Tuesday, March 26, 2019

ATIPical story: U.S. releases partial CANUSA appendices

Another milestone has been reached in the effort to piece together the CANUSA agreement, the 1949 accord that spelled out the parameters of Canada–U.S. cooperation in communications intelligence collection and processing within the overall UKUSA relationship.

In April 2017 I got CSE to release the text of the CANUSA agreement via our Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) legislation. But our government refused to release a single word of the voluminous appendices that flesh out the details of the agreement.

Fortunately, not that long afterwards, in July 2017, Privacy International and Yale Law School’s Media Freedom & Information Access Clinic filed a lawsuit in the United States seeking detailed information about the full range of intelligence-sharing arrangements among the UKUSA partners.

And, what do you know, among the hundreds of pages of documents now released as a result of that suit (see the documents available here and here) is the CANUSA agreement—including a significant portion of its appendices.

It's buried among the documents in this State Department release, but for your convenience I have extracted just the CANUSA portion and made it available here as a searchable PDF.

Whereas CSE released not a comma of the CANUSA appendices in response to my request, the State Department released some 45 pages either fully or partially. I guess it helps to have some high-powered lawyers on side when requesting information from government.

Not everything was better in the U.S. release, however. CSE to its credit was willing to release the entire text of the agreement itself, while the U.S. chose to wholly redact paragraphs 7 and 9 of it.

Which means if you want to read the full text of the exchange of letters that comprised the agreement itself, you have to go back to CSE's version here.

Don't these people ever talk to each other?

It's also worth noting that the version of Appendix B that has now been released by the U.S. is considerably less complete than the version that was already available on the NSA's own website, which as I noted here has been online since 2015. Still, the newly released Appendix B is a substantially revised version dating from 1 July 1959, whereas the online version is from 27 March 1953, so there's value in having both.

Petit à petit l'oiseau fait son nid.


Update 31 March 2019: As it turns out, the 1 July 1959 version of UKUSA Appendix B was also released recently, in only slightly redacted form. Since the CANUSA Appendix B was intended to be identical in all significant respects to the UKUSA version so that the procedures spelled out in the two documents would also be identical, it is possible to use the UKUSA text to reconstruct most of the redacted parts of the CANUSA appendix.

Which is what I have now done here.

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