At this very moment analysts at the National Security Agency some 30 miles north of the White House are monitoring countless flashpoints of data — cellphone calls to “hot” numbers, an e-mail message on a suspicious server, an oddly worded tweet — as they carom around the globe like pinballs in cyberspace.
The snippets of information could conceivably lead them to Anwar al-Awlaki, a fugitive cleric in Yemen whose fiery sermons have inspired violent jihadists. Or to the next would-be underwear bomber. Or, much more likely in the needle-in-a-haystack world of cyber detection, it might lead to nothing at all — at least nothing of any consequence in determining Al Qaeda’s next target.
This is the world of modern eavesdropping, or signals intelligence, as its adherents call it, and for many years it operated in the shadows. “The Puzzle Palace,” the 1983 best seller by James Bamford that remains the benchmark study of the N.S.A., first pulled back the curtain to provide a glint of unwanted sunlight on the place. And the years after the Sept. 11 attacks — a period in which the surveillance agencies’ muscular new role would lead to secret wiretapping programs inside the United States, expansive data-mining operations and more — gave rise to public scrutiny that made the place a veritable greenhouse of exposure.
COVER STORY: The Cyberwar Plan It’s not just a defensive game; cyber-security includes attack plans too, and the U.S. has already used some of them successfully.
by Shane Harris Saturday, Nov. 14, 2009
14 tech firms form cybersecurity alliance for governmentLockheed Martin, top suppliers launch initiative for government market
By Wyatt Kash Nov 12, 2009
Phi Beta Iota: It is a scam, big time. The U.S. does not have–outside of our small number of colleagues in Hackers on Planet Earth and the Silicon Valley Hackers/THINK Conference–the brainpower and cummulative skills to fill the Potemkin Center, much less staff a capability with global reach.
We have not featured “think tanks” on this web site because all of them, with one exception, are ideologically biased and financially-beholden to one of the two parties that monopolize power and exclude both the majority of Americans from an honest electoral process, and the majority of objective experts from the policy and budget dailog.
The CATO Institute appears to be an exception. Below are a few of their generally dated but still relevant pronouncements on the subject of intelligence as decision support.