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Spying on you from a billion-dollar palace

Artist's rendering: CSEC HQ outside Ottawa

Spying in the lap of luxury

CBC got exclusive (and heavily-guarded) access to the new Communications Security Establishment Canada headquarters, and it's apparently worthy of one of our most expensive house articles.

The CSEC headquarters is so opulent that its occupants have named it "Camelot". How much does a spy headquarters cost? Try $1.2 billion, and that's only the beginning. Another $3 billion will be spent on maintenance over the next 30 years.

The CBC learned that the CSEC shelled out for custom glass paneling, though you'd think transparency wouldn't be high on a spy outfit's list.

The spy HQ isn't finished yet, but the renderings show soaring atriums reminiscent of YVR Airport as well as little conversation nooks like you'd find at a startup. They'll be swigging filtered water as they listen to your phone conversations. Hey, it's thirsty work.

When completed next year, the facility in suburban Ottawa will house the roughly 2,000 employees of the Communications Security Establishment Canada, a federal agency that spies mainly on foreigners by hacking into their computers, reading their email and intercepting their phone calls.

Note that "spies mainly on foreigners" also means "spies on Canadians as well". Just keep that in mind when you consider the $1,200,000,000 price tag.

Most of that money, former CSEC chief John Adams told the CBC, will be spent on security measures for the building. You can see why that should be more of a priority for the CSEC than custom-cut glass panels if you were to google the phrase "Edward Snowden".

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