– Harper’s – William Arkin writes: “When I look at the digital legions splayed out on a battlefield that is truly global, I see drones and the Data Machine they serve as the greatest threats to our national security, our safety, and our very way of life. If drones instantly ceased to exist, the black boxes at the heart of the Data Machine would still direct manned aircraft and satellites. And yet drones are the proper place to start thinking about our deluded pursuit of perfect war, which is produced by our hubristic endeavor to root out evil everywhere and our increased unwillingness to suffer human sacrifice in the course of making war.”
– TED – A fascinating TED talk that suggests a new way forward for open-source intelligence.
– Virginian Pilot – When a top Google official came to Virginia Beach last week to speak at a respected defense conference, he delivered a stunning and convincing message: The company is on the verge of unveiling a project that could reveal to the public the precise locations of many ships at sea, including U.S. Navy ships.
– US Naval War College’s Strategic Research Department Weekly Maritime News Survey – This is a great naval news source I just learned of, which is updated each Monday.
Thanks to Jim for the link!
– AOL Defense – Google will soon make public information about virtually every ship at sea, giving the current location and identity even of American warships. Meanwhile, the company is consulting with the Navy and others about security issues.
– Pacific Standard – Is an unassuming group of Chinese bloggers who are obsessed with military hardware doing the Pentagon’s work? Or Beijing’s?
– New Yorker – An inside look at the workings of the NSA. Is Thomas Drake an enemy of the state? Drake, a former senior executive at the National Security Agency, faces some of the gravest charges that can be brought against an American citizen.
An interesting series of articles on America’s growing intelligence-industrial complex.
Washington Post – A hidden world, growing beyond control
Washington Post – National Security Inc.
Washington Post – The secrets next door
…and the home page of the series with many other references – Washington Post – Top Secret America
New Yorker – Pandora’s Briefcase
Malcolm Gladwell writes that in the months before the invasion of Sicily, British spies fooled German spies with a caper inspired by a detective novel. It was a dazzling feat of wartime espionage. But does it argue for or against spying?
Armed Forces Journal – Off course
The dark side of tracking all shipping: Pirates can do it too.
New York Review of Books – Who’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…”
Wall Street Journal – Gulags, Nukes and a Water Slide: Citizen Spies Lift North Korea’s Veil
With sleuthing and satellite images captured by Google Earth, a dozen or so citizen snoops are filling in the blanks on secretive North Korea’s map.
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.
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.
Washington Times – Arnaud de Borchgrave writes an interesting assessment of the state-of-the-art in open source intelligence.
Defense and the National Interest – An interesting essay from William Lind on what military intelligence *should* be – “a correction from below.”
New York Times Magazine – The nationís intelligence agencies are giving their cold-war-era computer systems a makeover. But will blogs and wikis really help spies uncover terrorist plots?
New Yorker – A look at the woman who became a freelance spy. An example of open-source intelligence in action???
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.
Washington Post – A federal grand jury indicted a military engineer, his wife and his brother Tuesday for failing to register as Chinese agents in a case that the FBI had said involved an attempt to smuggle “extremely sensitive” U.S. warship technology to China.
Virginian Pilot – Twenty years ago today, Robert W. Hunter sprang from the shadows of a hotel hallway and made American history. He arrested a retired Navy warrant officer, John A. Walker Jr., for espionage, breaking what would eventually be called the most damaging Soviet spy ring in U.S. history.
Washington Post – The U.S. has been flying surveillance drones over Iran for nearly a year to seek evidence of nuclear weapons programs and detect weaknesses in air defenses.
Washington Post – The Pentagon, expanding into the CIA’s historic bailiwick, has created a new espionage arm and is reinterpreting U.S. law to give Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld broad authority over clandestine operations abroad. This confirms details of the New Yorker story on this subject from last week???
Washington Post – What William Arkin is up to these days – he hopes to undermine agencies’ ability to make decisions in the dark.
Foreign Affairs – Washington wants to hire ex-Baathists to help rebuild Iraq. The CIA’s experience using ex-Nazis to run West Germany’s intelligence service should give it pause.
Washington wants to hire ex-Baathists to help rebuild Iraq. The CIA’s experience using ex-Nazis to run West Germany’s intelligence service should give it pause.