Friday, January 13, 2017

ATIpper #8: CANUSA "almost identical" to UKUSA Agreement

Another item from The Canadian Intelligence Community (16 March 1990; Access release A-2016-00658, p. 19):


This snippet contains a number of useful bits of information:
  • Canada "agreed to be party" to the UKUSA Agreement at the Commonwealth SIGINT Conference of 1946;
  • The 1949 CANUSA Agreement was "almost identical" to the UKUSA Agreement; and
  • The CANUSA Agreement was "revised slightly in 1960".
The first point confirms this U.S.-U.K. document (p. 4), which reported that "The terms of the U.S. - British Communication Intelligence agreement had been explained to the Dominion representatives [at the February-March Commonwealth SIGINT Conference], in so far as they were affected, and had been accepted by them." Canada did not actually become party to the UKUSA Agreement (or BRUSA Agreement, as it was then known), but Canada, Australia, and New Zealand did agree to abide by its provisions and were accepted as partners.

On the second point, it has been clear for some time that the CANUSA Agreement was based closely on the UKUSA Agreement, but it's very useful to see it officially confirmed that the two agreements are "almost identical". The UKUSA Agreement was declassified and made public by the U.S. and U.K. in 2010. Surely it's long past time for the U.S. and Canada to do the same with the CANUSA Agreement. Because it's 2017.

Finally, we have the revelation that the CANUSA Agreement was "revised slightly" in 1960. The various appendices of the UKUSA and CANUSA agreements, which spell out details such as security procedures and communications systems, were under almost continuous revision in the early years of the agreements, so the change made in 1960 must have been something more fundamental than that. The Canadian Intelligence Community doesn't explain the nature of that change, unfortunately.

However, we do know from p. 32 of the document that the 1957 Tripartite [U.S.-U.K.-Canada] Alerts Agreement, which had originally covered only intelligence-sharing with respect to military threats from Communist countries, was extended in 1960 to include intelligence-sharing on a global basis ("consultations on threats to world peace and security anywhere in the world from any source").

Perhaps the 1960 amendment of the Tripartite Alerts Agreement led to or inspired a similar amendment formally recognizing that broader range of intelligence-sharing within the CANUSA Agreement as well.


Update 23 April 2017: You can read the 1949 version of the CANUSA Agreement here.

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