Essential reading: the irreconcilable tension between cybersecurity and national security


In order to reconcile this tension we have classified our own citizens as our adversaries. Problem resolved, no?


If they classified us as their adversaries, they automatically classified themselves as our adversaries.

And then our gloves can go off. Snowden told us they don’t wear their ones anyway.

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Ron Deibert’s article is a good summary of our Intelligence problems:

  • The secrecy that the Intelligence Agencies crave is corrosive of good government. It corrupts all that it touches.
  • Their secrecy isolates our Intelligence agencies from good governance and good oversight.
  • They keep more secrets from US than they keep from our enemies.
When the mask of secrecy was lifted, we found that our intelligence communities are no longer aligned with our interests. Their goals are not our goals. Their interests are not our interests. Their methods and acts have subverted our most cherished values. Their actions are a greater threat to us than they are to our enemies.

Secrecy is not the only corrupting influence at work. The drive for political perfection may be even more dangerous. Our Intelligence Agencies have been forced to assume the impossible task of ensuring nothing goes seriously wrong. Anywhere. We have told them that perfection is required for the security of the nation. There is no end to the costs required to shoulder this burden. This burden will consume the best and brightest.

I believe that Dan Geer is a good example of the cost of the relentless pursuit of perfect control. He has been one of the most respected voices in the Security community. He has spent the last few years working closely with the CIA. His current definition of Security is: … one is in a state of security, if and only if there can be no unmitigatable surprises. From this definition, we can see that he believes that security requires both omniscience, and omnipotence. This kind of security is unattainable in the real world. You can consume your soul, and everyone around you and still not achieve this kind of security. His keynote at BlackHat 2014 seems to reveal that this quest has broken him. I pray that he heals. We need more people like him.

My security group has adopted a different definition of security. Instead of destroying, our security definition enables us. It is: Security is a meaningful assurance that your most important goals are being accomplished. This definition guides us to effective action. It also ensures that the quest for security will never displace our most cherished goals.

We must use the whistleblower’s precious gift to bring Intelligence back into alignment with OUR goals. We have a brief period before it is too late. Once power is seized by government, it is rarely released. Today, we may be able to assert power over the NSA and the CIA. Tomorrow, they may use their power to alter any electronic record, change any bank balance and effect any election. After that, the cost of reform grows without limit. They can force us to adopt their goals. We will have no power over them.


Am I the only one who sees the headline picture as a large glowing vagina? Is the NSA in there too?

In espionage lingo, it is called “honey trap”.

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