Saturday, May 30, 2009

President Barack Obama Outlines Coordinated Cyber-Security Plan

DTN News: President Barack Obama Outlines Coordinated Cyber-Security Plan
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON - May 30, 2009: President Obama declared Friday that the country’s disparate efforts to “deter, prevent, detect and defend” against cyberattacks would now be run out of the White House, but he also promised that he would bar the federal government from regular monitoring of “private-sector networks” and the Internet traffic that has become the backbone of American communications. Mr. Obama’s speech, which was accompanied by the release of a long-awaited new government strategy, was an effort to balance the United States’ response to a rising security threat with concerns — echoing back to the debates on wiretapping without warrants in the Bush years — that the government would be regularly dipping into Internet traffic that knew no national boundaries. One element of the strategy clearly differed from that established by the Bush administration in January 2008. Mr. Obama’s approach is described in a 38-page public document being distributed to the public and to companies that are most vulnerable to cyberattack; Mr. Bush’s strategy was entirely classified. But Mr. Obama’s policy review was not specific about how he would turn many of the goals into practical realities, and he said nothing about resolving the running turf wars among the Pentagon, the National Security Agency, the Homeland Security Department and other agencies over the conduct of defensive and offensive cyberoperations. The White House approach appears to place a new “cybersecurity coordinator” over all of those agencies. Mr. Obama did not name the coordinator Friday, but the policy review said that whoever the president selects would be “action officer” inside the White House during cyberattacks, whether they were launched on the United States by hackers or governments. In an effort to silence critics who have complained that the official will not have sufficient status to cut through the maze of competing federal agencies, Mr. Obama said the new coordinator would have “regular access to me,” much like the coordinator for nuclear and conventional threats. Many computer security executives had been hoping that Mr. Obama’s announcement would represent a turning point in the nation’s unsuccessful effort to turn back a growing cybercrime epidemic. On Friday, several said that while the president’s attention sounded promising, much would depend on whom he chose to fill the role. James A. Lewis, a director at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, a Washington group that published a bipartisan report last year calling on the president to appoint a cyberczar, said that the White House had now narrowed the list of candidates for the position to fewer than 10, but that choosing the right person would be difficult. “There aren’t a lot of people who have the policy and the strategy skills and the technological knowledge to carry this out,” Mr. Lewis said. “If you’re talking about missiles and space, there are a lot of people who know policy and technology, but in cyber its such a new field we’re talking about a really small gene pool.” For the first time, Mr. Obama also spoke of his own brush with cyberattacks, in the presidential campaign. “Between August and October, hackers gained access to e-mails and a range of campaign files, from policy position papers to travel plans,” he said, describing events that were known, though sketchily, at the time. “It was,” he said, “a powerful reminder: in this information age, one of your greatest strengths — in our case, our ability to communicate to a wide range of supporters through the Internet — could also be one of your greatest vulnerabilities.” Mr. Obama’s speech delved into technology rarely discussed in the East Room of the White House. He referred to “spyware and malware and spoofing and phishing and botnets,” all different approaches to what he called “weapons of mass disruption.” Although the president did not discuss details of the expanding role for the military in offensive and pre-emptive cyberoperations, senior officials said Friday that the Pentagon planned to create a new cybercommand to organize and train for digital war, and to oversee offensive and defensive operations. A lingering disagreement has been how to coordinate that new command with the work of the National Security Agency, home to most of the government’s expertise on computer and network warfare. One plan now under discussion would put the same general in charge of both the new cybercommand and the N.S.A. Currently, the security agency’s director is Lt. Gen. Keith B. Alexander, who would be expected to be the leading contender for the new, dual position. Industry executives were generally supportive of the initiative Mr. Obama announced, but also cautious. “There was nothing I was disappointed in,” said Mark Gerencser, a cybersecurity executive at Booz Allen Hamilton, a consulting firm that deals extensively in the government’s cybersecurity strategy. Mr. Hamilton noted that the United States had separated defense and offense in the cybersecurity arena, while its opponents, including Russia and China, had a more fluid strategy. “It’s like we’re playing football and our adversaries are playing soccer,” he said. Thom Shanker contributed reporting from Washington.

DTN News: Colombian Rebels Seek Farc Truce

DTN News: Colombian Rebels Seek Farc Truce (NSI News Source Info) May 30, 2009: The leader of Colombia's second-largest rebel group has appealed to the country's largest, the Farc, to end fighting between them. "We must order a stop to fratricidal war between our two forces," wrote the National Liberation Army (ELN) chief Nicolas "Gambino" Rodriguez. He sent the message to Alfonso Cano, the new head of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc). The ELN has about 1,500 fighters but its organisation is under pressure.Soldiers carry the bodies of fellow soldiers at a military base in Pasto May 10, 2009. Seven members of Colombia's army died and four were wounded in the province of Samaniego, near the Ecuadorean border, when they were attacked by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), said military authorities. The BBC's Jeremy McDermott in Colombia says many ELN units now ignore orders from their leader. Others have made alliances with drugs trafficking gangs to ensure their survival economically and in the face of attacks by the Farc, our correspondent adds. Both rebel groups have been forced onto the back foot by the US-supported offensives of President Alvaro Uribe, he adds. Both the Farc and the ELN have been fighting the Colombian government since the 1960s and are believed to hold hundreds of hostages. Meanwhile, Gen Freddy Padilla - the current head of the armed forces - has been appointed the new Defence Minister. He will retain his military post. Gen Padilla replaces Juan Manuel Santos who recently resigned to prepare for a possible run for president next year. With FARC in retreat and ELN negotiating a peace deal, the military is turning more of its attention to the militias formed by drug gangs. This month, the army and navy spent weeks taking apart a militia belonging to the Norte del Valle drug cartel, near the Panama border. The operation led to the surrender of 112 militiamen, and over a hundred killed, deserting or getting away. The war against the leftist rebels (FARC and ELN) is often more expensive after the rebels are driven out of an area. The FARC administered rural areas primarily to support the production of cocaine. Farmers were encouraged, or forced (via threats, kidnapping and murder) to grow coca. The rebels controlled the local economy. When the government moves back in, they have to bring administrators and cash to rebuild the economy and build infrastructure (which the leftist rebels largely ignored for decades). Farmers need a lot of help to switch to new (legal) crops. As the leftists and drug gangs lost control of most of their territory in the last five years, they have had to force more farmers, in areas they still operate in, to grow more coca. Living in a rebel controlled area is a lot worse than in a government controlled one. ELN is the smaller of the leftist rebel groups that began fighting in the 1960s. Now with less than 2,000 armed members, the ELN is falling apart because of growing violence with FARC, and ELN commanders ignoring its revolutionary activities, in favor of business with the drug gangs. ELN leaders have called for a truce with FARC, but the FARC leadership is too distracted by their own problems to be bothered.

In this photo released by the Colombian National Police, Miguel Angel Beltran, alias "Jaime Cienfuegos," center, an alleged member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC, is escorted by police officers upon his arrival to Bogota, Thursday, May 23, 2009. Beltran was arrested in Mexico and extradited to Colombia by the Mexican government. The constant military and police pressure on the leftist rebel groups, and the loss of so much territory, has forced most of the FARC leadership to move outside the country. Most FARC political and military leaders now live in Venezuela, Ecuador and Cuba. These three nations are run by leftist governments that support FARC, despite FARC being tagged as a terrorist organization by the international community. Leftists, both governments and political parties, in Europe and the Americas tend to overlook the drug activities and terrorism of leftist rebels, and provide moral and tangible support to show "solidarity". This support is helping keep FARC in business by providing sanctuary, and positive spin in the media (or negative spin on the Colombian government and security forces). This support often backfires. Ecuador and Venezuela has found that allowing FARC to set up camps on their side of the border leads to more crime against the locals, and an increase in drug activity and corruption. Thus Venezuela recently arrested a former local police commander and extradited him to Colombia for drug trafficking. The foreign supporters of FARC are frustrated trying to get the leftist rebels to give up the drug business. Panama and Brazil are not cooperative with FARC, but the leftist rebels and drug runners try to move in anyway. Tiny Panama gets more attention, since it's a way station to the major cocaine markets in North America, and has weak security forces. Brazil, the largest nation in South America, has made its border unfriendly for FARC and the drug gangs. As a result, the violent activity goes elsewhere (Venezuela, Ecuador and Panama.)

DTN News: BORDER SECURITY Crossing The 49th Parallel - What You'll Need To Satisfy New U.S. Identification Requirements

DTN News: BORDER SECURITY Crossing The 49th Parallel - What You'll Need To Satisfy New U.S. Identification Requirements (This info is for the benefit of Canadian citizen)
(NSI News Source Info) May 30, 2009: It's a brand new world for Canadians wanting to head across what used to be called the world's longest undefended border, as of June 1, 2009. A passenger holds his Canadian passport before boarding a flight to the United States, at the Ottawa, Ont. airport. (Tom Hanson/Canadian Press)
The vast majority of Canadians heading south — whether it's for a day of shopping, a weekend getaway or a family vacation — do it by car. Getting past customs used to be a matter of showing some ID — a driver's licence or a birth certificate — and answering a few questions. No more. Rules that went into effect more than two years earlier for people flying into the U.S. now cover those who enter by land or sea. You'll need a WHTI-compliant document. What's a WHTI-compliant document? Under WHTI — the U.S.-legislated Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative — anyone from the Western Hemisphere entering the United States must produce a document that contains photo identification and proof of citizenship. Compliant documents include a passport, a NEXUS card, a FAST card, an enhanced driver's licence, or a Secure Certificate of Indian Status. If you're 15 or younger, you'll only need proof of Canadian citizenship. Accepted documents are an original or photocopy of a birth certificate or a citizenship card. If you're 18 or younger and travelling with a school or other organized group — under adult supervision and with parental consent — you can also get through with just proof of citizenship. Before the legislation was passed, a birth certificate or photo ID was usually enough. It's estimated that around 50 per cent of Canadians hold a passport. For Americans, it's closer to 20 per cent. How long does it take to get a passport? Passport Canada estimates that it will take up to two weeks if you submit your application in person and up to four weeks if you apply by mail, through a receiving agent or a mobile passport unit. However, if you're applying in person and you need your passport sooner, you may be able to speed up the process by paying extra fees and providing proof of impending travel. The passport office says applications have been up in the past two months. Passport Canada receives an average of around 21,000 applications daily. The average in the months preceding that was around 19,000. Can anyone get a NEXUS or FAST card? No, it's not automatic. The NEXUS and FAST programs were set up under the Smart Border Declaration and Action Plan. Both were designed to make it easier for low-risk, pre-approved travellers to cross the border between Canada and the U.S. The application process takes much longer than applying for a passport. Canadian applicants will be interviewed by American border protection officials. You will be fingerprinted during the interview. If accepted into the program, the officer will take a digital photo of your irises to verify your identity each time you enter Canada or the United States by air and use the self-serve kiosks. The officer will also take a digital photo of your face. A NEXUS card will allow you to use special lanes when you cross the border by land. You might not have to stop - but you might be pulled aside at random for more detailed questioning. FAST is similar to NEXUS in that it's designed to expedite the process for frequent travellers. However, FAST is designed to keep commercial traffic flowing smoothly. It was set up for drivers, carriers and importers. Under FAST, an acronym for Free And Secure Trade, customs officials can be notified of the cargo's arrival up to an hour before it gets to the border. The pre-approved carriers and drivers use a dedicated lane to cross between the two countries. As of the end of April 2009, 295,000 people were enrolled in the NEXUS program. By the end of March, 81,000 had enrolled in FAST. What makes a driver's licence 'enhanced?' Quebec Premier Jean Charest displays an enhanced drivers licence. (Canadian Press)
Enhanced licences contain a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip that points to information in a secure database stored at the Canada Border Services Agency. The information can confirm a person's identity and proof of citizenship. The chip itself does not contain any personal information. Currently Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia either issue or are in the process of issuing these licences. They are not mandatory in those provinces. If you want one, you have to pay a fee on top of what you pay for the privilege of having a driver's licence. Where can I get a Secure Certificate of Indian Status? You can't — yet. Indian and Northern Affairs Canada says it's not yet ready to provide a specific date when the new cards will be available. The new card is being designed to be less prone to forgery or counterfeiting than the cards currently in use. The old card is a laminated paper document. You are entitled to a Certificate of Indian Status card if you've registered as a Status Indian under the Indian Act. Do the same rules exist for Americans? If they're entering the U.S. from Canada, yes. Americans will be required to produce an approved document that verifies identity and citizenship.

DTN News: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Urges World To Fulfil Aid Pledges Of Half A Billion Dollars To Pakistan

DTN News: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Urges World To Fulfil Aid Pledges Of Half A Billion Dollars To Pakistan
*Analysis: Pakistan has been receiving economic and military aid from U.S. over $ 10 billion plus further funds are in the pipeline by several countries and large sums of Pakistan's external debts have been foregone by U.S., Japan and EU since 9/11. Recently, media were reporting that Pakistan military is enhancing increase in nuclear arsenal and inducting new fighter aircrafts and other modern weapons at the cost of its own economy infrastructure. It is high time Pakistan should look into its internal background and stop blaming rest of the world for current conflicts in NWFP (Swat Valley) and eliminate insurgency today, unchecked it is going to spread like cancer all over the globe tomorrow. (DTN News Defense-Technology News .... May 30, 2009) (NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD - May 30, 2009: The government appealed to the international community on Thursday to provide more assistance for relief and rehabilitation of the internally displaced persons. U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-VT, second from right, meets with Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, right, with Sen. Mark Warner, D-VA, third from left, Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI, second from left, and U. S. Ambassador in Pakistan Anne Patterson in Islamabad, Pakistan on Monday, May 25, 2009. Gilani briefed the senators regarding anti-Taliban operation going on in northwest Pakistan. At a meeting held to review relief work for the IDPs, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani urged donor countries to fulfil pledges of assistance they had made for the affected people. Representatives of the United States, Britain, EU and other countries promised at a conference last week to make fresh commitments after the United Nations launched a global appeal for $543.2 million. The meeting discussed plans for return of the displaced people to their homes. It was informed that over 51,300 tents had been set up in different places in the NWFP and 30,583 tons of foodstuff distributed among the IDPs. Over 300 tons of food items have been sent to the people stranded in conflict zones. The meeting was informed that Nadra had set up kiosks across the country for registration of the IDPs and the National Bank and other banks would open dedicated windows to give them debit cards. The prime minister asked the Nadra authorities to complete the registration work soon so that the affected people could be provided with cash and other assistance.
The meeting was briefed on arrangements being made for providing electricity, drinking water, fans and other items of basic needs to the IDPs. The prime minister asked the authorities concerned to ensure uninterrupted supply of basic necessities. He asked the provincial government and the Special Support Group to work for restoration of services in the affected areas and beef up security arrangements for the safe return of the IDPs. Mr Gilani called for providing desert coolers and making arrangements for garbage removal and fumigation. He said the displaced people had sacrificed their present for the future of the nation. He said the ongoing operation against militants and terrorists would continue till its logical conclusion, adding that the writ of the government would be restored at all costs. The report prepared by the Congressional Research Service recalls that as the United States prepared to launch an attack on the Afghan Taliban after September 11, 2001, former military dictator Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf ordered that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal be redeployed to ‘at least six secret new locations.’ This action came at a time of uncertainly about the future of the region, including the direction of US-Pakistan relations. Islamabad’s leadership was uncertain whether the US would decide to conduct military strikes against Pakistan’s nuclear assets if Islamabad did not assist the United States against the Taliban. Indeed, Musharraf cited protection of Pakistan’s nuclear and missile assets as one of the reasons for Islamabad’s dramatic policy shift. The prime minister praised the humanitarian gesture of people hosting the IDPs and said the entire nation was united in determination to cope with the challenge. The meeting was attended by Minister of State for Finance and Economic Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar, Chairman of the Special Support Group for IDPs Lt-Gen Nadeem Ahmad, secretaries of cabinet, economic affairs division and health and the NWFP chief secretary.