Thursday, April 19, 2012

MacKay: CSE is still part of DND

Ostensible Defence Minister Peter MacKay explains CSE's new status to parliament's Standing Committee on National Defence on 13 March 2012:
CSEC—and our new commissioner of CSEC is with us—can also give you some information on how DND and other high-level government information is protected. With respect to your question on CSEC, this new stand-alone agency is still under the auspices of the Department of National Defence—and I don't want to put too fine a point on it, but it's a bit like, you will recall, when CSIS was taken out of the RCMP and given stand-alone status. That's what is occurring here.

It essentially is still very much part of the DND establishment, but it now has a separate entity, separate budget, and that accounts for the money you're seeing here coming out of the DND budget.
The comparison to CSIS and the RCMP is apt, but, no, CSE is not "still under the auspices of the Department of National Defence" and, no, it is not "very much part of the DND establishment".

It is a stand-alone agency that reports to the Minister of National Defence, but it is neither a part of the Department of National Defence nor under its auspices. That's why the Chief of CSE no longer reports through DND's Deputy Minister but instead reports directly to the Minister of National Defence.

Does Minister MacKay really not know the difference?

Also, I'm willing to bet that the official that MacKay described as being "with us" that day was not in fact the "new commissioner of CSEC" but rather the new Chief of the agency. Another rather significant difference.

Yes, the Minister of National Defence has a huge and complicated portfolio to manage, so the odd error or misstatement is only to be expected.

But Mr. MacKay seems to be doing a lot of that lately.

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