Sunday, February 12, 2012

Crisis Needed to Pass New Cyber Law

Not so fast, Admiral!  Leave the Internet alone!
Click here for related story [Reuters]

Currently, the US Intelligence Community [IC] is authorized to operate outside the US, targeting "potential adversaries".  Admiral McConnell has been seeking to expand the IC's authority to operate within US borders, targeting "potential adversaries" -- of the government [read: Administration].

In order for this Administration to legislate these expanded capabilities, to include restricting the freedom of speech on the Internet, Admiral McConnell advises a crisis will be necessary to get Congress on board. 

So, look for a national crisis created by our government in the name of the terrorist organization du jour; more than likely, one we've never heard of previously -- but created just for this requirement.

"US intelligence agencies have unique capabilities that can help protect American companies from cyber espionage and attack, but it will take a crisis to change laws to allow that type of cooperation."

I'll decide who uses the Internet, and who we target.
Admiral McConnell  started off with the Naval Investigative Service [now the popularized NCIS] -- noted for its investigation of gay sailors in the 1980s; was later a technical intelligence officer groomed by the Clinton Era IC and senior military staff.

He served as Director of the National Security Agency [NSA], retired, worked for Booz Allen [an Intelligence/Defense contractor], was then appointed Director of National Intelligence [DNI], and is now back at Booz Allen as senior Vice Chairman -- specializing in -- what else? -- cyber security.

"Do we have the ability to attack, degrade or destroy?  Sure.  If you do that, what are the consequences?  That is the question."

[Especially if you want to control the Internet!]
Surprisingly, Booz is expected to win billion dollar contracts from the IC to "protect our cyber security." 
[No restrictions on that revolving door.]

While DNI, he started off by proposing legitimate goals of modernizing the IC and sharing information. 

All good stuff.

But then, he decided that US Intelligence needed fewer Constitutional restrictions in order to "protect national security."   In reality, much of the argument for loosening restrictions was based on failures due to bureaucratic inefficiencies and SNAFUs within NSA and the IC, and not because of Constitutional restrictions.

McConnell proposed that NSA be unfettered in its surveillance activities [see Enemy of the State]:

1) End the requirement for court orders to collect intelligence on "foreign agents" located overseas - or in the US. 

2) Immunity for Telecoms sued for violating the nation's wiretapping laws - regardless of the veracity of the charges.

His lobbying of Congress over the "terrorist threat" resulted in the Protect America Act, which removed the warrant requirement for government surveillance of "foreign" intelligence targets "reasonably believed" to be outside the US.  Although that legislation was repealed the following year, the FISA Amendment Act of 2008 retained that provision.

Bush added to the problem by supporting illegal actions.
(c) NYT
In January 2009, a US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review ruled in favor of warrantless wiretapping; the opinion was heavily redacted.  Essentially, the ruling allowed US intelligence agencies to bypass the FISA provisions for warrants by declaring to themselves that their targets were "foreign".  No need to justify or report the decision or action.  Thus, the IC would police itself.

This advisory by Admiral McConnell is yet another means of achieving Government control of the Internet, and will likely be readily endorsed by Congress with the next Big Crisis.  

Sadly, there are all too few politicians on Capitol Hill today who understand how the IC works, and
just how much the Internet and its attendant freedoms are now at risk.