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Communications Security Establishment [CSE]
Centre de la sécurité des télécommunications

The Communications Security Establishment (CSE), an agency of the Department of National Defence, is one of the main organizations devoted to providing the government with foreign intelligence. CSE analyzes and reports on intercepted foreign radio, radar and other electronic emissions, referred to as signals intelligence (SIGINT), and provides this foreign intelligence to Canadian government clients.

The Communications Security Establishment's other mandate is to provide technical advice, guidance and service to the government on the means of ensuring the security of federal government telecommunications and electronic data processing. This area is commonly referred to as INFOSEC.

The Chief of CSE reports to two deputy ministers: the Deputy Minister of National Defence for financial and administrative issues, and the Co-ordinator of Security and Intelligence (PCO) for policy and operational matters. Those two officials support the Minister of National Defence, who is accountable to Parliament for CSE.

The Canadian Forces Supplementary Radio System (CFSRS) supports CSE primarily in its signals intelligence collection and analysis roles. In addition, CSE has access to allied SIGINT through reciprocal sharing agreements.

The Communications Security Establishment uses substantial public funds in carrying out intelligence functions that are important to the national interest, sensitive and potentially controversial. However, CSE's existence, its objectives, the scope of its functions, and the framework within which it should operate have not been publicly debated or endorsed by Parliament through legislation.

The 19 June 1996 order-in-council authorizing the Minister of National Defence to appoint a Commissioner for the Communications Security Establishment sets out the Commissioner's mandate to review CSE's activities to determine whether they comply with the law. The Commissioner is to submit a report to the Minister each year on his activities and findings that are not of a classified nature. The Minister is required to table that report in Parliament.

Most of the funding for CSE is provided through votes for the Department of National Defence operating and capital expenditures. The CSE's operating and capital budgets ($84 million and $29 million respectively in 1995-96) make up only a small proportion of the total operating and capital budgets of National Defence ($7.5 billion and $2.7 billion respectively in 1995-96) that are visible to Parliament.

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Page last modified: 28-07-2011 00:52:01 ZULU