Friday, March 05, 2010

More details emerging of NSA's next generation Internet surveillance

More details emerging of NSA's next generation Internet surveillance

The Obama administration is continuing to expand a National Security Agency-run Internet surveillance program first started by the Bush administration.

The surveillance project, known as Einstein, was previously reported by WMR to be a surveillance program and not, primarily, a network security countermeasure as billed by NSA and the Bush administration.

On September 15, 2008, WMR reported: "WMR has learned from government sources that the Bush administration has authorized massive surveillance of the Internet using as cover a cyber-security multi-billion dollar project called the 'Einstein' program. Billed as a cyber-security intrusion detection system for federal computer systems and networks, WMR has been told that the actual intent of Einstein is to initially monitor the email and web surfing activities of federal employees and contractors and not in protecting government computer systems from intrusion by outsiders. In February 2008, President Bush signed a directive that designated the National Security Agency (NSA) as the central administrator for the federal government's computer and network security. Although Einstein is primarily a program under the aegis of the Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) of the National Cyber Security Division of the Homeland Security Department, WMR has learned that it has the personal support of Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Mike McConnell, a former NSA director. Einstein is advertised as merely conducting traffic analysis within the dot (.) gov and dot (.) mil domains, including data packet lengths, protocols, source and destination IP addresses, source and destination ports, time stamp information, and autonomous system numbers. However, WMR has learned that Einstein will also bore down into the text of email and analyze message content. In fact, most of the classified budget allotted to Einstein is being used for collecting information from the text of messages and not the header data."

WMR further reported: " . . . WMR has learned that most of the classified technology being used for Einstein was developed for the NSA in conducting signals intelligence (SIGINT) operations on email networks in Russia. Code-named PINWALE, the NSA email surveillance system targets Russian government, military, diplomatic, and commercial email traffic and burrows into the text portions of the email to search for particular words and phrases of interest to NSA eavesdroppers. The DNI and NSA also plan to move Einstein into the private sector by claiming the nation's critical infrastructure, by nature, overlaps into the commercial sector. There are classified plans, already budgeted in so-called "black" projects, to extend Einstein surveillance into the dot (.) com, dot (.) edu, dot (.) int, and dot (.) org, as well as other Internet domains."

The Internet surveillance project reported by WMR in September 2008 is known as "Einstein 2." The system that will extend NSA surveillance into the private sector is known as "Einstein 3." On September 16, 2008, WMR reported Einstein's expansion globally: "The National Security Agency's (NSA) 'Einstein' Internet surveillance technology is set to be extended to the nations of the South Pacific if New Zealand's NSA counterpart, the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) gets its way."

Speaking at the RSA Security conference in San Francisco on March 3, Greg Schaffer, assistant secretary of Homeland Security for cybersecurity and communications, tipped attendees off on the future plans of the NSA and Homeland Security Department to extend Einstein 3 surveillance to non-government networks, including the Internet.

Einstein was a personal pet project of Bush's Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. With Chertoff continuing to advise the Homeland Security Department and Secretary Janet Napolitano, the Obama administration is continuing to embrace the Internet surveillance policies adopted by the Bush administration. Napolitano is also continuing Chertoff's policies by keeping most of the details about Einstein, both versions 2 and 3, classified.

The NSA and the Obama administration are claiming that Einstein 3 does not read the content of e-mail messages, however, much of the details of the system are not only classified but AT&T, which was instrumental in conducting highly-classified warrantless wiretaps of Internet traffic on behalf of the NSA as part of STELLAR WIND, is involved in testing Einstein 3.

The history of NSA's expansion of its surveillance capabilities suggests that it is being as disingeneous about Einstein 3 as it was about previous forays into private telecommunications surveillance, including the Clipper and Capstone encryption key escrow systems that allowed NSA to possess the decryption keys to listen to and read scrambled private phone calls and e-mail messages, respectively.

NSA often will state we want to do "A" but not "B." In fact, NSA always wants to do "A" and "B," with plans to do "C."

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Doubts grow about Nato's future

Washington struggled to persuade the European members of NATO to pull their military weight even in the years when the alliance's purpose was to protect them from a Soviet invasion. Now that NATO is fighting a real war against assorted insurgents far from home in Afghanistan, getting the Europeans to pony up resources is proving to be an even tougher sell — and threatening NATO's very survival.

Even as NATO nations have won plaudits for sending more troops to Afghanistan, cracks are beginning to show in the alliance's commitment and long-term health. "Right now, the alliance faces very serious, long-term, systemic problems," Defense Secretary Robert Gates said last week. Budget shortfalls — only five of the 28 members are meeting the alliance's goal of spending 2% of their GDP on defense — are hurting the war effort. The resulting dearth of helicopters, cargo planes and spy aircraft is "directly impacting operations in Afghanistan," Gates said.

Backsliding by the Netherlands, an inability to cough up sufficient troops to train the Afghan army and European polls showing dwindling support for the war paint a bleak picture. "The demilitarization of Europe — where large swaths of the general public and political class are averse to military force and the risks that go with it — has gone from a blessing in the 20th century to an impediment to achieving real security and lasting peace in the 21st," Gates warned.

The Dutch government is expected to pull its 1,600 troops out of Afghanistan soon. And a call for 3,200 additional NATO soldiers to help train the fledgling Afghan army was answered with commitments for only half that number. "Training and advising the security forces of other nations needs to become a key alliance mission," Gates said. "In Afghanistan, the alliance has struggled to field the trainers and mentors needed for this mission." The building of indigenous military forces is key to allowing the U.S. and its NATO allies to go home, which makes the alliance's response to the call for additional trainers so frustrating to U.S. war planners.

While the U.S., Britain, Canada, Denmark, Estonia and the Netherlands have done the most fighting and dying on a per capita basis, others such as France and Germany have used caveats for what their forces can do to maximize their safety. Some troops are deployed only in the less violent areas of Afghanistan, while others are restricted to less dangerous peacekeeping or training missions.

Gates also criticized NATO for buying the wrong weapons for the wrong war — a criticism he has consistently directed at the U.S. military as well during his three-year tenure, chiding it for buying wonder weapons for hypothetical wars while soldiers fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq lack armor and spy drones. "Despite the need to spend more on vital equipment for ongoing missions, the alliance has been unwilling to fundamentally change how it sets priorities and allocates resources," Gates said. He praised Denmark for giving up its submarine fleet — who knew? — in order to double the size of its expeditionary forces.

As NATO revises its "strategic concept" — the once-a-decade effort to maintain the alliance's relevance in a post–Cold War world — there is a scent of desperation in the air. For the past 20 years, it has struggled to adapt to an expeditionary role, capable of dispatching troops thousands of miles from home, "out of area," as NATO officials put it. The reason is simple: If NATO can't do out of area, it's out of business. "NATO, I think, still deserves to continue," Alexander Vershbow, the Pentagon's top international thinker, said on Feb. 26. "If NATO ceased to exist, we'd have to reinvent it very quickly."

Despite the cutting-edge technology deployed by those members that are willing to spend, NATO is hamstrung by its decisionmaking structures, which include more than 300 committees, with 20 focused on intelligence alone. And this while many member countries aren't pulling their weight.

That's why Gates is trying hard to shake the Europeans out of a sense that a robust military capability is a relic of the 20th century. If they continue on their current path, after all, European NATO members may actually succeed in doing what Moscow never could: render the 61-year-old alliance a paper tiger.