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[infowar.de] A Push From Homeland Security
Mit einigen interessanten Argumenten gegen TIA von John Hamre, der =E4ltere=
Listenmitgliedern noch als Cyberwar-Fearmongerer unter Clinton bekannt
A Push From Homeland Security
By STEVE LOHR
June 30, 2003
ROBERT LISCOUSKI left his job as the head of information security at
Coca-Cola three months ago to join a start-up. "I refer to it as
DHS.com, and that's probably a good way to think about it," he said.
The pace of work is frenetic, the organization is being built from the
ground up, and, like a dot-com in the euphoria years, the new
Department of Homeland Security - the DHS in Mr. Liscouski's locution
- will have some serious money to spend.
Mr. Liscouski, an assistant secretary at the department, who spoke at
a conference last Wednesday, hit a nerve with his analogy. The
computer executives at the gathering in Washington were suitably
amused, nodding and smiling - wistfully no doubt. Nothing, of course,
will bring back the dot-com heyday. But to much of Silicon Valley, the
government's mandate to improve homeland security looks as if it could
be the next-best thing - a technology push, stimulated by government,
that is expected to create a lucrative market in computer hardware and
software for surveillance, data collection, data analysis and
The government is shopping for high-technology tools capable of
finding terrorists and defending against cyberattacks on the computer
networks that run the nation's financial, transportation and
Dependence on the private sector was the mantra of the Bush
administration officials who spoke at the conference, "Information
Technology Leadership in a Security-Focused World." The gathering was
sponsored by the Information Technology Industry Council, a trade
organization, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies,
a research group.
As Paul Kurtz, the special assistant to the president on the White
House Homeland Security Council, said at the conference, "We will take
the best and brightest ideas in the private sector and apply them to
That stance is probably less a political philosophy than a pragmatic
recognition of the technical realities of homeland security. About 85
percent of the computers and networks connected to the Internet, for
example, are owned and operated by companies.
"The systems are designed and owned by the private sector," said Adam
Golodner, an associate director at the Institute for Security
Technology Studies at Dartmouth College. "That's a very different
world from traditional defense, where if the Pentagon wants a new
strike-force bomber it is totally built to the government's
Yet relying so much on the industry for both equipment and ideas
raises a policy issue. As the government and private sector adopt a
dot-com enthusiasm for the "best and brightest" security technologies,
will both sides lose perspective on what is truly in the public
There is a tension, for example, between the interests of homeland
security and personal privacy. Security and personal privacy are not
necessarily at odds; an individual's financial transactions over the
computer networks of modern banking systems, for instance, cannot be
private unless they are secure.
Still, the drive toward homeland security seems fraught with privacy
peril. One broad approach being explored for improving security
involves collecting vast sets of personal information in computer
databases, then sorting and analyzing the data to look for suspicious
activities and possible terrorists.
The optimistic view is that technology can sidestep any trade-off
between homeland security and personal privacy. "Information
technology will be a force for more security and more privacy, a force
for greater security and greater individual freedom," Bill Gates, the
chairman of Microsoft, said in a luncheon speech at the conference.
Not everyone in attendance was convinced. "What he said is fine for
rhetoric, but I'm not sure it's true," said Lance J. Hoffman, a
computer scientist and security expert at George Washington
One concern, Mr. Hoffman said, is that the national effort to improve
homeland security will mean that all the investment and research goes
into computer security, while the privacy implications are given short
shrift. To prevent that, he advocates public investment on both sides
of the security-privacy ledger.
As a possible model, Mr. Hoffman points to the National Human Genome
Research project. The government sets aside part of the project's
annual budget, 3 percent to 5 percent, for a research program into the
ethical, legal and social implications of genetic research.
"In the short-term drive to improve security, we want to make sure
that whatever we do is consistent with a long-term balancing point of
preserving civil rights," Mr. Hoffman said. "You want those kinds of
decisions to have been considered and thought through."
Speaking at the conference, John J. Hamre, the president of the Center
for Strategic and International Studies, made a somewhat different
argument for trying to strike a balance in homeland security policy. A
former deputy secretary of defense, Mr. Hamre said that there was no
complete answer to all security threats, so there were limits to what
technology could be expected to do.
At the conference, industry executives spoke highly of the raft of
technologies that can and are being deployed in the quest for homeland
security - data-sifting software, artificial intelligence, probability
theory, iris recognition and digital-video surveillance gear. And most
people emphasized the need for clever software to integrate the
computer networks of federal, state and local law enforcement
agencies, so they can share information more easily.
That is all potentially useful, Mr. Hamre said, but he added that the
effort to gather and sift through oceans of data might be misguided.
The appropriate metaphor for domestic surveillance, he said, was the
old one of looking for a needle in a haystack. By piling up the data,
"we're adding more hay to the stack," Mr. Hamre said.
Before trying to integrate the thousands of federal, state and local
computer systems, Mr. Hamre said, it might be wise to spell out
clearer rules for sharing information on the roughly 40,000 people on
terrorist "watch lists" among the federal agencies that keep those
"The problem is terrorists," Mr. Hamre said, "not lack of
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