[ISN] Chief Takes Over New Agency to Thwart Attacks on U.S.

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Thu Feb 14 2002 - 01:43:20 PST

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    Forwarded from: William Knowles <wkat_private>
    February 13, 2002
    John M. Poindexter, the retired Navy admiral who was President Ronald
    Reagan's national security adviser, has returned to the Pentagon to
    direct a new agency that is developing technologies to give federal
    officials instant access to vast new surveillance and information-
    analysis systems.
    The Information Awareness Office, which Mr. Poindexter took over last
    month, is one of two new agencies that the Defense Advanced Research
    Projects Agency, or Darpa, created in recent months as part of the
    Bush administration's effort to grapple with new kinds of military
    threats after the attacks of Sept. 11.
    The other new agency is the Information Exploitation Office and is
    intended to develop advanced computerized battlefield sensor networks
    to shorten the time between when an enemy target is located and when
    it is attacked.
    The Information Awareness Office will focus on what the agency refers
    to as "asymmetric threats," or nonconventional military targets like
    potential terrorist organizations.
    The administration has called for a sharp increase in Darpa's budget
    in the fiscal year 2003, and the agency is being reshaped to focus on
    a variety of new technologies, including biological warfare threats as
    well as new computer "data mining" technologies.
    Over the years, Darpa has financed research that led to the creation
    of the Internet and stealth aircraft.
    Mr. Poindexter, who is 65, was a controversial figure both for his
    role in the Iran-contra scandals and for his efforts to assert
    military influence over commercial computer security technologies.
    With Oliver L. North, a former National Security Council aide, Mr.  
    Poindexter was convicted in 1986 as part of the guns-for-hostages deal
    that provoked a Congressional investigation. The conviction was
    overturned in 1991 on grounds that the men had been granted immunity
    from prosecution as a result of their testimony before Congress.
    Since leaving government in the 1980's, Mr. Poindexter has worked as a
    military technology consultant, most recently for Syntek Technologies,
    a military and intelligence- agency consulting firm in Arlington, Va.  
    Since 1995, he has consulted with Darpa on new technologies intended
    to give military and civil crisis managers access to battlefield and
    related information.
    Mr. Poindexter, who declined a request for an interview on his new
    position, became closely involved as a contractor in 1995 on a Darpa
    development project code-named Genoa intended to give national
    security managers advanced personal computer networks with access to
    large databases of relevant information.
    In recent weeks, Mr. Poindexter has contacted a number of Silicon
    Valley researchers looking for information on specific technologies.
    Several scientists who are close to the agency said he had returned to
    government service because he had a passionate concern about assuring
    that the nation's crisis managers had better computerized systems for
    communication and data analysis.
    "After 9/11, there is clearly a sense you have to present information
    to decision makers in a coherent fashion," said Shankar Sastry, a
    former Darpa manager who is now chairman of the electrical engineering
    and computer sciences department at the University of California.
    Mr. Poindexter also consulted on another Darpa project called Command
    Post of the Future, Dr. Sastry said. The project designed a series of
    high-technology rooms that surrounded military planners with
    electronic communication, decision- making and mapping aids.
    One component of the new computer information systems that is being
    emphasized by Mr. Poindexter's new office are "data mining" techniques
    intended to scan through vast collections of computer data, which may
    include text, images, sound and other computer data, and find
    significant patterns.
    "We now have so many sensors that we need new ways of making sense of
    the information we collect," said Steven Wallach, who is vice
    president of Chiaro Networks and a member of the president's
    Information Technology Advisory Committee. "How do you associate a
    name with a picture taken in Malaysia, a cellphone call in Frankfurt,
    Germany, and a bank transfer from Pakistan to Chicago? There aren't
    any perfect answers yet."
    The development of such advanced surveillance and data-mining
    techniques has raised new concerns among civil liberties groups in the
    United States, and Mr. Poindexter was involved in disputes about the
    government's role in computer security during the 1980's.
    "Mr. Poindexter was responsible for several computer policy mistakes
    in the computer security realm in the 1980's," said Marc Rotenberg, a
    former counsel with Senate Judiciary Committee, referring to Mr.  
    Poindexter's policies that shifted control of computer security to the
    military. "It took three administrations and both political parties
    over a decade to correct those mistakes."
    As national security adviser, Mr. Poindexter was involved with a
    Reagan administration initiative in 1984 known as National Security
    Decision Directive, N.S.D.D.-145, which gave intelligence agencies
    broad authority to examine computer databases for "sensitive but
    unclassified information."
    In a later memorandum, Mr. Poindexter expanded this authority to give
    the military responsibility for all computer and communications
    security for the federal government and private industry.
    Mr. Poindexter, who received a doctorate in physics from the
    California Institute of Technology, has a deep interest and an
    advanced understanding of computers and other information
    technologies, said Victoria Stavridou, a Darpa contractor and director
    of the Systems Laboratory at SRI International in Menlo Park, Calif.
    "John is very well respected technically," she said. "He understands
    these issues, and that makes him extremely valuable."
    "Communications without intelligence is noise;  Intelligence
    without communications is irrelevant." Gen Alfred. M. Gray, USMC
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