Sunday, April 25, 2010

Cyberwar and Repression: Corporatist Synergy Made in Hell

Unfailingly, defense industry boosters and corporate media acolytes promote the disturbing hypothesis annunciated by former Director of National Intelligence, Mike McConnell, that the nation is in peril.

In a February Washington Post op-ed, the latest version of the "grave and gathering danger" big lie repeated endlessly by former President Bush during the run-up to the Iraq invasion, McConnell claims that "the United States is fighting a cyber-war today, and we are losing."

Since leaving the secret state's employ, McConnell returned to his old beltway bandit firm, Booz Allen Hamilton, as a senior vice president in charge of the company's national security business unit, a position he held after "retiring" as Director of the National Security Agency back in 1996.

Critics, including security system design experts and investigative journalists, question the alarmist drumbeat that promises to dump tens of billions of federal dollars into the coffers of firms like McConnell's.

Indeed, Washington Technology reported two weeks ago that Booz Allen Hamilton landed a $20M contract to "foster collaboration among telecommunications researchers, University of Maryland faculty members and other academic institutions to improve secure networking and telecommunications and boost information assurance."

While we're at it, let's consider the deal that L-3 Communications grabbed from the Air Force just this week. Washington Technology reports that L-3, No. 8 on that publication's "2009 Top Ten" list of federal prime contractors, "will assist the Air Forces Central Command in protecting the security of its network operations under a contract potentially worth $152 million over five years."

Or meditate on the fact that security giant Raytheon's soaring first quarter profits were due to the "U.S. military demand for surveillance equipment and new ways to prepare soldiers for wars," MarketWatch reported Thursday.

Chump-change perhaps in the wider scheme of things, considering America's nearly $800B defense budget for FY2011, but fear sells and what could be more promising for enterprising security grifters than hawking terror that comes with the threat that shadowy "asymmetric" warriors will suddenly switch everything off?

As Bloomberg News disclosed back in 2008, both Lockheed Martin and Boeing "are deploying forces and resources to a new battlefield: cyberspace."

As journalist Gopal Ratnam averred, the military contractors and the wider defense industry are "eager to capture a share of a market that may reach $11 billion in 2013," and "have formed new business units to tap increased spending to protect U.S. government computers from attack."

Linda Gooden, executive vice president of Lockheed's Information Systems & Global Services unit told Bloomberg, "The whole area of cyber is probably one of the faster-growing areas" of the U.S. budget. "It's something that we're very focused on."

Lockheed's close, long-standing ties with the National Security Agency all but guarantee a leg up for the firm as it seeks to capture a large slice of the CYBERCOM pie.

The problem with a line of reasoning that U.S. efforts are primarily concerned with defending Pentagon networks reveals a glaring fact (largely omitted from media accounts) that it is the Pentagon, and not a motley crew of hackers, cyber-criminals or "rogue states" that are setting up a formidable infrastructure for launching future high-tech war crimes.

This is clearly spelled out in the DOD's 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). In that document Pentagon planners aver that CYBERCOM "will direct the operation and defense of DOD's information networks, and will prepare to, and when directed, conduct full spectrum cyberspace military operations. An operational USCYBERCOM will also play a leading role in helping to integrate cyber operations into operational and contingency planning."

The QDR promises to stand-up "10 space and cyberspace wings" within the Department of the Air Force that will work in tandem with Cyber Command.

Last week, Antifascist Calling reported how the mission of that Pentagon Command is primarily concerned with waging offensive operations against "adversaries" and that civilian infrastructure is viewed as a "legitimate" target for attack.

In that piece, I cited documents released by the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), publicly available, though buried within a mass of Broad Agency Announcements, that solicited bids for contracts by the various armed service branches from private defense and security corporations for the design of offensive cyber weapons.

Accordingly, the Air Force Research Laboratory-Rome issued a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA-10-04-RIKA) February 25, for "Full Spectrum Cyber Operations Technology" that will address issues related to "the integration and better coordination of the day-to-day defense, protection, and operation of DoD networks as well as the capability to conduct full spectrum cyberspace military operations."

The BAA explicitly states that "research efforts under this program are expected to result in functional capabilities, concepts, theory, and applications ideally addressing cyber operations problems including projects specializing in highly novel and interesting applicable technique concepts will also be considered, if deemed to be of 'breakthrough' quality and importance."

Unsurprisingly, "technical information relevant to potential submitters is contained in a classified addendum at the Secret level to this BAA."

But the military aren't the only players leading the charge towards the development of highly-destructive cyberweapons. Indeed, the Cyber Conflict Research Studies Association (CCSA), a Washington, D.C. based think tank is top-heavy with former intelligence, military and corporate officials doing just that.

The group's board of directors are flush with former officers or consultants from the FBI, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Air Force, National Security Agency, Department of Homeland Security and the CIA. Other board members are top officers in the spooky "public-private" FBI-affiliated spy outfit InfraGard, the Council on Foreign Relations as well as high-powered firms such as General Dynamics, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) and Goldman Sachs.

Demonstrating the interconnected nature of domestic surveillance, repression and military cyberwar operations, CCSA's Treasurer, Robert Schmidt, is currently a member of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Council on Domestic Intelligence and the secretive Intelligence and National Security Association (INSA). Additionally, Schmidt is the President/CEO of InfraGard and "leads the operational side of private sector involvement with the Federal Bureau of Investigation's InfraGard program." How's that for a hat trick!

What that "operational side" entails has never been publicly disclosed by the organization, but as I wrote back in 2008, citing Matthew Rothschild's chilling piece in The Progressive, martial law is high on InfraGard's agenda.

Members on CCSA's board of directors, like others whirling through the revolving door between government and the private sector were/are officers or consultants to the FBI, NSA, DHS and other secret state intelligence agencies. Others were/are key advisers on the National Security Council or serve as consultants to industry-sponsored associations such as the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) and INSA.

Dovetailing with research conducted by the Pentagon and their Intelligence Community partners, one CCSA study will explore "the full spectrum of military computer network operations, defined as computer network defense (CND), computer network exploit (CNE) and computer network attack (CNA), and examines the potential synergies and tradeoffs between those three categories."

As befitting research conducted by the Military-Industrial-Security-Complex (MISC), CCSA's study "will involve key academicians, strategists, military and intelligence community leaders and operational cyber practitioners to analyze key dilemmas of doctrine, organization, training, and planning, particularly with respect to integrating cyber warfare capabilities with kinetic operations."

Key questions to be answered, among others, include "How can cyberwarfare capabilities be best integrated with other military forces?" and "How can leaders and personnel for conducting cyberwarfare be trained, educated and grown?"

Clearly, these are not academic issues.

DARPA to the Rescue

The Pentagon's "blue sky" research arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is chock-a-block with programs investigating everything from Neurotechnology for Intelligence Analysts to Operationally-Focused Systems Integration (OFSI) "that align DARPA technologies with explicit opportunities for military operational impact."

Certainly, given the precarious state of the global capitalist economy, the enfeebled nature of American democratic institutions, and with no end in sight to planet-wide imperial adventures to secure access to increasingly shrinking energy reserves and other strategic resources, technological "silver bullets" are highly sought-after commodities by corporate and military bureaucracies. Such technophilic preoccupations by the MISC all but guarantee that the "state of exception" inaugurated by the 9/11 provocation will remain a permanent feature of daily life.

Several, interrelated DARPA projects feed into wider Pentagon cyberwar research conducted by the Army, Navy and Air Force.

One component of this research is DARPA's National Cyber Range (NCR). The brainchild of the agency's Strategic Technical Office (STO), NCR is conceived as "DARPA's contribution to the new federal Comprehensive National Cyber Initiative (CNCI), providing a 'test bed' to produce qualitative and quantitative assessments of the Nation's cyber research and development technologies."

While DARPA claims that it is "creating the National Cyber Range to protect and defend the nation's critical information systems," a "key vision" behind the program "is to revolutionize the state of the art of test range resource and test automation execution."

While short on specifics, DARPA's "vision of the NCR is to create a national asset for use across the federal government to test a full spectrum of cyber programs."

Many of the military programs slated for testing at NCR are highly classified, including those that fall under the purview of Pentagon Special Access or black programs. As defense analyst William M. Arkin pointed out in Code Names, such programs are hidden under the rubric of Special Technical Operations that have their own "entire separate channels of communication and clearances." STO's "exist to compartment these military versions of clandestine and covert operations involving special operations, paramilitary activity, covert action, and cyber-warfare." Arkin identified nearly three dozen cyberwar programs or exercises back in 2005; undoubtedly many more have since come online.

As Aviation Week reported in 2009, "Devices to launch and control cyber, electronic and information attacks are being tested and refined by the U.S. military and industry in preparation for moving out of the laboratory and into the warfighter's backpack."

But as "with all DARPA programs," the agency "will transition the operation of the NCR at a later date to an operational partner. No decision has been made on who will operate the final range."

Amongst the private defense, security and academic "partners" involved in NCR's development are the usual suspects: scandal-tainted BAE Systems; General Dynamics-Advanced Information Systems; Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory; Lockheed Martin; Northrop Grumman-Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Systems Division; Science Applications International Corporation; and SPARTA.

The aggressive nature of what has since evolved into CYBERCOM is underscored by several planning documents released by the U.S. Air Force. In a 2006 presentation to the Air Force Cyber Task Force, A Warfighting Domain: Cyberspace, Dr. Lani Kass unabashedly asserts: "Cyber is a war-fighting domain. The electromagnetic spectrum is the maneuver space. Cyber is the United States' Center of Gravity--the hub of all power and movement, upon which everything else depends. It is the Nation's neural network." Kass averred that "Cyber superiority is the prerequisite to effective operations across all strategic and operational domains--securing freedom from attack and freedom to attack."

Accordingly, she informed her Air Force audience that "Cyber favors the offensive," and that the transformation of the electromagnetic spectrum into a "warfighting domain" will be accomplished by: "Strategic Attack directly at enemy centers of gravity; Suppression of Enemy Cyber Defenses; Offensive Counter Cyber; Defensive Counter Cyber; Interdiction."

While the Pentagon and their embedded acolytes in academia, the media and amongst corporate grifters who stand to secure billions in contracts have framed CYBERCOM's launch purely as a defensive move to deter what Wired investigative journalist Ryan Singel has denounced as "Cyberarmaggedon!" hype to protect America's "cyber assets" from attack by rogue hackers, states, or free-floating terrorist practitioners of "asymmetric war," CYBERCOM's defensive brief is way down the food chain.

Indeed, "options for the Operational Command for Cyberspace" include the "scalability of force packages" and their "ease of implementation" and, as I wrote last week citing but two of the fourteen examples cited by the Senate, "research, development, and acquisition" of cyber weapons. This is attack, not defense mode.

Americans' Privacy: a Thing of the Past

Situating CYBERCOM under the dark wings of U.S. Strategic Command and the National Security Agency, is a disaster waiting to happen.

As we now know, since 2001 NSA under dubious Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) findings that are still classified, and the despicable 2008 FISA Amendments Act, the Executive Branch was handed the authority the spy on American citizens and legal residents with impunity.

During his confirmation hearing as Cyber Command chief on April 15, NSA Director Lt. General Keith Alexander sought to assure the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) that "this is not about the intent to militarize cyber-space. My main focus is on building the capacity to secure the military's operational networks."

He told the Senate panel that if called in to help protect civilian networks, both NSA and Cyber Command "will have unwavering dedication to the privacy of American citizens."

Alexander was far cagier however in his written responses in a set of Advanced Questions posed by the SASC.

While corporate media like the dutiful stenographers they are, repeated standard Pentagon boilerplate that the secret state has an "unwavering dedication" to Americans' privacy, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a Freedom of Information Act request demanding answers and the release of the classified supplement.

Alexander stated in his written testimony that although "U.S. Cyber Command's mission will not include defense of the .gov and .com domains, given the integration of cyberspace into the operation of much of our critical infrastructure and the conduct of commerce and governance, it is the obligation of the Department to be prepared to provide military options to the President and SECDEF if our national security is threatened."

He also defended the statement that "DOD's mission to defend the nation 'takes primacy' over the Department of Homeland Security's role in some situations."

"Of greater concern" EPIC wrote in their brief, "may be the questions that Lt. Gen. Alexander chose to respond to in classified form. When asked if the American people are 'likely to accept deployment of classified methods of monitoring electronic communications to defend the government and critical infrastructure without explaining basic aspects of how this monitoring will be conducted and how it may affect them,' the Director acknowledged that the Department had a 'need to be transparent and communicate to the American people about our objectives to address the national security threat to our nation--the nature of the threat, our overall approach, and the roles and responsibilities of each department and agency involved--including NSA and the Department of Defense,' but then chose include that the rest of his response to that question in the 'classified supplement'."

"Most troubling of all" EPIC averred "is the classified nature of the responses to advance questions 27b) and 27c). After responding to the question of how the internet could be designed differently to provide greater inherent security by describing vague 'technological enhancements' that could enhance mobility and possibly security, Lt. Gen. Alexander responded to 'Is it practical to consider adopting those modifications?' and 'What would the impact be on privacy, both pro and con?' by referring the Senators to the 'classified supplement.' No answer to either question was provided in the public record."

But in considering these questions, perhaps the SASC should have referred to ex-spook McConnell's February Washington Post op-ed: "More specifically, we need to reengineer the Internet to make [it] more manageable. The technologies are already available from public and private sources and can be further developed if we have the will to build them into our systems and to work with our allies and trading partners so they will do the same."

Is this a great country, or what!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Pentagon's Cyber Command: Civilian Infrastructure a "Legitimate" Target

When U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates launched Cyber Command (CYBERCOM) last June, the memorandum authorizing its stand-up specified it as a new "subordinate unified command" under U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), one that "must be capable of synchronizing warfighting effects across the global security environment as well as providing support to civil authorities and international partners."

As Antifascist Calling reported at the time, Gates chose Lt. General Keith Alexander, the current Director of the National Security Agency (NSA), to lead the new DOD entity. The agency would be based in Ft. Meade, Maryland, where NSA headquarters are located and the general would direct both organizations.

In that piece I pointed out that STRATCOM is the successor organization to Strategic Air Command (SAC). One of ten Unified Combatant Commands, STRATCOM's brief includes 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.

Designating CYBERCOM a STRATCOM branch all but guarantees an aggressive posture. As an organization that will unify all military cyber operations from various service branches under one roof, CYBERCOM will coordinate for example, Air Force development of technologies to deliver what are called "D5 effects" (deceive, deny, disrupt, degrade and destroy).

Ostensibly launched to protect military networks against malicious attacks, 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.

As a leading growth sector in the already-massive Military-Industrial-Security-Complex, the cyberwar market is hitting the corporate "sweet spot" as the Pentagon shifts resources from Cold War "legacy" weapons' systems into what are perceived as "over-the-horizon" offensive capabilities.

In association with STRATCOM, the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA), will hold a Cyberspace Symposium, "Ensuring Commanders' Freedom of Action in Cyberspace," May 26-27 in Omaha, Nebraska.

Chock-a-block with heavy-hitters in the defense and security world such as Lockheed Martin, HP, Booz Allen Hamilton, CACI, Cisco, CSC, General Dynamics, QinetiQ, Raytheon and the spooky MITRE Corporation, the symposium seeks to foster "innovation and collaboration between the private sector and government to delve into tough cyber issues." The shin-dig promises to "feature defense contractors and government agencies showcasing their solutions to cyberspace and cyber warfare issues."

During pro forma hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) April 15, Alexander's testimony was short on specifics, as were his written responses to "Advance Questions" submitted to the general by the SASC.

During Thursday's testimony, Alexander told the Senate panel that the command "isn't about efforts to militarize cyberspace," but rather "is about safeguarding the integrity of our military's critical information systems."

"If confirmed" Alexander averred, "I will operate within applicable laws, policies and authorities. I will also identify any gaps in doctrine, policy and law that may prevent national objectives from being fully realized or executed."

What those "national objectives" are and how they might be "executed" are not publicly spelled out, but can be inferred from a wealth of documents and statements from leading cyberwar proponents.

As we will explore below, despite hyperbole to the contrary, CYBERCOM represents long-standing Pentagon plans to militarize cyberspace as part of its so-called "Revolution in Military Affairs" and transform the internet into an offensive weapon for waging aggressive war.

"Switching Cities Off"

While we do not know how Pentagon assets will be deployed, we can be certain their destructive potential is far-reaching. We can infer however, that CYBERCOM possesses the capacity for inflicting irreparable harm and catastrophic damage on civilian infrastructure, and that power grids, hospitals, water supply systems, financial institutions, transportation hubs and telecommunications networks are exquisitely vulnerable.

The potential for catastrophic violence against cities and social life in general, has increased proportionally to our reliance on complex infrastructure. Indeed, most of the networks relied upon for sustaining social life, particularly in countries viewed as adversaries by the United States would be susceptible to such attacks.

In densely populated cities across Africa, Asia, Latin American and the Middle East, even a small number of directed attacks on critical infrastructural hubs could cause the entire network to collapse. The evidence also suggests that the Pentagon fully intends to field weapons that will do just that.

As the National Journal reported in November, in May 2007, "President Bush authorized the National Security Agency, based at Fort Meade, Md., to launch a sophisticated attack on an enemy thousands of miles away without firing a bullet or dropping a bomb."

According to investigative journalist Shane Harris, during the Iraq "surge" Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, requested and received an order from President Bush for an "NSA cyberattack on the cellular phones and computers that insurgents in Iraq were using to plan roadside bombings."

While corporate media, the Pentagon and the security grifters who stand to make billions of dollars hyping the "cyberwar threat" to gullible congressional leaders and the public, the DOD, according to Harris, "have already marshaled their forces."

Bob Gourley, who was the chief technology officer for the Defense Intelligence Agency told Harris: "We have U.S. warriors in cyberspace that are deployed overseas and are in direct contact with adversaries overseas," and that these experts already "live in adversary networks."

While the specter of a temporary "interruption of service" may haunt modern cities with blackout or gridlock, a directed attack focused on bringing down the entire system by inducing technical malfunction across the board, would transform "the vast edifices of infrastructure" according to geographer and social critic Stephen Graham, into "so much useless junk."

In his newly-published book, Cities Under Siege, Graham discusses the effects of post-Cold War U.S./NATO air bombing campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan and the former Yugoslavia as a monstrous instrumentality designed to inflict maximum damage and thereby coerce civilian populations into abandoning resistance to the imperialist hyperpower: the United States.

Much the same can be said of America's "stationary aircraft carrier" in the Middle East, Israel, during its murderous bombing campaign and ground invasion of Gaza during 2008-2009, which similarly targeted civilian infrastructure, reducing it to rubble.

"The effects of urban de-electrification" Graham writes, "are both more ghastly and more prosaic: the mass death of the young, the weak, the ill, and the old, over protracted periods of time and extended geographies, as water systems and sanitation collapse and water-borne diseases run rampant. No wonder such a strategy has been called a 'war on public health,' an assault which amounts to 'bomb now, die later'."

Although critics such as James Der Derian (see: Virtuous War) argue that "new forms of control and governance" are made possible by the modern surveillance state and that "the speed of interconnectivity that the computer enables has, more than any other innovation in warfare from the stirrup to gunpowder to radar to nukes, shifted the battlefield away from the geopolitical to the electromagnetic," exactly the opposite is the case.

Searching for "clean," "sanitized" modes of waging high-tech, low casualty war (for the aggressors), U.S. Cyber Command has been stood-up precisely to deliver the means that enable America's corporate and political masters to "switch cities off" at will, as a tool of economic-political domination.

In this respect, the "electromagnetic" is fully the servant of the "geopolitical," or as Guy Debord reminds us in The Society of the Spectacle: "The current destruction of the city is thus merely one more reflection of humanity's failure, thus far, to subordinate the economy to historical consciousness; of society's failure to unify itself by reappropriating the powers that have been alienated from it."

Part of that "alienation" resides in the chimerical nature of imperialism's quest for high-tech "silver bullets" to assure its continued domination of the planet, despite evidence to contrary in the form of the slow-motion meltdown and collapse of the capitalist economy. The fact is, despite the decidedly "low-tech," though highly-effective, resistance of the people of Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan, our masters will continue to pour billions of dollars into such weapons systems to stave off their "rendezvous with history."

While Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell went to great lengths last year to downplay the offensive role envisaged for Cyber Command, others within the defense bureaucracy are far more enthusiastic.

In a 2008 piece published by Armed Forces Journal, Col. Charles W. Williamson wrote that "America needs a network that can project power by building an 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."

Alexander's equivocal written responses were hardly comforting, nor did they blunt criticism that the Pentagon fully intends to stand-up an electromagnetic equivalent of Strategic Air Command. While promising that CYBERCOM would be "sensitive to the ripple effects from this kind of warfare," as The New York Times delicately put it, Alexander sought to blunt criticism by averring that the Pentagon "would honor the laws of war that govern traditional combat in seeking to limit the impact on civilians."

In written responses to Senate, Alexander went to great lengths to assure the SASC that military actions would comply with international laws that require conformity with principles of military necessity and proportionality.

However, as the Times pointed out, Alexander agreed with a question submitted by the Senate that "the target list would include civilian institutions and municipal infrastructure that are essential to state sovereignty and stability, including power grids, banks and financial networks, transportation and telecommunications."

During questioning by SASC Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) Thursday, how CYBERCOM would respond to an attack "through computers that are located in a neutral country," Alexander was far more ambiguous. He responded that would "complicate" matters, particularly when it came to the critical question of "attribution."

Despite matters being "complicated" by the fog of war, Alexander didn't rule out an attack on a presumably "neutral" country, even one that unwittingly serves as a "path through."

"Offensive cyber weapons" Alexander wrote, "would only be authorized under specific lawful orders by the [Defense Secretary] and the president and would normally come with supplemental rules of engagement."

While true as far as it goes (which isn't very far!) Alexander's boss, General Kevin Chilton, STRATCOM's commander suggested last year 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." (emphasis added)

According to Global Security Newswire, during a Defense Writers Group breakfast last 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?"

Chilton went on to say that "I think that's been our policy on any attack on the United States of America. 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."

Hardly comforting words.

In response to an SASC query, Alexander wrote that as Commander his duties include "executing the specified cyberspace missions" to "secure our freedom of action in cyber space."

Among other things, those duties entail "integrating cyberspace operations and synchronizing warfighting effects across the global security environment." According to it's charter, the command will "direct global information grid operations and defense" and execute "full-spectrum military cyberspace operations."

The command will serve "as the focal point for deconfliction of DOD offensive cyberspace operations;" in other words, it will coordinate and act as the final arbiter amongst the various armed branches which possess their own offensive cyber capabilities.

In the Pipeline

Contemporary military doctrine in the United States, but also in Israel, has emphasized the use of overwhelming force as a means to eradicate civilian infrastructure and break a population's resistance, what Graham has called "the systematic demodernization and immobilization of entire societies classified as adversaries."

Whether such force is applied through "traditional" means, aerial bombing preceded or followed by crippling economic sanctions as in Iraq and Palestine, or by the deployment of more "modern" means, cyberwar, state terror has as its primary target the civilian population and crafts its tactics so as to ensure maximal levels of psychological coercion.

This is fully consonant with the Pentagon's goal to transform cyberspace into an offensive military domain. In a planning document, since removed from the Air Force web site, 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)

U.S. campaigns in Afghanistan, Iraq and Yugoslavia and Israeli aggressive wars against Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon, demonstrate forcefully that contemporary military doctrine now strives to develop the capacity to systematically degrade, as a means of controlling through threats or actual attacks, the infrastructural "glue" that bind entire nations together. There can be no doubt that the Air Force's "Strategic Vision" is now fully integrated into CYBERCOM.

As well, with increasing reliance by the state and its military on high-tech methods of waging war for economic-political-social domination, the self-same methods are appropriated and deployed within heimat societies themselves. Hence, escalating securitization schemes (warrantless wiretapping, watch listing and indexing of "suspect" citizens) are the handmaidens of a generalized militarization of daily life.

What then, are some of the features and future weapons systems being explored by CYBERCOM and their corporate partners? The SASC as part of its confirmation process of General Alexander, has provided a useful summary, Building Cyberwarfare Capabilities in Public Documents.

If anything, the examples cited below clearly demonstrate that CYBERCOM is quietly seeing to it that the "mismatch between our technical capabilities to conduct operations and the governing laws and policies," as Alexander wrote to the SASC, for waging aggressive cyberwar will soon be resolved.

Dominant Cyber Offensive Engagement and Supporting Technology
BAA-08-04-RIKA [BAA, Broad Agency Announcement]
Agency: Department of the Air Force
Office: Air Force Materiel Command
Location: AFRL [Air Force Research Laboratory]-Rome Research Site
Posted on June 13, 2008

"Solutions to basic and applied research and engineering for the problems relating to Dominant Cyber Offensive Solutions to basic and applied research and engineering for the problems relating to Dominant Cyber Offensive Engagement and Supporting Technology are sought. This includes high risk, high payoff capabilities for gaining access to any remotely located open or closed computer information systems; these systems enabling full control of a network for the purposes of information gathering and effects based operations."

"Also, we are interested in technology to provide the capability to maintain an active presence within the adversaries information infrastructure completely undetected. Of interest are any and all techniques to enable stealth and persistence capabilities on an adversaries infrastructure. This could be a combination of hardware and/or software focused development efforts. Following this, it is desired to have the capability to stealthily exfiltrate information from any remotely-located open or closed computer information systems with the possibility to discover information with previously unknown existence. Any and all techniques to enable exfiltration techniques on both fixed and mobile computing platforms are of interest. Consideration should be given to maintaining a 'low and slow' gathering paradigm in these development efforts to enable stealthy operation. Finally, this BAA's objective includes the capability to provide a variety of techniques and technologies to be able to affect computer information systems through Deceive, Deny, Disrupt, Degrade, Destroy (D5) effects."

Air Force PE 0602788F: Dominant Information Technology

FY 2011 Base Plans: "Continue development of information system access methods and development of propagation techniques. Continue development of stealth and persistence technologies. Continue development of the capability to exfiltrate information from adversary information systems for generation of actionable CybINT. Continue technology development for preparation of the battlefield and increased situational awareness and understanding. Continue development of technology to deliver D5 effects. Continue development of autonomic technologies for operating within adversary information systems. Continue development of techniques for covert communication among agents operating within adversary information systems. Continue analysis of proprietary hardware and software systems to identify viable means of access and sustained operations within the same. Continue development of a publish/subscribe architecture for exchange and exfiltration of information while operating within development of a publish/subscribe architecture for exchange and exfiltration of information while operating within adversary information systems. Initiate development of techniques to deliver PsyOps via cyber channels. Develop deception techniques to allow misdirection and confusion of adversary attempts to probe and infiltrate AF systems."

As Washington Technology reported in February, "Lockheed Martin Corp. will continue to work with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to help develop a governmentwide cybersecurity initiative under a $30.8 million contract."

That initiative, the National Cyber Range will "provide a revolutionary, safe, fully automated and instrumented environment for U.S. cybersecurity research organizations to evaluate leap-ahead research, accelerate technology transition, and enable a place for experimentation of iterative and new research directions," according to DARPA.

Target, acquired...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Court Rules Against NSA's Illegal Spying, Illegal NSA Spying Continues

What could be a significant legal victory in the on-going battle against blanket surveillance transpired March 31 in district court in San Francisco, along with a stinging rebuke of the Obama administration.

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker ruled that the government had violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and that the National Security Agency's warrantless spying program was illegal.

In Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation v. Obama, Walker found that the government employed extralegal means in 2004 to wiretap the now-defunct Islamic charity's phone calls, as well as those of their attorneys. Ruling that the plaintiffs had been "subjected to unlawful surveillance," Walker declared that the government was liable to pay them damages.

The court's decision is a strong rejection of administration assertions that an imperious Executive Branch, and it alone, may determine whether or not a case against the government can be examined by a lawful court, merely by invoking the so-called "state secrets privilege."

The Justice Department has not decided whether it will appeal the decision; it appears likely however given the stakes involved, that the case will be remanded back to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Like their Bushist predecessors, the Obama administration has heartily embraced the dubious state secrets theory, a dodgy legalistic invention manufactured to conceal criminal policies and illegal acts authored by the government and their agents.

The March 31 decision is all the more remarkable, in light of Judge Walker's dismissal of a series of lawsuits brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) over the explosive issues of driftnet surveillance and the CIA's kidnapping and torture program that disappeared alleged terrorist suspects into Agency "black sites."

The latter case, Mohamed et al. v. Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc., was dismissed by Walker in 2008 after Justice Department attorneys successfully argued that the "state secrets privilege" applied.

The appeals court rejected those arguments and ruled last year that "the state secrets privilege has never applied to prevent parties from litigating the truth or falsity of allegations, or facts, or information simply because the government regards the truth or falsity of the allegations to be secret."

The court added, "According to the government's theory, the judiciary should effectively cordon off all secret government actions from judicial scrutiny, immunizing the CIA and its partners from the demands and limits of the law."

Several other cases dismissed by Walker challenged the secret state's authority to spy on the American people in a profitable arrangement with the nation's giant telecommunications firms, internet service providers and a host of shadowy private security corporations.

In late January, Antifascist Calling reported that Walker dismissed EFF's Jewell v. NSA lawsuit challenging the agency's targeting of the electronic communications of millions of U.S. citizens and legal residents.

As AT&T whistleblower Marc Klein told Wired earlier this year, internal AT&T documents suggest that the on-going NSA spy program "was just the tip of an eavesdropping iceberg."

According to Klein, these programs are not "targeted" against suspected terrorists but rather "show an untargeted, massive vacuum cleaner sweeping up millions of peoples' communications every second automatically."

Despite overwhelming evidence that the state acted illegally, Walker dismissed Jewell claiming that driftnet spying by the government was not a "particularized injury" but instead a "generalized grievance" because almost everyone in the United States has a phone and internet service. Chillingly, Walker asserted that "a citizen may not gain standing by claiming a right to have the government follow the law."

What prompted Walker's change of heart in the Al-Haramain case?

During the course of litigation objecting to the government's characterization that Al-Haramain was a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist Organization," U.S. attorneys inadvertently turned over a classified document from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) that revealed a broad pattern of illegal surveillance.

Based on that document, the charity's lawyers filed a lawsuit under the FISA provision that "an aggrieved person ... shall be entitled to recover ... actual damages, but not less than liquidated damages of $1,000 or $100 per day for each day of violation, whichever is greater" along with "reasonable attorney's fees."

The Bushist DOJ moved to squash the lawsuit, claiming that it would jeopardize "privileged state secrets" and "national security," a position upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. That court, the World Socialist Web Site reported April 6, "issued a truly Orwellian ruling that, due to the states secret doctrine, 'the [classified document], its contents, and any individuals' memories of its contents, even well-reasoned speculation as to its contents, are completely barred from further disclosure in this litigation'."

Once back in the district court, Bush administration lawyers moved to dismiss the case because the charity had "no standing" without the classified document. The Ninth Circuit's ruling was both poison pill and Catch 22 because, as socialist critic John Andrews wrote, without a document "which no one was allowed to remember [Al-Haramain] could not prove that it had actually been spied upon." How's that for circular reasoning and Kafkaesque logic!

When Al-Haramain's attorneys listed 28 publicly available sources to bolster their claims, Walker rejected the government's motion to dismiss and the case went forward.

And when the "change" administration blew into town on January 19, 2009, the Obama regime decided it was time to "look forward, not backward," refusing to open any inquiries or investigations into a host of illegal practices, from waging aggressive war to torture and blanket surveillance, carried out by the previous government.

Once in power, Obama's Justice Department replicated the Star Chamber atmospherics of the Bush administration, arguing that spy operations against the charity were lawful because the President's "wartime powers" allowed him to override FISA.

This too, was a legal fiction crafted by Bush torture-enablers John C. Yoo and (current) U.S. Ninth Circuit Court Judge Jay Bybee when they worked at the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). The pair, along with Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff, David Addington, were chief architects of the Bush regime's criminal policies enacted in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

Jon Eisenberg, one of the attorneys who represented Al-Haramain, told The New York Times that "Judge Walker is saying that FISA and federal statutes like it are not optional. The president, just like any other citizen of the United States, is bound by the law."

In a follow-up report April 1, Eisenberg told the Times, "If Holder wanted to be really aggressive, he could go into the Justice Department's files and pick out some of the people who were wiretapped and prosecute those cases," Mr. Eisenberg said. "But do they want to do that? No. The Obama administration made a decision a long time ago that they are not going to prosecute Bush's warrantless wiretapping program."

Walker also rejected arguments made by the government that the charity's lawsuit should be dismissed "without ruling on the merits" the Times reported, because allowing the case to go forward could reveal "state secrets."

The judge rejected those arguments out of hand and characterized Obama administration assertions of a "state secrets privilege" as amounting to "unfettered executive-branch discretion" that had "obvious potential for governmental abuse and overreaching."

Additionally, Walker ruled that the government arguments amounted to a demand that the Executive Branch ignore FISA, even though Congress had enacted the statute "specifically to rein in and create a judicial check for executive-branch abuses of surveillance authority."

The constellation of programs now known as the President's Spying Program (PSP) and specifically NSA's Stellar Wind program, which monitored Americans' email messages and phone calls without court approval, as stipulated by FISA, was first revealed by The New York Times in 2005.

Since those disclosures, the severity of the state's illegal activities against the American people have escalated and now pose a far-greater threat to a functioning democracy then at any time in our history.

Why the Ruling Matters

FISA is a 1978 law that was the result of earlier, illegal programs such as the FBI's COINTELPRO, the CIA's Operation CHAOS and the NSA's Operation SHAMROCK during the 1960s and 1970s. When those programs were exposed by investigative journalists and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (the Church Committee), the secret state was thrown into crisis.

Similar to today's driftnet surveillance and infiltration operations that rely on informants and agents provocateurs to gin-up "national security" and "counterterrorism" cases against official enemies, those earlier programs targeted domestic political dissidents and "suspect" racial and ethnic groups, in full-on counterinsurgency-type "neutralization" actions that all but destroyed the vibrant social movements of the Johnson and Nixon years.

A Justice Department spokeswoman, Tracy Schmaler, told the Times that the Obama administration had "overhauled" procedures for invoking the states secrets privilege and that it would be invoked only when "absolutely necessary to protect national security."

This is a rank mendacity.

Under new guidelines in place since September 2009, as I reported last November, Justice Department officials are supposed to reject the request to deploy the state secrets privilege to quash lawsuits if the Executive Branch's motivation for doing so would "conceal violations of the law, inefficiency or administrative error" or to "prevent embarrassment."

Despite strong legal grounds for allowing surveillance and torture cases to go forward, the Obama administration, like the discredited Bush regime before it, continues to stonewall, obfuscate and obstruct.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder claims that a DOJ "high-level committee" has reviewed relevant material in the Al-Haramain and other cases equally relevant to charges that the secret state, specifically the nexus of programs known as the PSP, violated the law. The guidelines further stipulate that lawbreaking by a specific agency, the FBI and NSA in the Al-Haramain case, must be reviewed by those agency's inspectors general.

This is supposed to occur whenever "invocation of the privilege would preclude adjudication of particular claims," particularly when a specific "case raises credible allegations of government wrongdoing." If such a review has taken place, the results have never be publicly disclosed.

Commenting on the ruling, Salon's Glenn Greenwald wrote April 1 that while news reports have focused on the illegality of Bush's NSA spy program, "the bulk of Judge Walker's opinion was actually a scathing repudiation of the Obama DOJ."

"In fact" Greenwald avers, "the opinion spent almost no time addressing the merits of the claim that the NSA program was legal. That's because the Obama DOJ--exactly like the Bush DOJ in the case before Judge [Ann Diggs] Taylor--refused to offer legal justifications to the court for this eavesdropping."

"Instead" Greenwald writes, the Obama administration advanced "the imperial and hubristic position" that the court, indeed any court, "had no right whatsoever to rule on the legality of the program because (a) plaintiffs could not prove they were subjected to the secret eavesdropping (and thus lacked 'standing' to sue) and (b) the NSA program was such a vital 'state secret' that courts were barred from adjudicating its legality."

In further comments to the media, Eisenberg stated: "The Obama Administration stepped right into the shoes of the Bush Administration, on national security generally and on this case in particular," adding, "even though I have the security clearance, I don't have the 'need to know,' so I can't see anything. This is Obama. Obama! Mr. Transparency! Mr. Change! It's exactly what Bush would have done."

As this writer has argued many times, while the color of the drapes in the Oval Office may have changed since Obama took office, on every substantive issue, from warrantless wiretapping, to indefinite detention and preemptive wars of imperialist aggression, the current regime has recapitulated, indeed expanded, the onerous policies of his predecessor.

Illegal Programs Proliferate Under Obama

Despite pledges from candidate Obama and his acolytes that illegal activities by the secret state would be reined-in, the Obama administration has sought to embellish the Executive Branch's lawless policies as the "War on Terror" metastasizes on a planetary scale.

Both The New York Times and The Washington Post have confirmed that the Obama administration "has taken the extraordinary step of authorizing the targeted killing of an American citizen, the radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki."

Whether or not al-Awlaki is an operative of the Afghan-Arab database of disposable Western intelligence assets known as al-Qaeda, or whether the dodgy cleric's targeting is part of a CIA clean-up operation that would preempt disclosure of the Agency's foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks is besides the point.

What is significant is that the administration is now standing-up a presidential assassination program that would target American citizens far from any battlefield, solely on the basis of unchecked accusations by the Executive Branch that they're involved in terrorism.

No warrant, no arrest, no trial: in place of a lawful conviction by a "jury of his peers," "justice" will come in the form of a Hellfire missile or a bullet in the back of the head!

In November, I wrote of a suggested plan published by the Joint Special Operations University (JSOU) to create a secretive "National Manhunting Agency."

In that piece I said while the text was not an "official" report, the fact that the monograph, Manhunting: Counter-Network Organization for Irregular Warfare, was written by retired Air Force Lt. Colonel George A. Crawford and published by JSOU, lends added weight to arguments by critics that the United States Government has "gone rogue" and is preparing a planet-wide Operation Condor network to capture or kill imperialism's enemies.

In light of last week's reports, does such an entity now exist, either as an official, though compartmented, code-word protected secret operation, or as a privatized Murder, Inc.?

On the domestic surveillance front, as The New York Times revealed in several investigative pieces in 2009, NSA, despite assurances from the Obama administration, continued to intercept "private e-mail messages and phone calls of Americans in recent months on a scale that went beyond the broad legal limits established by Congress last year."

According to journalists Eric Lichtblau and James Risen, the "intelligence officials" said that the agency "had been engaged in 'overcollection' of domestic communications of Americans. They described the practice as significant and systemic."

In a follow-up piece, the Times' reporters disclosed, that a former NSA analyst "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."

Indeed, as a heavily-redacted 38-page report released last year by the inspectors general of five federal agencies found, most "intelligence officials" interviewed "had difficulty citing specific instances" when the National Security Agency's wiretapping program contributed to successes against "terrorists."

But as a means for monitoring the communications of dissident and activist groups, lawless surveillance programs have been a boon to America's political police as they zero-in on anarchists, Muslims, environmentalists, indeed any group perceived to be a "threat" to the capitalist order.

The report goes on to state that when President Bush authorized the illegal warrantless wiretapping operation, he also signed off on a host of other surveillance programs that the secret state has never publicly disclosed. According to multiple published reports, those programs include a massive data-mining operation of the email, internet searches, blog posts, GPS locational data of American citizens.

Security researcher Chris Soghoian, the publisher of the web site Slight Paranoia, discovered at the secretive Intelligent Support Systems (ISS) wiretapping conference last October in Washington, that a niche security outfit, Packet Forensics was marketing internet spying boxes to the federal government.

In December, Soghoian revealed that a Sprint Nextel executive disclosed at ISS that the firm provided law enforcement agencies with its customers' (GPS) location information "over 8 million times between September 2008 and October 2009" and that this new "tool" for tracking our every move "was made possible due to the roll-out by Sprint of a new, special web portal for law enforcement officers."

According to Soghoian and researcher Sid Stamm, Packet Forensics has developed technology designed to intercept communications without breaking encryption, by deploying forged security certificates instead of real ones that websites use to verify connections.

SSL certificates are the tiny lock symbol that appears in your web browser when you make a "secure" connection for online banking or to purchase a book or video game.

In a paper published March 24, Certified Lies: Detecting and Defeating Government Interception Attacks Against SSL, Soghoian and Stamm reveal that "a new attack" on individuals' privacy rights is "the compelled certificate creation attack, in which government agencies compel a certificate authority to issue false SSL certificates that are then used by intelligence agencies to covertly intercept and hijack individuals' secure Web-based communications. We reveal alarming evidence that suggests that this attack is in active use."

According to a marketing brochure handed out by Packet Forensics at the ISS conclave, "Users have the ability to import a copy of any legitimate key they obtain (potentially by court order) or they can generate 'look-alike' keys designed to give the subject a false sense of confidence in its authenticity." In other words, secret state agencies, with or without the legal niceties one generally expects in a democracy, can forge security keys "for reasons of state."

Soghoian and Stamm aver that the product is recommended for government investigators and that Packet Forensics stated that "IP communication dictates the need to examine encrypted traffic at will," therefore "your investigative staff will collect its best evidence while users are lulled into a false sense of security afforded by web, e-mail or VOIP encryption."

In blunt terms, all your communications belong to us! And if you don't like it, well, there's a jail cell waiting for you in some quiet, out-of-the-way "secure location" otherwise known as a black site!

How has the "change" administration responded to these, and a raft of other reports? The Washington Post reported April 9, that congressional grifters and privacy advocates "are stepping up the pressure on the Obama administration to fill the five vacant seats on the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, a panel created in 2004 to ensure that executive branch counterterrorism policies protect Americans' civil liberties."

Post journalist Ellen Nakashima disclosed that the "board has been vacant since the end of the last administration."

On and on it goes.

The securitization and militarization of daily life in the "greatest democracy money can buy" proceeds apace. As anthropologist and social critic David Price revealed in a new piece for CounterPunch, America's military-industrial-intelligence-academic-complex has pressured U.S. universities to welcome the CIA and other secret state agencies back onto campuses with open arms.

"After 9/11" Price writes, "the intelligence agencies pushed campuses to see the CIA and campus secrecy in a new light, and, as traditional funding sources for social science research declined, the intelligence community gained footholds on campuses."

These programs, managed by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence's (ODNI) Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) "use universities to train intelligence personnel by piggybacking onto existing educational programs."

"Even amid the militarization prevailing in America today," Price writes, "the silence surrounding this quiet installation and spread of programs ... is extraordinary."

Not so extraordinary however, if one considers America's rapid transformation into a police state even as the capitalist Empire runs aground.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

"Managing" Data and Dissent: Where Big Brother Meets Market Fundamentalism

Repression doesn't come cheap, just ask the FBI.

As the securitization of daily life increase at near exponential rates (all to keep us "safe," mind you) the dark contours of an American police state, like a pilot's last glimpse of an icy peak before a plane crash, wobbles into view.

In the main, such programs include, but are by no means limited to the following: electronic surveillance (call records, internet usage, social media); covert hacking by state operatives; GPS tracking; CCTV cameras linked-in to state databases; "smart" cards; RFID chipped commodities and the spooky "internet of things;" biometrics, and yes, the Pentagon has just stood up a Biometrics Identity Management Agency (BIMA); data-mining; watch listing; on and on it goes.

Pity our poor political minders, snowed-under by a blizzard of data-sets crying out for proper "management"! Or, as sycophantic armchair warrior and New York Times columnist, Thomas Friedman, would have it, "The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist--McDonald's cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the F-15."

So true; yet neither can an aggregate of repressive police and intelligence agencies function without an army of corporate grifters who guide that "hidden hand" and not-so-hidden fist into highly profitable safe harbors. Call it Big Brother meets market fundamentalism.

And so, the heat is on as America's premier political police agency struggles to "modernize" their case file management system.

The FBI's Case Management "Problem"

When circumstances (a massive up-tick in illegal spying since 9/11 courtesy of the USA Patriot Act) forced the Bureau to store a treasure trove of tittle-tattle of "national security interest" on decidedly low-tech storage devices, FBI agents and their all-too-willing helpers from giant telecommunications firms such as AT&T took to scribbling "leads" on post-it notes.

Communications Analysis Unit (CAU) eager-beavers did so in order to speed-up the process of obtaining dodgy "exigent letters" that smoothed over the wrinkles (your rights!) as the Bureau issued tens of thousands of National Security Letters (NSLs).

The secretive lettres de cachet demanded everything: emails, internet searches, call records, bank statements, credit card purchases, travel itineraries, medical histories, educational résumés, even video rentals and books borrowed from public libraries. The contents of such shady administrative warrants cannot be disclosed by their recipients under penalty of stiff fines or even imprisonment.

While such extra-legal missives are supposedly issued only in cases of dire "emergency," the banal, ubiquitous nature of surveillance in post-Constitutional, "new normal" regimes such as the United States, all but guarantee that extraordinary "states of exception" are standard rules of the game in our managed democracy.

As the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General revealed in a heavily-redacted report in January, with all semblance of a legal process out the window, the FBI were caught with their hands in the proverbial cookie jar, repeatedly violating the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

Fear not, Obama administration legal eagles cobbled together a new theory justifying the practice and have created, yet another, accountability free zone for agents who violated the rules.

Neatly, seamlessly and silently Obama's Office of Legal Counsel (John Yoo and Judge Bybee's old stomping grounds) granted them, wait!, retroactive immunity for such lawbreaking. The trouble is, the OLC's ruling is classified so we haven't a clue what it entails or how far-reaching is its purview. So much for the new era of "openness" and "transparency."

But I digress...

The New York Times reported March 18, that work on parts of the Bureau's cracker-jack case management program known as Sentinel has been "temporarily" suspended.

While the "overhaul" was supposed "to be completed this fall," Times journalist Eric Lichtblau disclosed that the system will not be ready for prime time until "next year at the earliest."

Overall, American taxpayers have shelled-out some $451 million to an endless parade of contractors, Lockheed Martin being the latest. Delays are expected to cost "at least $30 million in cost overruns on a project considered vital to national security" Lichtblau wrote, citing Congressional "officials."

But problems have plagued the project since its inception. Lockheed Martin, No. 1 on Washington Technology's "2009 Top 100" list of Prime Federal Contractors, secured some $14,983,515,367 in defense-related contracts last year and was brought on-board to revamp the troubled case management project.

This is all the more ironic considering that the defense giant was hailed as Sentinel's savior, after an earlier incarnation of the program known as Virtual Case File (VCF), overseen by the spooky Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), crashed and burned in 2006.

No slouches themselves when it comes to raking-in taxpayer boodle, SAIC is No. 7 on the Washington Technology list, pulling in some $4,811,194,880 in 2009, largely as a result of the firm's close political connections to the Defense Department and the secret state.

SAIC's work on VCF began in June 2001 and was expected to be completed in 36 months. However, after shelling out some $170 million over four years the Bureau concluded the system wouldn't work. Published reports fail to mention whether or not SAIC was forced to hand the loot back to cash-strapped taxpayers. Probably not.

Open-Ended Contracts: Hitting the Corporatist "Sweet Spot"

As with all things having to do with protecting their national security constituency from lean quarterly reports to shareholders, congressional grifters and secret state agencies alike are adept at showering giant defense and security corporations with multiyear, multibillion dollar contracts.

After all, high-end CEO salaries and lucrative remunerations for top executives in the form of handsome bonuses are based, not on a firm's actual performance but rather, on the critical up-tick in the share price; just ask Lehman Brothers or other outstanding corporate citizens such as Goldman Sachs. Or SAIC itself, for that matter!

Unfortunately, effective oversight is not the forte of a plethora of congressional committees; nor are crisp, objective evaluations, better known as due diligence, conducted by outside auditors before scarce federal resources, which could be used for quaint things such as health care, education or other reality-based programs, pour into any number of virtual black holes.

Take VCF as an example.

In a post-mortem of the SAIC program, The Washington Post revealed back in 2006, that after spending months writing 730,000 lines of computer code, corporate officers proclaimed VCF's roll-out "only weeks away."

The trouble was, software problem reports, or SPRs, "numbered in the hundreds." Worse for SAIC, as engineers continued running tests, systemic problems were multiplying quicker than proverbial rabbits.

As Post journalists Dan Eggen and Griff Witte disclosed, citing an unreleased audit of the program hushed-up by the Bureau, because "of an open-ended contract with few safeguards, SAIC reaped more than $100 million as the project became bigger and more complicated, even though its software never worked properly."

Despite evidence that the system was failing badly, SAIC "continued to meet the bureau's requests, accepting payments despite clear signs that the FBI's approach to the project was badly flawed."

Auditors discovered that the "system delivered by SAIC was so incomplete and unusable that it left the FBI with little choice but to scuttle the effort altogether."

David Kay, a former SAIC senior vice president and Bushist chief weapons inspector in Iraq tasked with finding nonexistent "weapons of mass destruction," told the Post even though top executives at the firm were aware the project was going "awry," they didn't insist on changes "because the bureau continued to pay the bills as the work piled up."

"From the documents that define the system at the highest level, down through the software design and into the source code itself," Aerospace, the independent firm that conducted the secretive FBI audit, "discovered evidence of incompleteness, lack of follow-through, failure to optimize and missing documentation."

Even more damning, a report by computer experts from the National Research Council and SAIC insider, Matthew Patton, removed from the program by top executives after posting critical remarks on VCF in an on-line forum, found that the firm "kept 200 programmers on staff doing 'make work'," when a "couple of dozen would have been enough."

SAIC's attitude, according to Patton, was that "it's other people's money, so they'll burn it every which way they want to."

As a cash cow, VCF was a superlative program; however, the IT security specialist told the Post: "Would the product actually work? Would it help agents do their jobs? I don't think anyone on the SAIC side cared about that."

Why would they? After all, $170 million buys much in the way of designer golf bags, pricey Hawaiian getaways or other necessities useful for navigating the dangerous shoals of America's "war on terror"!

As investigative journalist Tim Shorrock detailed in his essential book, Spies For Hire and for CorpWatch, SAIC "stands like a private colossus across the whole intelligence industry." Shorrock writes, "of SAIC's 42,000 employees, more than 20,000 hold U.S. government security clearances, making it, with Lockheed Martin, one of the largest private intelligence services in the world."

As the journalist revealed, while SAIC "is deeply involved in the operations of all the major collection agencies, particularly the NSA, NGA and CIA," failure also seems to come with the corporate territory.

"For example" Shorrock wrote, the firm "managed one of the NSA's largest efforts in recent years, the $3 billion Project Trailblazer, which attempted (and failed) to create actionable intelligence from the cacophony of telephone calls, fax messages, and emails that the NSA picks up every day. Launched in 2001, Trailblazer experienced hundreds of millions of dollars in cost overruns and NSA cancelled it in 2005."

Is there a pattern here?

No matter. Washington Technology reported March 31, that SAIC's fourth quarter revenues and overall gains for fiscal year 2010 were "$2.68 billion, a 7 percent increase, up from $2.52 billion in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009, the company announced. Full-year revenues were $10.85 billion, up 8 percent from fiscal 2009. Fiscal 2010 ended Jan. 31."

"We are pleased to complete the fiscal year with improved operating margin, earnings per share and cash generation," Walt Havenstein, SAIC's chief executive officer said in a corporate press release.

"We enter fiscal year 2011 with our portfolio of capabilities well aligned with national priorities, emphasizing areas such as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), cybersecurity, logistics, energy, and health technology to fuel our growth and shareholder value prospects," Havenstein added.

If by "national priorities" SAIC's head honcho means the continued bleed-out of taxpayer funds into corporate coffers, then, by all means, 2010 was a banner year!

Which brings us full-circle to Lockheed Martin and Sentinel.

DOJ Inspector General: "Significant Challenges"

The Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General (OIG) disclosed in a redacted December 2009 report that the Lockheed Martin system "encountered significant challenges." As of August 2009, "the FBI and Lockheed Martin agreed to revise the project's schedule, increase Lockheed Martin's cost to develop Phase 2 to $155 million, and update the remaining costs for Phases 3 and 4."

Sound familiar?

"Consequently" the OIG reported, "the overall project completion date has been extended to September 2010, 3 months later than we previously reported and 9 months later than originally planned." In a new report released in late March, Department of Justice auditors revised their previous analysis. It wasn't a pretty picture.

According to the OIG, "As of March 2010, the FBI does not have official cost or schedule estimates for completing Sentinel. The remaining budget, schedule, and work to be performed on Sentinel are currently being renegotiated between the FBI and Lockheed Martin. While the FBI does not yet have official estimates, FBI officials have acknowledged that the project will cost more than its latest revised estimate of $451 million and will likely not be completed until 2011." That can only be music to Lockheed Martin's ears!

As the Times reported, work on the project has ground to a halt. This was confirmed by the OIG. "On March 3, 2010, because of significant issues regarding Phase 2 Segment 4’s usability, performance, and quality delivered by Lockheed Martin, the FBI issued a partial stop-work order to Lockheed Martin for portions of Phase 3 and all of Phase 4."

The latest set-back to taxpayers mean that the Bureau's "stop-work order returned Phase 2 Segment 4 of the project from operations and maintenance activities to the development phase."

In other words, after four years and nearly $500 million, its back to the drawing board!

After beating out their rivals for work on a program considerably more costly than SAIC's failed VCF, the OIG revealed that multiple issues and problems plague the system designed by the defense giant.

"First, there were significant problems with the usability of electronic forms that were developed for Sentinel." The forms are supposedly the heart of the system and the tools through which FBI repressors "manage" case-related information deployed across the Bureau, particularly when agents add or subtract data gleaned from the FBI's massive Investigative Data Warehouse (IDW).

Last year, Antifascist Calling reported on the Bureau's spooky "Library of Babel," IDW, that does yeoman's work as a virtual Department of Precrime.

A massive project, IDW already holds more than a billion unique, searchable records on American citizens and legal residents that the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) said would be used to "data-mine ... using unproven science in an attempt to predict future crimes from past behavior."

The IDW is one of the data-mining projects that Sentinel will directly tap into, allowing the migration of data currently held in the FBI's antiquated Automated Case Support (ACS) system.

The OIG report revealed, "there were 26 critical issues related to the functionality of Sentinel that required resolution before deployment" and that "Lockheed Martin had deviated from accepted systems engineering processes in developing the software code for Sentinel."

According to a review of the program by the shadowy MITRE Corporation, more than 10,000 "inefficiencies" in the software code may collectively result in the diminished performance of the "product."

Do these problems pose a "challenge" to either the Bureau or Lockheed Martin executives? Hardly! The OIG disclosed that "FBI officials have stated that in order to meet any increased funding requirements, the FBI plans to request congressional approval to redistribute funds from other FBI information technology programs to Sentinel."

How's that for creative accounting!

Repression: A Game the Whole Corporate "Family" Can Play

With their fingers into everything from missile design and satellite surveillance technology to domestic spying or that latest craze consuming Washington, "cybersecurity," Lockheed Martin is, as they say, a "player."

On the domestic spy game front, Lockheed Martin were one of the contractors who supplied intelligence analysts for the Counterintelligence Field Activity office (CIFA), the secretive Rumsfeld-era initiative that spied on antiwar activists and other Pentagon policy critics.

CIFA was tasked with tracking "logical combinations of keywords and personalities" used to estimate current or future threats. When CIFA was shuttered after public outcry, its functions were taken over by the Defense Intelligence Agency, where Lockheed Martin runs a bidding consortium.

But as with CIFA, the DIA's Defense Counterintelligence and Human Intelligence Center, relies heavily on the unproven "science" of data-mining and its offshoot, link analysis.

Data-mining by corporate and secret state agencies such as the FBI seek to uncover "hidden patterns" and "subtle relationships" within disparate data-sets in order to "infer rules that allow for the prediction of future results," according to a 2004 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.

Sentinel will undoubtedly deploy data-mining techniques insofar as they are applicable to "managing" alleged foreign "terrorism plots," but also domestic dissidents identified as national security "risks."

Although the Sentinel program has apparently hit a brick wall in terms of operability, it is also clear that the FBI and other national security agencies, will continue their quixotic quest for technophilic "silver bullets" to "manage" domestic dissent.

That such endeavors are illusory, as with the Pentagon's "Revolution in Military Affairs" that promised always-on "persistent area surveillance" of the "battlespace," the deployment of high-priced sensor technologies and data-mining algorithms assure securocrats that "total information awareness" is only a keystroke away.

While "situational awareness" may be an illusive commodity, when it comes to data storage and the indexing of alleged national security threats, systems such as Sentinel or the Investigative Data Warehouse, as well as the broader application of predictive data-mining to map so-called terrorist "nodes" expand the operation and intensification of the "surveillance society" ever-deeper into social life.

As Tim Shorrock revealed in CorpWatch, in 2004 and 2005 Lockheed Martin "acquired the government IT unit of Affiliated Computer Services Inc., inheriting several contracts with defense intelligence agencies and Sytex, a $425 million Philadelphia-based company that held contracts with the Pentagon's Northern Command and the NSA/Army Intelligence and Security Command. By 2007 the company employed 52,000 IT specialists with security clearances, and intelligence made up nearly 40 percent of its annual business, company executives said."

According to Shorrock, one of the firm's "most important intelligence-related acquisitions took place in the 1990s, when the conglomerate bought Betac Corporation. Betac was one of the companies the government hired during the late 1980s to provide communications technology for the secret Continuity of Government program the Reagan administration created to keep the U.S. government functioning in the event of a nuclear attack."

As readers are aware, secretive Continuity of Government programs went into effect after the 9/11 attacks. Details on these programs have never been revealed, although investigative journalists have discovered that some portions of COG have to do with the national security indexing of American citizens in a massive, classified database known as Main Core.

As investigative journalist Christopher Ketcham revealed in 2008, one "well-informed source--a former military operative regularly briefed by members of the intelligence community--says this particular program has roots going back at least to the 1980s and was set up with help from the Defense Intelligence Agency. He has been told that the program utilizes software that makes predictive judgments of targets' behavior and tracks their circle of associations with 'social network analysis' and artificial intelligence modeling tools."

Ketcham's source told him that "'the more data you have on a particular target, the better [the software] can predict what the target will do, where the target will go, who it will turn to for help,' he says. 'Main Core is the table of contents for all the illegal information that the U.S. government has [compiled] on specific targets.' An intelligence expert who has been briefed by high-level contacts in the Department of Homeland Security confirms that a database of this sort exists, but adds that 'it is less a mega-database than a way to search numerous other agency databases at the same time'."

Shorrock writes that "Under a 1982 presidential directive, the outbreak of war could trigger the proclamation of martial law nationwide, giving the military the authority to use its domestic database to round up citizens and residents considered threats to national security. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Army were to carry out the emergency measures for domestic security."

And one of the "biggest winners" was Betac Corporation, "a consulting firm composed of former intelligence and communications specialists from the Pentagon. Betac was one of the largest government contractors of its day and, with TRW and Lockheed itself, dominated the intelligence contracting industry from the mid-1980s until the late 1990s."

"Its first project for the Continuity of Government plan," Shorrock reveals, "was a sole-source contract to devise and maintain security for the system. Between 1983 and 1985, the contract expanded from $316,000 to nearly $3 million, and by 1988 Betac had multiple COG contracts worth $22 million. Betac was eventually sold to ACS Government Solutions Group and is now a unit of Lockheed Martin."

While it is de rigueur, particularly since the rise of the Obama administration, to deride critics who point out the perils of an out-of-control national security state armed with meta-databases such as Main Core and secretive COG programs as "conspiracy theorists," such "whistling past the graveyard" is done at great peril to an open and transparent democratic system of governance based on accountability and the rule of law.