By Jerry Mazza
crossposted at Online Journal
May 28, 2009
On April 20, I wrote an article, Big Bro’s Cybersecurity ACT: A means to shut down the Internet. Lo and behold, yesterday, this article Obama Set to Create A Cybersecurity Czar With Broad Mandate appeared in the Washington Post.
The Post reported,
“President Obama is expected to announce late this week that he will create a ‘cyber czar,’ a senior White House official who will have broad authority to develop strategy to protect the nation’s government-run and private computer networks, according to people who have been briefed on the plan.
“The adviser will have the most comprehensive mandate granted to such an official to date and will probably be a member of the National Security Council [italics mine] but will report to the national security adviser as well as the senior White House economic adviser [Larry Summers], said the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deliberations are not final.”
“A White House official,” we are told, “said on Friday that cybersecurity “is vitally important, and the government needs to be coordinated on this.” Of course he/she spoke on condition of anonymity. The announcement meshes with “the long anticipated release of a 40-page report that evaluates the government’s Cybersecurity initiatives and policies. The report is intended to outline a ‘strategic vision’ and the range of issues the new adviser must handle, but it will not delve into details,” administration spinners told reporters last month.
Of course, not delving into details means not telling you what role the National Security Agency, America’s numero uno surveillance agency, will play in “protecting private-sector networks.” Also, think of “protecting” sort of as the Clean Air Act protected polluters and No Child Left behind left behind all the money to make it happen. “Protecting private-sector networks” is Washington-speak for dominating them.
The issue we are told is “a key concern in policy circles” and those “experts” tell us it “requires a full and open debate over legal authorities and the protection of citizens’ e-mails and phone calls.” The article continues, “The Bush administration’s secrecy in handling its Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative, most of which was classified, hindered such a debate, so privacy advocates have said.”
I love the term “privacy advocates.” As opposed to what, voyeurs, spies, the guy who as I write, right now, is trying to manipulate my cursor, and impeded me earlier from downloading the WP article? By the way, my computer’s complete files were immaculately scrubbed of spyware last week. So, Big Brother, are you back already?
Again, The White House’s hand in all this will be to “oversee the process, formulate policy and coordinate agencies’ roles, and will not be operational,” the administration officials say. No, they’ll save the operational component for Israel’s Amdocs or some such company, or create a “national party line,” sort of like the old days when many people shared a telephone line, to, allegedly, save money.
And of course, Obama was briefed a week ago on this and signed on the dotted line for the creation of the new gig. Yet, as of Friday, “they” were still hashing out exactly what “rank and title” the “adviser” would have. Hey, these things matter. The thought is to name some person who can “pick up the phone and contact the president directly, if need be,” and most probably be taped.
This is all in keeping with Obama’s presidential campaign pledge “to elevate the issue of cybersecurity to a “top priority and to appoint a national cybersecurity adviser ‘who will report directly to me [Obama].” How quick these guys learn, especially elevating things to “top priority” like the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and keeping Iraq rolling, along with propping up the failing banks. But let’s not be cynical.
Having the old “Czar” report to both the national security and economic advisers shows that the White House is looking to insure “a balance between homeland security and economic concerns,” anonymous sources said. It also points out they’re trying to put out a fire [internal battle] in which Larry Summers, yup, the senior economic adviser, who is actually “pushing for the National Economic Council [his group] to have a major role in cybersecurity.” This is to “insure that efforts to protect private networks do not unduly threaten economic growth,” like of those Treasury-busting derivatives or any fancy money-laundering. What’s fair is fair in love and war. Right on! Move to the rear of the bus, please.
Now, seeing how this is getting kind of government lopsided, the report would like to appoint members “to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent executive branch agency created by Congress in 2007 to insure that privacy concerns are considered in the implementation of counterterrorism policies and laws.” Maybe they could get Tom Keene and Lee Hamilton to head it up. They did such a great job with the 9/11 Commission. Yeah, well, so it goes. Anyhow . . .
The long awaited document is drawn from a 60-day review of cyber policies, such as they are, headed by Melissa Hathaway, the “interim White House cybersecurity adviser and former intelligence official who is a contender for the new position, a Czarina so to speak, like Katherine the Great. During that review, Hathaway’s team, we’re told, had dozens of meetings with representatives from industry, academia and civil liberties groups (did you hear from of one of them?), plus receiving more than 100 papers (did you get to read one of them?).
So stay tuned folks. And we wish Melissa good wardrobe, plenty of outfits with epaulets, brass buttons, and maybe even a faux general’s hat, and a set of earrings that are really digital listening devices about any funny stuff going on in meetings. Okay, spyware guy, I’m finished. You can go to lunch. But then you and yours have been out to lunch for a good 60 years.
Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer living in New York City. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his new book, “State Of Shock: Poems from 9/11 on” at www.jerrymazza.com, Amazon or Barnesandnoble.com.
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