TI:George Swan/History of the Communications Security Establishment

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I am not sure if this is the kind of thing that belongs in the Topic Informant namespace.

I just added a couple of sentences to the Communications Security Establishment section of the article on the Department of National Defence (Canada).

In the 1980s I worked at the University of Waterloo, and lived nearby. I had a friend who was writing an academic paper on the history of the Communications Security Establishment. If I recall correctly he eventually got this paper published in a journal called Cryptologia.

As he was preparing it he made an additional photocopy of one of the key documents he used, and asked me to hold on to it for him. He figured that the CSE would have liked this document to be classified, but it had been overlooked, and the possibility existed that, if the news that he was preparing the paper became known they might get a court order to seize this key resource from him.

I agreed to hold on to his additional copy. And I read it, and found it very interesting.

The document was a human rights commission report, recording the investigation of the human rights commissioner looking into the wrongful dismissal case of a department manager at CSE.

The report documented a power struggle between this official, a middle-aged woman in her fifties, and a younger, rising official, with PhD in mathematics. What the report noted was that the CSE had no supercomputers at the beginning of the struggle. Canada had the capability to intercept signals, and perform traffic analysis, but had no domestic capability to decrypt signals.

The young ambitious PhD initiated efforts for the Establishment to purchase a supercomputer.

Over the next couple of years about a dozen staff members who worked for the older manager were sent, in dribs and drabs, on exchange programs to the NSA. And when they returned, they were reassigned to work for the PhD. All of the names of the employees of this secret agency were published in the commissioners report, without being redacted.

Finally, all of her subordinates had been retrained, and assigned to work for the new guy. The older manager was offered the option of getting retrained too. But she wasn't sent to the NSA. Instead she was merely offered paid leave to go to a local University. Her paid educational leave was conditional on her marks. She had confidently agreed, because she had been an A+ student in CEGEP decades earlier.

However, she flunked out of her first year. And she was fired for failing to comply with the conditions of her paid leave. The Human Rights Commissioner noted that the head of security had dumped the boxes of her personal effects from her office at the foot of her driveway -- which didn't comply with modern human resources standards.

As I recall the Human Rights Commissioner required the Establishment to compensate the older manager with two years worth of salary.