Sunday, August 1, 2010


The recently concluded Black Hat Technical Security Conference at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, a convocation of various hackers, cyber geeks and information tech specialists, graphically displayed the strange hybridization and cross pollination of "private sector" information technologies and the recently announced military US Cyber Command inaugurated this past May 21. The presence of General Michael Hayden, former CIA director and recently retired head of the National Security Agency and presently a principal in the Chertoff Group, as keynote speaker, along with a high profile assemblage of Homeland Security personnel at the conference, indicates the increasing consolidation of IT businesses with the security programs for financial institutions, US military programs, and corporate proprietarial interests. Michael Chertoff, the former head of Homeland Security, founded the Chertoff Group which "provides strategic security advice and assistance risk management strategy and business development solutions for commercial and government clients" His company also produced the notorious and controversial body scanners employed at international airports.

Hayden, in his keynote speech, took pains to note that in the cyber warfare already well underway, cyber defense stratagems would be necessarily directed to individuals and organizations operating hostile cyber attacks against military and government as opposed to state agencies suspected of such intrusions. Hayden reportedly went as far a pulling references to recent Chinese cyber attacks which he had originally intended to address. This obviously refers to the recent hacks against Google emanating from China for which the company supposedly turned to the NSA for assistance. Indeed the recent news that investors at the CIA and Google are teaming up to back a company called "Recorded Future" which monitors websites, blogs, and twitter accounts and strips out information deemed to possess national security implications, points out the inevitable and merging interests of "private" IT organizations and government interests. These revelations come not the heels of the so-called "Wi-Spy" affair where Street View Google Mapping vehicles "inadvertently" stripped out information from personal IPs and stored it in data tanks across the country.

The recent emergence of yet another cabal of cyber-vigilantes from the shadow of some 14 years of obscurity at the sister security/hacker convention DefCon in Las Vegas this past Sunday only reaffirms the presence of still more quasi-corporate military agencies operating in the penumbra of the megalithic NSA. Project Vigilant, headed by one Chet Uber, made a big splash in the news with revelations that one of their more than 600 "volunteers," a dubious individual by the name of Adrian Lamo, was responsible for the outing of the unfortunate Army intelligence specialist Bradley Manning the apparent source of WikiLeaks famous "Collateral Murder" video. Uber's appearance at the DefCon hacker conference is intended to recruit and deploy thousands more like minded "patriots" whose fingers are just itching for action on the keypads arrayed in readiness for the next salvoes of cyber warfare in an effort to roust out and expose "all enemies foreign and domestic" as General Uber Alles proclaims his own version of a crusade to save America and the Constitution. At the service of this noble objective commander Deutchland Uber has marshaled not only the forces of 12 Internet Service Providers which can track more than 250 million IPs a day but has also enlisted the help of former NSA and government cyber-honchos in his noble quest. http://cryptogon.com/?p=16768 thanks for the mug shot, george

"We now live in a world where a nation’s security depends in no small part on the security awareness and practices of our agencies, firms, suppliers, schools, friends, neighbors, relatives and, well, all of us....To achieve these efforts, we must recruit, educate, train, invest in and retain a cadre of cyber experts who will be conducting seamlessly interoperability – seamless interoperability across the full spectrum of network operations." Gen. Keith Alexander-NSA director.

Undoubtedly, Mr Chet Uber and the posses of hackers swarming the casinos and drunkenly mauling the street whores of Las Vegas this past weekend embody the avant garde of this "cadre of cyber experts" of which the general speaks so glowingly. On June 3, 2010,General Keith Alexander profiled the US Cyber Command for a Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) policy debate forum. Alexander is the new director of the NSA and the commander of the US Cyber Command. When queried by a Wall Street Journal reporter about the potential conflicts arising from the professed need of the NSA to monitor the multiplying billions of social network and instant messaging accounts as well as trillions of e-mailsand the privacy concerns of American citizens, Alexander had the following predictable reply:

"Now, there issues that you get into that – and you know, you can take it from a domestic side. So what’s the FBI do and what do we do with a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court? Both of those now get into classified areas, with oversight. And so I think we do that very well. The hard part is, we can’t go out and tell everybody exactly what we did or we give up a capability that maybe extremely useful in protecting our country and our allies. And so that’s the real – what I see as the two things that we balance.

And so I do spend a lot of time with the court and with Congress explaining exactly what we’re doing, where we have issues, where there needs to be change, what we can and cannot do. And we put that up to the court and we get things back from the court. I think it is growing and getting better. We spend a lot of time on that. The hard part: We can’t tell everybody what we’re doing. It will be analogous to you explaining how you defended your system – your computer system.

You say, I’m defending my computer system using the following steps: one, two, three, four. The adversary will say, thank you, one, two, three, four, now I know how to get around it, and within a day, they’re through. That’s the problem that we face. And so I think the real key to the issue – how do we build the confidence that we’re doing it right with the American people, with Congress and everybody else?"

(this rambling monologue seems to me to betray a certain incoherence or at the least an inability to speak properly)

In his address to Black Hat in Las Vegas, Hayden attempted to frame the context of the unprecedented cyber-war battlefield in geographical terms. His allusion was to the limitless flat plain of western Germany and the indefensible frontiers of the Polish nation so often overrun from east and west. He then suggested the need to create in cyberspace the necessary barriers corresponding to such natural defenses found in nature such as mountain ranges, vast rivers, forests and the like (?). Stretching the general's awkward allusion a bit farther, it is indeed true that the Internet has no borders and cyber attacks from a certain geographic become irrelevant. And yet "protecting command and control and cyber-infrastructure" according to Alexander are all important and essential. In other words the post 9/11 paradigm of attacks originating within and outside of the "Homeland" establish the need to pay particular and special attention to the net outposts within the US as well.

While Hayden's allusion seems somewhat clumsy and overdrawn, the implications are clear. In WWII Poland was occupied and ruthlessly subjected to draconian military occupation in addition to being transformed into the locus of the death and extermination camps. If we view Alexander's remarks in this context it is and given the predilection of the US Military to constantly undertake hostile actions in the name of national security and defense, it is not too far reaching to assume that the deployment, penetrations and intrusions already underway by the NSA/Google cyber corps are but the first expeditionary forays into the Internet battlefield, especially "in the Homeland".This scenario assumes even more relevance when it is admitted that the ongoing CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and High Yield Explosives) consequence management plans and preparedness scheduled for the third annual assignment of Army, Army Reserve, and National Guard exercises on Oct. 1, 2010 has now been accorded a Cyber component as well.

As in any war and the invasion of any sovereign area, the residents of the area invaded are usually subjected to harsh treatment. Their natural rights are ignored and abrogated. Freedom of movement and association are curtailed, all in the name of security. Many argue that this remains impossible on the Internet, long known for free and unfettered access to all types of information. It is thought that the logistical complexities of restricting internet usage render any such attempts dubious and even impossible. Yet internet censorship and even the infamous proposed "kill switch" might not be necessary. The very openness of an increasingly heavily monitored internet means ultimate transparency and maximum exposure at least for the denizens of the internet who perhaps inadvertently find themselves the objects of an already pronounced matrix of monitoring, spying and surveillance by the NSA/Google or DOD for whatever reason.

The Assange/WikiLeaks/NSA Connection

Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks

Largely due to the indefatigable investigations of Wayne Madsen published last March and receiving the attentions of several cut and paste artists on certain sites and blogs with varying and mostly limited commentary, Assange and WikiLeaks have been treated to a more thorough kind of exposure than the folderol accorded to them by the corporate media and a handful of the more credulous and sympathetic bloggers across the net.The most thorough treatment of the Madsen material was generously dispensed at http://arthurzbygniew.blogspot.com/2010/03/soros-co-back-wikileaks-kosher-mob-oval.html-wikileaks-kosher-mob-oval.html and at an Infowars forum, http://forum.prisonplanet.com/index.php?topic=175998.0 although not to my knowledge on the main page. Madsen did not mention anything concerning the NSA and Assange/WikiLeaks and instead attempted to establish a CIA connection.As Madsen notes, John Young who cofounded WikiLeaks with Assange, quit the organization alleging CIA involvement, going on to found Cryptome, an organization which has encountered significant harassment and intimidation from government investigators as opposed to the apparent hands off approach to WikiLeaks. Prior to finding the above documents, we had discovered Assange's association with Ben Laurie a former intel/security specialist with Google who later became one of the principals of the Apache Software Foundation.

Laurie apparently has assumed the status of informal spokesperson and erstwhile "informal board of advisors"member for WikiLeaks.One has to wonder whether Laurie is just freelancing or is acting as an effective colporteur for the NSA. Our subsequent inquiries into Apache revealed an ongoing interface between Laurie's foundation and the NSA as well as the Bureau of Industry and Security /US Department of Commerce. For example, ASF was the hardware provider for the NSA's Red Hat Enterprise Linux S (October 21, 2009) We mention this only in reference to the increasingly blurred boundaries between so-called private sector security companies and their government, military, and corporate proprietary contracts.Yet given Madsen's in depth investigations concerning WikiLeaks and the CIA , such connections can only "add fuel to the fire". Indeed, Apache Webserver, "software of choice of 23 million websites worldwide" and a host of other ASF entities are all provided services by Covalent Technologies which numbers among its clients the major US financial institutions and international pharmaceutical giants as well as the ATF, NASA, and of course the NSA.This is in keeping with Alexander's assertion that "90% of the military's energy is generated and distributed by the private sector ( think BP) and 80% of its logistics are transported by private companies"(how about Halliburton) I think he forgot to mention funding via US treasury bonds gratis the Federal Reserve and Goldman Sachs.

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