Felix Stalder on Wed, 1 Dec 2010 11:11:38 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Wikileaks: State Pulls the Plug On SIPRNet

Seems like Assange's 'secrecy tax' is making itself felt.


State Pulls the Plug On SIPRNet
November 29, 2010 at 9:26 pm


Late last week, after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton informed the White 
House of the likely fall-out from the WikiLeaks cable dump, the White House 
came back with a question: âWhat's our corrective action?â

Clinton's undersecretary for management, Patrick Kennedy, had a simple 
suggestion: pull the plug on SIPRNet [1], the classified DoD network that 
PFC Bradley Manning reportedly used to download the cables from State's 
inhouse classified database. âThe White House said do it,â says a senior 
administration official.

The publication by WikiLeaks of more than 250,000 diplomatic cables, many 
of them classified, is forcing an administration-wide intelligence 
retrenchment as agencies reconsider how to balance the need to share with 
the need to know. With its third major dump of controversial classified 
information in nine months, WikiLeaks is single-handedly tipping the 
balance back towards inter-agency "stovepiping", or walling off information 
from other departments.

Post 9.11 the imperative from Congress and the White House was to break 
down the âstovepipesâ that prevented sharing across the so-called 
intelligence communityâthe sprawling collection of intelligence offices in 
more than a dozen different agencies across the U.S. government and around 
the world.

At State, they created the âNet-Centric Diplomacy" database or NCD, where 
State stored classified information up to the top secret level. Agencies 
across government had access to that database through their own secure 
networks. In DoD's case the network, created in 1995, was called the Secure 
Internet Protocol Router Network, or SIPRNet.

Late last week, at Kennedy's recommendation and the White House's approval, 
State disconnected SIPRNet from the NCD, senior administration officials 
tell Time. âObviously there were some gaps within SIPRNet that DoD is 
actively correcting,â the senior administration official says, âAnd as a 
temporary precaution we have disconnected SIPRNet from the NCD.â

How long is temporary? DoD is investigating how Manning managed to download 
all those cables and get them to WikiLeaks, the senior administration 
officials tell Time. So far they have concluded that the failure came at 
Dod's Central Command, the combatant command responsible for the middle 
east, which employed Manning in Iraq. Prior to Manning's download, users of 
SIPRNet had been blocked from downloading data to removable media.

But at some point that restriction was lifted across all of CentCom. DoD 
has been reimposing restrictions since the July dump of Afghanistan war 
documents by WikiLeaks. DoD has blocked the use of removable media; they 
have required in some cases a âdual keyâ system that requires a second user 
to approve moving data from a higher classification system to a lower 
classification system; and they are installing software programs to monitor 
unusual activity.

DoD is not completely cut off from State's database. A separate system for 
the transmission of top secret information, the Joint Worldwide 
Intelligence Communications System or JWICS [2], is still linked to the 
NCD. And State may reconnect SIPRNet in the future. âOnce DoD has gone 
through and made its corrections on SIPRNet we'll reevaluate whether to 
reconnect,â the senior administration official says.

[1] http://www.fas.org/irp/program/disseminate/siprnet.htm
[2] http://www.fas.org/irp/program/disseminate/jwics.htm

--- http://felix.openflows.com ----------------------- books out now:
*|Deep Search.The Politics of Search Beyond Google.Studienverlag 2009
*|Mediale Kunst/Media Arts Zurich.13 Positions.Scheidegger&Spiess2008
*|Manuel Castells and the Theory of the Network Society. Polity, 2006 
*|Open Cultures and the Nature of Networks. Ed. Futura/Revolver, 2005 

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