Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Psst. It's the Russians!

The photo above shows the Deputy Commander of NORAD presenting a commemorative plaque to CFS Leitrim thanking our SIGINT folks for their "outstanding operational support critical to the NORAD mission and unwavering dedication to perimeter security". Featured on the plaque is a photo of a Russian Tupolev BEAR under escort by NORAD fighters.

Considering that such intercepts have been freely publicized by Canada and the U.S. for the last 60 years or so, I suspect the fact that Russian aircraft are normally the ones involved will not come as a huge surprise to the Canadian public or indeed anyone else — and especially not to the Russians, who after all are typically the guest of honour on these occasions.

I'm just going to leave this here for the benefit of whatever blinkered securocrat decided that the nationality of these aircraft is some kind of national secret that needed to be redacted from the report of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP) released yesterday:

Despite the occasional incomprehensible redaction (and a substantial number of other, sometimes understandable, ones), there's a lot of interesting material in the 140-page NSICOP report, which is the first annual report that the new committee has produced.

It's unfortunate therefore that the PDF provided by the government isn't electronically searchable. Compiling the document from scanned images was probably a security measure designed to guarantee that no redacted information can be recovered from the final document. That's sensible enough.

But it is possible to OCR the document afterwards to make it user-friendly as well as secure. It's not that hard.

As a public service, I hereby offer for free download what apparently no one in government thinks is possible, or at least worth doing: a searchable version of the report.

Update 13 April 2019:

For a valuable commentary on the NSICOP report itself, see Stephanie Carvin, "A much-needed review of Canada’s security and intelligence operations arrives," Open Canada, 12 April 2019.


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