|Holder Assigns Two to Investigate Cyber
6/8. Attorney General Eric Holder released a
regarding federal investigation of the unauthorized release of information
regarding US cyber warfare operations against Iran and other leaks.
He wrote that "Today, I assigned U.S. Attorney for the
District of Columbia Ronald C. Machen Jr. and U.S. Attorney for the District of
Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein to lead criminal investigations into recent instances
of possible unauthorized disclosures of classified information."
Holder (at left) did not disclose
what leaks will be the subject of these investigations. However, recently information was
disclosed to the New York Times (NYT) regarding US cyber warfare operations against Iran. Other
leaks have disclosed information about the use of drones in Yemen and adjacent Africa, and
hit lists of terrorists.
The cyber warfare leaks at issue resulted in the publication in the NYT of a
story by David Sanger on June 1, 2012, titled "Obama Order Sped Up Wave of
Cyberattacks Against Iran". See also,
story titled "Members of Congress Condemn Leaks of Information About US
Cyber Attacks on Iran" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 2,391, June 6, 2012.
Holder added that the Machen and Rosenstein "will be directing separate investigations
currently being conducted by the FBI".
Holder did not specify whether the two will conduct
overlapping and redundant investigations, or whether there will be a division of responsibilities.
For example, one may have been tasked with investigating the federal officials who may have
disclosed the information, while the other is tasked with investigating those to whom the
information was leaked. Alternatively, Machen could have primary responsibility, and Rosenstein
responsibility for those portions of the investigation from which Machen and
Department of Justice's (DOJ) main office recuse
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) stated in a release
on June 8 that "I agree with the Attorney General. He and I discussed this today and I
am pleased he has picked strong, capable, independent prosecutors for the investigation.
The Department’s consultation with the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees aids congressional
Also, President Obama held a news conference on Friday, June 8. He was asked about
"reports of cyber-attacks on the Iranian nuclear program that you ordered". The
questions were "First of all, what's your reaction of this information getting
out in public? And secondly, what’s your reaction to lawmakers who accuse your
team of leaking these details in order to promote your reelection bid?"
The President responded that "the issues that you have mentioned" are
"classified". He also said that "we will conduct thorough investigations".
He also asserted that "the writers of these articles have all stated
unequivocally that they didn't come from this White House". See,
The most likely objects of these investigations are senior Obama administration officials,
officials at the agencies involved, contractors who assisted, and perhaps NYT employees.
It is not in the interests of senior members of the Obama administration to prosecute or
embarrass any of these people, or even to cause them to incur burdensome legal defense costs.
Holder's action suggests that he does not seek productive investigations. First, he has
not given anyone independent counsel status. Machen and Rosenstein remain under the control
of the DOJ, and Holder, a partisan Democrat, and Obama loyalist.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) argued for the
appointment of an independent counsel. He stated in a June 6
release that "What is grossly irresponsible is the deliberate leaking and discussion of
covert and highly classified programs to launch cyber attacks against Iran’s illicit nuclear
program by, according to The New York Times, ‘participants in the program,’ ‘aides’
to the President, ‘members of the President’s national security team ..."
Sen. McCain (at right) continued that
"Laws have apparently been broken. For this reason, yesterday I called
for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute
those responsible for these damaging leaks of military and intelligence secrets."
Second, one of the possible sources of the leaks is persons within the DOJ.
Hence, Holder may be calling upon the DOJ to investigate the DOJ, thus creating
a conflict of interest, and an incentive to fail.
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), Chairman of the
House Intelligence Committee (HIC) stated at a
news conference on June 8 that the DOJ's National
Security Division (NSD) "has recused itself from at least one element of the
investigation, suggesting some of these leaks could have come from the sources within the
DOJ or the FBI." He added that "it appears that the sources of these leaks could
be in a position to influence the investigations". Also, he said that "you should
probably have someone outside the normal track of investigation on the particular leak
Third, neither Machen nor Rosenstein are the sort of prosecutors that an
Attorney General would appoint if he sought an aggressive and successful
investigation of senior government officials.
One of Holder's picks,
Ronald Machen (at
right), has been the U.S. Attorney (USA) for the District of Columbia
since February of 2010. Before that, he was a partner in the Washington DC
office of the law firm of Wilmer Hale.
Machen is a Democrat and a political appointee. Federal
Election Commission (FEC) records show that he is an Obama contributor. Most
recently, he made a
$500 contribution on September 5, 2011. Like Holder, he is not only politically loyal to
the Obama administration, he is also a revolving door lawyer. One of the reasons for
short term senior positions in government is to enhance one's ability to more
effectively represent clients' interests after leaving office. Investigating and prosecuting
government officials detracts from this goal.
In short, Machen is not a likely candidate for conducting an investigation
that would cause embarrassment to President Obama, his senior appointees, or
other government officials.
Rosenstein (at left), in contrast, is a career DOJ
attorney. An online search of FEC individual contributor records for Rod Rosenstein
for recent election cycles produces no results.
He has held numerous positions since joining the DOJ in 1990. Notably, he is a USA as a
Republican appointee. Former President George Bush appointed him USA in 2005. He remains in
this position with the support of Maryland's two Democratic Senators. Bush also nominated
him to be a Judge of the
U.S. Court of Appeals
(4thCir) in 2007. Senate Democrats successfully blocked his confirmation.
Rosenstein worked in the DOJ's Criminal Division's Public Integrity
Section early in his career. This unit has vast resources, but brings few cases.
When it does, it sometimes acts without integrity or competence.
He also worked with former Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr. Rosenstein also
boasts in his USA bio that "he supervised the investigation that found no basis
for criminal prosecution of White House officials who had obtained FBI
background reports". That episode is better known a Filegate.
In that matter, a White House official of one political party requested secret FBI files
on hundreds of key members of the other political party, without legal basis. The FBI turned
over the files, without authority for doing so. Rosenstein began with the names of the people
who both disclosed and received the files. However, after years of investigation, he could
not spot a single violation of federal law. That matter, and the one to which he has just
been assigned, are similar. Both involve the wrongful disclosure of confidential information
by government officials. If he does not demonstrate improved legal skills, he is unlikely to
be able to spot any wrongdoing in the recent leak of cyber warfare secrets.
Leaders Hold News Conference to Condemn Cyber Warfare Leaks
6/8. The Chairmen and ranking members of the House
Intelligence Committee (HCC) and Senate
Intelligence Committee (SIC) held a news conference regarding recent leaks of national
security secrets, including information about the US cyber attack on Iran's nuclear weapons
development program. See,
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Chairman of
the SIC, said that "When people say they don't want to work with the United States because
they can't trust us to keep a secret, that's serious. When allies become concerned, when an
asset's life is in jeopardy or the asset's family's life is in jeopardy, that's a problem.
The point of intelligence is to be able to know what might happen to protect this country.
And we can't do that if the intelligence is no longer kept, with strict scrutiny, within the
number of people that need to have it."
Sen. Feinstein also called for legislation. See, related story in this issue titled
"Sen. Feinstein and Rep. Rogers Call for Legislation Following Cyber Warfare Leaks".
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), ranking Republican
on the SIC, stated that "all of us are extremely upset about the fact that not only have
leaks occurred, but there's been just a cascade of leaks coming out of the intelligence
community over the last several weeks and months. And it's our clear intention to put a stop
to this in the best way that we can. Leaks are part of the nature of this town. We understand
that. But the fact of the matter is, when you have the kind of leaks that have been coming
out in the last few weeks, it put lives in danger and it infringes upon the ability of the
intelligence community to do their job."
He also said that the Director of National Intelligence,
James Clapper, is "extremely
upset about this issue".
Sen. Chambliss also stated in the Senate on June 6 that "From kill lists to cyber
warfare, it appears that nothing is off-limits, nothing is too secret, no opinion is too
sensitive, and no source is too valuable to be used as a prop in this election-year posturing.
And now the doctor who is associated with the Bin Laden operation appears to be paying the
price for this posturing. Following public disclosures of his involvement, he's been sentenced
to a true life sentence of 33 years in prison in Pakistan. This hardly provides incentive
for anyone else to help us." See,
Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), the ranking Democrat
on the HIC, stated that "It puts us at risk. It puts lives at risk. It hurts our ability
with our allies to get -- have them work with us and get information. And it hurts us in
recruiting assets that give us intelligence information that will allow us to protect our
citizens, to work through issues that are so important to the whole issue of peace throughout
the world and how we protect our citizens throughout the world."
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), Chairman of the HIC,
stated that "To have all four of us come forward today and talk about the severity of
these leaks, I hope, sends a very clear message about how dangerous this has become. And it's
not just an isolated incident, and that's what has brought us together. It seems to be a
pattern that is growing worse and more frequent."
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), is not a
member of the SIC, and did not participate in this news conference. However, he
is the ranking Republican on the
Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC). He stated in a
release on June 8 that "What the President did not unequivocally say today is that
none of the classified or highly sensitive information recently leaked to the media came from
the White House. I continue to call on the President to immediately appoint a special counsel
to fully investigate, and where necessary, prosecute these gravely serious breaches of our
|Sen. Feinstein and Rep. Rogers Call
for Legislation Following Cyber Warfare Leaks
6/8. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) stated
on June 8, 2012, at a news conference regarding recent
disclosures of information regarding US cyber attacks on Iran's nuclear weapons
development program that there is a need to pass legislation.
"We're doing a bill", said Sen. Feinstein. "We need to legislate."
However, she did not elaborate. See,
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) spoke at
the same news conference. He said this. "Two problems here. One is that we get
to the bottom of what is a growing and serious problem and the nature of these
leaks, and second, that we put together legislation quickly that moves to put --
give the tools to the intelligence community to prevent this from happening in
One relevant, but outdated, statute, is codified at
18 U.S.C. § 798. It pertains to
"Disclosure of classified information". This section is also sometimes referred to
as the Espionage Act, or a section of the Espionage Act. This section criminalizes the
disclosure of certain "classified information" in "any manner prejudicial to
the safety or interest of the United States or for the benefit of any foreign government to
the detriment of the United States".
It is limited mainly to cryptographic matters, communications intelligence systems, and
protecting the secrecy of the activities of the National
Security Agency (NSA). Other sections of Chapter 37 criminalize certain espionage
activities directed at "information respecting the national defense", harboring
persons who engage in such activities, photographing defense installations, and aerial
photography of defense installations.
There is arguably a problem of under-inclusion of national security related
information covered by Section 798.
There was an effort to enact legislation in the 111th Congress following the publication
of large volumes of documents by Wikileaks. See for example, S 4004
"Securing Human Intelligence and Enforcing Lawful Dissemination Act" or "SHIELD
Act". See also, stories titled "Senators Introduce Bill to Amend Espionage Act to
Reach WikiLeaks and Others" and "Commentary: Expansion of Espionage Law" in
TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No.
2,174, December 10, 2010.
Neither that bill, nor the companion bill in the House, HR 6506
WW], was passed by
either body, or by any committee.
However, reform of Section 798 is just one possible topic for legislation,
and may not be what Sen. Feinstein and Rep. Rogers have in mind.
The Senate Intelligence Committee
(SIC) and House Intelligence Committee (HCC)
are currently working authorization bills for the intelligence agencies.
The House passed HR 5743
the "Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013", on May 31, 2012.
A year ago, when the House and Senate were considering a prior "Intelligence
Authorization Act", a Senate bill included a section, which
was not enacted into law, that would have given intelligence agencies broad
powers to administratively punish employees who leak classified information.
See, stories titled "Intelligence Authorization Bills Seek to Counter WikiLeaks"
and "Commentary: Information Sharing and National Security Leaks" in
TLJ Daily E-Mail
Alert No. 2,235, May 7, 2011.
It should also be noted, with respect to the classification of information,
that some have
argued that there is a problem of over-inclusion. That is, much information is classified,
and remains classified, which in an open and democratic society ought to be made public.
|Cyber Warfare, Presidential War Powers, and
6/8. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) dodged
questions regarding Presidential authority to conduct cyber warfare at a news conference on
June 8, 2012, regarding recent disclosures of information regarding US cyber attacks on Iran's
nuclear weapons development program.
Sen. Feinstein, the Chairman of the Senate
Intelligence Committee (SIC) participated in a news conference with her Republican
counterpart, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), and the
Chairman and ranking Democrat on the House
Intelligence Committee (HCC), Rep. Mike Rogers
(R-MI) and Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD).
She was asked, "if the administration conducted cyberwarfare against Iran, that could
constitute an act of war. Do you believe that Congress should be involved in oversight on
Sen. Feinstein responded, "I'm not going to respond to that question."
None of the other Senators present spoke up.
The Senators were also asked, "Do each of you agree with the use of drones,
with the use of cyberwarfare?"
Sen. Feinstein responded, "I'm not going to answer that question here." None
of the others responded.
The War Powers Resolution of 1973, which is codified at
50 U.S.C. §§ 1541-1548,
purports to limit the "introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities"
by the President. However, in the stuxnet program, computer code, not armed forces, were
introduced into Iran.
With respect to Congressional oversight, neither Sen. Feinstein, nor the
other Senators disclosed whether or not President Obama had disclosed details of
the stuxnet program in a timely manner to the relevant oversight committees.
Nor did they address what committees have oversight jurisdiction over cyber warfare.
|This issue contains the following items:
• Holder Assigns Two to Investigate Cyber Warfare Leaks
• Intelligence Committee Leaders Hold News Conference to Condemn Cyber Warfare Leaks
• Sen. Feinstein and Rep. Rogers Call for Legislation Following Cyber Warfare Leaks
• Cyber Warfare, Presidential War Powers, and Congressional Oversight
• Commentary: Cyber Warfare and the Department of Energy
New items are highlighted in
|Monday, June 11
The House will not meet.
The Senate will meet at 2:00 PM.
It will resume consideration of the motion to proceed to S 3240
WW], a huge bill
pertaining to agriculture. It also includes provisions related to rural telecommunications,
broadband and telemedicine. See, story titled "Senate to Take Up Farm Bill with Rural
Broadband and Telemedicine Provisions" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 2,391, June 6,
The National Science Foundation
(NSF) National Coordination Office (NCO) for Networking and Information Technology Research
and Development (NITRD) will host an event titled "National Symposium on Moving Target
Research". The purpose of this symposium is to examine whether there is scientific
evidence to show that moving target techniques are a substantial improvement in the
defense of cyber systems. See,
notice in the
Federal Register, Vol. 77, No. 45, Wednesday, March 7, 2012, at Page 13656. Location:
Historic Inns of Annapolis, Annapolis, MD.
Deadline to submit to the Department of Health and Human Services'
(DHHS) Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONCHIT)
nominations to its Health Information Technology Standards Committee
(HITSC) and Health Information Technology Policy Committee (HITPC). See,
notice in the
Federal Register, Vol. 77, No. 106, Friday, June 1, 2012, at Pages 32639-32640.
|Tuesday, June 12
The House will meet at 10:00 AM.
9:00 AM. The Department of Commerce's (DOC)
Bureau of Industry and Security's (BIS)Regulations
and Procedures Technical Advisory Committee (RPTAC) will hold a partially closed meeting.
See, notice in
the Federal Register, Vol. 77, No. 103, Tuesday, May 29, 2012, at Pages 31567-31568. Location:
DOC, Hoover Building, Room 3884, 14th Street between Constitution and Pennsylvania
10:00 AM. The Senate
Judiciary Committee (SJC) will hold a hearing titled "Oversight of the Department
of Justice". The witness will be Attorney General Eric Holder. The SJC will
webcast this event. See,
notice. Location: Room 226, Dirksen Building.
12:00 NOON. The National Press Club (NPC) will host
a class titled "Social Media Trends for Social Media Managers". See,
notice. The price to attend ranges from $62.50 to $125. Location:
Bloomberg Room, NPC, 13th Floor, 529 14th St. NW.
2:30 PM. The Senate
Intelligence Committee (SIC) will hold a closed hearing titled "Intelligence
notice. Location: Room 219, Hart Building.
5:00 PM. Deadline to submit speaker applications to the
Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) for
the 2013 International CES to be held in Las Vegas, Nevada, on January 8-11,
2013. See, notice.
6:00 - 8:15 PM. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
will host an event titled "The FCC in the Courts". Richard Welch, FCC
Deputy Associate General Counsel, will give a presentation titled "How the Agency
Fared Over the Last Year". Jacob Lewis, FCC Associate General Counsel, will
give a presentation titled "FCC Litigation on the Horizon". CLE credits. See,
The Federal Communications Bar Association (FCBA) asserts that this is an FCBA event.
Location: Bingham McCutchen, 2020 K St., NW.
|Wednesday, June 13
10:30 AM - 12:00 NOON. The Heritage
Foundation (HF) will host a panel discussion titled "Export Control Reform:
What's Next?". The speakers will be Patricia Cooper (Satellite Industry Association),
Remy Nathan (Aerospace Industry Association), William Reinsch (
National Foreign Trade Council),
Baker Spring (HF), and
Derek Scissors (HF). See,
Free. Open to the public. Location: HF, 214 Massachusetts Ave., NE.
10:30 AM. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will hold an
event titled "Open Meeting". See,
Location: FCC, Commission Meeting Room, Room TW-C305, 445 12th St., SW.
12:00 NOON - 1:30 PM. The DC Bar
Association will host a presentation titled "Impact of AIA on The Choice Between
Patent and Trade Secret Protection". The speakers will be Griffith Price and Jia Lu
(both of Finnegan Henderson). The price to attend ranges from $89 to $129. Reporters are
barred from attending most DC Bar events. No CLE credits. See,
notice. For more information, call 202-626-3488. Location: Finnegan, 901 New York
12:30 - 2:00 PM. The DC Bar
Association's Media Law Committee will host a closed brown bag lunch meeting to discuss
media and communications law developments. Free. No CLE credits. Reporters are barred
from covering this event. For more information, contact the DC Bar at 202-626-3463 or
Kurt Wimmer (Covington & Burling) at kwimmer at
cov dot com or Jim McLaughlin at mclaughlinj at washpost dot com. See,
notice. Location: Covington & Burling, 1201
Pennsylvania Ave., NW.
|Thursday, June 14
8:45 AM - 2:30 PM. The U.S. China Economic
and Security Review Commission will hold a hearing titled "The Evolving
U.S.-China Trade & Investment Relationship". See,
notice in the Federal Register, Vol. 77, No. 111, Friday, June 8, 2012, at
Pages 34127-34128. Location: Room 2118, Rayburn Building.
10:00 AM. The
Judiciary Committee (SJC) will hold an executive business meeting. The
agenda includes consideration Brian Davis (to be a Judge of the USDC/MDFl). See,
notice. Location: Room 226, Dirksen Building.
12:00 NOON - 2:00 PM. The
DC Bar Association will host a presentation titled
"Social Media: Legal Considerations For Corporate Counsel". The speakers will
be Brent Kidwell (Jenner & Block), Paul Meyer (Towers Watson), Blair Vietmeyer (E*TRADE
Financial Corporation), Michael Lowman (Jenner & Block). The price to attend ranges from
free to $15. Reporters are barred from attending most DC Bar events. No CLE credits. See,
notice. For more information, call 202-626-3488. Location:
Jenner & Block, 1099 New York Ave., NW.
2:30 PM. The
Senate Intelligence Committee (SIC) will hold a closed hearing titled "Intelligence
notice. Location: Room 219, Hart Building.
6:00 - 8:15 PM. The Federal
Communications Bar Association (FCBA) will host an event titled "US and EU
Privacy Regulation: An Overview". CLE credits. See,
Location: Mayer Brown, 1999 K St., NW.
Deadline to submit reply comments to the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) in response to its
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) [85 pages in PDF] regarding the 800 MHz cellular
service. The FCC proposes, among other things, to issue geographic area overlay licenses
through competitive bidding in two stages. The FCC adopted and released this NPRM on February
15, 2012. It is FCC 12-20 in WT Docket No. 12-40. See,
notice in the
Federal Register, Vol. 77, No. 52, Friday, March 16, 2012, at Pages 15665-15681.
|Friday, June 15
8:30 - 11:30 AM. The
Technology Policy Institute (TPI)
will host an event titled "The Future of Internet Economics". See,
page. Location: 7th floor, Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Ave., NW.
8:30 AM - 4:00 PM. The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC)
Consumer Advisory Committee will meet. The FCC will webcast this event. See,
notice in the
Federal Register, Vol. 77, No. 103, Tuesday, May 29, 2012, Pages 31611-31612. Location:
FCC, Commission Meeting Room, 445 12th St., SW.
5:00 PM. Deadline to register to attend the
Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Privacy Office's
June 20 event titled "Privacy Compliance Workshop". See,
notice in the
Federal Register (FR), Vol. 77, No. 102, Friday, May 25, 2012, at Page 31371.
Deadline to submit to the Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) oppositions to the petitions for reconsideration of the FCC's latest Low
Power Radio Service
order. The FCC adopted and released this Fourth Report and Order and Third Order on
Reconsideration on March 19, 2012. It is FCC 12-29 in MB Docket No. 99-25. See,
notice in the
Federal Register, Vol. 77, No. 105, Thursday, May 31, 2012, at Page 32075. See also,
petition of the Educational
Media Foundation, petition
of Hope Christian Church of Marlton and others,
petition of Corner Media,
and petition of Kyle
Magrill. And see, story titled "FCC Releases Two Items Regarding Local Community Radio
Act" in TLJ Daily E-Mail
Alert No. 2,351, March 20, 2012.
|Monday, June 18
9:00 AM - 12:30 PM. The American
Enterprise Institute (AEI) will host a conference titled "Buying and Selling
at the Speed of Light: Taking Stock of High Frequency Trading". The speakers will
include Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX). See,
notice. Location: AEI, 12th floor, 1150 17th St., NW.
Deadline to submit comments to the
National Telecommunications and Information
Administration (NTIA) regarding the data reporting requirements associated
with the NTIA's program to develop and maintain a inventory map of
broadband service capability and availability in the US. See,
notice in the
Federal Register, Vol. 77, No. 74, Tuesday, April 17, 2012, at Pages 22762-22763.
Deadline to submit comments to the Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) regarding the information collection requirements of its
Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking and Notice of Inquiry (NPRM and NOI) [84 pages in PDF] regarding use of MSS
Spectrum for Terrestrial Broadband. The FCC adopted and released this item on March 21, 2012.
It is FCC 12-32 in WT Docket No. 12-70, ET Docket No. 10-142, and WT Docket No. 04-356. See,
notice in the
Federal Register, Vol. 77, No. 74, Tuesday, April 17, 2012, at Pages 22720-22748. See also,
story titled "FCC Adopts NPRM Regarding Use of MSS Spectrum for Terrestrial Broadband"
in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No.
2,353, March 22, 2012.
|Commentary: Cyber Warfare and the
Department of Energy
6/8. This articles offers the analysis, based upon the missions and
operations of the Department of Energy
(DOE), that it was well placed to provide much of the expertise to implement the
US cyber attack upon the nuclear weapons program of Iran, also known as the
Hence, while Republicans have advanced the idea that White House political
aides leaked information to the New York Times (NYT) in a bid to boost President
Obama's re-election chances in November, one might also consider the DOE as an
alternative source of leaks.
Also, if the Congress is to revise federal law prohibiting the disclosure of
secret government information pertaining to national security, and if it is also
ultimately revealed that the DOE or other government research agencies were
involved in leaking cyber warfare information, then revision of law might
specifically address maintaining secrecy at government research agencies.
This article relies upon information provided in the web sites of the DOE and
its laboratories, and news articles published in the NYT regarding the stuxnet
cyber warfare program. See, especially,
story by David Sanger, dated June 1, 2012, and titled "Obama Order Sped Up Wave of
Cyberattacks Against Iran", and
story by William Broad, John Markoff and Sanger, dated January 15, 2011, and
titled "Israeli Test on Worm Called Crucial in Iran Nuclear Delay".
First, the DOE includes the National
Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which is responsible for the US
nuclear weapons program, US naval and non-military nuclear reactors, and nuclear
non-proliferation. Hence, it is an agency with both missions and expertise
related to sabotaging the nuclear weapons development programs of other
Second, the DOE includes the Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence,
a secretive unit that maintains no web site. It assesses the nuclear weapons
programs of other countries, including Iran. It is one of the components of the
US intelligence community.
Third, the DOE's
Idaho National Laboratory (INL), which focuses on nuclear sciences, may have
played a role in the stuxnet program. In particular, it possesses expertise
regarding the computer controllers that manage industrial machinery. This
includes nuclear weapons program equipment, including centrifuges, which are
used for uranium enrichment for weapons. Stuxnet was intended to use controllers
to cause Iran's centrifuges to malfunction.
Fourth, the DOE's Oak Ridge National
Laboratory (ORNL) might also have played a role in the stuxnet program. Iran
wants nuclear weapons. Uranium is used in nuclear weapons. However, uraniuim
exists in three isotopes. Less than one percent is U-235 -- such stuff as bombs
are made of. The trick is separating the U-235 from the rest. The method used by
Iran is high speed centrifuges. Centrifuges separate gaseous or liquid content
by weight. For uranium isotopes, this is a difficult process, because uranium
isotopes have nearly the same weight. Iran uses technology obtained from
Pakistan, which has developed nuclear weapons. Libya also acquired the same
technology, but abandoned its nuclear weapons program a decade ago. The US
acquired centrifuges from Libya. They are at the ORNL in the state of Tennessee.
Hence, it is possible that the DOE might have tested stuxnet at the ORNL.
Fifth, the DOE is an agency with expertise in materials, including metals,
alloys and composites. For example, US nuclear programs use materials. As
another example, the DOE is tasked with reducing US consumption of carbon fuels.
One way is to develop and incorporate lighter materials in the construction of
cars, trucks, aircraft, and other vehicles. The DOE has expertise in developing
and testing materials that do not break during intended use. This leads to spill
over expertise in how to cause materials to fail. And, causing materials in
centrifuges to fail was a goal of the stuxnet program.
Finally, it should be noted that much of the federal computer science
research is conducted by the DOE, including at the
Argonne National Laboratory (ANL).
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