Cy­ber czar

The Washington Times Weekly - - National Security -

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is mov­ing ahead with plans to name a cybersecurity czar, and Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency (NSA) Di­rec­tor Lt. Gen. Keith B. Alexan­der is the lead­ing can­di­date for the post, In­side the Ring has learned.

Ac­cord­ing to U.S. gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, Pres­i­dent Obama plans to pro­mote Gen. Alexan­der to four-star rank and give him widerang­ing au­thor­ity to im­ple­ment the new Com­pre­hen­sive Na­tional Cybersecurity Ini­tia­tive.

Word of Gen. Alexan­der’s likely ap­point­ment comes as the Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity’s se­nior of­fi­cial in charge of cybersecurity, Rod A. Beck­strom, re­signed last week to protest what he said was ex­ces­sive NSA and mil­i­tary in­flu­ence over cybersecurity poli­cies.

The elec­tronic in­tel­li­gence­gath­er­ing NSA is one of the least pub­lic but most ef­fec­tive of the 16 U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies. Mostly in se­cret, NSA has been lead­ing U.S. gov­ern­ment ef­forts to se­cure com­puter and other in­for­ma­tion net­works and to block for­eign elec­tronic at­tacks on U.S. sys­tems, which for the Pen­tagon num­ber tens of thou­sands of elec­tronic at­tempts ev­ery day.

The agency dur­ing the past sev­eral months has be­gun re­ceiv­ing tens of mil­lions of dol­lars in Pen­tagon funds un­der the Com­pre­hen­sive Na­tional Cybersecurity Ini­tia­tive (CNCI), said de­fense of­fi­cials fa­mil­iar with the pro­gram.

Den­nis C. Blair, the re­tired ad­mi­ral who is di­rec­tor of na­tional in­tel­li­gence, told the Se­nate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee on March 10 that the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is re­view­ing the se­cu­rity ini­tia­tive “to en­sure it is con­sis­tent with its own cybersecurity pol­icy.”

Mr. Blair said a num­ber of na­tions, in­clud­ing Rus­sia and China, have tech­ni­cal cy­ber­war­fare ca­pa­bil­i­ties that can dis­rupt el­e­ments of the U.S. in­for­ma­tion in­fra­struc­ture as well as gather in­tel­li­gence. Ter­ror­ist and crim­i­nal groups also con­duct cy­ber­at­tacks.

“To be sure, sig­nif­i­cant work re­mains in or­der to pro­tect, de­fend and re­spond to the cy­berthreat in a man­ner that markedly im­proves our na­tion’s over­all se­cu­rity,” Mr. Blair said.

The ini­tia­tive was launched in Jan­uary 2008 and seeks to deal with cybersecurity threats, both cur­rent and fu­ture, and is work­ing with pri­vate-sec­tor com­pa­nies to cre­ate an “en­vi­ron­ment that no longer fa­vors cy­ber­in­trud­ers over de­fend­ers,” Mr. Blair said.

“The CNCI in­cludes de­fen­sive, of­fen­sive, ed­u­ca­tion, re­search and de­vel­op­ment, and coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence el­e­ments while re­main­ing sen­si­tive through­out to the re­quire­ments of pro­tect­ing the pri­vacy rights and civil lib­er­ties of U.S. cit­i­zens,” Mr. Blair said. He noted that the ini­tia­tive has made “con­sid­er­able progress” in iden­ti­fy­ing the threat and in de­vel­op­ing so­lu­tions.

White House Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil spokesman Mike Ham­mer de­clined to com­ment on Gen. Alexan­der’s can­di­dacy for the cy­ber-czar post. the ba­sis for the Navy’s de­ci­sion on March 10 to re­clas­sify Michael “Scott” Spe­icher as miss­ing in action and no longer miss­ing-cap­tured, states that the action fol­lowed a re­view of cap­tured Iraqi doc­u­ments and an ex­ten­sive search of Iraq for the pi­lot, shot down in 1991.

The March 4 re­port is based on a classified as­sess­ment and states that “based on all avail­able in­tel­li­gence, the [in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity] as­sesses that Capt. Spe­icher died shortly af­ter his air­craft was shot down.”

“The IC does not know the lo­ca­tion of his re­mains,” the re­port states. “In the 18 years since Capt. Spe­icher was shot down, the U.S. gov­ern­ment has found no cred­i­ble in­for­ma­tion to in­di­cate what hap­pened to him af­ter he ejected from his air­craft.”

The re­port pro­duced by the In­tel­li­gence Com­mu­nity POW/MIA An­a­lytic Cell states that its judg­ment was based on in­tel­li­gence, knowl­edge of Iraqi pris­oner han­dling un­der Sad­dam Hus­sein and U.S. gov­ern­ment ef­forts to ac­count for Capt. Spe­icher since 1991.

More than 1.6 mil­lion Iraqi gov­ern­ment doc­u­ments were re­viewed.

“Doc­u­ments were found ac­count­ing for the cap­ture, im­pris­on­ment, and release of all other coali­tion pris­on­ers of war and the re­cov­ery and re­turn of coali­tion in­di­vid­u­als killed in action. No doc­u­ments on Capt. Spe­icher have been found,” the re­port says.

The re­port also says in­telli- gence sources that claimed the pi­lot was alive be­fore the 2003 Iraq war were dis­cred­ited and were ei­ther “fab­ri­cated” or “em­bel­lished” in­for­ma­tion or mis­tak­enly iden­ti­fied some­one else as Capt. Spe­icher.

An­other fac­tor in the re­cent de­ci­sion was that the rem­nants of the Sad­dam regime made no ef­fort to ex­ploit Capt. Spe­icher af­ter the 2003 U.S. in­va­sion to ne­go­ti­ate the release of pris­on­ers, in­clud­ing Sad­dam.

Also, Iraqi fa­cil­i­ties were searched through­out the coun­try, and no ev­i­dence was found that Capt. Spe­icher was kept at any fa­cil­i­ties.

“U.S. in­ves­ti­ga­tors have in­ter­viewed and de­briefed hun­dreds of Iraqi gov­ern­ment, mil­i­tary, and in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing Sad­dam Hus­sein,” the re­port says. “All have de­nied any knowl­edge of Capt. Spe­icher be­ing cap­tured or held pris­oner by the Sad­dam gov­ern­ment.”

Iraq’s sup­ply of re­mains in 1991 that were found not to be those of Capt. Spe­icher were the re­sult of Iraqis at­tempt­ing to con­ceal an un­re­lated ad­min­is­tra­tive er­ror, the re­port says.

Foren­sic and hand­writ­ing anal­y­sis of the ini­tials “MSS” found on a Bagh­dad prison wall and on an I-beam in a car­port near Tikrit were “not linked to Capt. Spe­icher,” the re­port says.

The pres­i­dent has an­nounced plans to close within a year the prison at Guan­tanamo Bay, the home of Khalid Sheik Mo­hammed, the ad­mit­ted mas­ter­mind of the Sept. 11 at­tacks, and about 240 other ter­ror­ist sus­pects.

The source, who asked not to be named be­cause the re­or­ga­ni­za­tion is not com­plete, said the next deputy as­sis­tant sec­re­tary of de­fense for de­tainee af­fairs would fo­cus on bat­tle­field de­ten­tion and in­tern­ment cen­ters in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The of­fice is within the do­main of Michele A. Flournoy, the un­der­sec­re­tary of de­fense for pol­icy. She is head­ing a re­view of her or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The Pen­tagon cre­ated the de­tainee of­fice in 2004, when Don­ald H. Rums­feld was de­fense sec­re­tary, as the Guan­tanamo prison came un­der in­creas­ing as­sault from hu­man rights groups and var­i­ous for­eign gov­ern­ments.

Charles “Cully” Stimp­son, the sec­ond deputy as­sis­tant sec­re­tary for de­tainee af­fairs, re­signed in 2007 af­ter he was crit­i­cized for ques­tion­ing the mo­tives and fi­nan­cial ties of lawyers de­fend­ing ter­ror­ist sus­pects. The post is va­cant.

The po­si­tion had led a joint com­mit­tee within the Pen­tagon that han­dled is­sues such as whom to release back to their home coun­try. At its peak, the prison held nearly 800 de­tainees, most cap­tured in the Afghanistan-Pak­istan re­gion.

Phillip Carter, a for­mer Army

GETTY IM­AGES

Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency Di­rec­tor Lt. Gen. Keith B. Alexan­der (sec­ond from left) is seen with thenPres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush af­ter at­tend­ing a closed door in­tel­li­gence brief­ing along with then-Vice Pres­i­dent Dick Cheney (left) and Di­rec­tor of Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Mike McCon­nell (right).

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