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Re: Experts: Cyberspace could be next target
From: InfoSec News <isn () c4i org>
Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2001 03:07:15 -0500 (CDT)

Forwarded from: Eric Lee Green <eric () badtux org>

On Friday 12 October 2001 04:46, you wrote:
Forward from: Dan Verton <Dan_Verton () computerworld com>


I reported on this when it first happened and have a source in Moscow
who was, in fact, interviewed by the FBI in Russia shortly after this
news broke. So I think it is fair to say that although there is much
speculation about the nature of Moonlight Maze, and even if it every
really happened, something serious did occur that sparked an
investigation overseas. I would also add that I have been told that

The problem is that a) Moonlight Maze first came to light in the
spring of 1999, b) indications at the time was that the documents were
"sensitive" in that they described important technologies and policies
but not classified (if classified documents were connected to the
public Internet then someone was not doing their job big-time!), and
c) there were no indications at the time that this had any connection
to bin Laden.

The fact that Moonlight Maze is once again trotted out in a
dog-and-pony show through un-named "experts" (undoubtedly government
law enforcement officials)  in order to justify new cyber-crime laws
justifiably makes people suspicious.  It may very well be true that
Moonlight Maze has some connection to bin Laden, but trotting it out
once again as the tired two-year-old McGuffin of this drama and having
tame unskeptical journalistic mouthpieces with no computer expertise
as their primary mouthpieces tends to reduce their credibility.

I will add that the USA Today puff piece was some of the shoddiest
journalism I've ever encountered.  The writer of that piece apparently
made no attempt to run the assertations made past outside security
experts or even look at past reporting on Moonlight Maze but, rather,
simply repeated the assertations of the un-named "experts"
uncritically. That's not being a journalist. That's being a government
propoganda mouthpiece. Journalists are supposed to make at least some
attempt to verify their facts independently, instead of simply
repeating the official Bush administration line as gospel truth. Alas,
journalists are becoming an endangered species, being swiftly replaced
by hackneyed keyboard pounders who uncritically turn corporate and
administration press releases into "stories".

Note that this is NOT, BTW, a blast at Dan Verton, who IS a journalist
and who does make an attempt to independently verify the things he
reports upon (unlike the writer of the USA Today puff piece).

As for Dan's reporting of lack of Russian cooperation: Russia operates
in their own best interest, not that of the United States. There are
indications that the Russian Mafya, government, and various powerful
oligarchs are deeply entangled with each other. It is not surprising
that U.S. law enforcement officials cannot get cooperation in this
case. That does tend to indicate, however, that this is NOT a bin
Laden operation, but, rather a case of enterprising Russians
attempting to gain commercial advantage. The Russians have no love for
bin Laden, who they hold partially accountable for terrorism on their
own soil.

Eric Lee Green          GnuPG public key at http://badtux.org/eric/eric.gpg
           mailto:eric () badtux org  Web: http://www.badtux.org
             You do not save freedom by destroying freedom

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