Intelligence – Who's in Big Brother's Database?

New York Review of BooksWho’s in Big Brother’s Database?

James Bamford reviews a history of the National Security Agency. The most interesting part:

“…Instead, what the agency needs most, Aid says, is more power. But the type of power to which he is referring is the kind that comes from electrical substations, not statutes. “As strange as it may sound,” he writes, “one of the most urgent problems facing NSA is a severe shortage of electrical power.” With supercomputers measured by the acre and estimated $70 million annual electricity bills for its headquarters, the agency has begun browning out, which is the reason for locating its new data centers in Utah and Texas. And as it pleads for more money to construct newer and bigger power generators, Aid notes, Congress is balking.

The issue is critical because at the NSA, electrical power is political power. In its top-secret world, the coin of the realm is the kilowatt. More electrical power ensures bigger data centers. Bigger data centers, in turn, generate a need for more access to phone calls and e-mail and, conversely, less privacy. The more data that comes in, the more reports flow out. And the more reports that flow out, the more political power for the agency.

Rather than give the NSA more money for more power—electrical and political—some have instead suggested just pulling the plug…”

Intelligence – Virtual Earth image reveals Trident sub's secret propeller

Navy Times – This month, a photograph appeared on the Internet of the propeller on an Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine at Trident Submarine Base in Bangor. A key to the submarine’s ability to deploy and remain undetected, propeller designs have been kept under wraps for years, literally. When out of the water, the propellers typically are draped with tarps. The propeller image appeared on Microsoft’s mapping tool, Virtual Earth.
more…

Intelligence – Overhauling Intelligence

Foreign Affairs – Sixty years ago, the National Security Act created a U.S. intelligence infrastructure that would help win the Cold War. But on 9/11, the need to reform that system became painfully clear. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence is now spearheading efforts to enable the intelligence community to better shield the United States from the new threats it faces.
more…

Intelligence – Governments Tremble at Google's Bird's-Eye View

New York Times – When Google introduced Google Earth, free software that marries satellite and aerial images with mapping capabilities, the company emphasized its usefulness as a teaching and navigation tool, while advertising the pure entertainment value of high-resolution flyover images of the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben and the pyramids.

But since its debut last summer, Google Earth has received attention of an unexpected sort. Officials of several nations have expressed alarm over its detailed display of government buildings, military installations and other important sites within their borders.
more…