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More revelations about Canada’s top-secret spy agency are coming

The huge growth of CSEC in recent years has many worried about the future of Canadian privacy, and journalist Glenn Greenwald says even more revelations are coming soon.

Journalist Glenn Greenwald is promising more revelations about Canada’s top-secret Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) spy agency in the coming days, including some that will ‘contradict’ claims last week by CSEC’s chief John Forster, that the agency does not spy on Canadians.

Greenwald spoke to CBC Radio One’s The House from Brazil on Saturday about the revelations on CSEC that whistleblower Edward Snowden has released in the past two months and that he, Greenwald, has assisted in publishing. Greenwald says that more revelations on CSEC are forthcoming soon. Greenwald’s interview begins at the 27-minute mark of this CBC Radio One podcast.

CSEC has been in the news big time since October when Snowden revealed that the agency has conducted industrial espionage on the Brazilian government and Brazilian companies that compete with Canadian firms.

That was followed last week by Snowden’s revelations that CSEC and the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) cooperated in spying on the protests against the G20 Summit Meeting that took place in Toronto in June 2010. 

CSEC and the Canadian government say no laws have been broken by the agency.

CSEC is supposedly dedicated to international espionage. It is illegal for it to conduct spying on Canadian soil. That is supposed to be the bailiwick of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS). It’s even less legal for CSEC to be welcoming the NSA to set up shop on Canadian soil and then conduct joint operations with it.

CSEC is Canada's CIA. It has developed a vast expertise on internet spying and data storage, placing Canada in the top ranks of the “Five Eyes” espionage alliance that is headed by the U.S. and Britain and also includes Australia and New Zealand.

The Five Eyes came into prominence earlier this year when Snowden, Greenwald and The Guardian daily in the UK collaborated to reveal the vast, international spying and information gathering which the spy alliance routinely conducts on the internet. The hoovering of internet correspondence is spearheaded by the NSA and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

The revelations also showed that the alliance goes so far as to routinely spy on its ‘allies’ in Europe and elsewhere in the world.

The revelations are prompting activist campaigns worldwide to defend the right to privacy and demand that the secret treaties that bind the Five Eyes be published.

CSEC’s annual budget has ballooned to more than half a billion dollars. Ottawa is putting the finishing touches on a glitzy new headquarters for the outfit in Ottawa at a cost of more than one billion dollars. The super-computers with which the agency will conduct its spying and collect its data in its new HQ will consume something equivalent to the electricity required to light up the entire city of Ottawa.

Former CSEC chief John Adams tells CBC, “There are more transactions at CSEC on a daily basis than all of our banks combined.” CBC’s story and photo gallery show you inside the new CSEC headquarters.

The Globe and Mail published a feature article on CSEC on Saturday. It reports that the agency’s budget has grown from $100 million in 1999 to nearly half a billion dollars today.

The growth in CSEC’s role parallels the foreign policy evolution of the Canadian government that places the promotion of Canadian business interests at centre stage. The Harper government has made it official that foreign aid and foreign policy in general is directed, first and foremost, at promoting the business interests of Canada’s corporate elite. Globe and Mail writer Campbell Clark pens the term “dollar diplomacy” to describe Canada’s new foreign policy.

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