Iraq Has Billions but
Won’t Pay Security Costs Joel Brinkley / San Francisco Chronicle
(September 26, 2010) — American combat forces have left Iraq, but the bills for the war keep coming. Right now, Congress is debating an appropriation for $2 billion on top of $667 billion already spent on military operations and training since 2003.
Now, however, the sentiment is growing among senior government officials that Iraq should begin sharing these costs. The State, Treasury and Defense departments agree on this.
After all, in a report published last week, US government analysts found that Iraq had a budget surplus of $52.1 billion at the end of 2009. For the same period, Washington showed a budget deficit of $1.42 trillion. Why should the United States continue spending money on this oil-rich state?
If only it were that simple.
Apprised of the auditors’ findings, Iraq immediately objected. No, no, no, the Finance Ministry said. Most of that money, just over $40 billion, is already spent on cash loans and advances to — who knows? The Finance Ministry couldn’t say. It classifies almost half of the expenses as “other temporary advances.”
Not even Iraqi authorities are buying that dubious claim. An amount equal to the state budgets of Illinois and Indiana combined is just out there in the ether somewhere? Iraq’s Board of Supreme Audit issued the opinion that continuing to authorize these so-called advances could result in “the misappropriation of government funds,” otherwise known as corruption — or theft.
The International Monetary Fund demanded that Iraq identify where that $40 billion had gone and to begin recovering it by Sept. 30. That’s just a few days away. Don’t hold your breath.
One untraceable expense the Iraqis claimed was $16.9 billion for “orphans and government pensions.”
“I find that hard to believe, actually,” said Maxwell Quqa, president of the Sponsor Iraqi Children Foundation. Iraq has more than a million young orphans, but only one of every 1,000 of them is afforded anything more than minimal food and shelter. Many don’t go to school, Quqa told me. Hundreds live at city trash dumps. The ministry charged with helping orphans “is very ineffective. They don’t provide nearly enough to meet the needs of these children.”
By now it’s no secret that Iraq is one of the world’s most thoroughly corrupt states. In 2007, the American Embassy discovered that Iraq had embezzled $18 billion in American aid. I doubt Iraq has ever had a clean, functioning budget. So I wonder why, after seven years there, American officials still think they can change Iraq’s behavior.
Joseph Christoff, the government report’s lead analyst, is director of International Affairs and Trade for the Government Accountability Office, which published the study. “Clearly we come from a Western concept of accounting rules,” he told me. The United States “has struggled to offer them a modern financial management system, but they have resisted.
“Literally, I saw handwritten ledgers in the Finance Ministry,” and “some of the entries are in pencil” — better to erase the entries for the money you are stealing.
Remember, American auditors found this budget surplus. Publicly, Iraq projects a large deficit each year — $16 billion in 2009. You can imagine why. You can also assume that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki realizes that any successor who steps into his office will quickly discover the bright red trail of perfidy and turpitude his government left behind — one reason al-Maliki so tenaciously clings to office even now, more than six months after the election.
Even if you accept that the $40 billion in question is lost, gone, stashed in secret bank accounts in Dubai, that still leaves almost $12 billion in available surplus funds. Why can’t the United States insist that Iraq pick up that $2 billion expense for training and equipping Iraqi security forces?
“We agree” with the goal of “ensuring that Iraq shares in its security costs,” Colin Kahl, deputy assistant secretary of defense, told the Government Accounting Office. The State Department added: “We will certainly expect the Iraqi government to cover an increasing share of the costs.”
The United States has spent hundreds of billions of dollars, almost all of it deficit spending, while Iraqi officials purloined sums so grand that some of them probably outrank Bill Gates and Warren Buffett as the world’s richest men.
Other countries where American troops are stationed share the costs, including several that are far poorer than Iraq. Thailand and the Philippines, for example, provide cash payments, services and facilities for US military advisers. South Korea gives the United States $690 million a year to help defray the costs of stationing 28,000 troops there.
BAGGDAD (September 26, 2010) — The shipment of computer laptops that arrived in Iraq’s main seaport in February was a small but important part of the American military’s mission here to win hearts and minds. What happened afterward is a tale of good intentions mugged by Iraq’s reality.
The computers — 8,080 in all, worth $1.8 million — were bought for schoolchildren in Babil, modern-day Babylon, a gift of the American taxpayers. Only they became mired for months in customs at the port, Umm Qasr, stalled by bureaucracy or venality, or some combination of the two. And then they were gone.
Corruption is so rampant here – and American reconstruction efforts so replete with their own mismanagement – that the fate of the computers could have ended as an anecdote in a familiar, if disturbing trend. Iraq, after all, ranks above only Sudan, Burma, Afghanistan and Somalia on Transparency International’s annual corruption index.
But the American military commander in southern Iraq, Maj. Gen. Vincent Brooks, was clearly furious. Even if the culprits are not exactly known, the victims are: Iraqi children and American taxpayers. He issued a rare and stinging public rebuke of a government that the United States hopes to treat as an equal, strategic partner — flawed, perhaps, but getting better.
The laptops arrived in two shipments, on Feb. 20 and Feb. 23. The original shipping documents mistakenly listed the computers’ destination as Umm Qasr, not Babil, which caused confusion. By April, though, the US military had tracked them down and repeatedly tried to clear them through customs and truck them to Babil.
Then, in August, Iraqis auctioned off 4,200 of the computers — for $45,700. The whereabouts of the rest are unknown.
Prodded by the Americans and Iraqi officials in Babil, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered an investigation by the Commission on Integrity, a besieged independent watchdog whose investigations have led to clashes with al-Maliki and other senior officials.
In early September, the auctioned computers were recovered, according to Iraqi officials, who nevertheless declined to discuss how or where.
Last week there was another breakthrough — of a sort.
Iraqi officials in Basra and Baghdad said that arrest warrants had been issued for 10 customs employees at Umm Qasr, all low-level officials. Six were said to have been detained. The officials refused to identify them, though. Nor were the charges made public, leaving the details of the case as shrouded in mystery as many facts are in Iraq.
“We are still investigating,” an official from the Commission on Integrity said. “We cannot give anymore information now, but soon you will receive a lot of information about this issue.”
UN Fact-Finding Mission Says
Israelis “Executed” US Citizen Furkan Dogan
(September 28, 2010) — The report of the fact-finding mission of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla released last week shows conclusively, for the first time, that US citizen Furkan Dogan and five Turkish citizens were murdered execution-style by Israeli commandos.
The report reveals that Dogan, the 19-year-old US citizen of Turkish descent, was filming with a small video camera on the top deck of the Mavi Marmara when he was shot twice in the head, once in the back and in the left leg and foot and that he was shot in the face at point blank range while lying on the ground.
The report says Dogan had apparently been “lying on the deck in a conscious or semi-conscious, state for some time” before being shot in his face.
The forensic evidence that establishes that fact is “tattooing around the wound in his face,” indicating that the shot was “delivered at point blank range.” The report describes the forensic evidence as showing that “the trajectory of the wound, from bottom to top, together with a vital abrasion to the left shoulder that could be consistent with the bullet exit point, is compatible with the shot being received while he was lying on the ground on his back.”
Based on both “forensic and firearm evidence,” the fact-finding panel concluded that Dogan’s killing and that of five Turkish citizens by the Israeli troops on the Mavi Marmari May 31 “can be characterized as extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions.” (See Report, Page 38, Section 170)
The report confirmed what the Obama administration already knew from the autopsy report on Dogan, but the administration has remained silent about the killing of Dogan, which could be an extremely difficult political problem for the administration in its relations with Israel.
The Turkish government gave the autopsy report on Dogan to the US Embassy in July and it was then passed on to the Department of Justice, according to a US government source who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the administration’s policy of silence on the matter. The source said the purpose of obtaining the report was to determine whether an investigation of the killing by the Justice Department (DOJ) was appropriate.
Asked by this writer whether the DOJ had received the autopsy report on Dogan, DOJ spokesperson Laura Sweeney refused to comment.
The administration has not volunteered any comment on the fact-finding mission report and was not asked to do so by any news organization. In response to a query from Truthout, a State Department official, who could not speak on the record, read a statement that did not explicitly acknowledge the report’s conclusion about the Israeli executions.
The statement said the fact-finding mission’s report’s “tone and conclusions are unbalanced.” It went on to state, “We urge that this report not be used for actions that could disrupt direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine that are now underway or actions that would make it not possible for Israel and Turkey to move beyond the recent strains in their traditional strong relationship.”
Although the report’s revelations and conclusions about the killing of Dogan and the five other victims were widely reported in the Turkish media last week, not a single story on the report has appeared in US news media.
The administration has made it clear through its inaction and its explicit public posture that it has no intention of pressing the issue of the murder of a US citizen in cold blood by Israeli commandos.
On June 13, two weeks after the Mavi Marmara attack, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs issued a statement saying that Israel “should be allowed to undertake an investigation into events that involve its national security” and that Israel’s military justice system “meets international standards and is capable of conducting a serious and credible investigation.”
Another passenger whom forensic evidence shows was killed execution-style, according to the OHCHR report, is Ibrahim Bilgen, a 60-year-old Turkish citizen. Bilgen is believed by forensics experts to have been shot initially from the helicopter above the Mavi Marmara and then shot in the side of the head while lying seriously wounded.
The fact-finding mission was given forensic evidence that, after the initial shot in chest from above, Bilgen was shot in the head with a “soft baton round at such close proximity that an entire bean bag and its wadding penetrated the skull and lodged in the chest from above,” the mission concluded.
“Soft baton rounds” are supposed to be fired for nonlethal purposes at a distance and aimed only at the stomach, but are lethal when fired at the head, especially from close range.
The forensic evidence cited by the fact-finding mission on the killing of Dogan and five other passengers came from both the autopsy reports and pathology reports done by forensic personnel in Turkey and from interviews with those who wrote the reports. Experts in forensic pathology and firearms assisted the mission in interpreting that forensic evidence.
The account, provided by the OHCHR of the events on board the Mavi Marmara on its way to help break the economic siege of Gaza May 31 of this year, refutes the version of events aggressively pushed by the Israeli military and supports the testimony of passengers on board.
The report suggests that, from the beginning, Israeli policy viewed the Gaza flotilla as an opportunity to use lethal force against pro-Hamas activists. It quotes testimony by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak before the Israeli government’s Turkel Committee that specific orders were given by the Israeli government “to continue intelligence tracking of the flotilla organizers with an emphasis on the possibility that amongst the passengers in the flotilla there were terror elements who would attempt to harm Israeli forces.”
The idea that the passenger list would be seeded with terrorists determined to attack Israeli defense forces appears to have been a ploy to justify treating the operation as likely to require the use of military force against the passengers.
When details of the Israeli plan to forcibly take over the ships in the flotilla were published in the Israeli press on May 30, the passengers on board the Mavi Marmara realized that the Israelis might use deadly force against them. Some leaders of the IHH (the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Aid), which had purchased the ships for the mission, were advocating defending the boat against the Israeli boarding attempt, whereas other passengers advocated nonviolence only.
That led to efforts to create improvised weapons from railings and other equipment on the Mavi Marmara. However, the commission concluded that there was no evidence of any firearms having being taken aboard the ship, as charged by Israel.
The report notes that the Israeli military never communicated a request by radio to inspect the cargo on board any of the ships, apparently contradicting the official justification given by the Israeli government for the military attack on the Mavi Marmara and other ships of preventing any military contraband from reaching Gaza.
According to the OHCHR report, Israeli Chief of General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi testified to the Turkel Committee August 11 that the initial rules of engagement for the operation prohibited live fire except in life-threatening situations, but that that they were later modified to target protesters “deemed to be violent” in response to the resistance by passengers.
That decision apparently followed the passengers’ successful repulsion of an Israeli effort to board the ship from Zodiac boats.
The report confirms that, from the beginning of the operation, passengers were fired on by helicopters flying above the Mavi Marmara to drop commandos on the deck.
Contrary to Israeli claims that one or more Israeli troops were wounded by firearms, the report says no medical evidence of a gunshot wound to an Israeli soldier was found.
The OHCHR report confirms accounts from passengers on the Mavi Marmara that defenders subdued roughly ten Israeli commandos, took their weapons from them and threw them in the sea, except for one weapon hidden as evidence. The Israeli soldiers were briefly sequestered below and some were treated for wounds before being released by the defenders.
The OHCHR fact-finding mission will certainly be the most objective, thorough and in-depth inquiry into the events on board the Mavi Marmara and other ships in the flotilla of the four that have been announced.
The fact-finding mission was chaired by Judge Karl T. Hudson-Phillips, Q.C., retired judge of the International Criminal Court and former attorney general of Trinidad and Tobago, and included Sir Desmond de Silva, Q.C. of the United Kingdom, former chief prosecutor of the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone and Ms. Mary Shanthi Dairiam of Malaysia, founding member of the board of directors of the International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific.
The mission interviewed 112 eyewitnesses to the Israeli attack in London, Geneva, Istanbul and Amman, Jordan. The Israeli government refused to cooperate with the fact-finding mission by making personnel involved in both planning and carrying out the attack available to be interviewed.
The Turkish governments announced its own investigation of the Israeli attack on August 10. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced the formation of a “Panel of Inquiry” on August 2, but its mandate was much more narrowly defined. It was given the mission to “receive and review the reports of the national investigations with the view to recommending ways of avoiding similar incidents in the future.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
(September 28, 2010) — Murder is murder, and terror is terror, you might think. But when terror is committed against an American citizen by the state of Israel the response from the US government is not protest, and it is surely not to demand justice, much less seek vengeance. It is silence.
In 1985, when terrorists from the Palestine Liberation Front, in an act of piracy on the high seas in the Mediterranean, took control of the Achille Lauro, an Italian cruise ship, and executed the Jewish American Leon Klinghoffer, shooting him in the forehead and then pushing the wheelchair-bound 69-year-old overboard, the US responded with dramatic action.
To rescue the passengers, Italian negotiators had worked out a deal granting safe passage to Tunisia to the pirates, in return for the freeing of the ship and its other passengers.
But President Ronald Reagan dispatched a US fighter plane to intercept the plane carrying the PLF pirates to safety, and forced it to land at a US airbase in Italy, where they were turned over to Italian authorities for prosecution.
Compare this to another more recent act of piracy, the violent assault and high-seas boarding of the Turkish cruise ship Mavi Marmara and a flotilla of smaller ships bound from Turkey to Gaza by troops from the Israeli Defense Force, who commandeered the vessels, killing eight Turkish and one young Turkish-American passenger. The US failed to condemn this latter act of piracy, and as for the American who was slain, 19-year old Furkan Dogan, there was not a word of protest.
Worse yet, we now learn only now that in July, two months after the May 31 IDF attack, the Turkish government supplied the Obama Administration with the result of the Turkish Council of Forensic Medicine’s autopsy of young Dogan, which showed clearly that he had been murdered by two shots to the face fired by Israeli commandos at point blank range while he lay, gravely injured, on the deck of the ship.
Dogan’s other wounds, according to the autopsy, included a shot to the back, leg and foot. He was said to have been writhing in a conscious or semi-consciousness state on the deck “for some time” when he was executed.
Turkey, a NATO ally of the United States, says it sent the autopsy report to the US via the US Embassy in Turkey, as soon as it was completed, assuming the US would want to prosecute Israel for his death. Instead, the Obama administration and the US Justice Department sat on the information, saying nothing. A request for information from the Justice Department about the autopsy elicited only a brief “We have no comment for you,” from DOJ spokesman Dean Boyd.
Meanwhile, while Israel has been claiming that its boarding party on the Mavi Marmara only used their guns and killed people after they were attacked by passengers and crew on the ship, the truth appears to be that they came aboard guns blazing, and intent on causing harm. A fact-finding mission of the Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) says it has concluded that Dogan, for example, was not resisting the boarding, but rather, was filming it, using a small hand-held video camera from his position on the boat’s top deck.
He would not be the only videographer or photographer shot. IDF troops made a concerted effort to stop all photographers and videographers from recording their actions, not only shooting at those who were filming them, but also confiscating or destroying hundreds of cameras, memory cards and other recording equipment.
Turkish medical examiners concluded that five others of the nine killed, in addition to Dogan, were slain execution-style by IDF troops in the assault on the Mavi Marmara.
Although the conclusions of the Human Rights Commissioner’s report and of the Turkish medical examiners has been big news in Turkey for the past week, the US media has maintained a news blackout, even though one of the murdered victims was an American. It’s a sad commentary on the extent to which the US corporate media have become propagandists for the US and Israeli governments.
The UN fact-finding mission, which interviewed 112 witnesses to the attack, was chaired by Judge Karl T. Hudson-Phillips, Q.C., retired judge of the International Criminal Court and former attorney general of Trinidad and Tobago. Other members included Sir Desmond de Silva, Q.C. of the United Kingdom, former chief prosecutor of the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone, and Ms. Mary Shanthi Dairiam of Malaysia, founding member of the board of directors of the International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
War Is a Crime / Progressive Democrats of America – 2010-09-30 21:29:42
JOIN HISTORIC MARCH ON WASHINGTON
THIS SATURDAY, WarIsACrime.org
In just two days, tens of thousands of union members, community activists, students, entertainers, civil and human rights leaders, and concerned citizens will gather for peace, jobs, justice, and education for all Americans in the 10.2.10 One Nation Working Together March. PDA and our Medicare for All allies will demand, “Hands off Medicare and Social Security!” To learn more visit www.onenationpda.org.
If you can’t make it to the march, share in the history with friends and fellow PDA members at your own neighborhood watch party. You can watch the One Nation Working Together March — live on Oct. 2, on Free Speech TV (FSTV) with hosts Thom Hartmann and Laura Flanders. The television broadcast will include main-stage speeches, interviews with organizers and analysts, and reporting from the crowd. It will air nationally from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time on DISH Network channel 9415, DIRECTV channel 348, and numerous cable stations across the country.
Don’t miss this historic opportunity. Register your watch party on OneNationPDA and we’ll add it to the One Nation national site.
‘re going to DC, find the details about where to meet and how to find us, here. Swing by our table located in North Zone 6 near the EMS tent to pick up signs. Call Andrea at (804) 316-1032 if you canâ€™t find the table.
On 10.1.10, we’re hosting a Citizens Lobby Day followed by a Reception on the Hill. Learn more and register here. Download the two parts of the lobby packet here and here.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in an interview with FSTV said, “We want to show a progressive vision for America, one where we come together and we work together.”
Letâ€™s do it!
In peace and solidarity,
Tim Carpenter for PDA
Progressive Democrats of America is a grassroots PAC that works both inside the Democratic Party and outside in movements for peace and justice. PDA’s advisory board includes seven members of Congress and activist leaders such as Tom Hayden, Medea Benjamin, Thom Hartmann, Jim Hightower, and Lila Garrett.
— — — We’ll be marching to move our money from wars and weapons to jobs, housing, schools, and green energy!
10 2 10 DC: This One is Going To Be Big!
Are you ready to march for peace with new allies, new strength, and the same determination that has kept us out of Iran, that has reduced the War on Iraq, and that will bring U.S. occupying forces out of 150 more countries before we’re finished?
â€¢ Find a bus near you and get on it with your coworkers, neighbors and family.
â€¢ March with US Labor Against the War and our other allies in the peace contingent. Meet at 10:30 AM at 14th & Constitution Ave. NW.
â€¢ If you can’t make it to Washington, participate in a local event or plan one of your own.
Come on October 1st When the War Makers Are in Town!
â€¢ On October 1, walk the halls of Congress for jobs, justice, peace, and healthcare for all. Learn more here.
â€¢ Attend a reception on the Hill with Rep. John Conyers, Rep. Barbara Lee, Rep. Raul Grijalva, Rep. Lynn Woolsey, Rep Dennis Kucinich and Bill Fletcher, Jr., on Friday, October 1, 4:00 – 5:00 PM, at the Capitol Visitor Center. Get details and RSVP here.
(September 16, 2010) — We have reached a turning point in our history. The US and its allies are preparing to launch a nuclear war with devastating consequences.
During the Cold War, the concept of “mutual assured destruction” (MAD) was put forth. An understanding of the consequences of nuclear war largely contributed to avoiding the outbreak of war between the US and the Soviet Union.
Today, in the post-Cold war era, no such understanding prevails. â€¨â€¨The spectre of a nuclear holocaust, which haunted the world for half a century has been relegated to the status of “collateral damage”.
This military adventure in the real sense of the word threatens the future of humanity.
While one can conceptualize the loss of life and destruction resulting from present-day wars including Iraq and Afghanistan, it is impossible to assess or fully comprehend the devastation which would result from a Third World War, using “new technologies” and advanced weapons systems, until it actually occurs and becomes a reality.
A sequence of US sponsored wars characterizes a period of our history euphemistically referred to as “the post-War era”. The US led war in Afghanistan has been ongoing, in various stages, for thirty-one years. Iraq has been under US and allied military occupation for more than seven years.
We are living history but at the same time we are unable to comprehend the events which shape our future and which are currently unfolding in front of our very eyes.
The media is involved in acts of camouflage. The devastating impacts of a nuclear war are either trivialized or not mentioned. Meanwhile, public opinion has its eyes riveted on what might be described as “fake crises”.
A Third World War is no longer a hypothetical scenario. Already in 2007, president Bush had hinted in no uncertain terms that if Iran did not comply with US demands, we might “reluctantly” be forced into in a World War III situation:
“We got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy Israel. So I’ve told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon. I take the threat of Iran with a nuclear weapon very seriously….” (George W. Bush, 17 October 2007)
Real versus Fake Crises
In an utterly twisted logic, World War III is presented as a means to preserving World Peace.
Iran is blamed for refusing to abide by the “reasonable demands” of “the international community”.
Realities are twisted and turned upside down. Iran is being accused of wanting to start World War III. Inherent in US military doctrine, the victims of war are often heralded as the aggressor.
World War III is upheld as a bona fide humanitarian undertaking which contributes to global security. In a bitter irony, those who decide on the use of nuclear weapons believe their own propaganda. President and Commander in Chief Barack Obama believes his own lies.
Neither the War nor the worldwide economic depression are understood as part of an unprecedented crisis in World history. Ironically, the dangers to humanity of an all out nuclear war do not instill fear and public concern.
Instead, fake “crises” — e.g. a global warming, a Worldwide flu pandemic, a “false flag” nuclear attack by “Islamic terrorists”–, are fabricated by the media, the governments, the intelligence apparatus and the Washington think tanks.
An understanding of fundamental social and political events is replaced by a World of sheer fantasy, where “evil folks” are lurking. The purpose of these “fake crises” is to obfuscate the real crisis as well as instil fear and insecurity among the population:
“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed … by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary… The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false face for the urge to rule it.” (H. L. Menken)
While the real danger of nuclear war is barely acknowledged, these “fake crises” are invariably front page news.
â€¢ Mass unemployment, foreclosures and poverty are not characteristic of a (social) crisis.
â€¢ The legalization of torture and targeted political assassinations is not part of a (constitutional) crisis. Torturing and killing potential terrorists are intended to “make the world safer”.
â€¢ War waged on humanitarian grounds is considered a “solution” to a crisis rather than its cause.
â€¢ Economic Depression is not mentioned because the economic recession is said to be over. In other words there is no economic crisis.
Three Types of Fake Crises
1. A Nuclear Attack on America by Al Qaeda
“Sooner or later there will be a nuclear 9/11 [by Islamic terrorists] in an American city or that of a US ally… A terrorist nuclear attack against an American city could take many forms. A worst case scenario would be the detonation of a nuclear device within a city. Depending upon the size and sophistication of the weapon, it could kill hundreds of thousands or even millions of people.” (David Krieger, “Is a Nuclear 9/11 in Our Future?,” Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, October 6, 2003.)
The nuclear threat comes from “non-State” organizations, with limited advanced weapons’ capabilities rather than from known nuclear powers (nuclear States).
2. A Global Public Health Emergency. A Global Flu Pandemic
“As many as 2 billion people could become infected [H1N1] over the next two years — nearly one-third of the world population.” (World Health Organization as reported by the Western media, July 2009, emphasis added)
“Swine flu could strike up to 40 percent of Americans over the next two years and as many as several hundred thousand could die if a vaccine campaign and other measures aren’t successful.” (Official Statement of the US Administration, Associated Press, 24 July 2009).
“The US expects to have 160 million doses of swine flu vaccine available sometime in October”, (Associated Press, 23 July 2009)
“Vaccine makers could produce 4.9 billion pandemic flu shots per year in the best-case scenario”, (Margaret Chan, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO), quoted by Reuters, 21 July 2009)
3. The Perils of Global Warming
“The headline figures are: 300,000 deaths and 300 million people affected every year [by global warming]” (Greenpeace, Deaths and displacement due to climate change set to grow. June 5, 2009)â€¨â€¨”Climate change is life or death. It is the new global battlefield.” (Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Laureate)
“Two thousand scientists, in a hundred countries, engaged in the most elaborate, well organized scientific collaboration in the history of humankind, have produced long-since a consensus that we will face a string of terrible catastrophes unless we act to prepare ourselves and deal with the underlying causes of global warming. (Al Gore, speech at National Sierra Club Convention, Sept. 9, 2005)â€¨â€¨
“The ultimate concern is that if runaway global warming occurred, temperatures could spiral out of control and make our planet uninhabitable…. this is the first time that a species has been at risk of generating its own demise.â€¦ The dinosaurs dominated the earth for 160 million years. We are in danger of putting our future at risk after a mere quarter of a million years.” (Michael Meacher, Former UK Minister for the Environment, quoted in the The Guardian, 14 February 2003, emphasis added)
The American Inquisition
Heralded as the “real threat”, these fake crises constitute a cover-up of the “real crisis.”
The objective is to distort the facts, create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation as well as quell popular dissent and resistance against the established political and economic order. We are dealing with an inquisitorial environment.
In the words of Monty Python:
“Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! [Read the American inquisition] Our chief weapon is surprise [Read insecurity] …surprise and fear…fear and surprise…. Our two weapons are fear and surprise… and ruthless efficiency …. Our three weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency… and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope [Read the US government]…. Our four…no… Amongst our weapons…. Amongst our weaponry…are such elements as fear, surprise…. I’ll come in again.”
The fear campaign underlying a fake crisis is intended to obfuscate the real crisis –including the danger of nuclear war — as well as disarm all forms of meaningful resistance and opposition.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
US-Led Militarization of the European Union: NATO Provides Pentagon Nuclear, Missile And Cyber Shields Over Europe
(September 22, 2010) — The Pentagon’s number two official, Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn, was in Brussels, Belgium on September 15 to address the North Atlantic Council — the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s top civilian body — and the private Security & Defense Agenda think tank.â€¨â€¨
His comments at the second event, hosted by the only defense-related institution of its type in the city that hosts NATO’s and the European Union’s headquarters, dealt extensively with what Lynn referred to as a “cyber-shield” over all of Europe, which he described as a “critical element” for the 28-nation military bloc to address and endorse at its summit in Lisbon, Portugal on November 19-20.â€¨â€¨
Lynn added that “The alliance has a crucial role to play in extending a blanket of security over our networks,” and placed the issue in stark perspective by stating “NATO has a nuclear shield, it is building a stronger and stronger defence shield, it needs a cyber shield as well,” according to Agence France-Presse.  â€¨â€¨The Security & Defense Agenda website states that it “regularly brings together senior representatives from the EU institutions and NATO, with national government officials, industry, the international and specialised media, think-tanks, academia and NGOs.” â€¨â€¨
It is, in short, one of dozens if not scores of trans-Atlantic elite planning bodies, quasi- and supra-governmental alike, on both sides of the ocean, ones which demand to be addressed by leaders of what style themselves model open and transparent societies. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations is another instance of the practice and the principle. â€¨â€¨ In fact, Deputy Defense Secretary Lynn has an article in the current issue of Foreign Affairs, the journal of the Council on Foreign Relations, entitled “Defending a New Domain: The Pentagon’s Cyber Strategy.”â€¨â€¨
Pentagon, State Department and White House officials — and their European counterparts — enter and leave government service but maintain lifetime memberships in organizations like the Security & Defense Agenda and the Council on Foreign Relations.â€¨â€¨
The Brussels-based think tank lists among its partners, in addition to NATO and the Mission of the United States of America to NATO, American arms manufacturers Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and United Technologies as well as their European equivalents. â€¨ â€¨
William Lynn came to his current Pentagon position from that of senior vice president of Government Operations and Strategy for the Raytheon Company. â€¨â€¨
Corporate leadership posts with weapons firms, membership in private trans-Atlantic planning bodies and top positions in national governments are all but interchangeable roles, held either successively or simultaneously.â€¨
Lynn’s comments before the Security & Defense Agenda gathering also included the demand that NATO apply the concept of “collective defense” — which is to say its Article 5 military intervention provision — to the realm of information technology and computer networks, as seen above at the same level of seriousness and urgency as maintaining a nuclear arsenal and constructing a global interceptor missile network. In his words, “The Cold War concepts of shared warning apply in the 21st century to cyber security. Just as our air defenses, our missile defenses have been linked so too do our cyber defenses need to be linked as well.” â€¨â€¨
As with stationing nuclear warheads in Europe, as far east and south as Turkey, and the “phased adaptive approach” multi-layered missile shield in Eastern Europe from the Baltic to the Black Seas, building a cyber warfare system — for that in truth is what is being discussed — in all of Europe as part of an even broader — global — project depends upon the compliance and complicity of NATO’s 26 members and 13 Partnership for Peace adjuncts in Europe.
US tactical nuclear weapons in Belgium (20 bombs), Germany (20), Italy (50), the Netherlands (20) and Turkey (90) — the numbers are estimates, only the Pentagon knows the true figures and of course will not divulge them — were brought into and are kept in Europe under NATO arrangements.
The affected countries have never conducted referendums to determine whether their citizens support the basing of American nuclear arms on their soil notwithstanding NATO’s claim to be a “military alliance of democratic states in Europe and North America.” No European population is clamoring to be saved — from whom? from what? — by the Pentagon’s nuclear gravity bombs. Or its interceptor missiles. Or its cyber warfare operations.â€¨â€¨
No more than the citizens of 35 European nations that have supplied troops for NATO’s war in Afghanistan were consulted on whether sending their sons and daughters to Asia to kill and die guarantees the security of their homelands. â€¨â€¨
“Speaking at his residence in a luxurious suburb of south Brussels, a day after returning from a meeting with President Barack Obama in Washington” earlier this month, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told a major British newspaper that “If Iran eventually acquires a nuclear capability that will be very dangerous, and a direct threat to the allies. That is the reason why I am now proposing a new and effective NATO missile defence system.” â€¨â€¨
If Iran acquires a nuclear capacity…. As Washington uses NATO to stationed 90 nuclear bombs in Turkey, a state bordering Iran. Weapons that have been stored there for several decades.
â€¨â€¨The same newspaper quoted Robert Hewson, editor of Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, offering a rare ray of truth on the matter: “Missile defense is more about shoveling money to American contractors than protecting people in Basingstoke.” â€¨â€¨
After meeting with NATO’s North Atlantic Council in Brussels on September 15, Lynn said, “I think at Lisbon we will see [a] high-level leadership commitment to cyber defense. It’s the foundation for any alliance effort…. I was very impressed with the unity of purpose and the similar vision that most nations in the alliance seem to have towards the cyber threat.” â€¨â€¨Neither the Pentagon nor NATO will be starting from scratch.â€¨â€¨
This May 21 Lynn’s superior, Pentagon chief Robert Gates, announced the launching of US Cyber Command , the world’s first such multi-service military command. On the same day Lynn “called the establishment of US Cyber Command… a milestone in the United States being able to conduct full-spectrum operations in a new domain, ” and contended that the “cyber domain…is as important as the land, sea, air and space domains to the US military, and protecting military networks is crucial to the Defense Department’s success on the battlefield.” â€¨â€¨
The website of the Security & Defence Agenda reiterated the last point in reporting on Lynn’s speech at the Hotel Renaissance in Brussels on September 15. The address called for “[p]rioritising cyberspace as an additional domain of warfare (beyond land, sea and air) in which America must be able to operate freely and defend its territory.”
How defending mainland America, or even its far-flung Pacific island possessions, is achieved by a cyber-warfare dome over all of Europe is not explained, anymore than how nuclear bombs in Europe or Patriot Advanced Capability-3 and Standard Missile-3 anti-ballistic missiles in Poland and Romania protect New York City or Chicago.
The report reminded its readers that “the Pentagon has built layered and robust defenses around military networks and inaugurated the new US Cyber Command to integrate cyberdefense operations across the military.” â€¨â€¨
The US military has been consistently blunt in defining the purpose of CYBERCOM as being to “deter and or defeat enemies”  in the words of its commander, General Keith Alexander.â€¨â€¨
The use of the word defense in regard to US and NATO cyber warfare operations is the same as it was when the United States Department of War was renamed the Department of Defense in 1947. And in reference to what is called missile defense. A euphemism and a disguise for aggression. The Defense Department has waged war against and in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq and launched attacks inside Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen in a little over a decade.â€¨â€¨
NATO has been working on complementary operations since the beginning of the century, long before the cyber-attacks in Estonia in 2007 which led to accusations in the West against Russia and calls for NATO’s Article 5 war clause to be invoked.â€¨â€¨
The Cooperative Cyber Defense Centre of Excellence in the Estonian capital of Tallinn was established five years before, in 2002, and formally accredited as a NATO Center of Excellence in 2008.â€¨â€¨
In fact, NATO’s North Atlantic Council implemented the bloc’s Cyber Defense Programme in 2002 and “In parallel, at the Prague Summit the same year, heads of state and government decided to strengthen NATOâ€™s capabilities. This paved the way for the creation of the NATO Computer Incident Response Capability (NCIRC) in 2002 as a part of the Cyber Defense Program.” â€¨â€¨
The Cyber Defence Management Authority “is managed by the Cyber Defence Management Board, which comprises the leaders of the political, military, operational and technical staffs in NATO with responsibilities for cyber-defence. It constitutes the main consultation body for the North Atlantic Council on cyber-defense and provides advice to member states on all main aspects of cyber defense.” â€¨
â€¨In August of 2008 NATO began extending its cyber warfare capacities beyond its 28 member states and created the (North Atlantic) Council Guidelines for Cooperation on Cyber Defense with Partners and International Organizations, which was followed in April of 2009 by the Framework for Cooperation on Cyber Defense between NATO and Partner Countries. In the Alliance’s own words, “NATO should be prepared, without reducing its ability to defend itself, to extend to Partner countries and international organizations its experience and, potentially, its capabilities to defend against cyber attacks.” â€¨ â€¨
The Lisbon summit will inaugurate a new NATO military doctrine for the next ten years. It will confirm the bloc as a 21st century expeditionary force without geographical or thematic limits, one which will seek any opportunity to intrude itself anywhere in the world under a multitude of subterfuges. â€¨â€¨
The summit will voice unanimous support for a US-led interceptor missile system to cover all of Europe.
It will maintain the position that American nuclear weapons must be kept on the continent for “deterrence” purposes. And it will authorize the subordination of nations from Britain to Poland and Bulgaria under a common American-dominated cyber defense structure for war in the “fifth battlespace,” for “full-spectrum operations in a new domain.”â€¨â€¨
1) Agence France-Press, September 15, 2010â€¨
3) Global Grandiosity: Americaâ€™s 21st Century World Architectureâ€¨ Stop NATO, September 13, 2010â€¨ http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/09/13/global-grandiosity-americas-21st-century-international-architectureâ€¨
4) Agence France-Press, September 15, 2010â€¨
5) Daily Telegraph, September 11, 2010â€¨
6) Agence France-Press, September 15, 2010â€¨
7) US Cyber Command: Waging War In World’s Fifth Battlespaceâ€¨ Stop NATO, May 26, 2010â€¨ http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2010/05/26/u-s-cyber-command-waging-war-in-worlds-fifth-battlespaceâ€¨
11) North Atlantic Treaty Organization â€¨ http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/topics_49193.htmâ€¨
13) Thousand Deadly Threats: Third Millennium NATO, Western Businesses â€¨ Collude On New Global Doctrineâ€¨ Stop NATO, October 2, 2009â€¨ http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/10/02/thousand-deadly-threats-third-millennium-nato-western-businesses-collude-on-new-global-doctrine
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
New Entitlement an Unfunded Liability; Will Eclipse Social Security
(September 30, 2010) — The expense of caring for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is an unfunded budget liability for US taxpayers that in years to come will rival the cost of entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, lawmakers will be told Thursday.
The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee will hear new estimates of the cost of lifetime medical care and benefits for returning troops disabled by their service — a total of more than $1.3 trillion.
“It’s somewhere between Medicare and Social Security in terms of its potential impact” on the budget, said Rep. Bob Filner, California Democrat and committee chairman.
“This is another entitlement that we have committed ourselves to that is going to break the bank unless we deal with these issues as soon as possible,” he told reporters.
The committee will hear testimony from two economists, Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes of Harvard University, and Mr. Filner will unveil a plan to establish a trust fund to build up cash reserves to help meet the future costs of veterans’ care.
Ms. Bilmes said Wednesday that, with more than a half-million claims for disability benefits already filed by veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan â€” and close to 600,000 being treated in Veterans Affairs medical facilities — the cost of lifetime care and benefits over the next 40 years would be between $589 billion and $934 billion, “depending on the duration and the intensity of the wars.”
The broad range of the figures, she said, reflects uncertainty about the numbers of troops who would be deployed in years to come. The Congressional Budget Office estimates, which she and Mr. Stiglitz used, provide for the deployment of 30,000 to 65,000 US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan until 2020.
Based on the historic experience of Vietnam and the Persian Gulf War, where increasing numbers of veterans have sought treatment or benefits for service-related ailments as years pass, “these costs are going to mount significantly over time,” said Donald Overton, executive director of advocacy group Veterans of Modern Warfare.
He said the cost of disability benefits from the Gulf War, which lasted six weeks in 1991, is $4.5 billion a year and rising — and is unlikely to peak for many years. The peak years of the cost of benefits for World War II veterans, for instance, were in the 1980s.
In broader terms, Ms. Bilmes said, 2009 Treasury statements make allowance for an overall liability of $1.3 trillion for disability and burial benefits for all veterans â€” a sum that does not include the costs of medical care.
That figure “is quite possibility an underestimate,” added Mr. Stiglitz.
He noted that the higher survival rates of wounded warriors and the larger proportion of veterans diagnosed with mental health disorders in the current conflicts likely would make the costs higher than in previous wars.
The Veterans Affairs press office did not return phone calls and an e-mail requesting comment.
Whatever the exact cost turns out to be, “there’s no mechanism just now for meeting that liability,” said Ms. Bilmes.
Mr. Filner said he is working on legislation that he hopes to introduce early next year to create a trust fund in which cash would be allowed to accrue annually to meet growing future costs.
He said he is concerned that funding for veterans’ care would decline as the memory of the wars fade over time.
“The cost â€¦ keeps going up even when the war is way over, so you need to keep building up a trust fund to deal with those issues,” he said.
Copyright 2010 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Shaun Waterman is an award-winning reporter for the Washington Times, covering foreign affairs, defense and cybersecurity. He was a senior editor and correspondent for United Press International for nearly a decade, and has covered the Department of Homeland Security since 2003.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
Thom Shanker / The New York Times & Michael Stevens / Security Week & – 2010-09-29 23:47:33
Cyberwar Chief Calls for Secure Computer Network Thom Shanker / The New York Times
FORT MEADE, Md. (September 23, 2010) — The new commander of the military’s cyberwarfare operations is advocating the creation of a separate, secure computer network to protect civilian government agencies and critical industries like the nation’s power grid against attacks mounted over the Internet.
The officer, Gen. Keith B. Alexander, suggested that such a heavily restricted network would allow the government to impose greater protections for the nation’s vital, official on-line operations. General Alexander labeled the new network “a secure zone, a protected zone.” Others have nicknamed it “dot-secure.”
It would provide to essential networks like those that tie together the banking, aviation, and public utility systems the kind of protection that the military has built around secret military and diplomatic communications networks — although even these are not completely invulnerable.
For years, experts have warned of the risks of Internet attacks on civilian networks. An article published a few months ago by the National Academy of Engineering said that “cyber systems are the ‘weakest link’ in the electricity system,” and that “security must be designed into the system from the start, not glued on as an afterthought.”
General Alexander, an Army officer who leads the military’s new Cyber Command, did not explain just where the fence should be built between the conventional Internet and his proposed secure zone, or how the gates would be opened to allow appropriate access to information they need every day. General Alexander said the White House hopes to complete a policy review on cyber issues in time for Congress to debate updated or new legislation when it convenes in January.
General Alexander’s new command is responsible for defending Defense Department computer networks and, if directed by the president, carrying out computer-network attacks overseas.
But the military is broadly prohibited from engaging in law enforcement operations on American soil without a presidential order, so the command’s potential role in assisting the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the Department of Energy in the event of a major attack inside the United States has not been set down in law or policy.
“There is a real probability that in the future, this country will get hit with a destructive attack, and we need to be ready for it,” General Alexander said in a roundtable with reporters at the National Cryptologic Museum here at Fort Meade in advance of his Congressional testimony on Thursday morning.
“I believe this is one of the most critical problems our country faces,” he said. “We need to get that right. I think we have to have a discussion about roles and responsibilities: Whatâ€™s the role of Cyber Command? What’s the role of the ‘intel’ community? Whatâ€™s the role of the rest of the Defense Department? What’s the role of DHS? And how do you make that team work? That’s going to take time.”
Some critics have questioned whether the Defense Department can step up protection of vital computer networks without crashing against the publicâ€™s ability to live and work with confidence on the Internet. General Alexander said, “We can protect civil liberties and privacy and still do our mission. We’ve got to do that.”
Speaking of the civilian networks that are at risk, he said: “If one of those destructive attacks comes right now, I’m focused on the Defense Department. What are the responsibilities — and I think this is part of the discussion — for the power grid, for financial networks, for other critical infrastructure? How do you protect the country when it comes to that kind of attack, and who is responsible for it?”
As General Alexander prepared for his testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, the ranking Republican on the panel, Howard P. McKeon of California, noted the Pentagonâ€™s progress in expanding its cyber capabilities.
But he said that “many questions remain as to how Cyber Command will meet such a broad mandate” given the clear “vulnerabilities in cyberspace.”
The committee chairman, Rep. Ike Skelton, Democrat of Missouri, said that “cyberspace is an environment where distinctions and divisions between public and private, government and commercial, military and nonmilitary are blurred.” He said that it is important “that we engage in this discussion in a very direct way and include the public.”
(August 30, 2010) — Undersecretary of Defense William J. Lynn has published an essay in Foreign Affairs magazine redefining the United States’ stance towards cyberwarfare, and he’s already getting shot at — primarily by IT pundits who find it hard to believe that the incident which led to the Pentagon’s recognizing cyberspace as a new “domain of warfare” could have really happened as described.
In his essay, “Defending a New Domain,” Lynn recounts a widely-reported 2008 hack that was initiated when, according to Lynn, an infected flash drive was inserted into a military laptop by “a foreign intelligence agency.”
Critics such as IT security firm Sophos’ Chief Security Adviser Chester Wisniewski argue that this James Bond-like scenario doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. The primary issue is that the malware involved, known as agent.btz, is neither sophisticated nor particularly dangerous.
A variant of the SillyFDC worm, agent.btz can be easily defeated by disabling the Windows “autorun” feature (which automatically starts a program on a drive upon insertion) or by simply banning thumb drives. In 2007, Silly FDC was rated as Risk Level 1: Very Low, by security firm Symantec.
Use of Agent.btz Questioned
The question posed by Wisniewski and others is, why would a foreign intelligence agency attack the US government with such a low-powered weapon? While making it clear that he has no insider knowledge of the incident, Wisniewski argues that the scenario put forth by Lynn isn’t credible. In his words, “Either it wasn’t put there by a foreign government or it wasn’t agent.btz.”
Tom Conway, security firm McAfee’s Director of Federal Business Development, doesnâ€™t find it difficult to believe that a foreign government would make use of agent.btz. “Why reveal your trade craft if something that’s widely available on the black market will do the job?” he asks. He is, however, very concerned about what the attack revealed about the state of US military security. “One, the fact that the network was vulnerable shows a lack of governance. Two, it shows that classified information is at risk, not just unclassified. Three, it shows that our adversaries are aware of One and Two.”
When interviewed by the influential security blog Danger Room, Lynn refused to provide any details about the incident or to discuss any retaliatory measures that might have been taken.
An Evolving US Policy
The question of whether the 2008 hack is to become the Tonkin Gulf of cyberspace has to some extent overshadowed the content of the article, which is significant as a new framing of the Obama administrationâ€™s cyberspace policy.
The essay characterizes the threat to US interests as “asymmetrical,” a military term of art that is used to describes conflicts such as the one now taking place in Afghanistan, where skirmishes against guerrilla forces replace conventional battles, and where the enemy may make up for what it lacks in numbers and firepower with agility and cunning. The deterrence models of the Cold War — assured retaliation — do not apply. Rather, “Deterrence will necessarily be based more on denying any benefit to attackers.” Targets may be non-military, such as US power grids, transportation networks and financial systems.
To combat cyber threats, Lynn has ordered the creation of a single, four-star command, the U.S. Cyber Command, which is to become fully operational by October. The new command will have responsibility for day-to-day protection of defense networks, and will work with “a variety of partners” inside and outside the US Government, including the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department and the Defense Information Systems Agency.
The Pentagon has already deployed three overlapping lines of defense: a new emphasis on basic computer hygiene (e.g. updating patches promptly), the use of intrusion detection sensors, and the use of government intelligence capabilities to provide “highly specialized active defenses.”
Lynn also calls for “dramatic improvements in the government’s procedures of acquiring information technology.” At present, the time from funding to deployment of a new government IT system averages 81 months, which is obviously too slow to keep up with the pace of technology.
(October 1, 2009) — The UK government already has a “considerable” number of attackers and defenders that make it a “major world power” in cyberwarfare, according to a leading US expert.
Scott Borg of the Washington DC-based US Cyber Consequences Unit, a well-connected research group, told The Register that the British military and security services were on the lookout for talented amateur hackers, but this was just “good recruiting practic.”
Borg’s sober assessment follows excited press reports of an MI5 teenage hacker army and suggestions from the colorful security minister  Lord West that a cadre of “naughty boys” could be hired to defend UK networks.
In fact, the UK’s first national cyber security strategy, launched in June, mostly involves reorganization of existing capabilities. GCHQ, the government’s 5,000-strong electronic spy station in Cheltenham, will now house the new Cyber Security Operations Centre to coordinate efforts.
Borg said: “When it comes to cyber warfare, the UK is clearly a major world power.”
However, he added, as more countries develop cyber war capabilities, recruiters will need to adapt.
“The British government will need a steady stream of new talent and new ideas to maintain the UK’s status in this rapidly changing field. It will not be able to do this if it relies exclusively on conventional recruitment techniques.
“Information technology remains an area where many of the most talented and innovative people have extremely unconventional backgrounds.
“Among the top cyber security experts I personally know, there are people who are or have been punk rockers, special operations soldiers, goths with lots of piercings, motorcycle gang members, aging flower children, serious athletes, total societal drop-outs and ultra-nerds.”
He said there are early signs government security authorities are now recognizing the value of an unconventional CV.
While cyber warfare issues have historically enjoyed a higher profile in Washington than in Whitehall, Borg said the British had better appreciation of their shortcomings.
“One special virtue of British politicians and senior civil servants, when it comes to cyber security, is that they seem more aware of how much they don’t know than their American counterparts,” he said.
Stuxnet Worm Mystery: What’s the Cyber Weapon After? Mark Clayton / The Christian Science Monitor
(September 24, 2010) — Top industrial control systems experts have now gleaned enough about the Stuxnet worm to classify it as a cyber superweapon. But the mystery of what its target is — or was — remains unsolved, though guesswork about its mission is intensifying among those who have studied Stuxnet’s complicated code.
Educated guesses about what Stuxnet, described as the world’s first cyber guided missile, is programmed to destroy include the reactor for Iran’s new Bushehr nuclear power plant, as well as Iran’s nuclear fuel centrifuge plant in Natanz. Both facilities are part of Tehran’s nuclear program, which Iranian officials say is for peaceful purposes but that many other countries, including the United States, suspect are part of an atom-bombmaking apparatus.
The Bushehr power plant was supposed to be humming by now, but is not — a possible sign that Stuxnet impaired one of its vital systems, says one computer security expert. But another analyst who has also been assisting on the Stuxnet case says the worm’s internal order makes that scenario unlikely. The nuclear fuel centrifuge plant in the Iranian town of Natanz is a better fit and a larger nuclear threat, he says.
There is no independent confirmation that Bushehr or Natanz or anyplace else has been attacked by a directed cyberweapon. But competing theories are emerging about Stuxnet’s target. Here are two from a cybersecurity duo from Germany who have worked, separately, on deconstructing Stuxnet — and why they think what they do.
Ralph Langner is no Middle East policy wonk or former diplomat privy to insider information. He is a German software security engineer with a particular expertise in industrial control system software created by industrial giant Siemens for use in factories, refineries, and power plants worldwide.
This week, Mr. Langner became the first person to detail Stuxnet’s peculiar attack features. He explained, for example, how Stuxnet “fingerprints” each industrial network it infiltrates to determine if it has identified the right system to destroy. Stuxnet was developed to attack just one target in the world, Langner says and other experts confirm. His best guess as to the target?
During an interview with the Monitor about Stuxnet’s technical capabilities, Langner pointed at the Bushehr nuclear power plant. He cites shards of information he has gleaned from open sources, including news accounts, as well as his technical understanding of the attack software. Here are his main arguments for his case.
â€¢ Iran is the epicenter of the Stuxnet infection. Geographic studies by Microsoft, Symantec, and others show the majority of infections to be in Iran, making it a likely location for Stuxnet’s presumed target.
â€¢ Bushehr is a high-value target. Damaging the nuclear power plant would deal a blow to Iran — a blow that would be worth the considerable time and money a government would expend to develop such as sophisticated cyberweapon.
â€¢ Concern about Bushehr is high among nations with cyberwar capability. The imminent completion of the nuclear plant has roiled the international community. Dismayed parties include the US and Israel, in particular. But China, Russia, and France also are presumed to have sophisticated cyberwarfare capabilities.
â€¢ Bushehr uses Siemens software and equipment. Stuxnet appears to target Siemens SCADA systems. Bushehr was built largely with equipment from Siemens, the German industrial giant that began the reactors in the 1970s but later pulled out of the project. The plant still uses industrial control software created by Siemens, but it has been installed by Russian contractors.
â€¢ Stuxnet spreads via USB memory sticks. A steady flow of Russian contractors to the Bushehr construction site ensured outside access to the plant’s computer system. USB memory sticks are an invaluable tool for engineers during construction of sophisticated computer-intensive projects. Contractors building the plant would likely have made wide use of them â€“ giving Stuxnet a way to move into the plant without having to rely on the Internet.
â€¢ Bushehr’s cyberdefenses are dubious. A journalist’s photo from inside the Bushehr plant in early 2009, which Langner found on a public news website, shows a computer-screen schematic diagram of a process control system — but also a small dialog box on the screen with a red warning symbol.
Langner says the image on the computer screen is of a Siemens supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) industrial software control system called Simatic WinCC — and the little warning box reveals that the software was not installed or configured correctly, and was not licensed. That photo was a red flag that the nuclear plant was vulnerable to a cyberattack, he says.
“Bushehr has all kinds of missiles around it to protect it from an airstrike,” Langner says. “But this little screen showed anyone that understood what that picture meant … that these guys were just simply begging to be [cyber]attacked.”
The picture was reportedly taken on Feb. 25, 2009, by which time the reactor should have had its cybersystems up and running and bulletproof, Langner says. The photo strongly suggests that they were not, he says. That increases the likelihood that Russian contractors unwittingly spread Stuxnet via their USB drives to Bushehr, he says.
“The attackers realized they could not get to the target simply through the Internet â€“ a nuclear plant is not reachable that way,” he says. “But the engineers who commission such plants work very much with USBs like those Stuxnet exploited to spread itself. They’re using notebook computers and using the USBs to connect to one machine, then maybe going 20 yards away to another machine.”
In the end, the evidence pointing most strongly toward Bushehr is Bushehr itself, Langner says. “What would be the one prime target that would be worth the whole scenario — all the money, the teams of experts needed to develop Stuxnet? Bushehr is the one target that might be worth the cost.”
Not so fast, says Frank Rieger, a German researcher with GSMK, a Berlin encryption firm that has been helping governments on the Stuxnet case, who is familiar with the internal architecture of Stuxnet. His theory is that Stuxnet’s target is a different facility in Iran: Natanz.
The Natanz nuclear centrifuge facility is widely condemned as a nuclear weapons threat. It currently produces low-enriched uranium for power plants, but nonproliferation experts it could be converted to produce highly enriched uranium fuel for use in nuclear weapons.
Two things in particular may make Natanz a more likely Stuxnet target, Mr. Rieger says.
â€¢ Stuxnet had a halt date. Internal time signatures in Stuxnet appear to prevent it from spreading across computer systems after July 2009. That probably means the attack had to be conducted by then — though such time signatures are not certain.
â€¢ Stuxnet appears designed to take over centrifuges’ programmable logic controllers. Natanz has thousands of identical centrifuges and identical programmable logic controllers (PLCs), tiny computers for each centrifuge that oversee the centrifuge’s temperature, control valves, operating speed, and flow of cooling water. Stuxnet’s internal design would allow the malware to take over PLCs one after another, in a cookie-cutter fashion.
“It seems like the parts of Stuxnet dealing with PLCs have been designed to work on multiple nodes at once — which makes it fit well with a centrifuge plant like Natanz,” Rieger says. By contrast, Bushehr is a big central facility with many disparate PLCs performing many different functions. Stuxnet seems focused on replicating its intrusion across a lot of identical units in a single plant, he says.
Natanz also may have been hit by Stuxnet in mid-2009, Rieger says. He notes that “a serious, recent, nuclear accident” was reported at that time on WikiLeaks, the same organization that recently revealed US Afghanistan-war documents. About the same time, the BBC reported that the head of Iran’s nuclear agency had resigned.
Lending some credence to the notion that Stuxnet attacked more than a year ago, he says, is the International Atomic Energy Agency’s finding of a sudden 15 percent drop in the number of working centrifuges at the Natanz site. Rieger posted that data on his blog.
“Bushehr didn’t present the immediate threat that Natanz and the other centrifuge plants did at that time and still do,” Rieger says. “What is clear is that there was an enormous amount of effort spent to do Stuxnet in this way, and it all points [to a target with] a high level of priority assigned to it by the people who did it.”
TEHRAN (September 24, 2010) — The discovery of so-called malicious software — malware — on systems in Iran and elsewhere across the world has prompted speculation of an attempted cyber attack on Iranian industry, possibly including the Bushehr nuclear reactor.
The Stuxnet “Trojan worm” was designed to attack industrial control systems produced by Siemen’s AG, which are commonly used to manage water supplies, oil rigs, power plants and other industrial facilities.
It spreads from USB devices and exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft Corp’s Windows operating system that has since been resolved. Once the worm infects a system, it sets up communications with a remote server computer that can be used to steal data or take control of the system, according to experts.
Symantec, a US-based computer security services company, said that 60 per cent of the computers infected worldwide were in Iran.
“It’s pretty clear that based on the infection behaviour that installations in Iran are being targeted,” Kevin Hogan, the senior director of Security Response at Symantec, told the Reuters news agency.
“The numbers [of infections in Iran] are off the charts,” he said, adding Symantec had located the IP addresses of the computers infected and traced the geographic spread of the malicious code.
Hogan said the virus’s target could be a major complex such as an oil refinery, a sewage plant, a factory or water works.
Sean McGurk, who runs the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, part of the US department of homeland security, said he was unable to confirm if Bushehr had been targeted, but said Stuxnet was capable of taking over physical systems when a certain combination of Siemens software and hardware were present.
It’s very hard to understand what the code was developed for,” he said. “It looks for a particular combination of a software code, or an application, and a hardware platform.
“If it finds it, then it starts manipulating some of the settings” of devices known as programmable logic controllers. Such devices are used, for instance, to move robot arms that build cars, open elevator doors and control HVAC systems.
McGurk said Siemens systems were used by companies doing everything from pharmaceutical and chemical manufacturing to water purification and power.
Kaspersky Labs, a European digital security company, said the attack could only be conducted “with nation-state support.”
“Stuxnet is a working and fearsome prototype of a cyber-weapon that will lead to the creation of a new arms race in the world,” it said in a statement.
Israel, which has admitted it has the capability to launch cyber attacks, has previously hinted it could attack Iranian facilities if international diplomacy fails to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. Western nations, including the US, are also at odds with Iran over its uranium enrichment programme.
Fred Burton, a former US counterterrorism agent and vice-president of risk consultancy Stratfor, said he suspected Stuxnet was a covert action on the part of a nation state intelligence service in an effort to disrupt Iranian military or nuclear efforts.
“Disinformation causes disruption and internal witchhunts lacing the seed of doubt as to who could have done this. The internal security blowback will cause chaos. Brilliant if true.”
Ralph Langner, a German cyber expert, suggested in a blog posting last week that Bushehr may have been the target of the attack, possibly exploiting the plant’s use of unlicensed Windows software.
Unspecified problems have been blamed for a delay in getting the nuclear facility fully operational.
On August 31, Iranian atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi blamed “severe hot weather” for a delay in moving fuel rods into its Russian-built first nuclear power plant.
Stuxnet was identified by Belarussian firm Virusblokada in mid-June ater it emerged on the computer of one of its clients in Iran.
Iran’s Stuxnet Worm Has Fingers Pointing at Israel
Israelis seen weighing “deniable” tactics against foe
JERUSALEM (September 28, 2010) — Cyber warfare has quietly grown into a central pillar of Israel’s strategic planning, with a new military intelligence unit set up to incorporate high-tech hacking tactics, Israeli security sources said on Tuesday.
Israel’s pursuit of options for sabotaging the core computers of foes like Iran, along with mechanisms to protect its own sensitive systems, were unveiled last year by the military intelligence chief, Major-General Amos Yadlin.
The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has since set cyber warfare as a national priority, “up there with missile shields and preparing the homefront to withstand a future missile war”, a senior source said on condition of anonymity.
Disclosures that a sophisticated computer worm, Stuxnet, was uncovered at the Bushehr atomic reactor and may have burrowed deeper into Iran’s nuclear programme prompted foreign experts to suggest the Israelis were responsible.
Israel has declined to comment on any specific operations. Analysts say cyber capabilities offer it a stealthy alternative to the air strikes that it has long been expected to launch against Iran but which would face enormous operational hurdles as well as the risk of triggering regional war. [nLDE5BE29K]
According to security sources, over the last two years the military intelligence branch, which specialises in wiretaps, satellite imaging and other electronic espionage, has set up a dedicated cyber warfare unit staffed by conscripts and officers.
They would not say how much of the unit’s work is offensive, but noted that Israeli cyber defences are primarily the responsibility of the domestic intelligence agency Shin Bet.
In any event, fending off or inflicting damage to sensitive digital networks are interconnected disciplines. Israeli high-tech firms, world leaders in information security, often employ veterans of military computing units.
Security sources said Israel awoke to the potential of cyber warfare in the late 1990s, when the Shin Bet hacked into a fuel depot to test security measures and then realised the system could be reprogrammed to crash or even cause explosions.
Israel’s defence priorities suggest it may be shying away from open confrontation with the Iranians, whose nuclear facilities are distant, numerous, dispersed and well-fortified.
Even were its warplanes to manage a successful sortie, Israel would almost certainly suffer retaliatory Iranian missile salvoes worse than the short-range rocket attacks of Lebanese and Palestinian guerrillas in the 2006 and 2009 wars.
There would be a wider diplomatic reckoning: World powers are in no rush to see another Middle East conflagration, especially while sanctions are still being pursued against an Iranian nuclear programme which Tehran insists is peaceful.
An Israeli security source said Defence Ministry planners were still debating the relative merits of cyber warfare.
“It’s deniable, and it’s potent, but the damage it delivers is very hard to track and quantify,” the source said. “When you send in the jets — the target is there, and then it’s gone.”
Editing by Jon Boyle.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
(September 28, 2010) — Once a serious journalist, the Washington Post‘s Bob Woodward now makes a very fine living as chief gossip-monger of the governing class. Early on in his career, along with Carl Bernstein, his partner at the time, Woodward confronted power. Today, by relentlessly exalting Washington trivia, he flatters power. His reporting does not inform. It titillates.
A new Woodward book, Obama’s Wars, is a guaranteed blockbuster. It’s out this week, already causing a stir, and guaranteed to be forgotten the week after dropping off the bestseller lists. For good reason: when it comes to substance, any book written by Woodward has about as much heft as the latest potboiler penned by the likes of James Patterson or Tom Clancy.
Back in 2002, for example, during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, Woodward treated us to Bush at War. Based on interviews with unidentified officials close to President George W Bush, the book offered a portrait of the president-as-resolute-war-leader that put him in a league with Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt.
But the book’s real juice came from what it revealed about events behind the scenes. “Bush’s war cabinet is riven with feuding,” reported the Times of London, which credited Woodward with revealing “the furious arguments and personal animosity” that divided Bush’s lieutenants.
The problem with the Bush administration wasn’t that folks on the inside didn’t play nice with one another. No, the problem was that the president and his inner circle committed a long series of catastrophic errors that produced an unnecessary and grotesquely mismanaged war.
That war has cost the country dearly — although the people who engineered that catastrophe, many of them having pocketed handsome advances on their forthcoming memoirs, continue to manage quite well, thank you.
To judge by the publicity blitzkrieg announcing the arrival of Obama’s Wars in your local bookstore, the big news out of Washington is that, even today, politics there remains an intensely competitive sport, with the participants, whether in anger or frustration, sometimes speaking ill of one another.
Essentially, news reports indicate, Woodward has updated his script from 2002. The characters have different names, but the plot remains the same. Talk about jumping the shark.
So we learn that Barack Obama’s political adviser David Axelrod doesn’t fully trust Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. National Security Adviser James Jones, a retired US Marine Corps general, doesn’t much care for the likes of Axelrod, and will say so behind his back. Almost everyone thinks Richard Holbrooke, chief State Department impresario of the AfPak portfolio, is a jerk. And — stop the presses — when under the influence of alcohol, General David Petraeus, commander of US and allied forces in Afghanistan, is alleged to use the word “f**ked”. These are the sort of shocking revelations that make you a headliner on the Sunday morning talk shows.
Based on what we have learned so far from those select few provided with advance copies of the book – mostly reporters for the Post and The New York Times who, for whatever reason, seem happy to serve as its shills — Obama’s Wars contains hints of another story, the significance of which seems to have eluded Woodward.
The theme of that story is not whether Dick likes Jane, but whether the constitution remains an operative document. The constitution explicitly assigns to the president the role of commander-in-chief. Responsibility for the direction of American wars rests with him. According to the principle of civilian control, senior military officers advise and execute, but it’s the president who decides. That’s the theory, at least. Reality turns out to be considerably different and, to be kind about it, more complicated.
Obama’s Wars reportedly contains this comment by Obama to Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates regarding Afghanistan: “I’m not doing 10 years … I’m not doing long-term nation-building. I am not spending a trillion dollars.”
Aren’t you, Mr President? Don’t be so sure.
Obama’s Wars also affirms what we already suspected about the decision-making process that led up to the president’s announcement at West Point in December 2009 to prolong and escalate the war. Bluntly put, the Pentagon gamed the process to exclude any possibility of Obama rendering a decision not to its liking.
Pick your surge: 20,000 troops? Or 30,000 troops? Or 40,000 troops? Only the most powerful man in the world – or Goldilocks contemplating three bowls of porridge – could handle a decision like that. Even as Obama opted for the middle course, the real decision had already been made elsewhere by others: the war in Afghanistan would expand and continue.
And then there’s this from the estimable Petraeus: “I don’t think you win this war,” Woodward quotes the field commander as saying. “I think you keep fighting … This is the kind of fight we’re in for the rest of our lives and probably our kids’ lives.”
Here we confront a series of questions to which Woodward (not to mention the rest of Washington) remains steadfastly oblivious. Why fight a war that even the general in charge says can’t be won? What will the perpetuation of this conflict cost? Who will it benefit? Does the ostensibly most powerful nation in the world have no choice but to wage permanent war? Are there no alternatives? Can Obama shut down an unwinnable war now about to enter its tenth year? Or is he – along with the rest of us – a prisoner of war?
Obama has repeatedly stated that in July 2011 a withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan will commence. No one quite knows exactly what that means. Will the withdrawal be symbolic? Petraeus has already made it abundantly clear that he will entertain nothing more. Or will July signal that the Afghan war – and by extension the global “War on Terror” launched nine years ago – is finally coming to an end?
Between now and next summer attentive Americans will learn much about how national security policy
is actually formulated and who is really in charge. Just don’t expect Woodward to offer any enlightenment on the subject.
Andrew J. Bacevich is professor of history and international relations at Boston University. His new book is The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
US Should Be Able to Shut Internet,
Former CIA Chief Says Los Angeles Times & Reuters
SAN ANTONIO (September 26, 2010) — Cyberterrorism is such a threat that the US president should have the authority to shut down the Internet in the event of an attack, Former CIA Director Michael Hayden said.
Hayden made the comments during a visit to San Antonio where he was meeting with military and civilian officials to discuss cyber security. The US military has a new Cyber Command which is to begin operations on October 1.
Hayden said the president currently does not have the authority to shut down the Internet in an emergency.
“My personal view is that it is probably wise to legislate some authority to the President, to take emergency measures for limited periods of time, with clear reporting to Congress, when he feels as if he has to take these measures,” he said in an interview on the weekend.
“But I would put the bar really high as to when these kinds of authorities might take place,” he said. He likened cyberwarfare to a “frontier.” “It’s actually the new area of endeavor, I would compare it to a new age of exploration. Military doctrine calls the cyber thing a ‘domain,’ like land sea, air, space, and now cyber… It is almost like a frontier experience” he said.
Hayden, a retired US Air Force general, was director of the Central Intelligence Agency during the administration of President George W. Bush from 2006 to 2009.
(September 27, 2010) — Federal law enforcement and national security officials are preparing to seek sweeping new regulations for the Internet, arguing that their ability to wiretap criminal and terrorism suspects is “going dark” as people increasingly communicate online instead of by telephone.
Essentially, officials want Congress to require all services that enable communications — including encrypted e-mail transmitters like BlackBerry, social networking Web sites like Facebook and software that allows direct â€œpeer to peerâ€ messaging like Skype — to be technically capable of complying if served with a wiretap order. The mandate would include being able to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages.
The bill, which the Obama administration plans to submit to lawmakers next year, raises fresh questions about how to balance security needs with protecting privacy and fostering innovation. And because security services around the world face the same problem, it could set an example that is copied globally.
James X. Dempsey, vice president of the Center for Democracy and Technology, an Internet policy group, said the proposal had “huge implications” and challenged “fundamental elements of the Internet revolution” — including its decentralized design.
“They are really asking for the authority to redesign services that take advantage of the unique, and now pervasive, architecture of the Internet,” he said. “They basically want to turn back the clock and make Internet services function the way that the telephone system used to function.”
But law enforcement officials contend that imposing such a mandate is reasonable and necessary to prevent the erosion of their investigative powers.
â€œWeâ€™re talking about lawfully authorized intercepts,â€ said Valerie E. Caproni, general counsel for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “We’re not talking expanding authority. Weâ€™re talking about preserving our ability to execute our existing authority in order to protect the public safety and national security.”
Investigators have been concerned for years that changing communications technology could damage their ability to conduct surveillance. In recent months, officials from the FBI, the Justice Department, the National Security Agency, the White House and other agencies have been meeting to develop a proposed solution.
There is not yet agreement on important elements, like how to word statutory language defining who counts as a communications service provider, according to several officials familiar with the deliberations.
But they want it to apply broadly, including to companies that operate from servers abroad, like Research in Motion, the Canadian maker of BlackBerry devices. In recent months, that company has come into conflict with the governments of Dubai and India over their inability to conduct surveillance of messages sent via its encrypted service.
In the United States, phone and broadband networks are already required to have interception capabilities, under a 1994 law called the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act. It aimed to ensure that government surveillance abilities would remain intact during the evolution from a copper-wire phone system to digital networks and cellphones.
Often, investigators can intercept communications at a switch operated by the network company. But sometimes — like when the target uses a service that encrypts messages between his computer and its servers — they must instead serve the order on a service provider to get unscrambled versions.
Like phone companies, communication service providers are subject to wiretap orders. But the 1994 law does not apply to them. While some maintain interception capacities, others wait until they are served with orders to try to develop them.
The FBI’s operational technologies division spent $9.75 million last year helping communication companies — including some subject to the 1994 law that had difficulties — do so. And its 2010 budget included $9 million for a â€œGoing Dark Programâ€ to bolster its electronic surveillance capabilities.
Beyond such costs, Ms. Caproni said, FBI efforts to help retrofit services have a major shortcoming: the process can delay their ability to wiretap a suspect for months.
Moreover, some services encrypt messages between users, so that even the provider cannot unscramble them.
There is no public data about how often court-approved surveillance is frustrated because of a serviceâ€™s technical design.
But as an example, one official said, an investigation into a drug cartel earlier this year was stymied because smugglers used peer-to-peer software, which is difficult to intercept because it is not routed through a central hub. Agents eventually installed surveillance equipment in a suspectâ€™s office, but that tactic was “risky,” the official said, and the delay â€œprevented the interception of pertinent communications.â€
Moreover, according to several other officials, after the failed Times Square bombing in May, investigators discovered that the suspect, Faisal Shahzad, had been communicating with a service that lacked pre-built interception capacity. If he had aroused suspicion beforehand, there would have been a delay before he could have been wiretapped.
To counter such problems, officials are coalescing around several of the proposal’s likely requirements:
Â¶ Communications services that encrypt messages must have a way to unscramble them.
Â¶ Foreign-based providers that do business inside the United States must install a domestic office capable of performing intercepts.
Â¶ Developers of software that enables peer-to-peer communication must redesign their service to allow interception.
Providers that failed to comply would face fines or some other penalty. But the proposal is likely to direct companies to come up with their own way to meet the mandates. Writing any statute in “technologically neutral” terms would also help prevent it from becoming obsolete, officials said.
Even with such a law, some gaps could remain. It is not clear how it could compel compliance by overseas services that do no domestic business, or from a “freeware” application developed by volunteers.
In their battle with Research in Motion, countries like Dubai have sought leverage by threatening to block BlackBerry data from their networks. But Ms. Caproni said the FBI did not support filtering the Internet in the United States.
Still, even a proposal that consists only of a legal mandate is likely to be controversial, said Michael A. Sussmann, a former Justice Department lawyer who advises communications providers.
“It would be an enormous change for newly covered companies,” he said. “Implementation would be a huge technology and security headache, and the investigative burden and costs will shift to providers.”
Several privacy and technology advocates argued that requiring interception capabilities would create holes that would inevitably be exploited by hackers.
Steven M. Bellovin, a Columbia University computer science professor, pointed to an episode in Greece: In 2005, it was discovered that hackers had taken advantage of a legally mandated wiretap function to spy on top officials’ phones, including the prime minister’s.
“I think it’s a disaster waiting to happen,” he said. “If they start building in all these back doors, they will be exploited.”
Susan Landau, a Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study fellow and former Sun Microsystems engineer, argued that the proposal would raise costly impediments to innovation by small startups.
“Every engineer who is developing the wiretap system is an engineer who is not building in greater security, more features, or getting the product out faster,” she said.
Moreover, providers of services featuring user-to-user encryption are likely to object to watering it down. Similarly, in the late 1990s, encryption makers fought off a proposal to require them to include a back door enabling wiretapping, arguing it would cripple their products in the global market.
But law enforcement officials rejected such arguments. They said including an interception capability from the start was less likely to inadvertently create security holes than retrofitting it after receiving a wiretap order.
They also noted that critics predicted that the 1994 law would impede cellphone innovation, but that technology continued to improve. And their envisioned decryption mandate is modest, they contended, because service providers — not the government — would hold the key.
“No one should be promising their customers that they will thumb their nose at a US court order,” Ms. Caproni said. “They can promise strong encryption. They just need to figure out how they can provide us plain text.”
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.