The Circuit

The Name Blame

The FBI dubbed its sophisticated e-mail bugging system "Carnivore" because

it would "get to the meat" of suspect e-mails, officials said. But it has

become a public relations nightmare for the bureau since the nickname became

public in July. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) remarked on the "unfortunate"

moniker during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Sept. 6 and noted that

"nobody is the author of the name these days."

Attorney General Janet Reno at first asked reporters to "call it something

other than Carnivore" but gave up trying three weeks later. "You can't get

away from a name once it's on it," she said. And FBI spokesman Paul Bresson

sheepishly acknowledged, "We all kind of agree at this point it wasn't the

best name we could have given it." It's a good thing J. Edgar Hoover isn't

alive because the agent who coined that nickname would be half-way to Butte,

Mont., by now.

Putting the IT in Fitness?

It wasn't all high-tech work at this month's Interagency Resources Management

Conference in Wil-liams-burg, Va. Attendees at the conference were treated

to a visit from a well-tanned Suzanne Somers, the former sitcom actress

who plugs her own exercise equipment on cable television.

Her appearance came at the last minute after exercise guru Richard Simmons

canceled because of an injury. Somers gave an inspirational speech about

her road to success that began with a troubled childhood as the daughter

of an abusive, alcoholic father. She credits a government-sponsored counseling

program with getting her back on her feet years ago.

Money Talks

To no one's surprise, the high-tech community is opening its wallets

to political candidates in this year's races. Republican presidential hopeful

George W. Bush has outdistanced his Democratic opponent, Al Gore, by a 2-to-1

margin in total donations from the technology world ($928,749 to $429,454).

Topping the list of total industry contributions to individuals and political

parties was Microsoft Corp., which shelled out $2.8 million, followed

by America Online with $1.2 million, according to the Center for Responsive

Politics (, which tracks money and politics. Of course,

these two companies have the most at stake over their futures — one involving

a possible breakup and the other a pending merger. But will money really

help their causes?

Flyzik Pipes Up

Treasury CIO Jim Flyzik was in the midst of testifying before the House

Government Management, Information and Technology Subcommittee on Sept.

12 when he used the term "stovepiped." Panel Chairman Stephen Horn (R-Calif.)

interrupted and asked him to define the term.

Flyzik explained that it refers to agencies that do not cooperate but

instead work independently, such as old-fashioned heating stoves whose output

goes up separate pipes. Horn promised to place an asterisk in the official

record, noting "Flyzik's view" of stovepipes. "Thank you, sir," Flyzik replied.

"It's nice to know I will have a legacy."


  • Congress
    Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) at the Hack the Capitol conference Sept. 20, 2018

    Jim Langevin's view from the Hill

    As chairman of of the Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committe and a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rhode Island Democrat Jim Langevin is one of the most influential voices on cybersecurity in Congress.

  • Comment
    Pilot Class. The author and Barbie Flowers are first row third and second from right, respectively.

    How VA is disrupting tech delivery

    A former Digital Service specialist at the Department of Veterans Affairs explains efforts to transition government from a legacy "project" approach to a more user-centered "product" method.

  • Cloud
    cloud migration

    DHS cloud push comes with complications

    A pressing data center closure schedule and an ensuing scramble to move applications means that some Homeland Security components might need more than one hop to get to the cloud.

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