound outfitted with the latest high-tech gear. Two nearby electrical generating stations will power the agency’s computers, which suck in millions of conversations from around the world each day and scour them for intelligence information.

CSEC’s 1,700 staff and $300-million budget are double what they were a decade ago. Yet the agency’s bricks-and-mortar surroundings have been neglected. Some staff complain that a wall-sized mainframe computer has even fallen through an old floor. The current complex, a scattering of Cold War-era buildings near Carleton University, can no longer suck enough energy off the grid to sustain operations.

“We’ve run out of power,” said Mr. Adams, whose facilities use about as much energy as a small town. “We’ve got 700 people buried in a basement.”

Plenty more in the article, including a site plan for the new complex.

And this little tid-bit:
...Canadians need to understand how much raw data the spy agency handles – and how much more it’s going to have to handle in the future, Mr. Adams argues. He makes a case that the new complex in Ottawa’s East End is vital for national security.

Already, he said his staff process the informational equivalent of a WikiLeaks-sized data dump of State Department cables every day – or more transactions than all of Canada’s big banks combined. His staff burn through megawatts of brainpower and electrical energy as their computers crunch unfathomable amounts of information.
My wild estimates for the new complex are multi-exabytes of data storage and as much as 25 megawatts (of electrical power), respectively.

Graphic: Murat Yukselir/Globe and Mail

Saturday, December 18, 2010

LTAP/MTAP "Taj Mahal"

More details on CSE's planned new headquarters complex:

David Pugliese, "New DND facilities to have ice rink, hobby garden: Documents," Postmedia News, 17 December 2010

Update: 21 December 2010

CSE Chief Adams has responded to the "Taj Mahal" report.

A couple of interesting points:

- Adams states that the "new facility is required to house a staff complement of almost 2,000 employees". Assuming the Chief's number doesn't include contractors (at least 91, according to the Pugliese article), this suggests that there could be nearly 2,100 people working at the site -- plus some number of military personnel. It remains unclear whether that overall figure includes the 200-250 that will be accommodated in the MTAP building, but either way, it represents significantly more people than CSE's current 1817.

- Adams cites a "severe lack of power" at the current site as one of the reasons a new facility is required. See "More power!" in this post for one possible explanation of CSE's power needs.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

November 2010 CSE staff size


(If you click through on the link and get a different figure, it's probably because the Canada Public Service Agency has updated its website; they update the numbers once a month.)