Saturday, November 28, 2015

CSE is run by women

It's 2015, as the new prime minister has pointed out, so no one should be especially surprised to learn that an important government agency happens at the moment to be largely run by women. But it may be worth reflecting on what a major change that development represents.

A lot of women were employed as intercept operators during the Second World War, and there were also a significant number working as codebreakers and translators, as well as support staff, for SIGINT processing during the war.

But like the Rosie the Riveters in the munitions factories, most of the women working in SIGINT were pushed to leave the workforce at the end of the war.

A few women managed to remain in positions of responsibility within CBNRC, the new post-war SIGINT agency, but the top jobs were available only to men. The post-war intercept jobs were also reserved for men. Women continued to be hired for secretarial and clerical roles, or to work in that now quaint-sounding institution the typing pool, but all of them faced systematic discrimination in terms of pay and promotion. It wasn't until 1977 that CSE, as it had by then become, appointed an Equal Opportunities for Women staff officer.

Such were the times—and not just within CSE, of course.

What a difference a few decades has made.

Old ideas about the roles of men and women are far from entirely gone, but the amount of change that has taken place is striking.

Most notably, CSE now has its first woman Chief, Greta Bossenmaier, who was appointed to the job earlier this year.

The Deputy Chiefs who run the agency's two main business lines, SIGINT and IT Security, are also women, Shelly Bruce and Toni Moffa, respectively, both of whom worked their way up through long careers in the agency.

There are three other Deputy Chief jobs on the CSE organization chart, all of which are currently held by men, but those positions—Policy and Communications, Corporate Services, and Chief Information Officer—provide support services: they are certainly important, but the sharp end of the agency, and the majority of its staff, is under the direction of women.

The identities of the people at the next highest levels of responsibility, the Directors-General and Directors, are generally not released, but it is clear that a significant number of those jobs are also held by women, including, for example, the agency's General Counsel and Director of Legal Services (Josée Desjardins) and its Director General of Audit, Evaluation and Ethics (Sue Greaves).

CSE's Senior Liaison Officer to NSA, the CANSLO/W, is also a woman (Michele Mullen), as was her predecessor (Eryn Sproule). The agency's first liaison officer to Australia and New Zealand, appointed in 2009, was also a women (Gwen Beauchemin).

Interestingly, the last NSA liaison officer in Ottawa was also a woman (Cynthia Daniels), as were several of her immediate predecessors. (I haven't identified the current incumbent.)

Let me emphasize here that I (a) see this as a very positive development, but (b) do not expect it to lead to any significant change in the way the agency operates, other than contributing to the further decline of discriminatory attitudes and thus helping the agency make best use of the talents of all of its employees, whether male or female.

But that itself is no small matter.

Welcome to 2015.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Management of Operations at Pine Gap

Another chapter in the ongoing Pine Gap saga:

Desmond Ball, Bill Robinson and Richard Tanter, "Management of Operations at Pine Gap", NAPSNet Special Reports, November 24, 2015. Full text here.

Links to the previous four papers here.

Still more to come...

Thursday, November 26, 2015

List of Canadian Senior Liaison Officers in Washington

As part of CSE's close co-operation with its UKUSA partners, Canada has assigned a SIGINT liaison officer to the National Security Agency (NSA) since 1950. The U.S. likewise assigns a liaison officer to CSE. Similar liaison officer exchanges are in place with Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in the U.K. and, since 2009, the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD). The liaison officer in Canberra is also cross-appointed to the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) in Wellington, New Zealand.

When CSE was created in 1946 (then called CBNRC), its most important relationship was with GCHQ, which provided leadership and expertise to all the Dominion SIGINT agencies. But the size and budget of the NSA and the importance of Canada's overall relationship with the United States soon made NSA the agency's most important partner.

The following is an updated list of the Canadian liaison officers at the NSA, all compiled from open sources. (Previous version here.) Originally referred to as the CBSLO (presumably Communications Branch Senior Liaison Officer), since 1954 the occupants of this position have been known as the Canadian Senior Liaison Officer/Washington, abbreviated CANSLO/W.

Robert S. McLaren19501951?
T. Jaffray Wilkins1951?1953?
Howie M. Harris1953?1956
Robert W. McLaren19561959
Stu K. Hepburn19591963
L. Vince Chambers19631964
John F. Lewis19641967
Peter R. Hunt19671972
A. Stewart Woolner19721977?
Pat Spearey1977?1980
William L. Gray19801983
Ron J.A. Ireland19831986?
Wilson D. Purser1986?1990
Robert E. Brûlé19901994
R. Jon Eacrett19941998
David J. McKerrow19982002
Toni Moffa20022004
Michael E. Doucet20042007?
Laurie K. Storsater2007?2010
Eryn C. Sproule20102015
Michele S. Mullen2015...

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

New ATIP documents from CSE intranet has published some new material from the CSE intranet. (Previous material here.)

The newly released material, also obtained through the Access to Information Act, consists of 236 "Special Pages" from CSE's internal Wiki.

Unfortunately, although unsurprisingly, the pages are very heavily redacted. But there are still a lot of interesting small details left hiding among them.

And some of those bits are surprisingly familiar looking.

On page 181 of the documents, for example, there is the following description of the intercept site at Leitrim:
Canadian Forces Station Leitrim, located just south of Ottawa, is Canada's oldest operational signal intelligence collection station. Established by the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals in 1941 as 1 Special Wireless Station and renamed Ottawa Wireless Station in 1949, CFS Leitrim acquired its current name when the Supplementary Radio system was created in 1966.
That passage is extremely familiar looking—at least to me—because I wrote that text (with a few more abbreviations) 20 years ago.

You can read it here in the 18 October 1996 copy of my Leitrim webpage at the Internet Archive:
CFS Leitrim, located just south of Ottawa, is Canada's oldest operating SIGINT station. Established by the RCCS in 1941 as 1 Special Wireless Station and renamed Ottawa Wireless Station in 1949, Leitrim acquired its current name when the SRS was created in 1966.
Nice to see that CSE has now "declassified" that information.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

October 2015 CSE staff size

2140. Normal range.

(If you click through on the link and get a different figure, it's probably because the Canada Public Service Agency has updated its website; they update the numbers once a month.)

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Even NSA does it, part 2

From the Linkedin profile of the last SUSLO in Ottawa:

Incidently, the final point on the SUSLO's list looks like a reference to the Collaborative Analytics Research Environment, which CSE described in a 2012 document as "a big-data system being trialed at CSEC (with NSA launch assist)" (see page 25 here). CARE was being used to speed up large-scale data-mining activities to make them practical for operational use.

Part 1 of "Even NSA does it" is here.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Gwen Beauchemin was first CANSLO/C-W

CSE doesn't usually reveal the names of its current or former liaison officers, but the former occupants of those positions do sometimes acknowledge that they once held the job, and on other occasions some enterprising soul figures some of them out for himself.

In this case, we now have the somewhat oblique admission by the former occupant that CSE's first liaison officer to the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) and New Zealand's Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) was Gwen Beauchemin.

The CANSLO/C-W (Canadian Special Liaison Office/Canberra-Wellington) position was established in 2009, and Beauchemin served in the role, which is based at ASD in Canberra, from 2009 to 2013.

She then went on to become the Director of the Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre (CCIRC) at Public Safety Canada, where she remains today.

Fill-in-the-blanks analysis would seem to confirm her identity:

That would be her, standing on the right with her head blanked out, beside then-CSE Chief John Adams. The original page comes from this CSE document (see page 452).

You can read more about the functioning of the liaison offices here.

Update 10 November 2015: On the question of Special vs. Senior (see earlier discussion here), I'm starting to think that the office is called the Canadian Special Liaison Office and the senior occupant of that office is called the Canadian Senior Liaison Officer, with both being abbreviated as CANSLO. That explanation doesn't account for the occasional reference that turns up to a Canadian Senior Liaison Office or Canadian Special Liaison Officer, but it seems to be the best fit.

Incidentally, CANSLO wasn't always the term used. This NSA document notes that the title of Canada's liaison officer at NSA was "changed to 'Canadian Senior Liaison Officer', abbreviated 'CANSLO'," effective 15 June 1954, and that the title of the liaison officer to GCHQ was also changed at the same time.

As this document shows, the previous title was CBSLO, which presumably expanded to Communications Branch Senior Liaison Officer (CSE was then called the Communications Branch, National Research Council).