Wednesday, May 14, 2014

NSA gave CSEC $350K during FY 2012

An NSA document published by Glenn Greenwald in conjunction with his new book No Place to Hide (see page 39 here) indicates that the National Security Agency provided approximately $350 thousand U.S. in funding to CSEC during U.S. fiscal year 2012.

We already knew from the Public Accounts of Canada that CSEC has received a substantial amount of money from "foreign partners" since 2002-03 (see discussion here and here), and last year CSEC acknowledged to Globe and Mail reporter Colin Freeze that the money reported in the Public Accounts comes from "the Five Eyes partnership" (which almost certainly means it comes from the NSA) and "reflects investments received from partners for cryptologic research and development".

We also knew from this document, first revealed in December, that NSA "at times pays R&D and technology costs on shared projects with CSEC".

The new document is the first that specifies an amount definitely received from NSA, however.

Interestingly, it is not the same as the Public Accounts figure for Canada's FY 2012-13, which is $636 thousand Canadian.

Aside from the difference in currency values, I can think of three possible explanations for the discrepancy:

1) Some of the money CSEC received came from other Five Eyes partners. This is not very likely in my opinion.

2) Additional NSA money was received, but from a different program—not through the NSA Foreign Affairs Directorate. Maybe. I don't know enough about how NSA disburses funds to its partners to judge how plausible a possibility this is.

3) The discrepancy is due to the mismatch between the U.S. and Canadian fiscal years (the former ran from 1 October 2011 to 30 September 2012; the latter ran from 1 April 2012 to 31 March 2013). My guess is that this third possibility is probably the correct explanation. NSA money received in the second half of the Canadian fiscal year would fall under FY 2013 in the U.S. and would thus not appear on the U.S. chart.

The next edition of the Public Accounts may clarify the picture somewhat.

News coverage:

- Colin Freeze & Daniel Leblanc, "NSA gave Canada at least $300,000 to develop spy program," Globe and Mail, 13 May 2014
- Ian MacLeod, "Canadian spies receive U.S. money for research and surveillance, book says," Ottawa Citizen, 13 May 2014
- Peter Edwards, "Canada actively spies for NSA, Glenn Greenwald claims in new book," Toronto Star, 13 May 2014
- Michael Bolen, "NSA Gave Canada Money For Surveillance Program," Huffington Post Canada, 13 May 2014


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