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ICANN volunteers for Homeland Defence

While Congress mulls techno National Guard

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Washington Roundup ICANN President Stuart Lynn actually said that, in view of the atrocities of 11 September, "It would be irresponsible for ICANN not to conduct an in-depth assessment of the robustness and security of the Internet's naming and addressing systems."

While we were musing about how best to describe the folly of letting an organization which, we imagine, spends the majority of its time bickering over the placement of water jugs on the conference table go ahead and further paralyze itself by mucking about with hardcore national security issues, Richard Forno submitted a post to the politech mailing list which pretty well stole our thunder.

"ICANN is using the events of 09-11 as yet another excuse to slow their already glacial (and some would say corrupt) pace of operations while their supporters (e.g., big business) jockey for position on how best to exploit the future," the former NSI Chief Security Officer wrote.

"The only security most of ICANN's Board is interested (or qualified) to address is job security. The same could be said for many of the commercial root operators, too."

To which we really haven't got anything to add....



The largely unconstitutional omnibus

anti-terror bill

Dubya has compelled US Attorney General John Ashcroft to peddle for him on Capitol Hill appears to be stalled by Members who may actually fear for their seats. The bill (ATA for 'Anti-Terrorism Act') would make wiretaps easy for the Feds to obtain, make pen register and trap and trace orders for phones and Net traffic freely available without a judge's involvement, permit indefinite detention of troublesome aliens with a convenient ban on judicial review, and promote hacking to a terrorist incident invoking a life sentence.

The Bush Administration had fervently hoped to ram this Third Reich sucker through Congress last week with no debate, surfing high on the potent rhetoric of sacrificed innocents, but that's off.

The fear among Members, of course, is facing voters in a year's time and possibly having to explain why, after selling out the public's rights to privacy and due legal process, we're no closer to apprehending those responsible for the atrocities in New York and Washington.

Still, Ashcroft made the rounds this weekend asking -- "imploring" in the words of the New York Times -- Members to rubberstamp Dubya's Nazi package immediately, for without it, he claimed, terrorism simply cannot be defeated.

He even tried to frighten Congress by claiming that there exists a "very serious threat" of fresh attacks due any minute, but of course he offered no evidence which the public can be trusted to evaluate.

With the vast resources the Feds are now devoting to Mission Osama, it's inconceivable that they can't get the job done while at the same time working around existing civil liberties. And if they really can't, well, perhaps they're simply not good enough at what they do to deserve to succeed. The public, surely, has already sacrificed enough of its liberty on the altar of national security failures....



If US Senator Ron Wyden (Democrat, Oregon) has his way, the next time some murderous megalomaniac attacks a US city, crack volunteer divisions of elite propellerheads will leap into action and promptly restore all our broken technology.

Inspired by an observation that the appalling collapse of the WTC knocked out mobile phones in the Apple, the Senator is preparing to meet with senior staff from numerous technology companies next week to see what can be done. The Geek Patrol will "quickly recreate and repair compromised communications and technology infrastructures....in times of critical need," as Wyden imagines it.

Now, Steve Gibson's name hasn't officially come up, but we can't think of anyone who could profit better from contribute more to such an effort. He's already been tapped by the National Security Council for homeland defence against zombie machines, by which means no end of deadly terrorist attacks can be engineered....



The US military did in fact declare a full Air Defence Emergency on 11 September, the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) has confirmed for us.

As we reported earlier, a full Air Defence Emergency invokes a peculiar set of regulations called Security Control of Air Traffic and Air Navigation Aids (SCATANA), which was not fully implemented due to safety concerns.

SCATANA requires the US Department of Defense (DoD), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Department of Transportation (DoT) and NORAD to clear the skies, divert or re-route aircraft, and disable navigation aids which attackers might be relying on. This part of the regulation was not implemented on 11 September because suddenly disabling navigation aids would likely have done more harm than good.

SCATANA harks back to a time when Russian ICBMs were the threat of the day, and on-board navigation aids relied on outside signals. Not all do these days, so it's unclear whether or not disabling them would have given the hijackers any difficulty. It's been widely leaked to the press that the hijackers were all well-trained pilots; but it's also been widely leaked to the press that Air Force One was one of their prime targets (yeah, right). It would be convenient for government officials to persuade the press that the hijackers were capable pilots, to bolster the impression that there was nothing they could have done. But anecdotal reports from some of the schools they attended suggest that several of them were total slackers.

One hopes that implementing SCATANA would not have impeded the hijackers, even temporarily, since NORAD scrambled attack planes against all four doomed flights, which, in each case, arrived only minutes too late to take action. The window of failure was quite small; so if it's possible that implementing SCATANA would have delayed the hijacked flights -- if only long enough to have given NORAD an opportunity to act -- it's clearly time for heads to roll.

We'll never know if implementing SCATANA would have slowed the hijackers. We'll never know what, if anything, NORAD could have done if their fighters had intercepted the planes. In all likelihood, by the time the hijackers had signaled their intent to crash into the World Trade Center, there would have been no time to get authorization to fire on them. And even if that could have been accomplished, it's hardly a safe bet that shooting down two commercial planes over lower Manhattan on a weekday would have saved any lives. Indeed, the death toll could have been even more horrible in that case.

The key issue here is why the USA should have on the books an air emergency procedure which is both unlikely to be effective against an attack such as we experienced on 11 September, and too dangerous to implement in any case....



The Bush Administration this weekend leaked plans to donate cash to Taliban opponents in Afghanistan -- chiefly the Northern Alliance -- and so further raised the specter of waging war by proxy. Bush had earlier this weekend said that the US is committed to establishing an acceptable government in the country, further raising the specter of nation building.

The number of taxpayer dollars earmarked for this worthy venture has not been disclosed, but $100 million has been set aside for relief to Afghan refugees, presumably to assist Pakistan and in hopes of easing internal strains on Musharraf's government, to which Dubya has hitched America's star....

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