Intercepts

Been There

Following a major digitization demonstration in the Mojave Desert in early April, the Army admits some minor failures amid overwhelming successes. But one industry source remains skeptical. Following the first major digital division experiment in 1997, the Army touted similar successes, but internal documents written that year detailed more serious concerns. Bill Bond, at that time a brigadier general in charge of the Army digitization office, wrote to then-Brig. Gen. Steven Boutelle, program executive officer for command, control and communications systems, saying that a panel of so-called Gray Beards reviewing the Tactical Internet "expressed grave concerns that the redesigned Tactical Internet will implement features that will make it an essentially closed system, unable to interface to other networks without special "black boxes.' " Some Gray Beards also complained of the dismal security efforts. "To field a system this vulnerable seems, to me, tantamount to criminal negligence," wrote one after complaining that the service did not openly discuss security issues. Four years later, the Army still isn't discussing the Tactical Internet's security record.

Question is: If the Army keeps repeating its mistakes, does it still qualify as training?

Those Private Moments

Privacy advocates and conspiracy theorists, rejoice. Signals from the Defense Department's inspector general indicate that officials are investigating technology and privacy issues, such as DOD's purchase of data on school kids' Web-surfing habits. The Pentagon's Defense Manpower Data Center awarded a nine-month, nearly $15,000 contract in January to Roper Starch Worldwide, a New York marketing firm partnered with N2H2 Inc., whose Internet- filtering software is installed on school computers across the country. N2H2 markets its software to schools, parents and employers who want to filter Internet content of a dubious nature and protect user privacy. But the Pentagon uses the aggregated data to see how often kids surf military sites. The information is reportedly helpful in targeting potential recruits, but when the deal was disclosed earlier this year, privacy advocates cried foul.

Now, if the IG would just do something about that CIA plot to track the Interceptor's neural networks. Hello, Carnegie?

To learn how well the Navy Marine Corps Intranet will work, you need only consult Carnegie Mellon University, where employees in the 1980s used so-called time share networks, according to one Naval Air Systems Command employee. The systems "were not efficient as network platforms for conducting everyday business" and were "labeled as being fatally flawed and are now obsolete," the employee states.

"Anyone, including the Navy, the Marine Corps and even [lead vendor Electronic Data Systems Corp.] who has questions about the future success of NMCI should contact the computer department at Carnegie Mellon University," the employee continued. "Anyone who was working there during the early 1980s will be able to provide 100 percent accurate information about how a "time share' network like NMCI will work "in the real world.'"

Archaic Biometrics

As described on Page 46, Phil Loranger, director of the Pentagon's Biometrics Management Office, has said DOD is considering tagging biometric technologies as personal information protected under the Freedom of Information Act. Unfortunately, details are not yet available because a few basic questions submitted to his office were turned over to the legal department and might get answered in the next millennium. At this rate, the new biometrics policy will be as cutting-edge as sundials.

Intercept something? Send it to antenna@fcw.com.

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