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Category Archives: NSA

Yes, Guys Are Still Uploading Reddit Dick Pics to Protest the NSA – Unicorn Booty (blog)

Posted: February 25, 2017 at 2:58 pm

Reddit is pretty much a repository for anything you could ever dream up, and yes, to no ones surprise, Redditdick pics are a thing.

In case you werent aware, there is a Reddit thread called Dick Pics 4 Freedom (link obviously NSFW) that invites guys to upload cock shotsall toprotest the American governments use of the National Security Administration (NSA) to surveil its citizens.

An act of protest has never been more raunchy, and we love it.

The Reddit thread has been around for nearly two years, racking up literally hundreds of sexy guys and their naughty bits, but with Cheeto Jesus now at the helm of the American executive branch, protesting the U.S. governments misdeeds has never been more important.

Youre doing it wrong.

For those wondering, the thread beganstrangely enoughafter a segment on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver in which the host sat down with notorious whistleblowerEdward Snowden. When Oliver jokingly asked Snowden whether guys should stop taking dick pics now that we know about the governments covert surveillance programs, Snowden replied, You shouldnt change your behavior because of a government agency somewhere thats doing the wrong thing. If you sacrifice your values because youre afraid, you dont care about those values very much.

And thus the Reddit thread of all Reddit threads was born.

Sure, the thread is pretty much just a place for horned-up guys to seekvalidationfor their occasionally wonky dicks, but hey, we arent complaining!

We particularly love the hilarious messages that accompanyseveral of the photosthings like My dick for freedom, Throwing it out for freedom, and Am I doing this right? (It was a woman, and no, she wasnt.)

Oh, and what could be the best of all: My house is getting remodeled. I had to move a bunch of stuff around, so heres my dick for freedom.

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NSA Head: Russian Interference in US Election, ‘Hey, This Happened’ – USNI News

Posted: February 24, 2017 at 6:06 pm

Adm. Michael S. Rogers, commander, U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) and head of the National Security Agency. US Navy Photo

SAN DIEGO, Calif. The head of the National Security Agency reiterated that Russia engaged in cyber actions to influence the result of the U.S. presidential election and said the Moscow-directed interference is changing the way the NSA thinks about U.S. critical infrastructure.

We have been very public particularly if I put on my NSA hat in categorizing the behaviors we saw, from a cyber perspective, the Russians engaged in terms of our election process. We were very confident that, hey, this happened. What does that mean? said Adm. Rogers, who also heads U.S. Cyber Command, said on Thursday at the West 2017 conference.

It highlights to us that we need to rethink what critical infrastructure means in the digital age. We tended to view historically critical infrastructure as something associated with an output. Hey, air traffic. Hey, pipelines. The financial world. Power distribution. Generally, we thought a very industrial set of processes that generated some sort of output.

What the Russians did to influence the U.S. election adds a new dimension to what the U.S. should work to protect from influence from a cyber action or attack, he said.

What about information, data and fundamental processes like the ability to ensure high confidence that in a Western democracy the electoral outcome is actually reflective of the majority of our citizens, which is at the heart of the democratic system? he said. We have to think of it in a different way, and data increasingly has a value all of its own.

Rogers cited the attacks on the Office of Personnel Management in which the personal data of more than 21. 5 million people who had undergone the U.S. security clearance process was breached and the Russias hack of Democratic National Committee emails and subsequent distribution on Wikileaks as new types of threats.

You saw that in OPM, you saw that with the Russians the way they penetrated systems, moved data and then provided that in very public, unaltered format, he said. So we have to work through that. We need to work with a broader set of nations to clearly signal that this is unacceptable, and we need to drive the calculus in a different way.

Separately during the conference event, Rogers said the Trump administration has made cyber security a priority and predicted administration-level action soon.

The discussions moderator, retired Adm. James Stavridis, former NATO supreme commander and U.S. Naval Institute chairman, said that a Trump executive order on cyber was in the works and asked Rogers on the status.

Theres an ongoing dialogue that the administration I dont want to speak for them but if you take their statements, theyve been very upfront about the desire to make this a priority and a focus area in the early stages of the administration, Rogers said. I expect it to play out sometime in the immediate near term. The process always takes longer than you would like, but I think this would play out. The biggest input Ive tried to provide and Im just one voice take this opportunity to step back and look at this with a new set of eyes and say, if you were creating this from the ground up, how would you do this?

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NSA Deputy Director: Why I Spent the Last 40 Years In National Security – TIME

Posted: at 6:06 pm

The headquarters of the NSA in Fort Meade, Maryland.Courtesy of the NSA

Ideas

Ledgett is the deputy director of the National Security Agency

In 1977 I was finishing my sophomore year of college, working two jobs to put myself through school, and thought, There has to be a better way. So I enlisted in the U.S. Army as a Signals Intelligence/Electronic Warfare Morse Intercept Operator, which didnt tell me much but would let me earn money toward college through the GI Bill . My plan was to do my 3 years, get out, and finish college. That plan didnt work out; I ended up staying in the Army almost eleven years and then transitioned to the National Security Agency as a civilian for 29 more, and am retiring this April after 40 years in the business. I did end up finishing my degree after hours, and went on to get a masters degree, just not in the way Id planned. What happened along the way was that I discovered the fulfillment that comes from serving the nation and its allies, working with some of the most amazing people on the planet, on the most challenging problems we face.

For someone like me who is motivated by understanding how things work, the signals intelligence business is fascinating. Theres the challenge of understanding the communications technology that the target (in my early days, principally the Soviet Union ) uses, and how to intercept those communications. Then theres the need to understand the internal plumbing of how the intercepted data flows through our complicated architecture, and the multiple transformations that happen along the way. After that, analysts need to figure out what the data actually means the so what? of the intercept. Thats not as easy as it sounds, as the targets will work to hide their activities through cover names, and make references to shared information and experience that we dont have. And they rarely communicate in English, which requires a very high degree of expertise in the relevant foreign languages, to include slang and argot specific to functions and sub-cultures. This one is especially important to get right the difference between launch at noon and lunch at noon is consequential.

Its a complicated puzzle that requires multiple domains of expertise, all applied in the right way at the right time, to achieve success. But success in what we do isnt enough success has to translate into a good outcome for the users of our material, whether thats a policy maker planning a diplomatic negotiation with a foreign country, or a military commander assessing the threat to our forces. That means we need to understand their plans, and the way they work, well enough to know the best place for us to inject our information yet another level of complexity. But a successful outcome whether thats providing key information at the right point in a negotiation, or warning a military unit of an ambush so they can avoid it is hugely motivating, because we can see how the application of our hard-earned technical and operational knowledge resulted in a good outcome for the nation, and in those cases where we actually save lives, the individuals. There is a satisfaction that comes from knowing the story behind the headlines, and the fact that we had a part in how that played out even if we cant tell anyone about it.

The cyber domain is relatively new, adding some layers of complexity, but having the same foundational characteristics. In fact, the principal reason NSA is so skilled in the cyber domain is that weve been operating in it since its inception. The global telecommunications environment, where NSA works its signals intelligence mission to produce foreign intelligence, is also cyberspace, and we are expert denizens. Our complementary mission of information assurance, where we protect national security-related networks and information, requires us to have detailed insights into U.S. government networks. In both domains, our people need to have extraordinarily deep technical knowledge of networks, devices, and software, which quite often exceeds that of the people who built or programmed those products. When applied to the cybersecurity mission, it gives the nation a strategic advantage. And from a motivational point of view, what could be more satisfying than using ones expertise to defeat a foreign hacker threat to the country?

The personal and professional rewards of working in the intelligence business have been remarkable. Ive had the opportunity to travel to 39 different countries, and made lifelong friends in some of them. Ive seen what went on behind the headlines of everything from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan , to the North Korean destructive attack on Sony , to the Russian cyber exploitation of the Democratic National Committee. More importantly, Ive seen the unsung heroes of the intelligence community, and especially at NSA, who work incredibly hard applying their formidable intellects and energy to protect us. They work countless hours at great personal cost, from missing milestones in their childrens lives to turning down lucrative jobs outside government because of their deep love for the mission. They deploy with our forces forward in war zones to ensure our military is protected, sacrificing time with their loved ones. Unfortunately, some of them have made an even greater sacrifice. The NSA/CSS Cryptologic Memorial Wall names the 176 individuals who have given their lives performing signals intelligence and information assurance missions around the globe.

Thats what kept me in this business for 40 years the combination of the intellectual challenge, the chance to develop and apply technical and operational expertise to things that matter, the joy of working with incredibly intelligent and motivated people, and the feeling that Im part of something bigger than myself. Im a little envious of the people coming into the workforce right now, as they have limitless opportunities to contribute, to serve, and to get the same kind of satisfaction from working in this completely digital, connected world. In 25 years or so, one of them will be sitting in the seat that I am now, and I hope she gets as much enjoyment from the journey as I have.

Ledgett is the Deputy Director of the National Security Agency. He will retire in April.

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Newly Installed NSA McMaster Reassures National Security Staff: No Witch Hunts Coming – Washington Free Beacon

Posted: at 6:06 pm

Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster / AP

BY: Adam Kredo February 24, 2017 1:25 pm

Incoming White House National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster sought to reassure senior Trump administration officials during his first “all hands” staff meeting Thursday, according to those who attended the get together and told the Washington Free Beacon that McMaster informed staffers he does not intend to pursue a major shakeup of President Donald Trump’s national security team.

McMaster, who replaced Michael Flynn following his resignation last week, plans to navigate a vast departure from the Obama administration’s foreign policy vision, according to senior White House officials who described the meeting as “reassuring.” McMaster emphasized that he will not dismantle the team that Flynn had built.

As part of his discussion with White House national security staff, McMaster recommended a comprehensive reading list that included President Trump’s book, “The Art of the Deal,” and several other tomes by leading historians about how to get the upper hand on America’s enemies. White House staff are said to have been mostly “thrilled” when hearing about the book list.

Sources who spoke to the Free Beacon about McMaster’s vision, as laid out in the Thursday meeting, expressed optimism about his appointment and pushed back on what they described as false media narratives centered around White House disarray following Flynn’s departure.

“It’s no secret we’ve had a few more all-hands meetings than we intended in our first monthbut General McMaster used this event to both reassure the NSC staff and to give us the tools to continue the mission,” said one senior White House National Security Council official who requested anonymity while discussing internal White House meetings.

McMaster explicitly told White House officials that he does not aim to dismantle Trump’s foreign policy team or push out those perceived as still loyal to Flynn. These comments run counter to a recent New York Times report claiming that McMaster is pursuing a massive reorganization of the president’s national security team.

“He made it clear he wasn’t there to grind a political axe or engage in a witch hunt,” the senior White House official said. “He was there to provide leadership, including direction on how to think about the task in front of us.”

To help with this effort, McMaster recommended several books meant to help current White House officials understand his own foreign policy vision.

One senior White House official who spoke to the Free Beacon described the reading list as pleasantly surprising and a vast departure from the former Obama administration’s own national security vision.

In addition to Trump’s “Art of the Deal,” McMaster recommended reading his own book, “Dereliction of Duty,” which catalogues the mistakes that led the United States into a quagmire in Vietnam.

He also suggestedthat White House staffers read Peter Rodman’s “Presidential Command,” which McMaster reportedly referred to as the “gold standard” in foreign policy history. Rodman was a top official in the Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and both Bush administrations.

Senior White House staff are said to have found the mention of the book “very reassuring.”

“It’s certainly encouraging to see General McMaster highlighting his legacy,” one source said.

McMaster went on to further recommend two books by Zachary Shore, a historian and international conflict expert who teaches at the Naval Postgraduate School.

One Shore book, “Blunder: Why Smart People Make Bad Decisions,” was described as “a cautionary tale for the staff” at the White House. The other, “A Sense of the Enemy,” examines methods to overtake rival forces.

Lastly, McMaster recommended staff read an essay by Canadian historian Margaret MacMillan titled, “The Rhyme of History,” which tackles lessons from World War I.

Senior White House officials who took part in the meeting described the reading list as encouraging and part of an effort to restore conservative principals focused primarily on defending the U.S.’s best interests.

The mention of MacMillan’s essay in particular “suggests General McMaster does not consider the 21st century a sort of post-historical bubble, but rather that there is a great deal to be learned from history as we chart our path forward,” said one official who described McMaster as advocating a wholesale reversal from the Obama administration’s vision.

Several historians currently serve on the White House’s national security team, including Col. Derek Harvey, a former advisor to Gen. David Petraeus; Michael Anton, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush, and Victoria Coates, a former top aide to Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) and art historian.

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Pentagon mulling split of NSA, Cyber Command – The Hill

Posted: February 23, 2017 at 12:55 pm

The Pentagon is beginning to assess whether its time to split up the leadership of the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command.

Right now, the two organizations share a leader Adm. Mike Rogers, who is director of the NSA and also the commander of the cyber unit.

But lawmakers have debated ending that dual-hat arrangement as the United States moves into a new era of expanded cyber warfare.

Separating the leadership of the NSA and Cyber Command would create a new vacancy for President Trump to fill.

Were looking at the issue, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis told The Hillon Wednesday, pointing to a newmemoissued by Defense Secretary James Mattis asking for an initial plan to better support information management and cyber operations.

Congress in December passed a bill that elevated Cyber Command to a unified combatant command. That change made Cyber Command its own war fighting unit, spinning it out from under Strategic Command.

But that legislation also pumped the breaks on splitting the NSA from Cyber Command, requiring the Pentagon to conduct a full assessment first.

Experts and former security officials regard it as inevitable that the NSA and Cyber Command will someday be separated but fear that split could be damaging if done too quickly.

Thats because Cyber Command wasnt established at NSA headquarters until 2009 and remains dependent on the agency to function.

If you split them off and give them separate bosses, you run the risk of potential personality conflicts between those two that might then cause a lessoning of the sharing and cooperation as it is occurring now, said Steve Bucci, a former Army Special Forces officer and Pentagon official who is now a visiting fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation. Thats probably the biggest danger that I see.

Tensions already exist between NSA and Cybercom over professional overlap, and if duties and boundaries arent very clearly delineated in any split, these matters will worsen as they both fight for mission and resources, said John Schindler, a former NSA analyst and counterintelligence officer.

Alexandra Sander, a research associate at the Center for a New American Security, feared that the split could produce stove piping of intelligence information a term used to describe information that gets bottled up in agencies rather than shared in the government.

Elevating Cyber Command to its own unified command, and then if you had a split with the NSA on top of that, especially in a domain like cyber which should be integrated across the board with other functional and geographic commands and military operations if you had increased stove piping, I think that would have a negative effect on our capabilities, Sander said.

Under the law passed by Congress last year, Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford have to conduct a joint assessment into what would happen if the NSA and Cyber Command were separated.

They must ensure that the termination of the dual-hat arrangement will not pose risks to the military effectiveness of the United States Cyber Command that are unacceptable to the national security interests of the United States, the law states.

The military leaders are required to evaluate the dependence of Cyber Command on the NSA and how well the organizations could carry out their duties independently.

The legislation also prevents the split from happening until Cyber Command has achieved full operational capability, which isntexpectedto happen until the end of fiscal 2018.

The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office is also studying the dual-hat leadership of the two organizations; the office expects to complete that review in June, according to a spokesman.

Sen. John McCainJohn McCainHannity apologizes for sharing ‘inaccurate’ story about McCain McCain spokeswoman: Hannity should ‘correct the record’ after ‘fake news’ tweet CNN to host town hall featuring John McCain, Lindsey Graham MORE (R-Ariz.), who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, has staunchly opposed a premature separation of the two organizations. Other lawmakers have been less vocal, adopting a wait-and-see approach pending assessments by the Pentagon and GAO.

We want to make the right decision. Im undecided, Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), who chairs the newly formed Armed Services Subcommittee on Cybersecurity.

When you separate that out, you have to make sure that you have really good lines of communication, coordination and so forth. There are positives to either way, and we know right know that we have something we think is working; the question is at what point does it become so big that it needs to be changed? Rounds said.

President Obamaspokein favor of ending the dual-hat nature of the role late last year after he was reportedlypressedto do so by his Defense secretary and director of national intelligence.

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NSA denies ‘blanket’ spying on spectators and athletes at the 2002 … – Washington Post

Posted: at 12:55 pm

The National Security Agency has denied it indiscriminately spied on spectators, athletes and others who attended the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002.

The denial came in a document filed last week in a U.S. District Court in Utah, where a group of Salt Lake City residents filed a complaint in 2015 alleging the U.S. government engaged in widespread, indiscriminate communications surveillance, interception, and analysis, without warrants and without probable cause during the Games that took place just months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

At issue, specifically, is how the Presidents Surveillance Program, or PSP, was implemented during the Games. PSP made headlines after 2013 when the government admitted to collecting a type of information known as metadata in bulk following the publication of classified materials leaked by Edward Snowden.

[New study: Snowdens disclosures about NSA spying had a scary effect on free speech]

In the court document, the NSA and other intelligence authorities admit that the activities actually carried out under the PSP were conducted without warrant or court order or judicial findings of probablecause, but rather, under Presidential and statutory authority, NSA attorney James Gilligan wrote in the filing on Friday.

He added, however, To the extent the allegations of this paragraph exceed the scope of or are inconsistent with the foregoing admissions, they are denied, including, specifically, the allegation that the PSP involved indiscriminate surveillance, interception, or analysis of communications.

Gilligan wrote neither the PSP nor any other NSA intelligence activity involved or evolved into blanket, indiscriminate surveillance of the contents of every email and text message and the metadata of every telephone call sent or received in Salt Lake City, or the vicinity of Olympic venues, during the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games.

Gilligan concluded the filing by asking the court to dismiss the complaint.

The NSAs latest request for dismissal comes just a month after U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby refused to dismiss the complaint that was filed by former Salt Lake City Mayor Ross Rocky Anderson on behalf a bipartisan group of individuals. The individuals are not seeking monetary damages.

Because the allegations in the [complaint] are not legal conclusions, bare assertions of the elements of standing, or sufficiently fantastic on their face as to defy reality, the law requires the court to accept them as true when evaluating the NSAs Motion to Dismiss, Shelby wrote in a court filing last month. Though these allegations will undoubtedly be tested as this case proceeds, the court concludes at this early stage that the Plaintiffs have plausibly alleged injury and redressability as required (H/t: Fox 13)

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NSA denies ‘blanket’ spying on spectators and athletes at the 2002 … – Washington Post

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When the NSA Feared Psychics Could Make Cities Lost in Time and Space – Atlas Obscura

Posted: at 12:55 pm

Not what this might look like. Public Domain image adapted by Eric Grundhauser

A versionof this storyoriginally appearedonMuckrock.com.

A classified government document opens with an odd sequence of events relating to parapsychology has occurred within the last month and concluded with an alarming question about psychics nuking cities so that they became lost in time and space. If this sounds like a plot out of science fiction, it is – but its also a NSA memo from 1977.

The first event raised by the NSA note is a CIA report which mentioned KGB research into parapsychology. According to this, the KGB used hobbyists and non-governmental researchers to talk to western scientists. This allowed the KGB to collect useful information without putting themselves into a position to accidentally leak confidential information to westerners. According to the NSA note, this tactic yielded high grade western scientific data.

The next event described by the NSA note was what appeared to be a Russian provocation, though exactly what sort was a matter of some debate. In June 1977, an American journalist was detained in Russia for receiving a Soviet paper on parapsychology. The paper allegedly documented PSI (i.e. psychic) particles within the living cell, allegedly providing a physical basis for parapsychology.

This struck American intelligence as being a form of entrapment, though the goal was uncertain. Some thought it was an effort to provoke radio chatter which the Soviets could trace to get a better idea of the U.S.s interest and activities. Another theory was that it was simply a warning to the West to stay away from sensitive Soviet research. A third theory was that it was a double-think ploy to pretend interest in a clumsy manner to make us think that this was really just a deception to trick the West into believing there was interest when there really was none. While this last theory might sound paranoid, this is how denial and deception operate – and its something that Russian counterintelligence has long excelled at.

The section concluded with a note that there had supposedly been a successful demonstration of telekinetic power in a Soviet military sponsored research lab, and the alleged discovery of a new type of energy perhaps even more important than that of Atomic energy.

The third event was the apparent postulation by some physicists along with the famous evolutionist, Teilhard de Chardin that the universe was more of a great thought than a great machine. According to this view, the unified field on ground of reality is awareness. The note cited telekinetic experiments and postulated that awareness focusing could produce a new form of energy that moves or perhaps alters matter.

The report cited British scientists experiencing poltergeist phenomena after testing Uri Geller. Objects allegedly left the room, some of which apparently reappeared later. Supposedly, this didnt surprise unnamed scientists who found it no harder to believe that objects could disappear and reappear than it was to believe in the detected particles emerging from energy and dissolving or disappearing back into energy.

From these premises, two types of telekinetic weapons were hypothesized: a telekinetic time bomb and the equivalent of a psychic nuke that could dislodge a city in time and space.

The first involved a member of the command and control staff being kidnapped and subjected to trauma that would allow him to be suggestively programmed to develop telekinetic effects under stress at work. The theory was that when an emergency situation arose and the officer was subjected to stress, objects would begin to move and disappear independently and communications would become impossible.

The second hypothetical weapon was even more elaborate and potentially terrifying. Citing a prediction of a massive change which will alter the direction, time, space and energy-matter relationship of our world, the note wondered what would happen if a group of psychics were brought together. If ten people who were evidencing disruptive telekinetic phenomena were brought into one area, would it cause a chain reaction, causing much matter to reverse direction and sink back into a sea of energy or be displaced in time and space? The memo concluded by wondering if such an event reach a critical mass and affect an entire city.

By an interesting coincidence, the Philadelphia Experiment hoax bears some superficial resemblance to the theorized weapon in the NSA note. According various versions of the hoax, the USS Eldridge was temporarily rendered invisible or transported through time and space. The incident is even listed on NSAs webpage of paranormal topics that they dont have records on. However, there were other papers prepared on the perceived potential of weaponizing psychic abilities, some of which will be explored later. For now, you can read the NSA note here.

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Can NSA Pick McMaster Bring Ethics to the White House? – Newsweek

Posted: at 12:55 pm

This article first appeared on the Just Security site.

On Monday, Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster agreed to serve as national security advisor to the president.

McMaster has written and spoken extensively on a range of topics, from grand strategy to ground force maneuver. McMaster also appears to have strong views about military ethics that may influence the advice that he provides on matters of war and peace.

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While I have not found a systematic presentation of his moral worldview, there are a number of striking and potentially revealing statements that readers may find of great interest.

Indeed, McMasters statements over the years suggest a moral outlook that may positively influence national security policy, or lead to conflict with others in the administration who do not share his values.

First, I should note that, while commanding the U.S. Armys 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Iraq, McMaster reportedly

forbade his soldiers from using dehumanizing and derogatory language when referring to Iraqis: both because such behavior is inconsistent with the shared values that define a soldiers moral identity, and because such behavior is potentially a verbal foot in the door leading to more serious forms of abuse.

As commander of the regiment, McMaster also reportedly ordered detainees be treated humanely, and even polled detainees on how well the regiment followed through. Such reports suggest that McMaster may be a practitioner of military ethics, not simply a theorist.

Speaking at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs in 2014, McMaster offered the following remarks:

If you see, for example, what ISIL [ISIS] is doing today, you would think, Okay, how do you deal with an enemy like this, an enemy that operates in this way, and then is intermingled with civilian populations? Maybe to defeat this kind of enemy you have to be equally brutal. Maybe you have to lower your standards, but I would say that exactly the opposite is the case.

. . . We have to defeat them in a way thats consistent with our values that reflect our society and whats expected of our military, for our Army forces, and of course whats been expected since at least the time of St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine, taking it back even further.

So what does that mean? It means that we have to fight them applying the principles of just war theory, which means distinction. We distinguish between our enemies and civilian populations.

Every day in Afghanistan today, every day across the wars in Iraq, our soldiers and Marines place themselves at a higher level of risk to protect innocents. I think thats something thats very important to understand about these kind of conflicts. Our soldiers are warriors, but our soldiers are also humanitarians.

National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster at the Trump Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, February 20. Adil Ahmad Haque writes that McMaster’s distinguishing between civilians and combatants and accepting higher risk to avoid harming civilians seem incompatible with targeting the families of our enemies or simply bomb[ing] the shit out of them, in the words of President Trump. Kevin Lamarque/reuters

Needless to say, distinguishing between civilians and combatants and accepting higher risk to avoid harming civilians seem quite incompatible with targeting the families of our enemies or simply bomb[ing] the shit out of them, in the words of President Trump.

McMaster sounded the same theme years earlier, in a 2010 speech, Moral, Ethical, and Psychological Preparation of Soldiers and Units for Combat:

Because our enemy is unscrupulous, some argue for a relaxation of ethical and moral standards and the use of force with less discrimination because the endsthe defeat of the enemyjustifies the means employed. To think this way would be a grave mistake. The war in which we are engaged demands that we retain the moral high ground despite the depravity of our enemies.

McMaster then made the following observation:

Ensuring ethical conduct goes beyond the law of war and must include a consideration of our valuesour ethos. The Law of War codifies the principal tenets of just war theory, especially jus in bello principles of discrimination and proportionality. However, individual and institutional values are more important than legal constraints on immoral behavior; legal contracts are often observed only as long as others honor them or as long as they are enforced.

In this passage, McMaster suggests that principles that protect civilians during the conduct of hostilitiesdiscrimination and proportionalityare, fundamentally, moral principles codified into law. Accordingly, they bind soldiers categorically, irrespective of any expectation of reciprocity or fear of punishment.

The relationship between the law of war and the morality of war may be particularly relevant today, as a recentpresidential memorandum directs the secretary of defense to recommend changes to any United States rules of engagement and other United States policy restrictions that exceed the requirements of international law.

If the morality of war prohibits what the law of waras understood by the U.S. governmentdoes not, then it may prove quite fortuitous that the incoming national security advisor seems committed to the former as well as to the latter.

In a 2014 Veterans Day speech at Georgetown University entitled, The Warrior Ethos at Risk, McMaster offered the following thoughts:

I thought that we might consider two ways of honoring our veterans. First, to study war as the best means of preventing it; and second, to help the American military preserve our warrior ethos while remaining connected to those in whose name we fight.

It was Aristotle who first said that it is only worth discussing what is in our power. So we might discuss how to prevent particular conflicts rather than eliminate all conflict, and when conflict is necessary, how to win. And in the pursuit of victory, how to preserve our values and make war less inhumane.

Similarly, in a 2016 speech at Norwich University, McMaster warned against the tendency in our country to confuse military studies with militarism, arguing instead that the study of war is important to the preservation of peace.

These statements suggest that we should aim, above all, to prevent and avoid war. When we fail, we should fight the wars we cannot avoid as effectively and ethically as possible. This view seems consistent with the just war tradition, which seeks a middle path between realism and pacifism.

In a 2013 interview with McKinsey, McMaster volunteered the following (Ill let these passages speak for themselves):

The human dimension of war is immensely important for the Army as well; we need leaders who are morally, ethically, and psychologically prepared for combat and who understand why breakdowns in morals and ethics occur. I think there are usually four causes of breakdowns in moral characterignorance, uncertainty, fear, or combat trauma.

It is important to understand the effects of those four factors on an organization and then educate soldiers about what we expect of them. We need leaders who have physical and mental courage on the battlefield, of course, but also the courage to speak their minds and offer respectful and candid feedback to their superiors. Our leaders cant feel compelled to tell their bosses what they want to hear.

In addition to the fundamentals of combat, our soldiers really have to live the Armys professional ethics and values. They must be committed to selfless service, to their fellow soldiers, to their mission, and to our nation. That also involves, obviously, respect for and protection of our Constitution and understanding their role in that context.

Finally, McMaster seems to view the wars we are currently waging through a moral lens that differs quite dramatically from that of his immediate predecessor and of some of his new colleagues in the administration.

In his speech at Norwich University, McMaster called for soldiers and civilians alike to understand and develop empathy, empathy for the cultures and historical experience of the peoples among whom wars are fought and to promote moral conduct by generating empathy for others in an effort to prevent war or at least make war less inhumane.

In his Carnegie Council remarks, McMaster repeatedly describes ISIS, the Taliban and similar groups as irreligious groups seeking to impose a political order on local populations who are their primary victims:

This is an irreligious ideology in which you have these so-called imans who have third and fourth grade educations. Theyre thugs and criminals. Theyre misogynistic. They are wanting to impose on a huge population and territory an order that is medieval and rejects humanity, I think.

Theyre criminals. We ought to make sure we criminalize their behavior. What religious standard justifies this? No religious standard. These are irreligious people.

What we must do is we must defeat these enemies, who are enemies of all civilized people, along with our partners and allies in the region, the people who are suffering the most, who are in these regions in Afghanistan and Iraq and so forth.

Similarly, at Georgetown, McMaster said:

we will defeat these enemies who cynically use a perverted interpretation of religion to incite hatred and violence. . . .

Enemy organizations like Al Qaeda and ISIL [ISIS] seek to perpetuate ignorance, foment hatred and use that hatred as justification for the murder of innocents. They entice masses of undereducated, disaffected young men with a sophisticated campaign of propaganda, disinformation and brainwashing.

McMaster made similar remarks last May at the Center for Strategic & International Studies.

McMaster seems to understand that groups like ISIS and the Taliban do not represent Islam or the worlds Muslims. They seek to rule by violence and terror precisely because they cannot rule by consent. Accordingly, the United States should fight alongside Muslim communities against a common enemy rather than treat all Muslims as the enemy.

Will McMasters views prevail in the National Security Council, and shape the administrations foreign policy? Time will tell.

Adil Ahmad Haque is Professor of Law and Judge Jon O. Newman Scholar at Rutgers Law School.

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Can NSA Pick McMaster Bring Ethics to the White House? – Newsweek

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NSA gives grant to Augusta University Cyber Institute – WRDW-TV

Posted: at 12:55 pm

News 12 NBC 26 @ 6:00 / Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) — Augusta University’s Cyber Institute is getting a big boost. A week after Governor Deal signed the Cyber Center’s budget, now the school is seeing a grant from the NSA.

If it wasn’t clear already Augusta University is becoming the place to be for cyber.

“So what’ I’m telling you is the institute is working, what we’re doing is working,” Augusta University Cyber Institute Director Joanne Sexton said.

They’ve already expanded their reach into downtown Augusta and now they’re reaching further, globally.

“We’re in the right place at the right time, making things happen so we’re very very fortunate,” Sexton said.

Last week the NSA gave the school nearly a grant for nearly 300,000 dollars. The money could help students take a trip to see NATO’s cyber security headquarters, but it’s also helping add more cyber courses here.

“One thing is if you look at our name, it’s the Cyber Institute, we didn’t call it Cyber Security. And that was on purpose because cyber touches all of us. It’s across all of the curriculum,” she said.

That means cyber security, cyber terrorism, cyber in health care, and more. There’s something to learn for every student.

“Federal to private to state, whatever, everyone needs this kind of work,” Augusta University Cyber student Matthew Tennis said.

It’s making students like Matthew ideal job candidates.

“I’m looking at either going into federal work in the intelligence industry or into private work in intelligence,” he said.

“When you talk about cyber security, it’s zero unemployment as long as you have the skills,” Sexton said.

They’re adding to the skills by adding graduate programs in intelligence analysis and security studies. And the cyber school has already doubled in size, more than 300 Augusta University students are in cyber programs. This is another way the school and the city area are virtually growing.

“Augusta University has a piece, our local community has been really supportive, but really it’s about the whole team working together,” she said.

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Software vulnerability disclosures by NSA will continue under Trump, officials say – CyberScoop

Posted: February 22, 2017 at 3:56 am

The disclosure processthat governs how and when federal agencies should tell tech firms about flawed computer code is in no immediate danger of termination under the Trump administration, current and former U.S. officials said.

Flawed code by its very nature offers vulnerabilities that can be targeted by hackers. Knowledge of these vulnerabilities especially those never publicly reported is valuable to a wide array of actors, including law enforcement and intelligence services. In the past the default hasbeen to err on the side of disclosure, even by the super-secretive National Security Agency, according to a comprehensive research reported conducted by Columbia University.For now, that isnt likely to change, saidNeil Jenkins, director of the Homeland Security Departments Enterprise Performance Management Office, or EPMO.

It is not within our national interest to build up a stockpile of vulnerabilities to hide behind and to use for intelligence or law enforcement purposes. We have to get those out to make sure that systems are secure, Jenkins told a room full of cybersecurity industry insiders while speaking on a panel at the 2017 RSA conference. But the process does recognize that there are some vulnerabilities that we need to keep, that we need to use for national security purposes.

In most cases, though, the government has incentive to report flawed code, U.S. officials say.

The process is still in use, it is in regular use, and we are having meetings about these things on a pretty regular basis. And I would say, as of right now, we are still in the mode of responsible disclosure under the current administration, Jenkins said at RSA.

Known as the Vulnerabilities Equities Process, or VEP, the guidelines were only recently made public. The government first began releasing limited information about the process during the Obama administration.

We made an agreement early on that we would err on the side of the defense of this nation and if we didnt put it out the capability, if it were ever found then we would put it out there. And we stuck to that. It makes your job harder, but it was the right thing for the country, former NSA Director Keith Alexander said in December during a University of Maryland event. We put out more than 90 plus percent of those things that we saw. Some people criticized it [the VEP] but nobody changed.

In the run-up to President Donald Trumps inauguration, however, some feared that a new White House would reverse courseand offer intelligence and law enforcement agencies greater leeway to keep vulnerabilities secret.

Where we are in 2017, if you look at the sort of arc of cyber policy today, coming out of the Trump campaign and then out of the then president-elects office, it was very offense-oriented, explained Rob Knake, a former director for cybersecurity on the National Security Council at the White House. So I think there was this sense that the gloves were coming off, that the [VEP] would be thrown out the window That was my fear.

But what we have seen since then I think is a growing recognition that we revived this policy, that this is a policy from the Bush administration, this started in 2008 and came out of the CNCI and one which [current White House homeland security adviser] Tom Bossert had a heavy hand in, said Knake.

Though the VEP offers renewed transparency in its current form over what has largely been a clandestine decision-making process, the panel of experts also agreed that more can be done.

Greater coordination and shared oversight, Knake explained, should be instituted between the multiple federal agencies that share a vested interest in either disclosure or keeping software flaws secret. Until today, each federal agencies has approached the VEP in a slightly different manner.

We agree that it is time for this process to be codified in law just to make sure that it continues, that there is are clear considerations around the risk and potential for operational use and for regular review of what youre not disclosing, said Heather West, a senior policy manager for Mozilla.

I think ultimately there could be a lot more transparency around [the VEP], one of the things we noticed as we have gone through and researched this process is that it works reasonable well and the government could build a lot of trust with industry; saying this is what we have and are doing. And then we can have this collaborative relationship that we dont normally have in the cybersecurity space, West said.

At the moment, there are no penalties in place for agencies or U.S. officials that decide to keep software vulnerabilities out of the VEP process.

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Software vulnerability disclosures by NSA will continue under Trump, officials say – CyberScoop

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