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re: NIST GAK export meeting, sv

[email protected] wrote:

>      (Thanks for the summary, Pat.)

I concure. Nice summary. I hope Pat doesn't run out of steam before getting
the full version out (writing summaries can sometimes do that).

>      This last bit is really rich. I can't think of a single publically
>defensible reason for the stipulation that every escrow agent must employ
>someone with SECRET clearance, but I *can* think of a publically
>indefensible reason for it -- to facilitate those spooky non-court wiretap
>authorizations that've been alluded to in the fine print of the GAK

One "defensible" (and maybe even good) reason is because someone with
government clearance can then be prosecuted for leaking what they know,
whereas ordinary citizens are harder to prosecute for this. I doubt this is
the main reason, but it makes a certain kind of sense.

But there are other more interesting links between Secret clearances and

The "Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court" meets in Arlington, VA as the
need arises to authorize wiretaps in private, for intelligence collection
reasons. I think this has been discussed a couple of times on the list, so
a search of the archives might be useful to those who are curious. (Also, a
couple of the recent book on the Intelligence Support Activity, Ruby Fruit,
etc., have details on how this court operates.)

Though little of how GAK has been released (or reported here, or in the
press), there is no doubt in my mind that this Foreign Intelligence court
would of course continue to get its own wiretap authorizations.

(And not only "foreigners" are involved: anyone who is believed to have
importance to an intelligence matter is fair game for this court to
consider. Which is not surprising, really, as the goal is partly to catch
spies and plug security leaks--before someone goes ballistic and accuses me
of Betraying the Cause, I'm just describing things as they are. And surely
some security measures are warranted, even to Cypherpunks!)

>      Of course, just because escrow agents would be required to hire
>*someone* with a SECRET clearance doesn't mean that *anyone* with a SECRET
>clearance would fill the bill. And that's the rub: the administration of
>clearing people-with-SECRET-clearances for escrow agent employment would
>be conducted -- where else? -- *in secret*. SECRET clearance, of course,
>wouldn't be the salient criterion; after all, there are people on the
>Cypherpunks list -- and a few who aren't on it but are like-minded --
>who'd be, uh, reluctant to deliver keys in the absence of a a wiretap
>authorized by a judge.
>      And, as a petty aside, it's nice to see that the gov't had cooked up
>yet another way to force potentially legitimate businesses to pay its
>stoolpigeons to chip away out our civil rights.

Many think tanks and defense contractors have "sheep-dipped" retired
intelligence officials working for them and continuing to report (in
various ways) to their former paymasters.

Sometimes these sheep-dipped agents are just there to keep tabs on what's
going on, sometimes they're there to nudge these companies in certain
directions, and sometimes they are actually running "deniable" applications
from the private sector. (Recall Hughes, Air America, Castle Bank, etc.)

I can imagine that if some companies talked about in connection with
certain questionable activities (Banker's Trust, Bank of America,
Wackenhut, SAIC, etc.) were to bid for the contract to be a GAK Agent, then
there would be contacts back to the intelligence agencies.

But most GAK accesses would be handled through normal channels, albeit secret.

--Tim May

Views here are not the views of my Internet Service Provider or Government.
Timothy C. May              | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
[email protected]  408-728-0152 | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
Corralitos, CA              | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
Higher Power: 2^756839      | black markets, collapse of governments.
"National borders are just speed bumps on the information superhighway."