[Intelforum] Secrecy News -- 10/14/05 (IF)
saftergood at fas.org
Fri Oct 14 14:39:52 EDT 2005
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2005, Issue No. 97
October 14, 2005
** AUTHENTICITY OF ZAWAHIRI LETTER QUESTIONED
** DEBUT OF THE NATIONAL CLANDESTINE SERVICE
** INVENTION SECRECY UP SLIGHTLY
** JOHN WALKER AND THE FLEET BROADCASTING SYSTEM, 1967-1974
AUTHENTICITY OF ZAWAHIRI LETTER QUESTIONED
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) took
the unusual step on October 11 of releasing the text of a
letter that it said was written by al Qaeda leader Ayman
al-Zawahiri to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who fights under the al
Qaeda banner in Iraq.
"The United States Government has the highest confidence in the
letter's authenticity," according to a news release from the
But despite the assurances of US Intelligence, internal textual
evidence appears to refute the DNI's description of the
In particular, as noted by Fred Kaplan in Slate today, the
letter writer states toward the end: "By God, if by chance you're
going to Fallujah, send greetings to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi." See:
This would appear to be conclusive evidence that the DNI was
mistaken and that the letter was written to someone other than
DEBUT OF THE NATIONAL CLANDESTINE SERVICE
Yesterday, the DNI and the Director of the Central Intelligence
Agency announced the establishment of a new National
The new Service should be referred to as "NaCl," the chemical
symbol for sodium chloride, proposes reader MJR, since "its
products should be taken with a grain of salt."
INVENTION SECRECY UP SLIGHTLY
Government agencies imposed 106 new secrecy orders on
inventions during fiscal year 2005, barring their disclosure
on national security grounds, and rescinded 76 others, thereby
bringing the total of secrecy orders in effect to 4,915, a
slight increase from the 4,885 in effect a year ago.
The Invention Secrecy Act of 1951 authorizes and requires the
government to impose such secrecy orders on patent
applications whose disclosure "might... be detrimental to the
In a constitutional anomaly, this requirement can be imposed
even when the application is for an invention generated by a
private individual without government sponsorship or support.
The latest statistics on invention secrecy, obtained by Secrecy
News from the US Patent and Trademark Office, may be found
JOHN WALKER AND THE FLEET BROADCASTING SYSTEM, 1967-1974
Egregious technological and procedural weaknesses in security
that enabled former naval officer John Walker to engage in
espionage for many years without detection are lucidly analyzed
in a recent Master's Thesis.
"CWO John Walker led one of the most devastating spy rings ever
unmasked in the US. Along with his brother, son, and friend,
he compromised US Navy cryptographic systems and classified
information from 1967 to 1985.
"This research focuses on just one of the systems compromised
by John Walker himself: the Fleet Broadcasting System (FBS)
during the period 1967-1974, which was used to transmit all US
Navy operational orders to ships at sea.
"Why was the communications security (COMSEC) system so
completely defenseless against one rogue sailor, acting alone?
The evidence shows that FBS was designed in such a way that it
was effectively impossible to detect or prevent rogue insiders
from compromising the system.
"Personnel investigations were cursory, frequently delayed, and
based more on hunches than hard scientific criteria. Far too
many people had access to the keys and sensitive materials,
and the auditing methods were incapable, even in theory, of
detecting illicit copying of classified materials.
Responsibility for the security of the system was distributed
between many different organizations, allowing numerous
security gaps to develop.
"This has immediate implications for the design of future
classified communications systems."
See "An Analysis of the Systemic Security Weaknesses of the
U.S. Navy Fleet Broadcasting System, 1967-1974, as Exploited
by CWO John Walker" by Maj. Laura J. Heath, Master's Thesis,
U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, June 2005:
Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the
Federation of American Scientists.
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