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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2002 > Nov > Nov 11

Secrecy News -- 11/11/0

From: Steven Aftergood <saftergood.nul>
Date: Mon, 11 Nov 2002 15:18:39 -0500
Archived: Mon, 11 Nov 2002 15:16:32 -0500
Subject: Secrecy News -- 11/11/0


SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2002, Issue No. 112
November 11, 2002


**	UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE CIA YEMEN STRIKE
**	DARPA'S TOTAL INFORMATION AWARENESS
**	THE MYTH OF CYBERTERRORISM
**	CIA REJECTS "CENSORSHIP" CHARGE


UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE CIA YEMEN STRIKE

The attack last week in Yemen by a CIA unmanned aerial vehicle
that killed six al-Qaeda suspects including an American citizen
has mostly been welcomed as a success in the war against
terrorism.  But it also leaves a host of unanswered questions in
its wake.

Under what conditions will the United States initiate lethal
operations away from a recognized battlefield?  Under whose
authority?  Does CIA Director George Tenet now literally have a
license to kill?  Can an American lose all vestiges of his
constitutional protections, and then lose his life, on the CIA's
say-so?

"I can assure you that no constitutional questions are raised
here," said national security adviser Condoleezza Rice on Fox
News.  "The President has given broad authority to US officials
in a variety of circumstances to do what they need to do to
protect the country" and he is "well within the balance of
accepted practice and the letter of his constitutional
authority."

"I'm not going to talk about Yemen at all," said Pentagon
spokeswoman Victoria Clarke last week.

The attack "may not have violated the U.S. ban on
assassinations, but the Bush administration's new rules on
America's right to self-defense in the uncertain battlefield of
the war on terrorism need to be sharply defined, according to
former intelligence officials and experts," wrote Pam Hess of
UPI.

See "Yemen Strike Not Assassination" by Pamela Hess, United
Press International, November 8:

http://www.upi.com/view.cfm?StoryID021107-042725-6586r


DARPA'S TOTAL INFORMATION AWARENESS

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is working
to create a "visionary" new computer monitoring system known as
"Total Information Awareness" that would search for terrorists
by probing through networked databases of private
"transactional" information.

"We must be able to detect, classify, identify and track
terrorists so that we may understand their plans and act to
prevent them from being executed," said John Poindexter,
director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
(DARPA) Information Awareness Office.

"Total Information Awareness -- a prototype system -- is our
answer," he said in an August 2 speech describing the
initiative.

"If terrorist organizations are going to plan and execute
attacks against the United States, their people must engage in
transactions and they will leave signatures in this information
space," Adm. Poindexter said.

Of course, anyone who does anything must also "engage in
transactions" and "leave signatures," raising immediate
questions about the implications of Total Information Awareness
for data security and personal privacy, among other issues.

See Adm. Poindexter's August 2 speech here:

http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/dod/poindexter.html

The new initiative was further described in "Pentagon Plans a
Computer System That Would Peek at Personal Data of Americans"
by John Markoff in the New York Times, November 9:

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/11/09/politics/09COMP.html


THE MYTH OF CYBERTERRORISM

While computer security needs to be an everyday concern for
anyone who transmits or maintains valuable data online,
"cyberterrorism" is a word that has no right to exist.

"There is no such thing as cyberterrorism," writes Joshua Green.
There is "no instance of anyone ever having been killed by a
terrorist (or anyone else) using a computer."

Green's article "The Myth of Cyberterrorism" in the November
2002 Washington Monthly marks the growing skepticism about the
prospects of an "electronic Pearl Harbor" and echoes a critique
that has been voiced notably by George Smith of The Crypt
Newsletter for years. See:

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2001/0211.green.html

A somewhat more credulous view of the subject was offered by the
Congressional Research Service in "Critical Infrastructure:
Control Systems and the Terrorist Threat," updated on October 1:

http://www.fas.org/irp/crs/RL31534.pdf


CIA REJECTS "CENSORSHIP" CHARGE

Central Intelligence Agency spokesman Bill Harlow lashed out at
author David Wise last week after Wise wrote a New York Times
op-ed that accused the CIA of attempting to censor his book.

Mr. Wise described CIA's efforts to discourage him from
disclosing the name of a CIA counterintelligence officer who had
been falsely suspected of espionage.  Mr. Wise said that the
pressure he faced to withhold the name exemplifies how the
Agency uses secrecy to avoid embarrassment and to conceal its
failures.  The officer's name was nevertheless published in
Wise's recent book about the Robert Hanssen espionage case.

"It seems clear that the C.I.A. attempted to censor the book
merely to avoid embarrassing publicity," Mr. Wise wrote.  See
his November 7 op-ed, "Spies as Censors," here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/11/07/opinion/07WISE.html

That is "complete and utter nonsense," said the CIA's Harlow.
 "Mr. Wise misleads the readers of the New York Times by
suggesting that the CIA was trying to avoid embarrassing
publicity.  On the contrary, the officer involved, through his
lawyer, even offered to be interviewed for the book.  His only
condition was that his true name be withheld."  See the CIA
statement and related correspondence from DCI George Tenet to
Mr. Wise's publisher here:

http://www.odci.gov/cia/public_affairs/press_release/pr11072002.html

What seems clear in this case is that the CIA is right, and Mr.
Wise is wrong.

There is no reason to believe, and Mr. Wise did not even try to
establish, that disclosing the name of the falsely accused CIA
officer could be, or was, a source of "embarrassment" to the
CIA.

The only embarrassment that may have resulted from Mr. Wise's
disclosure is to the officer himself, who is not a public figure
and who by all accounts has done nothing wrong.

CIA information policy is profoundly dysfunctional, and
routinely involves the abuse of classification authority.  But
measures to maintain the anonymity of clandestine service
personnel are not part of this problem.

_______________________________________________

Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the
Federation of American Scientists.

To SUBSCRIBE to Secrecy News, send email to
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Secrecy News is archived at:
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