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And, yes, I DO take it personally: Reuters interview with Mike McConnell on cybersecurity - a misinformation case study
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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Reuters interview with Mike McConnell on cybersecurity - a misinformation case study

we're all reasonably aware of the ability of news media to shape the national dialogue by focusing on subject matter that the ptb wishes to highlight in the public consciousness... we're also pretty much aware of how little context we get with most news stories where often critical background information is conveniently omitted that, if included, would give a story significantly deeper meaning... and we're also aware that key public figures will often make themselves available for interviews to news outlets when they are trying to soften the public up for an event or decision that might not sit well... rarely, however, do all of these come together in one article...
Ex-U.S. spy chief says may take crisis for new cyber law

U.S. intelligence agencies have unique capabilities that can help protect American companies from cyber espionage and attack, but it will probably take a crisis to change laws to allow that type of cooperation, a former spy chief said on Monday.

Intelligence agencies like the National Security Agency are authorized to operate abroad but generally are restricted from working within the United States,

"Until we have a banking collapse or electric power goes off in the middle of a snowstorm for eight weeks, or something of that magnitude, we're likely just to talk about it and not do much," Mike McConnell, former director of national intelligence, said.


The House intelligence committee in December approved a bill that would allow U.S. spy agencies to share cyber-threat intelligence with private companies. Some critics worry that could lead to government surveillance of private data.


"There are unique things that the government can do. For example code-breaking. The private sector out there does not do code-breaking," McConnell, a former National Security Agency director, told Reuters in an interview.

"How would you harness that capability and then make it available to the private sector in a way that their infrastructure could be better protected?"


McConnell gives an example that if NSA, which conducts electronic eavesdropping to detect foreign threats, observed a cyberthreat against the U.S. private sector, "NSA is powerless to do a thing other than issue a report."

He said in the area of cyber exploitation, such as reading an adversary's mail without leaving fingerprints, the United States, Britain and Russia are probably the best.

The United States also has the ability to conduct cyber attacks, which would be to degrade or destroy an adversary's computerized system, and has used it.

Has the United States used its cyber attack capability? "Yes," McConnell said. Did it work? "Yes."

McConnell, now vice chairman at the Booz Allen Hamilton consulting firm in charge of cyber activities, did not elaborate on the use of a cyber attack capability.

"Do we have the ability to attack, degrade or destroy? Sure. If you do that, what are the consequences? That is the question," he said.

McConnell said the priority is to protect the country's critical infrastructure such as the financial sector, the electric power grid and transportation from cyber attack and stop the theft of intellectual property through cyber espionage.

"There will be a thousand voices on what is the right thing to do," and it will probably require a crisis to reach consensus, he said.

i'll give credit where credit is due... at least they bothered to mention mcconnell's position with booz allen even if it took 'em 14 paragraphs to do it...

what might have been additional contextually significant information is that mcconnell is a poster child for the revolving door between top u.s. government posts and the corporations that feed off of government contracts... mcconnell served as senior vp for intelligence and national security at booz after retiring from the navy as nsa director and before being appointed as the director of national security by george bush and went immediately back to booz again as a senior vp seven days after the obama presidential inauguration and has since assumed the post of booz vice chairman (see here)...

other information about booz that would have been relevant is that booz is the 9th largest u.s. government contractor with annual revenues of over $5B, does an enormous amount of work with the u.s. government in the area of technology and cybersecurity, is majority owned by the carlyle group and has a strong profit motive to push an increase in government cyber capability by fronting a former dni who just so happens to be its current vice chairman (see here and here)...

now, what to make out of mcconnell's statement that "it will probably require a crisis"...? if there isn't one that occurs naturally and spontaneously, can we assume one will be created...? are we being tipped off...? does mcconnell know something we don't...? is it a veiled threat...?

why can't news organizations give us the information we need to make sense out of a story...? just because i happen to be a news junkie, i am aware of all this relevant background but why can't such information be a legitimate part of the news...? it would certainly help people discharge their responsibilities as informed citizens...

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