New Government Stealth Internet-Because the last one failed

Posted on June 13, 2011 by

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The New York Times ran an expose today on the new “stealth” internet funded by the Obama administration. This new “internet in a suitcase” can be deployed anywhere on the globe and allow dissidents living under oppressive regimes to communicate free from interference. But they did that already. It was called TOR (previously onion routing) and it failed so spectacularly that this new State Department project was created in a rush to replace it.

No mention is made in the Times article of TOR, nor does it mention that the US Government even tried to create something similar in the past. Well, they did. And as Michael Reed of the Naval Research Laboratory, and one of the creators of TOR, has spoken openly about the advantages of having everyone use your technology.

Reed verifies that having a line of communication that only the US Government would use is basically pointless. The trick is to get your enemies involved. That way they can not shut down their opposition without hurting themselves. However, TOR itself is not really anonymous and is extremely vulnerable. After all, if it worked so well then why the scramble to create something new?

During the State Department sponsored Alliance of Youth Movements in December 2008 the Egyptian revolution was planned for 2011. The sponsoring company, Howcast, even had instructional videos on anonymous web surfing and even suggests using TOR (3:32). During the Egyptian uprising Howcast spun off Movements.org to help aid the dissidents in the revolution. Upset that bloggers had drawn the conclusion that Howcast.com and Movements.org were one in the same, staff members made contact and asked them to delete or edit their posts; operating with government money of course.

Further examples of just how dangerous the use of government created TOR (and anonymizing software can be) appear more recently. When surface to air missiles were stolen from Libyan munition dumps live tracking was done on the ground. The operative on the ground had been in Libya for 20 years. Using TOR to communicate with US officials, and some private military contractors, his identity was revealed inside of 24 hours and leaked online.

The live tracking showed some missiles heading west into Mauritania and some heading east towards Somalia. Speculation was that they could make the short hop across the water to the Arabian Peninsula. A few weeks later a rocket attack injured Yemen president Saleh. How did Al-Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), who for years was limited to pistols, assault rifles, and IED’s, get their hands on missiles? Simple, they came from Libya and the flaws of TOR ousted a lifetime intel operative tracking their movement. 20 years of research and intel gathering down the tubes.

Also ousted and arrested with the help of TOR was Abdul Aziz bin Mohammed Al-Wahaibi along with seven other members of the Islamic Umma Party. Originally reported on Feb 14 All Voices confirmed this fact 5 days later. Publicly the Islamic Umma Party had been formed as a liaison between the people of Saudi Arabia and the ruling House of Saud with no intent on overthrowing the royal family. It was only privately these matters were discussed with dissidents, using TOR and other U.S. government created tunneling software. That is how the founding members were arrested almost instantaneously; the Saudi crown was able to see their messages.

So the Times piece today is incomplete at best. It makes no note or mention of why there is a push to create a new “stealth internet” to aid dissidents ruled by oppressive regimes. In a nutshell, they are still in CYA mode since the government funded toppling of a controversial ally, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, and need to create a strong presence in favor of supporting any rebellion in the future. This is a futile attempt to gain a few points back of President Obama’s rapidly dropping approval rating in the Middle East.

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