Putting “Really Mushy” Functions in a Department that Refuses to Be Audited

Noah Shachtman points to NextGov’s unsuccessful attempt to define how much DOD plans to spend on cybersecurity next year. DOD or its components have offered three different versions:

  • DOD’s mid-February report it would spend $2.3 billion
  • Air Force’s mid-February report it, by itself, would spend $4.6 billion
  • DOD’s March 23 revised report it would spend $3.2 billion

Part of the problem, as Shachtman explains in the NextGov piece, is that the definition of what counts as cybersecurity is not yet well defined.

“All of this stuff is still really mushy,” Shachtman said. Further obscuring visibility into the budget is the fact that some cybersecurity funding is classified at Defense components such as the NSA. Meanwhile, Cyber Command presents a new spending variable, he noted.

“Exactly where the NSA ends and the Cyber Command ends is a very open question,” Shachtman said. “How the Cyber Command is supposed to interact with the services is still being worked out.” He predicted it will take years to untangle the process of budgeting for federal computer security.

While you’re trying to get your head around how the Air Force has a bigger budget than the whole DOD for cybersecurity, remember a couple of things.

First, both the Air Force and DOD generally have stated policies of not telling Congress about Special Access Programs (in the case of Air Force) or clandestine cyberops. So to the extent that this mushy budget is mixed in with cyberops (as distinct from cybersecurity), there’s a decent chance Congress isn’t seeing all of it.

But even if Congress decided to look, to the extent that NSA (or CyberCommand, which General Keith Alexander also commands) has a hand in it, Congress is almost guaranteed to be unable to track it closely. That’s because NSA books can’t be audited and apparently NSA doesn’t intend to fix those problems.

Now all of would be pretty funny except that, insofar as the government can’t distinguish between legitimate cybersecurity (you know, preventing hackers and leakers from using thumb drives to upload malware and download entire databases) and cyberwar financially, there’s a decent chance they can’t do so organizationally either.

Or to put it in more tangible terms, HB Gary’s past governmental work has been about cybersecurity–assessing malware and finding intrusions. But they’ve been proposing collecting information about citizens’ First Amendment activity to use to target those citizens. And the Air Force–that entity with a cybersecurity budget bigger than all of DOD’s cybersecurity budget–is the service that was engaging cybersecurity firms to develop persona management software.

But aside from that, why should we be worried that such dangerous entities are organizationally such a clusterfuck?

Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Reddit0Share on Facebook0Google+0Email to someone

0 Responses to Putting “Really Mushy” Functions in a Department that Refuses to Be Audited

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15
  • 16
  • 17
Emptywheel Twitterverse
emptywheel RT @docexblog: CIA seeks public comments for decennial review of its operational files exemption from #FOIA https://t.co/Mw9FwzJDBP
27mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @Nick_Hentoff While they go about getting rid of him for good.
2hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @Nick_Hentoff Looks like they have 4 judges in that circuit. County ought to remove all crim cases immediately from Weill.
2hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @Nick_Hentoff Yeah, they have a problem there. The local DA's office should be joining in effort to oust hime. Bad form crim justice.
2hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @Nick_Hentoff: .@bmaz Judge Jeff Weill filed 700-page misconduct report on PD w/ highest win rate in his court; 699 pages on theft of s…
2hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @Nick_Hentoff: What a battle between a Miss. judge & public defenders tells us about the state of indigent defense https://t.co/4QbIrj9b
2hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz This judge has to go----> Hinds County Circuit Judge Weill faces new abuse allegations http://t.co/89GCO1qdeQ https://t.co/pMqv0ODELN
2hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @dcbigjohn @adamsteinbaugh @nycsouthpaw You are a law reporter now John, you are one of us now. Get with the program!
7hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @adamsteinbaugh @PogoWasRight @CathyGellis @marciahofmann @BillMcGev Like I said earlier, good luck with that.
7hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @PogoWasRight @CathyGellis @marciahofmann @BillMcGev I don't have a lot of love for Assange, but credit where due, this won't phase him.
9hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @biasedreporter Not so good on those issues either.
9hreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @PogoWasRight @marciahofmann @BillMcGev Good luck with that.
10hreplyretweetfavorite