In remarks posted Dec. 9 and 12, Wayne Madsen makes any number of alarming assertions about burgeoning censorship of the web in the U.S., but presents little or no evidence to support them; he cites the name of not a single individual. -- Madsen often makes such unverifiable assertions, and has proved in the past to be an unreliable source. -- (Just like the New York Times.) -- Madsen's remarks do call attention to some interesting recent news, however. -- The New York Times reported that on Nov. 8 the CIA's Foreign Broadcast Information Service in Langley, VA, would be absorbed by a new agency called the Open Source Center and overseen "by a subordinate of Negroponte's," though the director remains the same (Douglas Naquin). -- "Open source" refers to intelligence gathered from sources available to the general public. -- AP said that "Mary Margaret Graham, the national intelligence director's deputy for collection, . . . [said] almost every question from policy-makers can be answered with open source analysis, except for the intent of a bad actor." -- (An amusing aside to this story: "[D]uring a speech at a conference last week, Graham let it slip that the overall U.S. intelligence budget is $44 billion -- a number that open-government advocates have sued unsuccessfully to get. Until her disclosure, educated estimates put the intelligence budget at over $40 billion, without any official U.S. confirmation. When asked whether the disclosure was intentional or represented a change in policy, Graham said Tuesday, 'We are going to not talk about that.'") -- A few weeks later, the Washington Post reported that the Open Source Center had "started hosting Web logs with the latest information" on varioius topics, and "even has a blog on blogs, dedicated to cracking the code of what useful information can be gleaned from the rapidly expanding milieu of online journals and weird electronic memorabilia warehoused on the Net. -- The blogs are posted on an unclassified, government-wide Web site, part of a rechristened CIA office for monitoring, translating, and analyzing publicly available information called the DNI Open Source Center." ...
By Wayne Madsen
The Madsen Report
December 9, 2005
Internet censorship. It did not happen overnight but slowly came to America's shores from testing grounds in China and the Middle East.
Progressive and investigative journalist web site administrators are beginning to talk to each other about it, e-mail users are beginning to understand why their e-mail is being disrupted by it, major search engines appear to be complying with it, and the low to equal signal-to-noise ratio of legitimate e-mail and spam appears to be perpetuated by it.
In this case, "it," is what privacy and computer experts have long warned about: massive censorship of the web on a nationwide and global scale. For many years, the web has been heavily censored in countries around the world. That censorship continues at this very moment. Now it is happening right here in America.
The agreement by the Congress to extend an enhanced Patriot Act for another four years will permit the political enforcers of the Bush administration, who use law enforcement as their proxies, to further clamp censorship controls on the web.
INTERNET CENSORSHIP: THE WARNING SIGNS WERE NOT HIDDEN
The warning signs for the crackdown on the web have been with us for over a decade. The Clipper chip controversy of the 90s, John Poindexter's Total Information Awareness (TIA) system pushed in the aftermath of 9-11, backroom deals between the Federal government and the Internet service industry, and the Patriot Act have ushered in a new era of Internet censorship, something just half a decade ago computer programmers averred was impossible given the nature of the web. They were wrong, dead wrong.
Take for example of what recently occurred when two journalists were taking on the phone about a story that appeared on Google News. The story was about a Christian fundamentalist move in Congress to use U.S. military force in Sudan to end genocide in Darfur. The story appeared on the English Google News site in Qatar. But the very same Google News site when accessed simultaneously in Washington, DC failed to show the article. This censorship is accomplished by geolocation filtering: the restriction or modifying of web content based on the geographical region of the user. In addition to countries, such filtering can now be implemented for states, cities, and even individual IP addresses.
With reports in the Swedish newspaper Svensa Dagbladet today that the United States has transmitted a Homeland Security Department "no fly" list of 80,000 suspected terrorists to airport authorities around the world, it is not unreasonable that a "no [or restricted] surfing/emailing" list has been transmitted to Internet Service Providers around the world. The systematic disruptions of web sites and email strongly suggests that such a list exists.
News reports on CIA prisoner flights and secret prisons are disappearing from Google and other search engines like Alltheweb as fast as they appear. Here now, gone tomorrow is the name of the game.
Google is systematically failing to list and link to articles that contain explosive information about the Bush administration, the war in Iraq, Al Qaeda, and U.S. political scandals. But Google is not alone in working closely to stifle Internet discourse. America On Line, Microsoft, Yahoo, and others are slowly turning the Internet into an information superhighway dominated by barricades, toll booths, off-ramps that lead to dead ends, choke points, and security checks.
America On Line is the most egregious is stifling Internet freedom. A former AOL employee noted how AOL and other Internet Service Providers cooperate with the Bush administration in censoring email. The Patriot Act gave federal agencies the power to review information to the packet level and AOL was directed by agencies like the FBI to do more than sniff the subject line. The AOL term of service (TOS) has gradually been expanded to grant AOL virtually universal power regarding information. Many AOL users are likely unaware of the elastic clause, which says they will be bound by the current TOS and any TOS revisions which AOL may elect at any time in the future. Essentially, AOL users once agreed to allow the censorship and non-delivery of their email.
Microsoft has similar requirements for Hotmail as do Yahoo and Google for their respective e-mail services.
There are also many cases of Google's search engine failing to list and link to certain information. According to a number of web site administrators who carry anti-Bush political content, this situation has become more pronounced in the last month. In addition, many web site administrators are reporting a dramatic drop-off in hits to their sites, according to their web statistic analyzers. Adding to their woes is the frequency at which spam viruses are being spoofed as coming from their web site addresses.
Government disruption of the political side of the web can easily be hidden amid hyped mainstream news media reports of the latest "boutique" viruses and worms, reports that have more to do with the sales of anti-virus software and services than actual long-term disruption of banks, utilities, or airlines.
INTERNET CENSORSHIP IN THE U.S.: NO LONGER A PREDICTION
Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Cisco Systems have honed their skills at Internet censorship for years in places like China, Jordan, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, and other countries. They have learned well. They will be the last to admit they have imported their censorship skills into the United States at the behest of the Bush regime. Last year, the Bush-Cheney campaign blocked international access to its web site -- www.georgewbush.com -- for unspecified "security reasons."
Only those in the Federal bureaucracy and the companies involved are in a position to know what deals have been made and how extensive Internet censorship has become. They owe full disclosure to their customers and their fellow citizens.
December 12, 2005
The Washington Post [see #4 below] is reporting that the Director of National Intelligence's Open Source Center (OSC) (which replaced the Foreign Broadcast Information Service) is surfing blogs and web sites looking for open source intelligence to help it do its job. The center's director, CIA veteran Douglas Naquin, said, "managing the world's unclassified knowledge . . . [is] much bigger than any one organization can do."
With all the recent complaints about Internet censorship and e-mail blocking, one has to wonder -- what does "managing the world's unclassified knowledge" entail? Secret deals with Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL, and Google to control the flow of information. What does this have to do with John Poindexter's re-engineered and re-packaged Total Information Awareness system and its Genoa I, Genoa II, and Genesys incarnations? What does OSC's Advanced Internet Exploitation training have to do with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA's) Information Exploitation Office (IXO)?
NO SNOOPING NECESSARY
By Scott Shane
New York Times
November 9, 2005
A new U.S. intelligence agency will gather and analyze information from the Internet, broadcasts, newspapers, and other unclassified sources around the world.
The premise of the agency, the Open Source Center, is that some vital information needed to understand threats to U.S. security requires neither spies nor satellites to collect. The agency's creation was announced Tuesday [Nov. 8] as part of the restructuring of U.S. intelligence agencies by John Negroponte, director of national intelligence.
The information to be gathered can include anything from sermons broadcast from radical mosques in the Middle East to reports in the provincial Chinese news media of possible avian flu outbreaks. Such material has often been undervalued by government policy makers, intelligence officials said, in part because it lacks the cachet of information gathered by more secretive methods.
"Just because information is stolen, that doesn't make it more useful," General Michael Hayden, Negroponte's principal deputy, said at a news briefing.
The new center will absorb the Foreign Broadcast Information Service, a branch of the CIA that has already expanded beyond its historical duty of translating foreign broadcasts and periodicals to study Web sites and more obscure sources like T-shirt slogans in countries of interest. The director of the old service, Douglas Naquin, becomes the director of the Open Source Center.
The center, situated at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, will be under the operational command of the CIA director, Porter Goss, but will be overseen by a subordinate of Negroponte's.
By putting the center under Negroponte's control, officials said, they hope to ensure that its reports go to all 15 U.S. intelligence agencies and the major U.S. military commands rather than just to the CIA. But the divided management structure also shows the delicacy of shifting control of the United States' $44 billion spy effort to Negroponte from Goss.
Mark Lowenthal, president of the Intelligence and Security Academy, a training firm in Virginia, who was an assistant director of the CIA from 2002 until this year, said open source information had long been undervalued and the center's creation gave the government a chance to change that.
NEW U.S. INTEL CENTER STUDIES FREE SECRETS
By Kathryn Shrader
November 9, 2005
The national intelligence director is opening a center that will elevate a brand of information that's long been a stepchild in the U.S. spy community: secrets that don't have to be stolen.
Called the Open Source Center, the new operation will collect and study information that's publicly available around the world, including media reports, Internet postings, and even T-shirts in Southeast Asia.
"Information stolen, just by the fact it was stolen, does not make it superior," the deputy national intelligence director, Gen. Michael Hayden, said Tuesday at a briefing about the center.
Its director, Douglas Naquin, said the center will build upon the office he headed for the last three years -- the CIA's Foreign Broadcast Information Service, which was established in 1941, before even the agency, to collect Axis broadcasts.
The new center comes in response to a recommendation from President Bush's commission on weapons of mass destruction to make it easier for intelligence officials and consumers to tap into "open-source" intelligence, or the many varieties of information the public -- and spy agencies -- can legally obtain. That universe has expanded greatly with the Internet, cable news, and other media.
Naquin said some information falls into a category of "gray data" that is readily available but not widely known. His analysts, for instance, may obtain a paper on a conference in Asia or write a report on T-shirts collected in Indonesia.
Rather than being tucked deep into the CIA hierarchy, the new center will report to the CIA director and work with all 15 spy agencies and a number of other government agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services.
Mary Margaret Graham, the national intelligence director's deputy for collection, couldn't think of a question that's been answered with open-source information alone, but said she's watched the government's dependence on it increase.
For example, Graham said, if the avian flu issues arose five years ago, the reaction would have been to use clandestine resources to collect information. Now, almost every question from policy-makers can be answered with open source analysis, except for the intent of a bad actor.
"At the end of the day, if we do open source right . . . I think we will then know where to spend our clandestine resources," Graham said.
Material in the open is both a blessing and a curse for spy agencies. They want to collect what's available, but don't want adversaries to know the United States' interests. And they get especially anxious when their own classified information slips into the public domain.
For instance, during a speech at a conference last week, Graham let it slip that the overall U.S. intelligence budget is $44 billion -- a number that open-government advocates have sued unsuccessfully to get.
Until her disclosure, educated estimates put the intelligence budget at over $40 billion, without any official U.S. confirmation. When asked whether the disclosure was intentional or represented a change in policy, Graham said Tuesday, "We are going to not talk about that."
CIA SCOURS WEB FOR 'ANYTHING THAT CAN BE LEGALLY OBTAINED'
By Susan B. Glasser
November 27, 2005 (?)
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/11/27/MNG0OFUJLP1.DTL (Nov. 27)
The Australian (Nov. 29)
http://www.startribune.com/stories/484/5760688.html (Dec. 4)
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/nationworld/sfl-aintelblogs11dec11,0,5337566.story (Dec. 11)
WASHINGTON -- The CIA now has its own bloggers.
In a bow to the rise of Internet-era secrets hidden in plain view, the agency has started hosting Web logs with the latest information on topics including North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il's public visit to a military installation (his 38th this year) and the Burmese media's silence on a ministry reshuffling. It even has a blog on blogs, dedicated to cracking the code of what useful information can be gleaned from the rapidly expanding milieu of online journals and weird electronic memorabilia warehoused on the Net.
The blogs are posted on an unclassified, government-wide Web site, part of a rechristened CIA office for monitoring, translating, and analyzing publicly available information called the DNI Open Source Center. The center, which officially debuted [in November] under the aegis of the new director for National Intelligence, marks the latest wave of reorganization to come out of the recommendations of several commissions that analyzed the failures of intelligence collection related to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
They pointed to decentralized and insufficient efforts to tap into the huge realm of public information in the Internet era, as well as a continuing climate of disdain for such information among spy agencies. "There are still people who believe if it's not top secret, it's not worth reading," said an outside expert who works with government intelligence agencies.
By adding the new center, "they've changed the strategic visibility," said Douglas Naquin, a CIA veteran named to direct the center. ". . . All of a sudden open source is at the table." But, in an interview last month at CIA headquarters, he added that "managing the world's unclassified knowledge . . . [is] much bigger than any one organization can do."
OPENED FOR BUSINESS IN 1941
Today's Open Source Center began life as the Foreign Broadcast Information Service -- FBIS to insiders -- in 1941, when it was charged with monitoring publicly available media and translating it. Its pastel-hued booklets became a familiar presence throughout government. At the height of the Cold War, it was FBIS translators who pored through the latest issues of Izvestia and Pravda from the Soviet Union, providing the little hints such as a word change that might signal something broader for the CIA's Kremlinologists.
By the 1990s, the office had fallen on hard times. Some advocated abolishing FBIS, saying it was irrelevant in the age of 24-hour cable news. It survived but had its personnel slashed 60 percent, according to Naquin. Sept. 11 gave it new purpose, as "open source" became an intelligence buzzword. Across government, policymakers began to debate how to find the nuggets of genuine information hidden in the Internet avalanche.
Even before the Open Source Center's debut, the office had retooled its Internet efforts earlier this year. It added a new video database that makes all its archives available online, and it rolled out an upgraded Web site with the blogs and homepages for key intelligence topics, such as Osama bin Laden, Iraq insurgency leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, China, and even avian flu.
A SKEPTICAL COMMUNITY
Perhaps the toughest challenge for the new Open Source Center is proving its mettle inside a skeptical intelligence community, in which the stolen secret has long been prized above the publicly available gem. Clearly there are skeptics. Although the center's Web site is unclassified and available across the government, at the moment it has just 6,500 users with active accounts, Naquin said.
"Rarely is there the 'aha!' The 'oh-you-solved-this or you-prevented-this'" moment, Naquin acknowledged.
"The reluctance to use it is astounding to me," said Michael Scheuer, the former head of the CIA's special Bin Laden unit. "Nobody wants to go back in response to an assignment and say 'oh, my Open Source Center found this on a server in Belgium.'"
The culture clash isn't likely to disappear anytime soon -- especially with an intelligence community that still takes steps to classify material found easily on the Internet. Not long ago, recalled a former senior government terrorism analyst, he was teaching a class to future CIA intelligence analysts that included a PowerPoint presentation on Al-Qaida's post-Sept. 11 evolution, with various images taken from the Internet.
Two men in the back of the class came up to the instructor after the presentation. Where, they asked, did he get a particular image from Iraq? It's classified, they insisted. The former analyst laughed. He had taken it from a gruesome Web site that compiles terrorist atrocity videos along with pornography.