Thursday, January 30, 2014

NSA spied on climate conference; CSEC too?

An NSA document published by the Danish newspaper Information indicates that the NSA spied on the UN Climate Change Conference at Copenhagen in 2009 (Sebastian Gjerding, Anton Geist, Henrik Moltke & Laura Poitras, "For the NSA, espionage was a means to strengthen the US position in climate negotiations," Information, 30 January 2014; see also Kate Sheppard & Ryan Grim, "Snowden Docs: U.S. Spied On Negotiators At 2009 Climate Summit," Huffington Post, 29 January 2014).

The document promises that "Analysts here at NSA, as well as our Second Party partners, will continue to provide policymakers with unique, timely, and valuable insights into key countries' preparations and goals for the conference, as well as deliberations within countries on climate change policies and negotiating strategies."

The document goes on to state that
leaders and negotiating teams from around the world will undoubtedly be engaging in intense last-minute policy formulating; at the same time, they will be holding frequent sidebar discussions with their counterparts -- details of which are of great interest to our policymakers. While the outcome of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference remains uncertain, signals intelligence will undoubtedly play a significant role in keeping our negotiators as well informed as possible throughout the 2-week event.
NSA has four Second Party partners (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom), all of which were also present at the conference. The document does not reveal whether all of the partners or just some of them assisted the U.S. in collecting and/or analyzing SIGINT related to the conference.

Was CSEC involved?

We don't know, but it does seem quite likely.

Certainly the Harper government was keenly interested in the outcome of the conference.

Keenly interested, in particular, in ensuring that the conference achieved nothing that might threaten Canadian oil production and export goals.

Update 16 February 2014:

Not much in the way of news coverage, as reporter David Pugliese notes here: "Communications Security Establishment Spying On Climate Change Conference?" Defence Watch blog, 16 February 2014.

Bletchley Park et al. helped win the Second World War. Their successors may be helping to win the Climate Change War.

But whose side are they fighting on?

Never mind. Whatever CSEC may be doing, they're only following orders. And the CSE Commissioner will no doubt confirm that it's all legal.


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