David Kirkpatrick

September 3, 2010

Balancing national security and privacy on the internet

An interesting breakdown on the current state of online privacy versus national security.

From the link:

In the wake of revelations that the US military network was compromised in 2008, and that US digital interests are under a relative constant threat of attack, the Pentagon is establishing new cyber security initiatives to protect the Internet. The Pentagon strategy–which is part digital NATO, part digital civil defense, and part Big Brother–may ruffle some feathers and raise concerns that the US Internet is becoming a military police state.

The mission of the United States Department of Defense is to provide military forces needed to deter war and protect the security of the nation. The scope of that mission includes emerging threats and the need to deter cyber war and protect the digital security of the nation as well. To fulfill that mission in an increasingly connected world, and with a rising threat of digital attack, the Pentagon wants to expand its sphere of influence.

This really is a tough issue. Certainly you want the nation to be safe, but at the same time the internet is largely a borderless “pseudo-nation” and clamping down too hard — not unlike the great firewall of China — can stifle much of what makes the net great. No easy answers here, but dramatically increasing the power of the government — particularly the military — over the private sector is not an acceptable solution.

July 16, 2010

Bush 43-era DoJ pursued obscenity cases over national security

Just wow.

From today’s Reason Alert:

Earlier in the trial, we learned the Bush administration actually diverted resources away from national security and onto the Stagliano case. Abowitz says, “After originally working on national security issues, [FBI Special Agent Daniel] Bradley testified, he was transferred to the obscenity desk and assigned to an already open investigation into Stagliano. How’s that for government priorities?”

For more on the actual trial, here’s a Reason article from today.

April 8, 2010

Cyberwar food for thought

The CIO.com daily newsletter had a lot of cyberwar coverage today, and there’s plenty to think about when contemplating the future of national security.

Here’s highlights from three articles.

First up, is the U.S. the most at-risk nation in the world vis-a-vis cyber attack? Facts on the ground ought to give a little pause.

From the link:

Although the United States likely has the best cyberwar capabilities in the world, “that offensive prowess cannot make up for the weaknesses in our defensive position,” one-time presidential advisor Richard Clarke argues in his forthcoming book Cyber War.

Clarke — who served as special advisor to the president for cybersecurity in 2001 and now teaches at Harvard’s Kennedy School for Government and works at Good Harbor Consulting — fears that any outbreak of cyber warfare would spill over into more violent conflict.

“Far from being an alternative to conventional war, cyber war may actually increase the likelihood of the more traditional combat with explosives, bullets and missiles,” Clarke writes in his book, which is due out April 20.

Next up, when the cyber attack happens here, what’s the chain-of-command and other protocols? Not as easy to answer as I’d like because of the widespread nature of cyber attack and the likely integral involvement of private enterprise. It’s akin to bombing a factory without the obvious military-based response.

From the link:

Because possible return fire could come from traditional military, intelligence, diplomatic or economic agencies — and perhaps even from private business — the United States needs a set of policies and procedures for cyberwarfare that are still in the making, experts say.

The president’s top cyber adviser, Howard Schmidt, has said in interviews that the responsibility for cybersecurity is a shared responsibility between public and private sectors. And within the government it will be shared among government agencies but not in a well-defined way. “Who’s in charge?” asks Jamie Sanbower, the director of security for Force 3, an integrator that works with the federal government. “That’s the number-one challenge we’re facing right now.”

And finally more analysis of the Google/China issue, and does it signal the beginning of a public cyberwarefare age? If nothing else, with a very concrete example to turn to, expect a lot more mainstream coverage of cyberwar issues

From the final link:

Many see the attacks as evidence that the U.S. is already in the midst of an undeclared cyberwar, with attacks against government targets estimated to have more than doubled in the past two years. Just last week, a top FBI official called cyberattacks an “existential threat” to the U.S. On Friday, two U.S. senators now pushing cybersecurity legislation in Congress reiterated those sentiments.

And Mike McConnell the former director of the National Security Agency (NSA) and director of national intelligence during the Bush administration, recently said in a Washington Post (WPO) column that the U.S is not only fighting such a war, it’s also losing the battle.

October 21, 2009

Big Brother puts money and eyeballs into web 2.0

Via KurzweilAI.net — Something to think about before you go masquerading as an international terrorist again …

U.S. Spies Buy Stake in Firm That Monitors Blogs, Tweets

Wired Danger Room, Oct. 19, 2009

In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the CIA and the widerintelligence community, is putting cash into Visible Technologies, a software firm that specializes in monitoring social media, part of a larger movement within the spy services to get better at using open-sourceintelligence.

Visible crawls over half a million web 2.0 sites a day, scraping more than a million posts and conversations taking place on blogs, online forums, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter and Amazon.

Read Original Article>>

May 21, 2009

Obama and Cheney, dueling speeches

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:23 pm

I’m betting many elected GOP figures just wish Dick Cheney would head back to a secret location — any secret location — and stay out of the news.

Obama gives a speech on national security outlining his plan to keep America safe:

President Obama kicked off the debate with a far-reaching speech about the expanse and limits of the office of the presidency, defending decisions he’s already made that reverse his predecessor’s policies and also those upholding others. Addressing critics from the right and left, Mr. Obama didn’t back down from his plans to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center nor did he shrink from his refusal to release more photographs of abused prisoners.

He accused some critics of fear-mongering, of stoking the public’s anxieties over terrorism and without mentioning names, castigated officials of the previous administration for an “anything goes” mindset that permitted torture and a vastly broad view of executive authority. He relied in words and visual imagery on the historical documents displayed around him – the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.

Immediately following Obama’s speech looking toward the future and outlining a clear plan of action that represents a return to a United States once again walking softly, but carrying a big stick, Dick Cheney hits the airwaves looking not to the future, but the past. September 11 to be exact, reminding the world that the worst terrorist attack on the domestic U.S. happened under the Bush 43 watch.

He’s clearly scrambling, but he’s certainly not helping his party and he’s undermining the sitting president in ways I’m guessing he’d consider actionable if it were occurring when he and Bush were in office. The hypocrisy is not lost on the American public.

Cheney’s reputation is in shambles, he is more likely than not to face war crime charges in either U.S. or international courts and he is basically taking a large dump on the tattered remains on the Republican Party. The leftover rump might take it and ask for a little more, but every time Cheney attempts to defend the Bush 43 regime a few more holdout center-right voters turn their backs on the GOP.

From the same link above:

In line after line, Mr. Cheney drew upon the horrific imagery of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 as though they had occurred just yesterday. While commending Mr. Obama for a new Afghanistan war strategy, he accused the president of faulting and mischaracterizing Bush practices. Indeed, Mr. Cheney added as a prelude to his lengthy speech, so much so that Mr. Obama “deserved an answer.” Mr. Cheney continued to insist that the harsh interrogation methods now opposed by the president were successful in thwarting more assaults against the United States. And he argued that “seven and a half years without a repeat is not a record to be rebuked and scorned, much less criminalized. It is a record to be continued until danger has passed.”

Here’s links to both speeches — The Obama transcript. The Cheney transcript.