Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Second Party relations

Some interesting, if brief, comments on the NSA-CSE relationship in this 2003 document on "Six Decades of Second Party Relations":
(S//SI) The terrorist events of 11 September 2001 dramatically illustrated the importance of SIGINT relationships with our Second Parties (the U.K., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand). Although we have tracked and reported worldwide terrorism for decades, its intelligence magnitude flared to an unprecedented brilliance within hours. New initiatives with our Second Parties, such as biweekly video teleconferences between both seniors and analysts, frequent TDYs focused on counter-terrorism, and more vigorous daily interaction highlight the accelerated cooperation.

(S//SI) When it comes to NSA and its Second Party partners pitching in during a crisis, it's what we've come to expect from each other. This tradition of intelligence sharing has deep and widespread roots that have been cultivated for more than half a century. During World War II, the U.S. Army and Navy each developed independent foreign SIGINT relationships with the British and their Dominions of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. These relations evolved and continued across the decades, making critical contributions to our SIGINT successes throughout the Cold War. In late 1991 the dissolution of the Soviet Union forced a hesitant reevaluation and reshuffling of intelligence requirements. Relationships were less focused as targets became harder to identify, muddling attempts to articulate goals and directions. Despite this uncertain environment, the foundation of Second Party arrangements remained solid.



(U) Both the U.S. Army and Navy were working with the Canadian COMINT organization by 1942. As a point of historical interest, Herbert Yardley, who led the U.S. COMINT effort in the 1920s, assisted in the creation of Canada's COMINT entity. Like their American and British counterparts, the Canadians enjoyed much success during World War II.

(C) Canada had been mentioned in the BRUSA Agreement of 1946 as a secondary player, but by the next year, Canada was lobbying to have her own SIGINT agreement with the U.S. within the existing framework of the North American defense treaties. Her perseverance paid off two years later when the U.S. and Canada signed the CANUSA Agreement of 1949. The essence was much like the earlier BRUSA Agreement. The first liaison exchanges between the two countries actually began in 1950, but NSA and Canada's COMINT organization swapped representatives in 1954, when SUSLO Ottawa (SUSLOO) and CANSLO Washington (CANSLOW) came into existence. The Communications Branch of the National Research Council (CBNRC), Canada's SIGINT functionary, was created in May 1964. The CBNRC became the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) under the Department of National Defence in 1975.



(S) As we've experienced, the world can change quickly. This requires greater flexibility and foresight with our Second Parties. These relationships have not only survived, but have strengthened in spite of national policy shifts, the occasional security concern and international crises. During the Suez Crisis in 1956 and the Falklands War in 1982, the SIGINT liaison continued unabated even though the intelligence sometimes conflicted with U.S. and U.K. government policy. Past prohibitions, such as limiting classification, can now be less restrictive when weighed against unique technical capabilities or superior access to signals. These bonds, forged in the heat of a world war and tempered by decades of trust and teamwork, remain essential to our future intelligence successes.
The sections on the other Second Parties also make interesting reading.
The highly redacted 1987 document on the right also expresses satisfaction with the "very cordial" NSA-CSE relationship.

A couple of comments on the first document:

CBNRC was, of course, not created in May 1964. The author probably transposed the last two digits of 1946, the actual year of CBNRC's creation. I'm not sure where the May comes from, however. CBNRC was authorized by an April 1946 Order-in-Council and began its formal existence in September 1946.

The document states that by 1947 "Canada was lobbying to have her own SIGINT agreement with the U.S. within the existing framework of the North American defense treaties." Canada may very well have been the suitor looking for a more direct relationship, but if Thomas Johnson's history of NSA is to be believed it was the United States that "wanted a formal document on COMINT cooperation," while the prickly and name-redacted Bill Crean, chair of Canada's Communications Research Committee, did not (Thomas R. Johnson, American Cryptology during the Cold War, 1945-1989: Book I: The Struggle for Centralization, 1945-1960, National Security Agency: Center for Cryptologic History, 1995, p. 18).

The document states that SIGINT liaison officer exchanges between the two countries began in 1950. This accords well with the Public Accounts, which show that Canada's first liaison officer to the U.S., Robert S. McLaren, received his first travel and representation allowance during fiscal year 1949-50. But the document also suggests that the formal positions of Senior U.S. Liaison Officer/Ottawa (SUSLO/O) and Canadian Special Liaison Officer/Washington (CANSLO/W) were not created until 1954.

[Update 29 December 2014: According to CSE, via Canadian Press, the liaison position in Washington began in February 1950.]

The SUSLO/O office had 12 people working in it in 2008. Information about one former SUSLO/O, Velva Klaessy, is available at the NSA website.


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