Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cyber Command Launched. U.S. Strategic Command to Oversee Offensive Military Operations

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates signed a memorandum June 23 that announced the launch of U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM). A scheme by securocrats in the works for several years, the order specifies that the new office will be a "subordinate unified command" under U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM).

According to the memorandum, CYBERCOM "will reach initial operating capability (IOC) not later than October 2009 and full operating capability (FOC) not later than October 2010."

Gates has recommended that this new Pentagon domain be led by Lt. General Keith Alexander, the current Director of the ultra-spooky National Security Agency (NSA). Under the proposal, Alexander would receive a fourth star and the new agency would be based at Ft. Meade, Maryland, NSA's headquarters.

Gates' memorandum specifies that CYBERCOM "must be capable of synchronizing warfighting effects across the global security environment as well as providing support to civil authorities and international partners."

Ostensibly launched to protect military networks against malicious cyberattacks, the command's offensive nature is underlined by its role as STRATCOM's operational cyber wing. In addition to a defensive brief to "harden" the "dot-mil" domain, the Pentagon plan calls for an offensive capacity, one that will deploy cyber weapons against imperialism's adversaries.

One of ten Unified Combatant Commands, STRATCOM is the successor organization to Strategic Air Command (SAC). Charged with space operations (military satellites), information warfare, missile defense, global command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), as well as global strike and strategic deterrence (America's first-strike nuclear arsenal), it should be apparent that designating CYBERCOM a STRATCOM branch all but guarantees an aggressive posture.

As Antifascist Calling reported in May, the Pentagon's geek squad, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is currently building a National Cyber Range (NCR), a test bed for developing, testing and fielding cyber weapons.

In conjunction with "private-sector partners," the agency averred in a January 2009 press release that NCR promises to deliver "'leap ahead' concepts and capabilities."

The Armed Forces Press Service reported June 24, that Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell told journalists that CYBERCOM is "not some sort of new and necessarily different authorities that have been granted." Obfuscating the offensive role envisaged for the command, Morrell told reporters: "This is about trying to figure out how we, within this department, within the United States military, can better coordinate the day-to-day defense, protection and operation of the department's computer networks."

Others within the defense bureaucracy are far more enthusiastic, and forthright, when it comes to recommending that cyber armaments be fielded as offensive weapons of war. Indeed, Armed Forces Journal featured a lengthy analysis advocating precisely that.

The world has abandoned a fortress mentality in the real world, and we need to move beyond it in cyberspace. America needs a network that can project power by building an af.mil robot network (botnet) that can direct such massive amounts of traffic to target computers that they can no longer communicate and become no more useful to our adversaries than hunks of metal and plastic. America needs the ability to carpet bomb in cyberspace to create the deterrent we lack. (Col. Charles W. Williamson III, "Carpet Bombing in Cyberspace," Armed Forces Journal, May 2008)

We have heard these Orwellian arguments before; one can take it for granted that when militarists pontificate on the need for a "deterrent," the bombers are preparing for take off.

As with other Pentagon schemes, the technological quick fix may prove as deadly as the alleged threat, particularly where botnets are concerned.

A botnet is a collection of widely dispersed computers controlled from one or more central nodes. Often built by cyber criminals to implant malicious programs or code, steal passwords and other encrypted data from targeted systems, botnets are the bane of the Internet.

In these endeavors, sophisticated hackers are aided and abetted by the miserable security code or lax practices of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) more concerned with facilitating commerce--and the bottom line--than in providing adequate protection against criminals.

Indeed in March, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) urged the Federal Trade Commission "to shut down Google's so-called cloud computing services, including Gmail and Google Docs, if the web giant can't ensure the safety of user data stored by these online apps," The Register reported.

EPIC's petition in part, was sparked "by a Google snafu that saw the company inadvertently share certain Google Docs files with users unauthorized to view them. Google estimates that the breach hit about 0.05 per cent of the documents stored by the service," according to The Register.

Infected computers are referred to as "zombies" that can be controlled remotely from any point on the planet by "master" machines. Unwary users are often "spoofed" by hackers through counterfeit e-mails replete with embedded hyperlinks into "cooperating" with the installation of malicious code.

While criminals employ botnets to generate spam or commit fraudulent transactions, draining a savings account or running-up credit card debt through multiple purchases for example, botnets also have the capacity to launch devastating distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks against inadequately defended computers or indeed, entire networks.

As many commentators have warned, the best defense is to write better security programs and exercise a modicum of common sense when using the Internet. The Pentagon however, has something else in mind.

Col. Williamson proposes to transform the Air Force's high-speed intrusion-detection systems into an offensive botnet by enabling "the thousands of computers the Air Force would normally discard every year for technology refresh, removing the power-hungry and heat-inducing hard drives, replacing them with low-power flash drives, then installing them in any available space every Air Force base can find." In other words, creating thousands of zombie machines.

"After that," Col. Williamson avers, "the Air Force could add botnet code to all its desktop computers attached to the Nonsecret Internet Protocol Network (NIPRNet). Once the system reaches a level of maturity, it can add other .mil computers, then .gov machines."

Underscoring the risks posed by out-of-control military hackers to hold America's, or any other nations' communications infrastructure hostage to a militarized state, Williamson suggests that in order to "generate the right amount of power for offense, all the available computers must be under the control of a single commander, even if he provides the capability for multiple theaters. While it cannot be segmented like an orange for individual theater commanders, it can certainly be placed under their tactical control." (emphasis added)

In other words, should an "individual theatre commander" desire to suddenly darken a city or wreck havoc on a nation's electrical infrastructure at the behest of his political masters then by all means, go right ahead! A proposal such as this, should it ever be implemented, would in essence, be a first-strike weapon.

Other plans for "defending" Pentagon computer networks are even more extreme.

STRATCOM commander Gen. Kevin Chilton has even suggested that "the White House retains the option to respond with physical force--potentially even using nuclear weapons--if a foreign entity conducts a disabling cyber attack against U.S. computer networks," according to a disturbing report published by Global Security Newswire. During a Defense Writers Group breakfast in May, Chilton told journalists:

"I think you don't take any response options off the table from an attack on the United States of America. Why would we constrain ourselves on how we respond?" ...

Should the breaches evolve into more serious computer attacks against the United States, Chilton said he could not rule out the possibility of a military salvo against a nation like China, even though Beijing has nuclear arms. He rejected the idea that such a conflict would necessarily risk going nuclear.

"I don't think that's true," Chilton said.

At the same time, the general insisted that all strike options, including nuclear, would remain available to the commander in chief in defending the nation from cyber strikes.

"I think that's been our policy on any attack on the United States of America," Chilton said. "And I don't see any reason to treat cyber any differently. I mean, why would we tie the president's hands? I can't. It's up to the president to decide." (Elaine M. Grossman, "U.S. General Reserves Right to Use Force, Even Nuclear, in Response to Cyber Attack," Global Security Newswire, May 12, 2009)

While Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told The New York Times that CYBERCOM's launch "is not about the militarization of cyber," how else can it be characterized?

Indeed, Whitman went on to say that CYBERCOM "is focused only on military networks to better consolidate and streamline Department of Defense capabilities into a single command."

How then, should one interpret moves by the Pentagon to "consolidate and streamline" DoD "capabilities" under the purview of STRATCOM? Obviously, an entity defined as a "Unified Combatant Command" as clearly stated by General Chilton's avowal to "leave all options on the table," would combine cyber "defense" with STRATCOM's global strike mission.

Antifascist Calling revealed last year, citing a U.S. Air Force planning document, that preparations are already underway to transform cyberspace into an offensive military domain. Indeed, Air Force theorists averred:

Cyberspace favors offensive operations. These operations will deny, degrade, disrupt, destroy, or deceive an adversary. Cyberspace offensive operations ensure friendly freedom of action in cyberspace while denying that same freedom to our adversaries. We will enhance our capabilities to conduct electronic systems attack, electromagnetic systems interdiction and attack, network attack, and infrastructure attack operations. Targets include the adversary's terrestrial, airborne, and space networks, electronic attack and network attack systems, and the adversary itself. As an adversary becomes more dependent on cyberspace, cyberspace offensive operations have the potential to produce greater effects. (Air Force Cyber Command, "Strategic Vision," no date, emphasis added)

Echoing Air Force strategy, SecDef Gates memo clearly states, since "cyberspace and its associated technologies ... are vital to our nation's security," the United States will "secure freedom of action in cyberspace" by standing-up a unified command "that possesses the required technical capability and remains focused on the integration of cyberspace operations."

Simply put, the Pentagon intends to build an infrastructure fully-capable of committing high-tech war crimes.

Under NSA's Operational Control

Meanwhile in the heimat, CYBERCOM will effectively be under the day-to-day control of the National Security Agency. This is hardly good news when it comes to civil liberties.

Leaving aside considerations of bureaucratic trench warfare with the Department of Homeland Security, charged with defending the state's .gov and .com domains, the unprecedented power of CYBERCOM to conduct offensive military and surveillance operations within the United States itself is underlined by the preeminent role NSA will assume.

Authorized by the criminal Bush regime to carry out massive electronic surveillance of Americans' private communications in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, various driftnet spying operations continue under Obama's purported "change" administration. As Antifascist Calling has averred many times, the only "change" that's come to the White House has been the color of the drapes hanging in the Oval Office.

The New York Times revealed June 17, that the "National Security Agency is facing renewed scrutiny over the extent of its domestic surveillance program, with critics in Congress saying its recent intercepts of the private telephone calls and e-mail messages of Americans are broader than previously acknowledged." According to the Times, "The agency's monitoring of domestic e-mail messages, in particular, has posed longstanding legal and logistical difficulties, the officials said."

I take issue with the Times' characterization that such a breach of constitutional norms merely represent "logistical difficulties." As with a Times' report in April which alleged that NSA's driftnet spying under Obama was simply a problem of "overcollection," far from being mere technical issues, first and foremost, these violations represent political decisions made at the highest levels of the national security state itself.

Since April, when it was disclosed that the intercepts of some private communications of Americans went beyond legal limits in late 2008 and early 2009, several Congressional committees have been investigating. Those inquiries have led to concerns in Congress about the agency's ability to collect and read domestic e-mail messages of Americans on a widespread basis, officials said. Supporting that conclusion is the account of a former N.S.A. analyst who, in a series of interviews, described being trained in 2005 for a program in which the agency routinely examined large volumes of Americans' e-mail messages without court warrants. Two intelligence officials confirmed that the program was still in operation. (James Risen and Eric Lichtblau, "E-Mail Surveillance Renews Concerns in Congress," The New York Times, June 17, 2009)

Last year, congressional Democrats, including Senator now President, Obama, handed the NSA virtually unchecked power to spy on the private communications of Americans. In addition to granting retroactive immunity to telecom grifters who profited from their conspiracy to illegally spy on citizens for the state, the despicable FISA Amendments Act (FIA) gave NSA the legal cover to intercept Americans' communications "so long as it was done only as the incidental byproduct of investigating individuals 'reasonably believed' to be overseas," as the Times delicately put it.

CYBERCOM's brief, and its deployment inside NSA with full access to the agency's powerful computing assets, and with a mission to conduct global Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) at the behest of their STRATCOM masters, mean that despite bromides about "privacy concerns," the Pentagon will most assuredly be interested in developing an attack matrix that can just as easily be turned inward. After all as General Chilton asserts, "it's up to the president to decide."

"One thing that is pretty clear," Wired reports, "NSA will be leading this emerging command." Indeed, NSA "may also come to dominate the wider government cyber defense effort, as well." As The Wall Street Journal revealed, the Defense Department's 2010 budget "envisions training and graduating more than 200 cyber-security officers annually." In contradistinction to DoD, "the Department of Homeland Security has 100 employees dedicated to civilian cyber security, with plans to reach 260 next year," the Journal reports.

In other words, right from the get-go NSA will be assuming operational control of CYBERCOM. This is driven home by the fact that the Pentagon is already receiving the vast majority of appropriations for state cybersecurity initiatives and have thousands of cyberwarriors across all branches of the military, including outsourced private contractors who labor for DoD, ready, willing and able to staff the new command.

As Antifascist Calling revealed in April, with billions of dollars already spent on a score of top secret cyber initiatives, including those hidden within Pentagon Special Access or black programs, the issue of oversight is already a moot point.

Defense analyst William M. Arkin in his essential book, Code Names, described some three dozen cyberwar programs and/or exercises, currently being pursued by the Pentagon. Since the book's 2005 publication, many others undoubtedly have come on-line.

While NSA Director Alexander has explicitly stated that he does "not want [NSA] to run cybersecurity for the United States government," CYBERCOM's stand-up, and Alexander's near certain appointment as commander, all but guarantees that the agency will be a ubiquitous and silent gatekeeper answerable to no one.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Look! Up in the Sky! It's a Bird... It's a Plane... It's a Raytheon Spy Blimp!

As the American republic's long death-spiral continues apace, newer and ever more insidious technologies usher us towards an age of high-tech barbarism.

"At first glance" Newsweek reveals, "there was nothing special about the blimp floating high above the cars and crowd at this year's Indy 500 on Memorial Day weekend."

"Nothing special" that is, until you took a closer look. What you then discovered was another quintessentially American innovation, all the more chilling for its bland ubiquity. A silent, hovering sentinel linking commerce and repression; a perfect trope for our ersatz democracy. "Like most airships" Newsweek continued, "it acted as an advertising vehicle."

But the real promo should have been for the blimp's creator, Raytheon, the security company best known for its weapons systems. Hidden inside the 55-foot-long white balloon was a powerful surveillance camera adapted from the technology Raytheon provides the U.S. military.

Essentially an unmanned drone, the blimp transmitted detailed images to the race's security officers and to Indiana police. "The airship is great because it doesn't have that Big Brother feel, or create feelings of invasiveness," says Lee Silvestre, vice president of mission innovation in Raytheon's Integrated Defense division. "But it's still a really powerful security tool." (Kurt Soller, "Are You Being Watched? The blimp flying above your head may be watching your every move," Newsweek, June 11, 2009)

"It doesn't have that Big Brother feel" and yet here, as elsewhere, the "feelings of invasiveness" are implicit, unseen, invisible, the securitized DNA giving form and structure to the Empire's "new normal."

Imported from America's aggressive wars of conquest in Iraq and Afghanistan and now deployed in the heimat, sprawling intelligence and security bureaucracies have teamed-up with corporate scofflaws to fill a market niche, inflating the bottom-line at the expense of a cherished freedom: the right to be left alone.

But as Antifascist Calling has noted many times, "what happens in Vegas" certainly doesn't stay there, a point driven home by Raytheon.

"Anticipating requirements for innovative and affordable ways to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR)," according to a company press release, "Raytheon is using aerostats--modern blimps or balloons--carrying high-tech sensors to detect threats on the ground and in the air at distances that enable appropriate countermeasures."

Known as RAID (Rapid Aerostat Initial Deployment) the system is kitted-out with "electro-optic infrared, radar, flash and acoustic detectors." According to the firm, some 300 have been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The same military version, as Newsweek reported and Raytheon confirmed, "demonstrated to officials concerned with security and spectator safety its value by providing situational awareness in what is billed as one of the largest sporting events of the year."

Indeed Charles Burns, the director of Corporate Security for the Indy Racing League said in the company's press release: "Conducting this demo with Raytheon gives us the opportunity to evaluate new and innovative technology that keeps our venues safe and optimizes the racing experience for our fans."

Along with a suite of sensors and high resolution video cameras, RAID's digitized mapping tools are similar to those developed for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). In tandem with a preprogrammed mapping grid of the target location, the system can scan a wide area and relay video clips to a centralized command center.

Captured data known as GEOINT, or geospatial intelligence, is "tailored for customer-specific solutions" according to NGA. That agency along with its "sister" organization, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the super-secret agency that develops and flies America's fleet of spy satellites are also among the most heavily-outsourced departments in the so-called Intelligence Community.

As investigative journalist Tim Shorrock points out in his essential book, Spies For Hire, giant defense firms such as Raytheon and Northrop Grumman "with assistance from Republican lawmakers from the House Intelligence Committee," helped launch a lobby shop for the industry in 2004, the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF).

Self-described as a "not-for-profit educational foundation," USGIF "is the only organization dedicated to promoting the geospatial intelligence tradecraft and building a stronger community of interest across industry, academia, government, professional organizations and individual stakeholders." Since its formation, USGIF has expanded to some 154 companies and state agencies and has an annual budget that exceeds $1 million.

"Strategic partners" include the usual suspects, corporate heavy-hitters such as Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Science Applications International Corporation, Boeing, Booz Allen Hamilton, Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, IBM, Google, AT&T, Microsoft, The MITRE Corporation, and L3 Communications. Additionally, niche companies such as Analytical Graphics, Inc., DigitalGlobe, GeoEye, Intergraph, PCI Geomatics, TechniGraphics, Inc., flesh-out USGIF's roster.

In this context, the public roll-out of RAID is all the more pressing for securocrats and the companies they serve since Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano "plans to kill a program begun by the Bush administration that would use U.S. spy satellites for domestic security and law enforcement," the Associated Press reported June 22.

That program, the National Applications Office (NAO) was first announced by the Bush regime in 2007 and was mired in controversy from the get-go. As Antifascist Calling reported last year, NAO would coordinate how domestic law enforcement and "disaster relief" agencies such as FEMA utilize GEOINT and imagery intelligence (IMINT) generated by U.S. spy satellites. But as with other heimat security schemes there was little in the way of oversight and zero concern for the rights of the American people.

The intrusiveness of the program was so severe that even Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), the author of the despicable "Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007" (H.R. 1955) vowed to pull the plug. Chairwoman of the Homeland Security Committee's Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment subcommittee, Harman introduced legislation earlier this month that would have shut down NAO immediately while prohibiting the agency from spending money on NAO or similar programs.

When the bill was introduced, Harman told Federal Computer Week: "Imagine, for a moment, what it would be like if one of these satellites were directed on your neighborhood or home, a school or place of worship--and without an adequate legal framework or operating procedures in place for regulating their use. I daresay the reaction might be that Big Brother has finally arrived and the black helicopters can't be far behind. Yet this is precisely what the Department of Homeland Security has done in standing up the benign-sounding National Applications Office, or NAO."

According to the Los Angeles Times, Napolitano reached a decision to cut NAO off at the knees "after consulting with state and local law enforcement officials and learning that they had far more pressing priorities than using satellites to collect information and eavesdrop on people."

Perhaps those "pressing priorities" could be better served by a low-key approach, say the deployment of a system such as RAID? After all, what's so threatening about a blimp?

It comes as no surprise then, that the next target for Raytheon marketeers are precisely local police departments and sports facilities "that want to keep an eye on crowds that might easily morph into an unruly mob," as Newsweek delicately put it.

Nathan Kennedy, Raytheon's project manager for the spy blimp told the publication, "large municipalities could find many uses for this [technology] once we figure out how to get it in their hands."

While the company refuses to divulge what this intrusive system might actually cost cash-strapped localities drastically cutting social services for their citizens as America morphs into a failed state, municipalities "without a Pentagon-size police budget" could look at the airship's "potential to display ads [that] may assist with financing."

Raytheon claims that local authorities fearful of succumbing to what I'd call a dreaded "surveillance airship gap," could install "a built-in LED screen to attract sponsors, generate revenue and defer operating costs."

How convenient!

However, Raytheon's slimmed-down surveillance airship is a spin-off from a larger Pentagon project.

Among other high-tech, privacy-killing tools currently under development is the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency's (DARPA) Integrated Sensor Is Structure (ISIS) program. As conceived by the agency, ISIS will be a high-altitude autonomous airship built for the U.S. Air Force that can operate at 70,000 feet and stay aloft for a decade.

Washington Technology reported April 29, that Lockheed Martin won a $400 million deal to design the system. "Under the contract" the publication revealed, "Lockheed Martin will provide systems integration services, and Raytheon Co. will furnish a high-energy, low-power density radar, Lockheed Martin officials said."

Operating six miles above the earth's surface, well out of range of surface-to-air missiles, the airship will be some 450 feet long, powered by hydrogen fuel cells and packed with electronic surveillance gear and radar currently being field-tested by Raytheon.

Projects such as ISIS reflect a shift in Pentagon planning and spending priorities. Under Bush regime holdover, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the military plans to leverage America's technological advantage to improve intelligence and surveillance capabilities at the expense of over-inflated big ticket items such as the F-22 Raptor or new Navy destroyers.

Gates and others in the Pentagon believe a shift towards "robust ISR platforms" will better facilitate the Pentagon's new paradigm: waging multiple, counterinsurgency wars of conquest to secure natural resources and strategic advantage vis-à-vis imperialism's geopolitical rivals.

But military might and technological preeminence, however formidable, represented by the Pentagon's quixotic quest for total "situational awareness" promised by platforms such as ISIS and RAID, will no more ameliorate the Empire's extreme political weakness than putting a band-aid over a gangrenous lesion changes the outcome for a dying patient.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Pentagon Rebrands Protest as "Low-Level Terrorism"

You have to hand it to Pentagon securocrats and their corporate cronies, they never miss an opportunity to demonize, vilify or otherwise slander domestic political dissent as "terrorism."

The American Civil Liberties Union reported June 10 that "Anti-terrorism training materials currently being used by the Department of Defense (DoD) teach its personnel that free expression in the form of public protests should be regarded as 'low level terrorism'."

According to the civil liberties' watchdog: "Among the multiple-choice questions included in its Level 1 Antiterrorism Awareness training course, the DoD asks the following: 'Which of the following is an example of low-level terrorist activity?' To answer correctly, the examinee must select 'protests'."

Yes, you read that correctly. The Pentagon has designed a training system that puts you in the crosshairs! And why not? Back in 2003 Mike Van Winkle, the spokesman for the California Anti-Terrorism Information Center (CATIC) said of antiwar demonstrators brutally attacked by riot cops at the Port of Oakland during a protest against the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq,

"You can make an easy kind of a link that, if you have a protest group protesting a war where the cause that's being fought against is international terrorism, you might have terrorism at that (protest)," said Van Winkle, of the state Justice Department. "You can almost argue that a protest against that is a terrorist act." (Ian Hoffman, Sean Holstege and Josh Richman, ("Intelligence Agency Does Not Distinguish Between Terrorism and Peace Activism," Oakland Tribune, May 18, 2003)

Pretty ironic coming from a sprawling bureaucracy currently engaged in two aggressive wars of conquest for whom dropping a proverbial dime on unsuspecting goat herders or wedding parties is a walk in the park! Not to mention Joint Special Operations Command's "executive assassination ring" operating out of the former Vice President's office, who without so much as a by-your-leave, bumped-off official regime enemies.

This latest outrage follows a consistent pattern by the Pentagon that the ACLU has called "an egregious insult to constitutional values."

As Antifascist Calling revealed in previous reports, the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team is now deployed inside the United States "under the day-to-day control of U.S. Army North, the "service component" of U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM).

AFC also reported that since NORTHCOM's launch in 2002, it has been mired in controversy. Among its more dubious accomplishments were illegal domestic spying operations in conjunction with the Pentagon's shadowy Counter Intelligence Field Activity (CIFA). Before being run to ground, like many Defense Department intelligence operations, CIFA was heavily outsourced to security corporations. More than 900 employees out of a total work force of 1,300 were high-paid contractors.

A veritable honey-pot for defense grifters such as Mitchell Wade, the notorious ex-chairman of MZM Inc. and his sidekick, disgraced former Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA), eventually imprisoned when a cash-and-hookers-for-contracts scandal signaled the (temporary) eclipse of neoconservative stalwarts in Congress.

Despite CIFA's shut-down last year, its TALON database (Threat and Local Observation Notices), which contained hundreds of files on antiwar activists, was shunted over to the FBI for safekeeping in its Guardian database, one component of the Bureau's massive Investigative Data Warehouse.

Its a safe bet however, that the illegal collection of intelligence on domestic dissidents continues.

Inside the Antiterrorism-Training-Complex

While the ideological mind-set driving domestic counterterrorism policies may not have changed much in the intervening years since Van Winkle's provocative statement, security firms and a veritable army of consultants drive America's Homeland Security-Industrial-Complex.

As USA Today reported in 2006, "the homeland security business is booming, and now it eclipses mature enterprises like movie-making and the music industry in annual revenue." And is likely to continue along that trajectory well into the future as new official enemies, particularly in the heimat come on-line.

"Specialists" in this lucrative market are former Special Operations soldiers or retired Military Intelligence, FBI or CIA officers who supplement their pensions by plowing the green pastures of the "antiterrorism training" industry. Indeed, there's even an industry association (one of several), the International Association for Counterterrorism and Security Professionals (IACSP).

According to a blurb on the group's website, IACSP was formed to create a "center of information and educational services for those concerned about the challenges now facing all free societies" and "is open to anyone with a sincere professional interest in understanding the security threat posed by terrorism and related conflicts." The organization conducts seminars and publishes The Journal of Counterterrorism and Homeland Security magazine. IACSP partners include:

The Institute of Terrorism Research and Response (ITRR): Self-described as an "American and Israeli nonprofit corporation," ITRR market "Israeli and American experts" who provide "counter-terrorism training, seminars, and security specialization in dealing with threats such as Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), suicide bombers, and other forms of international terror striking both the public and private sector." Their American-based "terror experts" conduct training seminars "in dealing with domestic terrorism and eco-terror groups, including the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and the Earth Liberation Front (ELF)." ITRR's Targeted Actionable Monitoring Center (TAM-C) was created to provide "provide accurate and actionable intelligence about potential security threats throughout the world." TAM-C's Ground Truth Network "leverages the ITRR's international contacts and sources to provide real-time intelligence from the field," while keeping "international corporations apprised of threats to their assets and personnel throughout the world." Partners include among others, The Israel Export & International Cooperation Institute (IEICI), the Perelman Security Group (PSG), and Multi Tier Solutions (MTS), a firm licensed by the Israeli Ministry of Defense, that provides "specialized consulting, field operations, specialized training, fusion center technology, intelligence management platforms." One shudders to think what activities fall under MTS' "field operations" brief!

Henley-Putnam University: Describing itself as "the only online University that specializes exclusively in Intelligence, Management, Terrorism and Counterterrorism Studies," Henley-Putnam boasts that their faculty is comprised of "leaders in tradecraft from organizations such as the FBI, CIA, and Secret Service." Corporate partners include the Vienna, Virginia-based C2 Technologies, a firm specializing in "strategic human resources management, mission-critical outsourcing and information technology." The Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies (CI Centre): based in Alexandria, Virginia the firm offers "in-depth and relevant education, training and analysis on counterintelligence, counterterrorism and security." With a staff comprised of veteran Cold Warriors, CI Centre was founded in 1997 by David G. Major, "a retired, senior FBI Supervisory Special Agent." With tailored "core competencies" offered in counterintelligence strategy and tactics, understanding terrorism, economic espionage protection and the like, CI Centre boasts of a staff of instructors who are "seasoned veterans" from the FBI, CIA, Defense Department, Military Intelligence, State Department, Department of Justice, Canadian RCMP and Cuban DI." CI Centre is a corporate member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO), an ultra-rightist outfit founded in 1975 by CIA officer David Atlee Phillips. AFIO was a critical behind-the-scenes player that worked to sabotage Watergate-era investigations of CIA crimes by the Church and Pike Committees. CTC International Group, Inc. (CTC): Self-described as "a private intelligence agency for the global business community," CTC International "is staffed primarily by former CIA officers" that "acts as a private intelligence organization for the legal and corporate communities."

The Performance Institute (PI): A "private, nonpartisan think tank," PI conducts seminars and on-site training that provides "intensive, methodology-based courses" that "include step-by-step processes to improve organizational management capacity." PI's Law Enforcement brief includes training in "Law Enforcement Management, Use of Force, Homeland Security, Funding, Sex Offender Management, Narcotics, Emergency Preparedness and Technology."

IACSP will be sponsoring the 17th Annual Terrorism, Trends & Forecasts Symposium, September 18, 2009 at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. In addition to standard boilerplate on Islamic terrorism and the "threat" of illegal immigration to national security, topics will include a presentation on "National Security and Liberty: A Delicate Balance." Needless to say, readers of Antifascist Calling won't be surprised at how the scales are tipped during this presentation!

Another player in the Antiterrorism-Training-Complex is The Backup Training Corporation. In 2007 Backup Training was purchased by Blackwater (now Xe), the private military (mercenary) corporation. Backup is now Xe's "digital training division;" terms of the deal were not disclosed according to Washington Technology. The firm's law enforcement brief offers dozens of DVDs on diverse topics such as Community Policing, Cultural Diversity (!), Domestic Terrorist Groups, Gang Training, a Home Defense webinar, Managing Street Informants, Racial Profiling and Surveillance.

But IACSP and Blackwater aren't alone in this lucrative field.

St. Petersburg College's Florida Regional Community Policing Institute offers an "Anti-Terrorism Intelligence Awareness Training Program," in conjunction with the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC). Operating with grants from the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security, the course is designed "to provide training to state and local law enforcement officers in domestic and international terrorism. The goal is to provide officers with a working knowledge of past and present terrorist/criminal extremist groups and individuals, their activities and tactics, and how to recognize and report potential indicators of terrorism and criminal extremism." There's even a module that will help you "identify the electronic tools and media which international and domestic terrorists use and the best practices identified for properly seizing computer hardware and peripherals."

The Institute for Preventive Strategies (IPS): A division of the Center for Rural Development in Somerset, Kentucky, IPS offers a Terrorism Prevention course for "law enforcement professionals." According to a blurb on the group's website, IPS avers that "Incidents related to homegrown terrorism in the United States are on the rise. Western Europe has long struggled with homegrown terrorists, but instances of American-born-and-raised citizens acting on Islamic terrorist motivations are a relatively new threat to the U.S." Studiously ignored however, are recent incidents of terrorist violence directed against Americans such as the assassination of women's health care provider, Dr. George Tiller, gunned down in his church in Wichita, Kansas on May 31. The alleged shooter, Scott Roeder, an associate of the violent antiabortion Army of God and the white separatist Freeman movement, was videotaped gluing the locks on a Kansas City clinic according to Democracy Now! Although footage was turned over to the FBI days before the murder, the Bureau failed to act. Which just goes to show, "terrorism prevention" is fine when it comes to "Islamic radicals," antiwar activists or "ecoterrorists." Far-right Christian gangs on the other hand, are treated with kid gloves by the state or even celebrated as "heroes" by homegrown clerical fascists. Indeed, elements of the media such as the despicable Bill O'Reilly and his Fox News cohorts helped set the stage for Tiller's murder by labeling him "guilty of Nazi stuff," as Salon reported.

America's Orwell Complex

"Policing ideas, rather than criminal activities" as the ACLU wrote in a strongly-worded letter to Gail McGinn, Acting Under-Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, "runs counter to our nation's core principles, undermining the very foundations of a free society."

While true as far as it goes, the history of the United States is replete with Orwellian moments such as this, where "freedom" is code for buying commodities and keeping your mouth shut--or else.

From the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 to the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, from COINTELPRO to Operation CHAOS, and from the USA PATRIOT Act to warrantless wiretapping and beyond, the national security state has always had but one purpose: to keep the lid on at home, thus greasing the wheels for corporate resource extraction (armed theft) on a planetary scale.

And they call this "freedom."

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

CIA and Pentagon Deploy RFID "Death Chips." Coming Soon to a Product Near You!

What Pentagon theorists describe as a "Revolution in Military Affairs" (RMA) leverages information technology to facilitate (so they allege) command decision-making processes and mission effectiveness, i.e. the waging of aggressive wars of conquest.

It is assumed that U.S. technological preeminence, referred to euphemistically by Airforce Magazine as "compressing the kill chain," will assure American military hegemony well into the 21st century. Indeed a 2001 study, Understanding Information Age Warfare, brought together analysts from a host of Pentagon agencies as well as defense contractors Boeing, Booz Allen Hamilton and the MITRE Corporation and consultants from ThoughtLink, Toffler Associates and the RAND Corporation who proposed to do just.

As a result of this and other Pentagon-sponsored research, military operations from Afghanistan to Iraq and beyond aim for "defined effects" through "kinetic" and "non-kinetic" means: leadership decapitation through preemptive strikes combined with psychological operations designed to pacify (terrorize) insurgent populations. This deadly combination of high- and low tech tactics is the dark heart of the Pentagon's Unconventional Warfare doctrine.

In this respect, "network-centric warfare" advocates believe U.S. forces can now dominate entire societies through ubiquitous surveillance, an always-on "situational awareness" maintained by cutting edge sensor arrays as well as by devastating aerial attacks by armed drones, warplanes and Special Forces robosoldiers.

Meanwhile on the home front, urbanized RMA in the form of ubiquitous CCTV systems deployed on city streets, driftnet electronic surveillance of private communications and radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips embedded in commodities are all aspects of a control system within securitized societies such as ours.

As Antifascist Calling has written on more than one occasion, contemporary U.S. military operations are conceived as a branch of capitalist management theory, one that shares more than a passing resemblance to the organization of corporate entities such as Wal-Mart.

Similar to RMA, commodity flows are mediated by an ubiquitous surveillance of products--and consumers--electronically. Indeed, Pentagon theorists conceive of "postmodern" warfare as just another manageable network enterprise.

The RFID (Counter) Revolution

Radio-frequency identification tags are small computer chips connected to miniature antennae that can be fixed to or implanted within physical objects, including human beings. The chip itself contains an Electronic Product Code that can be read each time a reader emits a radio signal.

The chips are subdivided into two distinct categories, passive or active. A passive tag doesn't contain a battery and its read range is variable, from less than an inch to twenty or thirty feet. An active tag on the other hand, is self-powered and has a much longer range. The data from an active tag can be sent directly to a computer system involved in inventory control--or weapons targeting.

It is hardly surprising then, that the Pentagon and the CIA have spent "hundreds of millions of dollars researching, developing, and purchasing a slew of 'Tagging tracking and locating' (TTL) gear," Wired reports.

Long regarded as an urban myth, the military's deployment of juiced-up RFID technology along the AfPak border in the form of "tiny homing beacons to guide their drone strikes in Pakistan," has apparently moved out of the laboratory. "Most of these technologies are highly classified" Wired reveals,

But there's enough information in the open literature to get a sense of what the government is pursuing: laser-based reflectors, super-strength RFID tags, and homing beacons so tiny, they can be woven into fabric or into paper.

Some of the gadgets are already commercially available; if you're carrying around a phone or some other mobile gadget, you can be tracked--either through the GPS chip embedded in the gizmo, or by triangulating the cell signal. Defense contractor EWA Government Systems, Inc. makes a radio frequency-based "Bigfoot Remote Tagging System" that's the size of a couple of AA batteries. But the government has been working to make these terrorist tracking tags even smaller. (David Hambling and Noah Shachtman, "Inside the Military's Secret Terror-Tagging Tech," Wired, June 3, 2009)

Electronic Warfare Associates, Inc. (EWA) is a little-known Herndon, Virginia-based niche company comprised of nine separate operating entities "each with varying areas of expertise," according to the firm's website. Small by industry standards, EWA has annual revenue of some $20 million, Business First reports. According to Washington Technology, the firm provides "information technology, threat analysis, and test and evaluation applications" for the Department of Defense.

The majority of the company's products are designed for signals intelligence and surveillance operations, including the interception of wireless communications. According to EWA, its Bigfoot Remote Tagging System is "ideal" for "high-value target" missions and intelligence operations.

EWA however, isn't the only player in this deadly game. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Pentagon's geek-squad, has been developing "small, environmentally robust, retro reflector-based tags that can be read by both handheld and airborne sensors at significant ranges," according to a presentation produced by the agency's Strategic Technology Office (STO).

Known as "DOTS," Dynamic Optical Tags, DARPA claims that the system is comprised of a series of "small active retroreflecting optical tags for 2-way data exchange." The tags are small, 25x25x25 mm with a range of some 10 km and a two month shelf-life; far greater than even the most sophisticated RFID tags commercially available today. Sold as a system possessing a "low probability of detection," the devices can be covertly planted around alleged terrorist safehouses--or the home of a political rival or innocent citizen--which can then be targeted at will by Predator or Reaper drones.

The Guardian revealed May 31 that over the last 18 months more than 50 CIA drone attacks have been launched against "high-value targets." The Pentagon claims to have killed nine of al-Qaeda's top twenty officials in north and south Waziristan. "That success" The Guardian avers, "is reportedly in part thanks to the mysterious electronic devices, dubbed 'chips' or 'pathrai' (the Pashto word for a metal device), which have become a source of fear, intrigue and fascination."

According to multiple reports by Western and South Asian journalists, CIA paramilitary officers or Special Operations commandos pay tribesmen to plant the devices adjacent to farmhouses sheltering alleged terrorists. "Hours or days later" The Guardian narrates, "a drone, guided by the signal from the chip, destroys the building with a salvo of missiles. 'There are body parts everywhere,' said Wazir, who witnessed the aftermath of a strike."

It is a high-tech assassination operation for one of the world's most remote areas.

The pilotless aircraft, Predators or more sophisticated Reapers, take off from a base in Baluchistan province.

But they are guided by a joystick-wielding operator half a world away, at a US air force base 35 miles north of Las Vegas. (Declan Walsh, "Mysterious 'chip' is CIA's latest weapon against al-Qaida targets hiding in Pakistan's tribal belt," The Guardian, May 31, 2009)

But while American operators may get their kicks unloading a salvo of deadly missiles on unsuspecting villagers thousands of miles away, what happens when CIA "cut-outs" get it wrong?

According to investigative journalist Amir Mir, writing in the Lahore-based newspaper The News, "of the sixty cross-border Predator strikes...between January 14, 2006 and April 8, 2009, only 10 were able to hit their actual targets, killing 14 wanted al-Qaeda leaders, besides perishing 687 innocent Pakistani civilians. The success percentage of the US Predator strikes thus comes to not more than six percent."

So much for "precision bombing." But as CIA Director Leon Panetta recently told Congress, continued drone attacks are "the only game in town."

A "game" likely to reap tens of millions of dollars for enterprising corporate grifters. According to Wired, Sandia National Laboratories are developing "Radar Responsive" tags that are "a long-range version of the ubiquitous stick-on RFID tags used to mark items in shops."

A Sandia "Fact Sheet" informs us that "Radar-tag applications include battlefield situational awareness, unattended ground sensors data relay, vehicle tracking, search and recovery, precision targeting, special operations, and drug interdiction." Slap a tag on the car or embed one of the devilish devices in the jacket of a political dissident and bingo! instant "situational awareness" for Pentagon targeting specialists.

As Sandia securocrats aver, Radar Responsive tags can light up and locate themselves from twelve miles away thus providing "precise geolocation of the responding tag independent of GPS." But "what happens in Vegas" certainly won't stay there as inevitably, these technologies silently migrate into the heimat.

Homeland Security: Feeding the RFID Beast

One (among many) firms marketing a spin-off of Sandia's Radar Responsive tags is the Washington, D.C.-based Gentag. With offices in The Netherlands, Brazil and (where else!) Sichuan, China, the world capital of state-managed surveillance technologies used to crush political dissent, Gentag's are a civilian variant first developed for the Pentagon.

According to Gentag, "the civilian version (which still needs to be commercialized) is a lower power technology suitable for commercial civilian applications, including use in cell phones and wide area tracking." Conveniently, "Mobile reader infrastructure can be set up anywhere (including aircraft) or can be fixed and overlaid with existing infrastructure (e.g. cell phone towers)."

One member of the "Gentag Team" is Dr. Rita Colwell, the firm's Chief Science Advisor. Headquartered at the University of Maryland, College Park and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, according to a blurb on Gentag's website "Colwell will lead development of detection technologies that can be combined with cell phones for Homeland Security applications."

Another firm specializing in the development and marketing of RFID surveillance technologies is Inkode. The Vienna, Virginia-based company specializes in the development of low power devices "for integration into all types of products." According to a 2003 article in the RFID Journal, the firm has developed a method for "embedding very tiny metal fibers in paper, plastic and other materials that radio frequency waves can penetrate. The fibers reflect radio waves back to the reader, forming what Inkode calls a 'resonant signature.' These can be converted into a unique serial number."

Indeed, the fibers can be embedded in "paper, airline baggage tags, book bindings, clothing and other fabrics, and plastic sheet," Wired reported. "When illuminated with radar, the backscattered fields interact to create a unique interference pattern that enables one tagged object to be identified and differentiated from other tagged objects," the company says.

"For nonmilitary applications, the reader is less than 1 meter from the tag. For military applications, the reader and tag could theoretically be separated by a kilometer or more." The perfect accoutrement for a drone hovering thousands of feet above a target.

More recently, the RFID Journal reports that Queralt, a Wallingford, Connecticut-based start-up, received a Department of Homeland Security grant to design "an intelligent system that learns from data collected via RFID and sensors."

Tellingly, the system under development builds on the firm's "existing RFID technology, as well as an integrated behavioral learning engine that enables the system to, in effect, learn an individual's or asset's habits over time. The DHS grant was awarded based on the system's ability to track and monitor individuals and assets for security purposes," the Journal reveals.

And with a booming Homeland Security-Industrial-Complex as an adjunct to the defense industry's monetary black hole, its no surprise that Michael Queralt, the firm's cofounder and managing director told the publication, "The reason this development is interesting to us is it is very close to our heart in the way we are going with the business. We are developing a system that converges physical and logical, electronic security."

The core of Queralt's system is the behavioral engine that includes a database, a rules engine and various algorithms. Information acquired by reading a tag on an asset or an individual, as well as those of other objects or individuals with which that asset or person may come into contact, and information from sensors (such as temperature) situated in the area being monitored, are fed into the engine. The engine then logs and processes the data to create baselines, or behavioral patterns. As baselines are created, rules can be programmed into the engine; if a tag read or sensor metric comes in that contradicts the baseline and/or rules, an alert can be issued. Development of the behavioral engine is approximately 85 percent done, Queralt reports, and a prototype should be ready in a few months. (Beth Bacheldor, Queralt Developing Behavior-Monitoring RFID Software," RFID Journal, April 23, 2009)

Creating a "behavior fingerprint," Queralt says the technology will have a beneficial application in monitoring the elderly at home to ensure their safety. Homes are laced with humidity, temperature and motion-sensing tags that can for example, "sense when a medicine cabinet has been opened, or if a microwave oven has been operated." In other words, the Orwellian "behavioral engine" can learn what a person is doing on a regular basis.

But given the interest--and a $100,000 DHS grant, chump change by current Washington standards to be sure--corporate and intelligence agency clients have something far different in mind than monitoring the sick and the elderly!

Indeed, the RFID Journal reports that "a company could use the system, for instance, to monitor the behavior of employees to ensure no security rules are breached."

Want to surveil workers for any tell-tale signs of "antisocial behavior" such as union organizing? Then Queralt may have just the right tool for you! "The workers could be issued RFID-enabled ID badges that are read as they arrive at and leave work, enter and exit various departments, and log onto and off of different computer systems," the RFID Journal informs us. "Over time, the system will establish a pattern that reflects the employee's typical workday."

And if a worker "enters the office much earlier than normal on a particular occasion," or "goes into a department in which he or she does not work," perhaps to "coerce" others into joining "communist" unions opposed let's say, to widespread surveillance, the ubiquitous and creepy spy system "could send an alert."

Queralt is currently designing an application programming interface to "logical security and identity-management systems" from Microsoft and Oracle that will enable corporations to "tie the RFID-enabled behavioral system to their security applications."

The Future Is Now!

This brief survey of the national security state's deployment of a literally murderous, and privacy-killing, surveillance technology is not a grim, dystopian American future but a quintessentially American present.

The technological fetishism of Pentagon war planners and their corporate enablers masks the deadly realities for humanity posed by the dominant world disorder that has reached the end of the line as capitalism's long death-spiral threatens to drag us all into the abyss.

The dehumanizing rhetoric of RMA with its endless array of acronyms and "warfighting tools" that reduce waging aggressive imperialist wars of conquest to the "geek speak" of a video game, must be unmasked for what it actually represents: state killing on a massive scale.

Perhaps then, the victims of America's "war on terror," at home as well as abroad, will cease to be "targets" to be annihilated by automated weapons systems or ground down by panoptic surveillance networks fueled by the deranged fantasies of militarists and the corporations for whom product development is just another deadly (and very profitable) blood sport.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Obama's Cybersecurity Plan: Bring in the Contractors!

With billions of dollars in federal funds hanging in the balance, President Barack Obama unveiled the Cyberspace Policy Review May 29 at the White House.

During his presentation in the East Room Obama said that "America's economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend on cybersecurity" and that efforts to "deter, prevent, detect and defend" against malicious cyberattacks would be run from the White House.

How this debate is being framed however, has a familiar ring to it. Rather than actually educating the public about steps to prevent victimization, state prescriptions always seem to draw from the same tired playbook.

First, issue dire warnings of an imminent national catastrophe; second, manufacture a panic with lurid tales of a "digital Pearl Harbor;" third, gin-up expensive "solutions" that benefit armies of (well-paid) experts drawn from officialdom and the private sector (who generally are as interchangeable as light bulbs however dim).

As Wired magazine's "Threat Level" editor Kevin Poulsen said during a panel at the Computers, Freedom and Privacy conference in Washington June 3, "the threat of cyber-terrorism is 'preposterous'," arguing that "long-standing warnings" that hackers will attack the nation's power grid is so much hot-air. Poulsen contends "that calling such intrusions national security threats means information about attacks gets classified unneccessarily."

While the president claims the new office "will not include--I repeat will not include--monitoring private sector networks or Internet traffic," and that his administration "will preserve and protect the personal privacy and civil liberties that we cherish as Americans," the devil is in the details and when they're added together "change" once again, morphs into more of the same.

As with all things Washington, lurking wraith-like in the background, amidst bromides about "protecting America" from "cyber thieves trolling for sensitive information" are the usual class of insiders: the well-heeled corporations and their stable of retired militarists and spies who comprise the Military-Industrial-Security Complex.

Take Dale Meyerrose, for example. The former Air Force Major General served as U.S. Northern Command's Chief Information Officer. After a stint at NORTHCOM, Meyerrose became Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Information Sharing for U.S. Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, the former NSA Director and ten-year executive vice president at the spooky Booz Allen Hamilton firm.

Last week, Meyerrose told The Wall Street Journal that "one important challenge will be finding a way to persuade private companies, especially those in price-sensitive industries, to invest more money in digital security. 'You have to figure out what motivates folks,' he said."

He should know. After serving as McConnell's cyber point man, Meyerrose plotted a new flight plan that landed him a plum job with major defense contractor, the Harris Corporation, where he currently directs the company's National Cyber Initiative.

Headquartered in Melbourne, Florida, the firm boasts $5.4 billion in annual revenue and clocked in at No. 13 on Washington Technology's "2008 Top 100 Government Contractors" list, with some $1.6 billion in defense-related income. Under the General Services Administration's Alliant contract worth some $50 billion, the firm is competeing with other defense giants to provide an array of IT services to various federal agencies. Major customers include the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Reconnaissance Office and Defense Department.

Let's be clear: "What motivates folks" is cold, hard cash and there's lots of it to go around courtesy of the American people. The New York Times reported May 31, "The government's urgent push into cyberwarfare has set off a rush among the biggest military companies for billions of dollars in new defense contracts." According to the Times,

The exotic nature of the work, coupled with the deep recession, is enabling the companies to attract top young talent that once would have gone to Silicon Valley. And the race to develop weapons that defend against, or initiate, computer attacks has given rise to thousands of "hacker soldiers" within the Pentagon who can blend the new capabilities into the nation's war planning.

Nearly all of the largest military companies--including Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon--have major cyber contracts with the military and intelligence agencies. (Christopher Drew and John Markoff, "Contractors Vie for Plum Work, Hacking for the United States," The New York Times, May 31, 2009)

As Washington Technology reported June 1, Zal Azmi, CACI International's senior vice president for strategic law enforcement and national security programs, told the insider publication: "The timing is perfect. There is a lot of enthusiasm for it. "It's a very comprehensive plan. It lays out a very good strategy."

And there you have it.

A Cybersecurity Dream: Bundles of Cash

Although the position of Cybersecurity Coordinator has yet to be filled, its a sure bet whoever gets the nod will be drawn from a narrow pool of security executives, the majority of whom transit effortlessly between the Pentagon and defense corporations. That individual will oversee billions of dollars in funding for developing and coordinating the defense of computer systems that operate the global financial system as well as domestic transportation and commerce.

Under the administration's plan, the Cybersecurity Coordinator will report to the president's National Economic Council (NEC) and the National Security Council (NSC). The CSC will be a member of both NEC and NSC, Obama said in his East Room statement, "an acknowledgment that the threat is both to national security and to the economy," The Washington Post reports.

According to the Post, Obama's top economic adviser, Lawrence H. Summers, fought for a dominant role for the NEC, ensuring that "efforts to protect private networks do not unduly threaten economic growth." This however, is unlikely to happen given the make-up of the administration's team. Which raises the question: who exactly were Obama's "private sector partners" who helped devise current state policy? The Cyberspace Policy Review sets the record straight.

The U.S. depends upon a privately owned, globally operated digital infrastructure. The review team engaged with industry to continue building the foundation of a trusted partnership. This engage­ment underscored the importance of developing value propositions that are understood by both government and industry partners. It also made clear that increasing information sharing is not enough; the government must foster an environment for collaboration. The following industry groups and venues participated: the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA), Business Executives for National Security (BENS), the Business Software Alliance (BSA), the Center for Strategic and International Studies' (CSIS) Commission on Cybersecurity for the 44th Presidency, the Communications Sector Coordinating Council (C-SCC), the Cross-Sector Cyber Security Working Group (CSCSWG), the Defense Industrial Base Executive Committee, the Financial and Banking Information Infrastructure Committee (FBIIC), the Financial Services Sector Coordinating Council (FS-SCC), the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA), the Internet Security Alliance (ISA), the Information Technology Sector Coordinating Council (IT-SCC), the National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC), the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC), TechAmerica, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. (Cyberspace Policy Review, Appendix B: Methodology, pp. B 2-3.)

A bevy of heavy-hitters in the defense, banking, financial services, intelligence and security industries if ever there were one. And much like their predecessors in the Oval Office, the Obama administration has failed to "guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence" by the Military-Industrial-Security Complex which president Dwight. D. Eisenhower so eloquently warned against--and expanded--decades ago.

Round Up the Usual Suspects

Who then are the new peddlers of "unwarranted influence"? Let's take a look.

Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA): The Fairfax, Virginia group describes itself as a "non-profit membership association serving the military, government, industry, and academia" to advance "professional knowledge and relationships in the fields of communications, IT, intelligence and global security." AFCEA was founded at the dawn of the Cold War in 1946. It serves as an "ethical forum" where "a close cooperative relationship among government agencies, the military and industry" is fostered. With 32,000 individual and 1,700 corporate members, AFCEA was described by investigative journalist Tim Shorrock in his essential book Spies For Hire as "the largest industry association in the intelligence business." Its board of directors and executive committee are studded with players drawn from major defense and security firms such as CACI International, Booz Allen Hamilton, Science Applications International Corporation, ManTech International Corporation, QinetiQ North America, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin and the spooky MITRE Corporation.

Business Executives for National Security (BENS): This self-described "nationwide, non-partisan organization" claims the mantle of functioning as "the primary channel through which senior business executives can help advance the nation's security." BENS members were leading proponents of former vice president Al Gore's defense reform initiative that handed tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to BENS members in the heavily-outsourced intelligence and security industries. An advocacy group with a distinct neoconservative tilt, BENS "one special interest: to help make America safe and secure" is facilitated by executives drawn from the Pentagon. Its current Chairman and CEO is retired Air Force General Charles G. Boyd who served as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's "defense consultant." Its board of directors and executive committee include members from Biltmore Capital Group, LLC; Janus Capital Group, Booz Allen Hamilton, Cisco Systems Inc., Perot Systems Inc., Goldman Sachs and The Tupperware Corporation (!) to name but a few. BENS Advisory Council includes major war criminal Henry Kissinger, former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, former U.N. Ambassador Thomas Pickering, former FBI and CIA Director William Webster, former CIA head honcho Michael V. Hayden and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace. "Non-partisan" indeed!

Business Software Alliance (BSA): BSA describes itself as "the largest and most international IT industry group" comprised on the "most innovative companies in the world." Its members are drawn from the top corporations in the computing and software industries and include Adobe, Apple, Cisco Systems, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Siemens and Symantec. Most of these firms have extensive contractual arrangements with the Defense Department.

Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS): For decades, CSIS has been a major right-wing think tank closely tied to the defense and security industries. Since its founding in 1962 by David Abshire and Admiral Arleigh Burke, CSIS has been a mouthpiece for the Defense and Intelligence Complex. Its current President and CEO, John J. Hamre was a former Deputy Secretary of Defense in the Clinton administration and was hired by SAIC to work on the National Security Agency's scandal-plagued Trailblazer program. The $361 million project to build a new communications intercept system for NSA was described as a "colossal failure" by investigative journalists Donald Bartlett and James Steele in a 2007 piece in Vanity Fair. CSIS was a major behind-the-scenes force urging the 2003 U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq and was an apologist for the Bush administration's bogus allegation that the Iraqi government possessed "weapons of mass destruction," citing "poor intelligence" rather than political mendacity on a grand scale. In the aftermath of the invasion, Booz Allen Hamilton organized a "major conference on rebuilding Iraq that attracted hundreds of corporations eager to cash in on the billions of dollars in contracts about to be awarded by the Bush administration," according to Tim Shorrock. The closed-door event was held in the CSIS conference room and outlined the Bush regime's plans for Iraq's economic make-over--one that would sell-off state assets "in a way very conducive to foreign investment." The Obama administration's Cyberspace Policy Review has drawn extensively from CSIS' Securing Cyberspace for the 44th Presidency report, an alarmist screed that avers that "cybersecurity is now a major national security problem for the United States." Indeed the CSIS report urges the Obama administration to "reinvent the public-private partnership" with "a focus on operational activities" that "will result in more progress on cybersecurity." How might this be accomplished? Why by regulating cyberspace, of course! CSIS avers that "voluntary action is not enough," and states "we advocate a new approach to regulation that avoids both prescriptive mandates, which could add unnecessary costs and stifle innovation, and overreliance on market forces, which are ill-equipped to meet national security and public safety requirements." But with a dubious track record dating back to the Cold War, and a board of directors manned by multinational defense grifters and neoconservative/neoliberal insiders such as former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, Henry Kissinger, Richard Armitage, Zbigniew Brzezinski, former Defense Secretary William S. Cohen, James R. Schlesinger and Bush crime family insider Brent Scowcroft, CSIS' cybersecurity prescriptions are anything but reliable.

Communications Sector Coordinating Council (CSCC): Created in 2005 "to represent the Communications Sector, as the principal entity for coordinating with the government in implementing the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP)," CSCC's "unique industry-government partnership" facilitates the "exchange of information among government and industry participants regarding vulnerabilities, threats, intrusions and anomalies affecting the telecommunications infrastructure." Certainly one "anomaly" not addressed by CSCC is the National Security Agency's driftnet surveillance of Americans' private communications. A major hub where telecommunications' grifters meet, CSCC members include AT&T, Boeing, Cisco Systems, Comcast, Computer Sciences Corporation, Level 3, the MITRE Corporation, Motorola, the National Association of Broadcasters, Nortel, Quest, Sprint, Tyco, U.S. Internet Service Provider Association, VeriSign and Verizon. Many of the above-named entities are direct collaborators with the NSA and FBI's extensive warrantless wiretapping programs.

Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA): As Antifascist Calling reported May 26, INSA was created by and for contractors in the heavily-outsourced world of U.S. intelligence. Founded by BAE Systems, Booz Allen Hamilton, Computer Sciences Corporation, General Dynamics, Hewlett-Packard, Lockheed Martin, ManTech International, Microsoft, the Potomac Institute and Science Applications International Corporation, The Washington Post characterized INSA as "a gathering place for spies and their business associates." According to an INSA paper on cybersecurity, Critical Issues for Cyber Assurance Policy Reform: An Industry Assessment, the group recommended "a single leadership position at the White House-level that aligns national cyber security responsibilities with appropriate authorities." Among other prescriptions, reflecting the group's close ties to defense firms and the Pentagon INSA calls on the Obama administration to "establish a stronger working relationship between the private sector and the U.S. Government" (!) With their members heavily-banking on an expansion of Pentagon development of cyber attack tools, the group calls on the state to "Incorporate private sector cyber threat scenarios within government cyber-related test beds (e.g., DARPA's Cyber Test Range). Government cyber-related test beds should reflect private sector operational scenarios, especially to demonstrate how similar threats are detected and deterred, as well as to demonstrate private sector concerns (e.g., exploitation of electric utility control system)." As I previously reported, INSA founding members BAE Systems, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin and SAIC have all been awarded contracts by DARPA to build and run the National Cyber Range.

Internet Security Alliance (ISA): According to a self-promotional blurb on their website, ISA "was created to provide a forum for information sharing" and "represents corporate security interests before legislators and regulators." Amongst ISA sponsors one finds AIG (yes, that AIG!) Verizon, Raytheon, VeriSign, the National Association of Manufacturers, Nortel, Northrop Grumman, Tata, and Mellon. State partners include the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Congress, and the Department of Commerce. Among ISA's recommendations for the Obama administration's Cyberspace Policy Review was its unabashed claim that "the diversity of the internet places its security inescapably in the hands of the private sector." When one considers that the development of the Internet was the result of taxpayer dollars, ISA's cheeky demand is impertinent at best, reflecting capitalism's inherent tendency to "forget" who foots the bill! In this vein, ISA believes that "government's first role ought to be to use market incentives to motivate adhering to good security practices." In other words, taxpayer-financed handouts. Considering the largess already extended to ISA "sponsor" AIG, "regulation for consumer protection" that use "government mandates" to "address cyber infrastructure issues" will be "ineffective and counter-productive both from a national security and economic perspective." Give us the money seems to be ISA's clarion call to the new "change" regime in Washington. And why not? Just ask AIG!

The Information Technology Sector Coordinating Council (IT-SCC): According to their website, the IT-SCC was established in 2006 and brought together "companies, associations, and other key IT sector participants," in a forum that "envisions a secure, resilient and protected global information infrastructure that can rapidly restore services if affected by an emergency or crisis," and may "consider the use of government resources to support appropriate tasks such as administrative, meeting logistics, specifically defined and mutually agreeable projects, and communications support (particularly in response to government requests or needs)." With some six dozen corporate members, the majority of whom are heavily-leveraged in the defense and security industries, IT-SCC affiliates include the usual suspects: Business Software Alliance, Center for Internet Security, Computer Sciences Corporation, General Dynamics, IBM, Intel, Internet Security Alliance, ITT Corporation, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, Northrop Grumman, Perot Systems, Raytheon and Verizon, to name but a few. One IT-SCC affiliate not likely craving public scrutiny is Electronic Warfare Associates, Inc. (EWA). According to Wired, one EWA company, the Herndon, Virginia-based EWA Government Systems, Inc., "is one of several firms that boasts of making tiny devices to help manhunters locate their prey. The company's 'Bigfoot Remote Tagging System' is a "very small, battery-operated device used to emit an RF [radio frequency] transmission [so] that the target can be located and/or tracked." Allegedly in use along the AfPak border, the devices are RFID beacons planted by local operatives "near militant safehouses," which guide CIA Predator and Reaper drones to their targets. Sounds like any number of government-sponsored "mutually agreeable projects" to me!

The National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC): As Antifascist Calling reported last year (see: "Comcast's Spooky Employment Opportunities") NSTAC is comprised of telecom executives representing the major communications, network service providers, information technology, finance and aerospace companies who provide "industry-based advice and expertise" to the President "on issues and problems relating to implementing national security and emergency preparedness communications policy," according to SourceWatch. Created in 1982 when former president Ronald Reagan signed Executive Order 12382, in all probability NSTAC facilitates U.S. telecommunication firms' "cooperation" with NSA and other intelligence agencies' efforts in conducting warrantless wiretapping, data-mining and other illegal surveillance programs in highly-profitable arrangements with the Bush and Obama administrations. NSTAC's current Chair is Edward A. Mueller, Chairman and CEO at Qwest. The group's Vice Chair is John T. Stankey, the President and CEO at AT&T. Additional corporate members include: The Boeing Company, Motorola, Science Applications International Corporation, Lockheed Martin, Rockwell International, Juniper Networks, the Harris Corporation, Tyco Electronics, Computer Sciences Corporation, Microsoft, Bank of America, Inc., Verizon, Raytheon and Nortel.

TechAmerica: Self-described as "the driving force behind productivity growth and jobs creation in the United States," TechAmerica represents some 1,500 member companies and "is the industry's largest advocacy organization," one that "is dedicated to helping members' top and bottom lines." Indeed, the lobby shop offered lavish praise for president Obama's Cyber Security plan. Calling the administration's Cyberspace Policy Review a "historic step in the right direction," one that will "protect America" (wait!) "from a digital 9/11."


The Obama administration's Cyberspace Policy Review is a corporatist boondoggle that will neither ameliorate nor frankly, even begin to address the most pertinent cybersecurity threats faced by the vast majority of Americans: hacking and spoofing attacks by criminals. Why? The wretched programs riddled with bad code and near non-existent "security" patches breeched as soon as they're written are not part of the playbook. Indeed, the corporations and software developers who've grown rich off of the Internet have no incentive to write better programs!

After all, from a business perspective its far better to terrorize the public into demanding more intrusive, and less accountable, minders who will "police" the Internet--for a hefty price.