Military Report: Secretly ‘Recruit or Hire Bloggers’
Since the start of the Iraq war, there’s been a raucous debate in military circles over how to handle blogs — and the servicemembers who want to keep them. One faction sees blogs as security risks, and a collective waste of troops’ time. The other (which includes top officers, like Gen. David Petraeus and Lt. Gen. William Caldwell) considers blogs to be a valuable source of information, and a way for ordinary troops to shape opinions, both at home and abroad.
This 2006 report for the Joint Special Operations University, "Blogs and Military Information Strategy," offers a third approach — co-opting bloggers, or even putting them on the payroll. "Hiring a block of bloggers to verbally attack a specific person or promote a specific message may be worth considering," write the report’s co-authors, James Kinniburgh and Dororthy Denning.
Lt. Commander Marc Boyd, a U.S. Special Operations Command spokesman, says the report was merely an academic exercise. "The comments are not ‘actionable’, merely thought provoking," he tells Danger Room. "The views expressed in the article publication are entirely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views, policy or position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, USSOCOM [Special Operations Command], or the Joint Special Operations University."
Denning, a professor at Naval Postgraduate School, adds in an e-mail, "I got some positive feedback from people who read the article, but I don’t know if it led to anything."
The report introduces the military audience to the "blogging phenomenon," and lays out a number of ways in which the armed forces — specifically, the military’s public affairs, information operations, and psychological operations units — might use the sites to their advantage.
Information strategists can consider clandestinely recruiting or hiring prominent bloggers or other persons of prominence… to pass the
U.S. message. In this way, the U.S. can overleap the entrenched inequalities and make use of preexisting intellectual and social capital. Sometimes numbers can be effective; hiring a block of bloggers to verbally attack a specific person or promote a specific message may be worth considering. On the other hand, such operations can have a blowback effect, as witnessed by the public reaction following revelations that the U.S. military had paid journalists to publish stories in the Iraqi press under their own names. People do not like to be deceived, and the price of being exposed is lost credibility and trust.
An alternative strategy is to “make” a blog and blogger. The process of boosting the blog to a position of influence could take some time, however, and depending on the person running the blog, may impose a significant educational burden, in terms of cultural and linguistic training before the blog could be put online to any useful effect.
Still, there are people in the military today who like to blog. In some cases, their talents might be redirected toward operating blogs as part of an information campaign. If a military blog offers valuable information that is not available from other sources, it could rise in rank fairly rapidly.
Denning, the report’s author, has promoted controversial opinions before. In the early 1990s, when she was chair of the Georgetown
University’s computer science department, Denning emerged as the leading advocate for the so-called "Clipper Chip,"
a cryptographic device for protecting communications — until the government wanted to listen in. The project was cancelled by 1996.
In her 2006 paper, Denning warns that blogs can and will be used by
America’s enemies. These sites, she argues, can also be used to serve
U.S. government interests.
There are certain to be cases where some blog, outside the control of the U.S. government, promotes a message that is antithetical to U.S. interests, or actively supports the informational, recruiting and logistical activities of our enemies. The initial reaction may be to take down the site, but this is problematic in that doing so does not guarantee that the site will remain down. As has been the case with many such sites, the offending site will likely move to a different host server, often in a third country. Moreover, such action will likely produce even more interest in the site and its contents. Also, taking down a site that is known to pass enemy EEIs (essential elements of information) and that gives us their key messages denies us a valuable information source. This is not to say that once the information passed becomes redundant or is superseded by a better source that the site should be taken down. At that point the enemy blog might be used covertly as a vehicle for friendly information operations. Hacking the site and subtly changing the messages and data—merely a few words or phrases—may be sufficient to begin destroying the blogger’s credibility with the audience. Better yet, if the blogger happens to be passing enemy communications and logistics data, the information content could be corrupted. If the messages are subtly tweaked and the data corrupted in the right way, the enemy may reason that the blogger in question has betrayed them and either take down the site
(and the blogger) themselves, or by threatening such action, give the
U.S. an opportunity to offer the individual amnesty in exchange for information. (emphasis mine)
(Hook up: Cryptome.org; photo: Peter Starman / WIRED)
* Who Gets Through the Air Force’s Blog Block?
* Facebook Threatens Soldiers, Canada Says
* Army: Wikis Too Risky
* U.S. Starting to Wake Up to Media War?
* AQI Leaders: Breaking Smokers’ Fingers Backfiring
* Pentagon Plots Sim Iraq for Propaganda Tests
* Pentagon Panel: U.S. Must Sell ‘Good News’
* Top General: Let Soldiers Blog
* Rummy Resurfaces, Calls for U.S. Propaganda Agency
* In Iraq, Psyops Team Plays on Iran Fears, Soccer Love
* How Technology Almost Lost the War
* Targeting the Jihadist Noise Machine
* 18 Months Later, Charges for Jailed Journo in Iraq
* U.S. Enlists Arab Bloggers for Info War
* Some of Her Best Friends Are Terrorists
* Inside Al-Qaeda’s "Intranet"
* Intel Director Launches Qaeda Leak Probe
* Ex-Spies Blast Qaeda Breach
* Al-Qaeda "Intranet" Goes Dark After Leak
* Bloggers vs. Terrorists?
* Army Gearing Up for Info War (Finally)
* Osama: Back in Black
* Al-Qaeda Channels Pixar
* Inside the Insurgent Noise Machine
* Terrorists Keep Blogs, Too
* Al-Qaeda Ramps up Propaganda Push
* Army Bullies Blogger, Invades YouTube
* Al-Qaeda Propaganda at New High
* British Military Gags Blogs
* Army Audit: Official Sites, Not Blogs, are Security Threat
* Military Security Threat: Bogus Bomb-Zapper’s Bogus Countermeasure
* Military Hypes, Bans YouTube
* Petraeus Hearts Milblogs
* No More YouTube, MySpace for U.S. Troops
* Milblogs Boost War Effort
* Pentagon Whispers; Milbloggers Zip Their Lips
* Clarifying the Blog Rule Clarification
* Army to Bloggers: We Won’t Bust You. Promise.
* Army’s Blog Rebuttal
* Stop Those Leaks!
* Strategic Minds Debate Milblog Crackdown
* Milblog Bust: AP Gets Snowed
* Army: Milblogging is "Therapy," Media is "Threat"
* Urban Legend Led to Army Blog-Bust?
* New Army Rules Could Kill G.I. Blogs (Maybe E-mail, Too)
* Reporters = Foreign Spies?
* Army’s Info-Cop Speaks
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Posted on August 31, 2010 by admin
The Sabotage Of Legitimate Dissent!
Real examples from the pentagon, military, politicians and the media
COINTELPRO (an acronym for Counter Intelligence Program) was a series of covert, and often illegal, projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) aimed at investigating and disrupting dissident political organizations within the United States.
Funny enough below the video there is a link to Mike Rivero’s site. Remember this:
WAKE UP, QUESTION EVERTHING
11 months ago 9
These truth telling videos on every channel are now getting a lot of attention from the military. So if you see any disinfo agents on here crying foul or belittling them please tell them to GTF off our channels! I have had enough of their rhetoric. We are far too smart to be taken in by them anymore. The only good people on here are either agreeing or questioning in a good way so as to learn the truth as it is today! Be Aware and Nail their Asses,
invincibleironman3 @GrassyKnollTrolls …agree completely. Remember the money trail, and who benefits. A paper indicating the financial formulas was published by Catherine Austin Fitts called “The Black Budget – Clandestine Politics and the Cartelization of the American Economy. It will basically give you the blueprint of covert operations ran by the institutions set up to maintain control of the Economy.
India’s New Android Tablet Looks Pretty Great
If you thought then Droid X was big, check out the Olivepad from India’s Olive Telecom. The 7-inch tablet, halfway in size between a smartphone and an iPad, will actually make phone calls (although we’d suggest a headset of some kind unless you want to attract amused stares).
The Android 2.1 tablet actually looks pretty sweet, with 3.5G HSUPA, GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and even a TV-tuner. It trumps the iPad in two areas: a 3 megapixel camera and a USB port (mini). Memory is limited, with just half a gig of RAM (expandable via SD-card) and the screen resolution is an acceptable-for-the-size 800 x 480 pixels.
What I like most about it is that it has a measure of honesty. While the EVO and other Android phones are really a little to large to call phones, the Olivepad is a flat-out tablet with a vestigial phone attached.
The price, when it launches in India in August, will be somewhere around $500. That makes the iPad look pretty cheap (but then, the iPad won’t fit in your pocket). And one more thing: The Olivepad plays Flash.
ahhh... before google was evil they were heroes for providing free wi-fi through-out India.
cose the digital divide. i live in the stone ages.
First Look: ELocity’s Android Tablet Makes Great Media Player
Stream TV is an unlikely player in the Great Tablet Race of 2010, but its new Android tablet might just find a niche among media-hungry consumers who want the option of throwing their games and movies up on a big-screen HDTV.
I got a chance to test-drive the eLocity A7 recently at Stream TV’s Philadelphia offices, and it looks like a solid, versatile tablet with a lot to offer, especially as a portable media player. (Philadelphia has plenty of telecoms and pharmaceutical companies, but not much in the way of consumer tech, so I was lucky that the company is just 12 blocks from my house.)
The three key phrases that will get geeks excited about the A7 are “Froyo,” “NVidia Tegra,” and “1080p output.” Translation: the A7’s shipping with the newest Android OS, a processor chip optimized for gaming, graphics, and video processing, and it spits out true HD video, so you can plug it into a TV.
Look at the hardware controls on the picture above: They are the standard control buttons that appear on every Android phone (plus a volume button), but they’re oriented for landscape mode. Some people knocked the iPad for being a media player rather than a portable computer, but eLocity is clearly aimed directly at media consumers.
One way to think about this class of tablets: imagine a more-versatile Apple TV, with a built-in touchscreen, that also plays video games, runs apps, and browses the web. Oh, and you can carry it around with you.
Because of the NVidia chip and 1080p, the A7 shines when it’s hooked up to an HDTV. (eLocity’s including an HDMI cable and Bluetooth-fob keyboard with the A7 in its $400 kit.) Because it uses Android, it can play almost any file format. You don’t have to worry about buying video in different resolutions for your portable device and your set-top box. We watched an HD trailer for Avatar, some clips from Shark Tale, including a Blu-Ray rip, and all looked great.
You can also play video games on the big screen while hooked up to your TV — we played the racing game Asphalt 5 — but here the HDMI cable was really awkward. Cables and accelerometers do not mix. The gameplay was much better when using the tablet like a PSP, without connecting it to a TV. It’ll be even better once there are more Android games that take advantage of the tablet form factor.
The other hurdle to clear when the A7 is hooked up to the TV is inputting data. You can walk over and use the touchscreen, but that’s very pre-remote. There’s the included keyboard, but it is just the teensiest bit awkward using a device that big when you’re not at a desk or conference table. It worked fine — I just wonder whether people who aren’t me will enjoy sitting back, relaxing, and pulling out a big keyboard to watch a movie.
Part of the problem is that there just aren’t many good peripherals for Android devices yet. The keyboard eLocity is including is branded for Windows (“We’ll include an Android sticker to put over the Windows logo,” company reps told me), and there aren’t any Bluetooth mice, trackpads, or remotes, although clever people might get something unofficially supported to work.
The hardware keyboard is also an acknowledgment that software keyboards for these tablets are fine for casual use, but not knocking anybody over just yet. My editor called it “a deconstructed netbook,” and that’s not far off. But again, part of the appeal is that it can alternately be a tablet, netbook, and set-top box as needed.
It also makes for a fairly slick e-reader. It’s not as light as a Kindle, but smaller and lighter than an iPad, and the touch controls and Aidiko e-book software worked great. You’ve can also get the Nook and Kindle apps for Android. Instead of using Pages to read PDFs, you’ve got Adobe Reader (or whatever other PDF app you can find). It also supports Adobe Flash. (Add your cheers/boos, as you’re so inclined.)
The company’s shipping the devices with Facebook, Documents to Go (the trial/read-only version), Twidroid, and other popular apps preloaded, so it’s ready to use out of the box. I didn’t see anything that looked like bloatware. Unless you really, really hate mobile Flash.
Now, some caveats. I did not get to test the device that’s actually shipping this fall. It will be available for exclusive preorder with Amazon after Labor Day (probably September 8), and will ship after mid-October. The demo unit was basically identical to the Compal- and Aigo-branded tablets that appeared at some consumer shows earlier this year, right down to the metallic red body and Android 2.1 OS. The unit that’s shipping will have 2.2, which has finally been pushed out. It will also be black/graphite, like the photos above.
It’s Wi-Fi only, since StreamTV still doesn’t have carrier deals in place. But it only has 802.11 b/g networking, not n. It outputs video in 1080p, but on-screen resolution is 800×480 — much less than the current iPad, and almost certainly much less than the next-gen iPad. There are some things it does not do well; there’s a 1.3MP front-facing webcam, which is pretty low resolution for video chat. (It looks way worse when you take video of me and blow it up on an HDTV.) But it’s there if you want it.
The A7 might be more comparable to the Motorola Stingray or Toshiba Folio 100 (née “SmartPad”) than the much-anticipated Samsung Galaxy Tab. The Stingray will also be sporting an NVidia Tegra II chip and will actually have better on-screen resolution than any other tablet we’ve heard of so far (1280×780). But it will also be huge (10″), packaged by Verizon, and isn’t coming out until after Android 3.0 is released (rumored as early as October, but nobody knows for sure).
There’s also the question of scale. StreamTV is not Samsung; they can’t crank out their own accessories, and there’s no way of knowing how many of these they’ll be able to ship. (“Not enough,” I was told.) But I can definitely say that if it’s any indication of what the Android tablet ecosystem is going to look like, this is going to be very exciting for makers, retailers, carriers, and consumers. You’ll see a lot of devices that will all be very versatile, some of which will be good at specific things. If it wasn’t already, tablets just became the new wild West.
Images courtesy of StreamTV.
- $250 Korean Android Tablet Looks Strangely Familiar
- Video: Samsung Galaxy Tab Caught in the Wild
- Samsung to Launch 7-inch Tablet in September
- Android ePad Tablet Reviewed. Verdict: Junk
- U.S. Customers Are Tablet-Hungry, and Not Just for the iPad
- Rumor Shootout: Google Tablet Will Be Made by HTC — Or Maybe Motorola
- Dell’s Streak Tablet Is Priced Like a Phone
- BlackBerry Tablet ‘BlackPad’ Readies to Take On the iPad
Teachbook Vows Facebook Trademark Suit Fight
“It’s a David and Goliath situation,” said Greg Shrader, the managing partner of the Northbrook, Illinois-base Teachbook, which has yet to launch. ”They’re throwing bombs at a mosquito. They believe we’re going to roll over and in some respect they get to own the term ‘book.’”
Facebook, in a lawsuit Threat Level reported on Tuesday, claims the term “book” cannot be used to name social-networking sites. The Palo Alto-based site claims Teachbook might dilute its famous name or cause confusion over which is the real Facebook.
Facebook doesn’t seem to be focused solely on social-networking sites, either. It leveraged its financial weight earlier this month to demand an upstart travel site to rename itself from Placebook.
Alleged WikiLeaks Leaker Hires Civilian Defense Attorney
Pfc. Bradley Manning, the former intelligence analyst suspected of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks, has hired a civilian attorney to defend him, according to a report.
According to his web site, Coombs’s civilian practice specializes in military court martial cases. He has handled military cases involving murder, robbery, drugs and sexual assault. His most high-profile case involved defending Army Sgt. Hasan Akbar, who was charged in 2003 with attacking and killing fellow U.S. soldiers in Kuwait. Akbar is currently awaiting execution for murdering two officers.
Coombs, who is in the Army Reserves, is also a former law professor at the Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School in Charlottesville, Virginia.
It’s not known if Coombs already has a clearance to handle classified materials that may be introduced as evidence in Manning’s case.
Coombs did not immediately respond to a call for comment.
Manning, 22, was arrested in May after telling a former hacker that he was responsible for leaking a classified 2007 video showing an Army Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad, which WikiLeaks published last April. Manning also claimed to have leaked an Army log of half a million military events in Iraq, a separate video of a military attack in Afghanistan in 2009, and 260,000 U.S. State Department diplomatic cables.
Manning was charged last month with leaking the Iraq video, and improperly downloading more than 150,000 State Department cables onto his unclassified personal computer. He’s charged with leaking more than 50 of them. The Pentagon has described Manning as a “person of interest” in the leaking of the 92,000-entry Afghan war log partially published by WikiLeaks last month.
WikiLeaks has never acknowledged that Manning is a source. Nonetheless the site as well as a number of other organizations and websites have been raising funds for Manning’s defense.
Manning has been assigned a team of three Army attorneys. It’s unclear if they will remain on his case as co-counsel with Coombs.
Top image: In this courtroom sketch, David Coombs (far left) sits next to Sgt. Hasan Akbar during the sentencing phase of Akbar’s court-martial at Fort Bragg, N.C. April 25, 2005. (AP Photo/U.S. Army, Stacey Robinson)
- Mississippi Lawyer Drawn Into WikiLeaks Intrigue
- Cyberwar Against Wikileaks? Good Luck With That
- WikiLeaks Suspect’s YouTube Videos Raised ‘Red Flag’ in 2008
- WikiLeaks Releases Stunning Afghan War Logs — Is Iraq Next?
- Suspected WikiLeaks Source Described Crisis of Conscience Leading to Leaks
- U.S. Intelligence Analyst Arrested in WikiLeaks Video Probe
Dead Codebreaker Was Linked to NSA Intercept Case
A top British codebreaker found mysteriously dead last week in his flat had worked with the NSA and British intelligence to intercept e-mail messages that helped convict would-be bombers in the U.K., according to a news report.
Gareth Williams, 31, made repeated visits to the U.S. to meet with the National Security Agency and worked closely with British and U.S. spy agencies to intercept and examine communications that passed between an al Qaeda official in Pakistan and three men who were convicted last year of plotting to bomb transcontinental flights, according to the British paper the Mirror.
Williams, described by those who knew him as a “math genius,” worked for the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) helping to break coded Taliban communications, among other things. He was just completing a year-long stint with MI6, Britain’s secret intelligence service, when his body was found stuffed into a duffel bag in his bathtub. He’d been dead for at least two weeks. His mobile phone and a number of SIM cards were laid out on a table near the body, according to news reports. There were no signs of forced entry to the apartment and no signs of a struggle.
Initial news stories indicated Williams had been stabbed, but police have since disputed that information, noting that — other than being stuffed into a duffel bag — there were no obvious signs of foul play. A toxicology report is expected Tuesday.
Investigators say they haven’t ruled out the possibility that the codebreaker was killed over something related to his work. Rumors that sexual bondage equipment was found in his apartment were also nixed by police, who said the rumors were untrue and they found no evidence yet to suggest that anything in Williams’ personal life led to his death.
Williams, an avid cyclist, lived in an apartment in Pimlico in central London that was reportedly part of a network of flats registered to an offshore front company and rented out to GCHQ workers. He is believed to have returned from a trip abroad on August 11. He was last seen alive on August 15, eight days before his body was found.
Williams flew up to four times a year to the U.S. to the NSA’s headquarters at Fort Meade HQ, according to the Mirror. His uncle, Michael Hughes, told the paper that Williams would mysteriously disappear for three or four weeks.
“The trips were very hush-hush,” Hughes said. “They were so secret that I only recently found out about them – and we’re a very close family. It had become part of his job in the past few years. His last trip out there was a few weeks ago, but he was regularly back and forth.”
Williams was said to have worked with the NSA on e-mails intercepted between Abdullah Ahmed Ali and Assad Sarwar and Rashid Rauf, a British national in Pakistan who was allegedly director of European operations for al Qaeda. The e-mails, intercepted by the NSA in 2006, allegedly contained coded messages.
The NSA shared the e-mails with British prosecutors but wouldn’t allow them to use the evidence in an early trial of the suspects out of fear of tipping off Rauf that he was under surveillance. It was only after Rauf was reportedly killed in a U.S. drone attack that the NSA allowed prosecutors to use the e-mails to convict the other suspects. It’s never been known whether the NSA intercepted the messages overseas or siphoned them as they passed through internet nodes on U.S. soil as part of the NSA’s controversial and unconstitutional warrantless wiretapping program.
An unidentified Western intelligence source told the Mirror that Williams’ job would have had him participating in “crucial high-level meetings with American intelligence officers. His job would have been crucial to the security of the UK and our interests abroad – and also to America and Europe.
“Although not particularly high up the GCHQ ladder, the importance of his role should not be underestimated. The man was a mathematical genius.”
His landlady, Jenny Elliott, told the Telegraph, “Occasionally you could hear tapes whirring from his flat, which must have been audio cassettes he used for work, but he never told me what they were.”
Obama Says New Cyberczar Won’t Spy on the Net
Following months of rumors, President Barack Obama confirmed Friday that the White House will be creating a new office to be led by a cybersecurity czar. The office will be in charge of coordinating efforts to secure government networks and U.S. critical infrastructures.
Obama was quick to add that the new White House cybersecurity office would include an official whose job is to ensure that the government’s cyber policies don’t violate privacy and civil liberties of Americans. He also reaffirmed his support for the principle of net neutrality.
“Our pursuit of cybersecurity will not include — I repeat, will not include — monitoring private sector networks or internet traffic,” he said. “We will preserve and protect the personal privacy and civil liberties that we cherish as Americans. Indeed, I remain firmly committed to net neutrality so we can keep the internet as it should be, open and free.”
The White House cybersecurity czar, who has not been named yet, will report to the National Security Council and the National Economic Council, putting the position one rung lower in the executive branch hierarchy than many security experts had hoped for. Speculators predicted the czar would report directly to the president, which would have helped insulate the office from agency turf battles.
But in his address on Friday, Obama said the new cybercoordinator will have “my full support and regular access to me as we confront these challenges.”
The czar will be responsible for orchestrating and integrating all cybersecurity policies for the government, working with the Office of Management and Budget to ensure that agencies have money allocated for cybersecurity priorities, and coordinating the government’s response to a major cyber incident or attack.
“From now on our digital infrastructure, the networks and computers we depend on every day, will be treated as they should be — as a strategic national asset,” Obama said. “Protecting this infrastructure will be a national security priority. We will ensure that these networks are secure, trustworthy and resilient. We will deter, prevent, detect and defend against attacks and recover quickly from any disruptions or damage.”
In conjunction with Obama’s briefing the White House released a report on a 60-day review of the nation’s cybersecurity efforts (.pdf), which Obama had ordered shortly after taking office in January. The report was conducted by acting White House cybersecurity chief Melissa Hathaway, who is considered a front runner for the permanent czar job.
As part of that review, Obama announced plans for a public awareness campaign to increase cybersecurity literacy among children and the general public and to support educational programs to develop technological and cybersecurity expertise. The latter is needed “to ensure a technologically advanced workforce in cybersecurity and related areas, similar to the United States’ focus on mathematics and science education in the 1960s,” the White House said in a statement.
The White House also acknowledged the need for the government “to facilitate programs and information sharing on cybersecurity threats, vulnerabilities, and effective practices across all levels of government and industry” and to coordinate responses to cyber attacks between government and private industry.
Obama did not address a separate plan that is rumored to be in the works to secure U.S. military networks. The Wall Street Journal reported last month that the Pentagon plans to create a separate military cyber command that will be responsible for securing military computers and coordinating cyber offensive attacks. The cyber command would be a subdivision of the U.S. Strategic Command and would be headed by Lt. General Keith Alexander, who currently heads the National Security Agency.
Last March, Rod Beckstrom, the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity chief, abruptly resigned over concerns that the NSA was angling to take control of cybersecurity duties. But last month, at the RSA Security conference in San Francisco, Alexander insisted the NSA had no interest in overseeing cybersecurity but was interested in coordinated efforts with DHS, which is responsible for securing non-military government networks.
U.S. Cyber Command: 404 Error, Mission Not (Yet) Found
Earlier this week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates ordered the military to start setting up a new “U.S. Cyber Command.” It’s a move that’s been discussed in defense circles for more than a year. But despite the announcement — and despite the lengthy debate – no one in the military-industrial complex seems all that sure what this new fighting force is supposed to do, exactly.
Officially, the Pentagon still has a few months to figure things out. Gates told his troops in a Tuesday memo that they have until September 1st to come up with an “implementation plan” for the new command. But there’s a ton to figure out in the next ten weeks. As Gates notes, that plan will have to “delineate USCYBERCOM’s mission, roles and responsibilities,” detail the command’s “minimum requirements” to get up and running, and sort out its “relationships” with the rest of the military – and the rest of the government.
In other words, just about everything.
Let me paraphrase a series of conversations I’ve had this week with people working on this new command: Is CYBERCOM supposed to be a new fighting force, a glorified IT department, an intelligence agency, or what? Mmmmm, unclear, to be determined. If it’s a fighting force, how much offense or defense will it play? To be determined. And what does cyber defense really mean, these days? TBD. If it’s an intelligence agency, how far will the command go to protect civil liberties? To snoop on everyone, in the name of network security? TBD. TBD.
Further complicating matters is that CYBERCOM might significantly reorder how the Pentagon organizes its geek brigades. (Or not. That’s TBD, too.) Each of the armed services already employs thousands of people to keep its data and communications networks flowing. The Defense Department already has an in-house shop, dedicated to building and maintaining its networks: the Defense Information Systems Agency, or DISA. It has also has a far-flung group of cybersnoops, counter-snoops, and network attackers; that would be the National Security Agency, or NSA.
How exactly all these agencies will combine — or whether they will combine at all — is one of the many CYBERCOM questions still left unanswered. (Another: what does a recent and classified National Intelligence Estimate on cyber security recommend.) But already, there’s tough talk in and around the Pentagon of budgets being defended, and personnel being kept.
When the Air Force tried to establish a cyber command of its own, it touched off an internecine scramble within the service. None of the units wanted to surrender cash or crew to the new agency. A veteran of that fight predicts there will be a similiar fight, surrounding CYBERCOM. “They’re gonna to look at the new command as a gigantic beast to be slain – the son of a bitch who’s gonna take my money and my people,” this former senior military official says. “The new command is gonna look at them and see — food.”
One thing that is pretty clear: NSA will be leading this emerging command. Gates is recommending that NSA Director Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander also become the head of the new network force — and get a fourth star. Gates is also suggests that the command set up its headquarters somewhere mighty convenient for Alexander: Ft. Meade, Marlyand, home of the NSA.
The clandestine agency — renown in the military for its geeky skills, and infamous among civil libertarians for its widespread monitoring of Americans’ communications — may also come to dominate the wider government cyber defense effort, as well. Under the president’s recently-announced (and also pretty vague) network protection plan, the Department of Homeland Security is theoretically responsible for coordinating the network defense of the civilian government, and of the country’s critical infrastructure. But DHS doesn’t have nearly the technical brains or the financial brawn of the Defense Department and the NSA. Just look at the two departments’ budgets for next year. As the Wall Street Journal notes, the Pentagon is planning to train “more than 200 cyber-security officers annually. By comparison, the Department of Homeland Security has 100 employees dedicated to civilian cyber security, with plans to reach 260 next year.”
Which is why Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano says that “NSA will provide technical assistance, both to DOD [Department of Defense] and to us.”
“That is the structure of the cyber policy plan that the president announced, so we absolutely intend to use the technical resources, the substantial ones that NSA has,” she tells Danger Room.
Alexander has said explicitly that he does “not want to run cyber security for the United States government.” But could that wind up happening away — throwing a cloak of secrecy over all of network defense? TBD.
[Photo: Air Force; tech support: our newest intern]
- Air Force Will Fight Online, Without Cyber Command
- Air Force Wobbles on Plan for Cyber ‘Dominance’
- Air Force Won’t Lead Military in Cyber War
- Obama Wages Cyberwar
- Cyber-Security Czar Quits Amid Fears of NSA Takeover
- Time to Reboot Cyber Security, Mr. President …
- Obama Cybersecurity Report Addresses Critical Infrastructure
- Obama Says New Cyberczar Won’t Spy on the Net
- Cyber Security Czar Front-Runner No Friend of Privacy
Are the WikiLeaks War Docs Overhyped Old News?
Longtime Afghanistan watchers are diving into Wikileaks’ huge trove of unearthed U.S. military reports about the war. And they’re surfacing, as we initially did, with pearls of the obvious and long-revealed. Andrew Exum, an Afghanistan veteran and Center for a New American Security fellow, compared the quasi-revelations about (gasp!) Pakistani intelligence sponsorship of Afghan insurgents and (shock-horror!) Special Operations manhunts to news that the Yankees may have lost the 2004 American League pennant. It’s a fair point, but it conceals what’s really valuable about the leaked logs: they’re a real-time account of how the U.S. let Afghanistan rot.
For one thing — and this supports Exum’s argument — many, if not most, of these documents are frontline reports. They don’t pretend to be about anything more than what a unit encounters in its small patch of the war zone. That both clarifies the focus of individual reports and limits the degree to which any analyst can responsibly extrapolate them into clear trends. “Raw intelligence is rarely decisive,” notes a smart senior military officer who asked for anonymity, “and certainly not indicative of anything meaningful until passed through a more calibrated hypothesis or thesis.”
It’s a helpful caveat. We won’t pretend to have waded through any more than a slice of the 77,000 reports released thus far by WikiLeaks. But so far, there’s no My Lai, no No Gun Ri, no smoking gun linking al-Qaeda to the Boston Red Sox. And some of the heavy-breathing accounts surrounding the documents don’t really match what the logs say. “Taliban sympathisers listening in to top-secret phone calls of US-led coalition,” pants the Guardian. But: “At this time, it is doubtful insurgents have the technical ability to eavesdrop on conversations,” according to the report that the Guardian cites to justify its headline.
Adds a former intelligence contractor who used to produce intelligence summaries, “There will be a lot of interesting tidbits but nothing earthshaking.” And it’s those “interesting tidbits” that makes the WikiLeaks trove significant. There’s a bias in journalism toward believing that what’s secret is inherently a hive of hidden truth. That operating principle animates reporters’ practice of breaking down governmental secrecy. But it can also create a misleading expectation that leaks represent huge new revelations. And when those revelations don’t manifest, it creates an expectation that the trove is neither useful nor significant. In this case, that would be a mistake.
We’ll have more later today on whether some of the detail WikiLeaks presents actually compromises operational security. When remembering that we’re looking through a soda straw and not a wide-angle lens, the WikiLeaks trove looks a lot like a daily diary of the deterioration of the Afghanistan war. Worried about friendly-fire incidents? Here’s a collection of them. How did U.S. troops fighting in eastern Afghanistan perceive their mission and the environment in which they fought? Here are 38,000 answers. How far have the Afghan security forces come over these years, and how arduous will it be to train them to take over for U.S. and NATO forces by 2014, as President Karzai desires? Here are some indications.
Whether they add up to more than the sum of their parts is a judgment. For a judicious consideration, check out Gregg Carlstrom’s distillation at al-Jazeera. “Taken together, they certainly paint a gloomy picture of the war effort in Afghanistan,” Gregg writes. That may not be new — no one who’s paid even casual attention to Afghanistan thinks the war is going well — but just because something isn’t new doesn’t mean it isn’t important.
Then there’s the prospect that the leaks themselves could reinforce poor intelligence habits in coalition warfare. Figuring out who actually gave Wikileaks access to all these reports may be a fruitless endeavor. But intelligence bureaucracies have a habit of responding to breaches with clenching up. Our anonymous U.S. military officer fears the operational outcome of these leaks will be to do “very severe, if not irreperable damage, to the manner of intelligence sharing between our NATO allies and ourselves.”
From the U.S.’s perspective, it’ll be up to Major General Michael Flynn, General Petraeus’ top intelligence officer in Afghanistan, to set a tone for continued intelligence sharing here. Maybe his response turn up on Wikileaks. That’ll certainly be news.
Photo: Lily Mihalik/Wired.com
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Posted on August 29, 2010 by admin
Now it can be told: a CIA analytic team assessed in February that the recent spate of homegrown terrorism could have unpredictable foreign-policy consequences for the United States. And if not for the controversial transparency organization WikiLeaks, we might never have known that the CIA can occasionally bore policymakers to tears with its time-wasting obviousness.
WikiLeaks recently published a trove of 77,000 frontline military reports from Afghanistan, earning it the ire of the Pentagon. Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He warned that the group might have “blood on its hands” for disclosing the names of Afghans who’ve worked with the U.S. — people whom the Taliban have vowed to target and kill. But with this latest disclosure, WikiLeaks has swung to the opposite extreme: irrelevance.
According to an analysis from a CIA “Red Cell” — an analytic entity charged with being deliberately provocative — on February 2, the growth of homegrown extremism in the U.S. might strain America’s relations with its allies. Foreign governments could cease intelligence cooperation. Or perhaps they could “request information on US citizens they deem to be terrorists or terrorist supporters, or even request the rendition of US citizens,” the cell judges. In admittedly “extreme cases,” partner governments could “consider secretly extracting US citizens suspected of foreign terrorism from US soil.”
If that seems far-fetched — will Pakistani ninjas dare snatch Gary Brookes Faulkner from his bed??? — that’s because it’s supposed to be. “These sorts of analytic products–clearly identified as coming from the agency’s ‘Red Cell’–are designed simply to provoke thought and present different points of view,” says George Little, a spokesman for the CIA.
In its introductory text, WikiLeaks calls out the document’s finding that “foreign perceptions of the US as an ‘Exporter of Terrorism’ together with US double standards in international law, may lead to noncooperation in renditions (including the arrest of CIA officers) and the decision to not share terrorism related intelligence with the United States.” It would take a lot of spinning to consider that a revelation, particularly after Italy convicted 25 CIA officers last November for kidnapping an Egyptian national.
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