Friday, April 19, 2019

Another "secret" revealed

In February 2007, CSE Chief John Adams revealed that "in the time between the end of the cold war and 2001, CSE’s reporting concentrated mostly on prosperity issues."

But the agency did not entirely abandon its Cold War-era targets, as this slide from an NSA presentation on its Second Party partners confirms.

The presentation can be found in this document (pages 85-94), part of a set of documents recently released by the U.S. government to Privacy International and Yale Law School’s Media Freedom & Information Access Clinic. Although undated, the presentation appears to come from around 1993, give or take a year or so.

As can be seen, the first item listed under "Targets" on the slide — CIS — is unredacted. CIS, of course, is the Commonwealth of Independent States, the loose association of former Soviet republics that arose out of the ashes of the Soviet Union.

There's nothing at all surprising about the fact that CSE was monitoring targets within the CIS in the 1990s. The Soviet Union was CSE's primary target during the Cold War, and the expertise and language skills of its staff remained dominated by that legacy for many years afterwards.

And there was a lot that was worth watching in the CIS area in the immediate post-Soviet years, not the least being the fate of the former Soviet nuclear arsenal, which ended up scattered among four independent states in the wake of the break up. There's still a lot worth watching.

What is a bit surprising, however, is that the CIS's identity as a CSE target was left unredacted in this release. Of the four agencies described in the presentation (GCHQ, DSD, GCSB, and CSE), this is the only unredacted item on any of the target lists.

— Which if nothing else reinforces the absurdity of redacting the even more obvious fact that Canada monitors the communications of Russian military aircraft that approach North American airspace.


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