- By Dan Verton
- Aug 21, 2000
The Navy issued new guidance July 25 on how to identify information
technology jobs that are "inherently governmental" and others that are open
to being outsourced [see story, Page 54]. The Navy's chief information officer,
Dan Porter, acknowledges in the cover letter that programs such as the Navy/Marine
Corps Intranet are changing the government IT landscape by introducing more
cost- efficient business practices that require greater industry participation.
But one other thing seems clear from the list of job titles included in
the document: As long as your government job is located on the right end
of the so-called N/MCI umbilical cord — like aboard a ship or at an overseas
facility — it's safe.
Carnivore and Echelon
Barely a day goes by that a newspaper doesn't feel the need to run a
story on how Europeans are up in arms about the National Security Agency's
global electronic surveillance system known as Echelon or on how Americans
are ready to protest the FBI's Carnivore e-mail sniffer.
However, my mobile receive station near Bad Aibling, Germany (a major
node in the Echelon network), reports that senior U.S. officials are confident
that NSA's activities are legal. A senior State Department official who
was involved in Echelon operations at Bad Aibling said the debate is little
more than a symptom of the European backlash against what they see as U.S.
hegemony. The furor has made no mention of when Echelon was responsible
for "providing the German government incontrovertible evidence that German
firms were involved in the construction of a poison gas facility near Rapta,
Libya," he said. "Enough already."
Meanwhile, a federal appeals court ruled last week that the FBI must meet
the highest legal standards to examine packet data — such as e-mail — transmitted
via commercial Internet providers. This may make the FBI's Carnivore illegal,
according to sources.
My IRS receive station summed up the issue for me in an e-mail: "Thomas
Jefferson once said: "Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain
security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.' It seems that
while technology has advanced, principles of civilization are unchanging."
Lessons for DISA
While we're fresh from the Carnivore debate, somebody may want to ensure
that the Defense Information Systems Agency touches all bases when it rolls
out an intrusion-detection pilot project this summer at the Global Network
Operations Center. My Courthouse Road listening post has picked up signals
that DISA is testing an analysis system that will paint a picture of all
"questionable" activities on both the secure and nonsecure versions of the
Pentagon's Internet Protocol Routing Network.
This year's Joint Warrior Interoperability Demonstration, held last
month at the Joint Forces Command in Suffolk, Va., ended with several "Gold
Nugget" demonstrations that proved themselves worthy of further refinement
at next year's demo. One included the use of a smart card that allowed officers
to move from desktop to desktop while retaining their personalized online
work environment. Another nugget was a space-based system that enabled commanders
to predict exactly when commercial satellites used by the enemy are in position
to track friendly forces.
DOD has come a long way since the Interceptor took part in JWID-95.
I can remember when the Intelligence Analysis System and the Global Command
and Control System were installed on two identical laptops but couldn't
talk to each other.
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