Energy Department Shakes Up Cyber Leadership With Appointment Of Ex-NSA Official
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Then-Secretary of Energy Rick Perry established the cybersecurity office two years ago as part of a push by the department to commit more resources toward securing U.S. energy infrastructure. That has included a cyberthreat-sharing program with energy companies and a new strategy to reduce the risk of power-supply disruptions resulting from cyber incidents. The department also oversees a network of national laboratories that invest heavily in anticipating cyberthreats to the power grid.
The leadership shakeup at DOE comes as private-sector analysts warn that a growing number of hacking groups have shown an interest in probing energy infrastructure. DOE officials regularly participate in exercises with U.S. utilities to drill for such threats.
Evans would rejoin DOE at a momentous time for the department as it looks to execute a new cybersecurity strategy and boost the defenses of U.S. energy companies through an information-sharing program.
The list includes some former high-ranking technology officials, with most teams including at least one or two technology- or cyber policy-focused volunteers. The Biden transition team posted the full list of agencies and their review teams on its website Tuesday. Several names are familiar from the Obama administration: Michael Hornsby, a former acting CIO in the White House; the first U.S. CTO, Aneesh Chopra; former deputy U.S. CTO, Nicole Wong; and many alums of the U.S. Digital Service, set up under the Obama White House to help agencies modernize.
Let me begin where the appointment order begins: and that is interference with the 2016 presidential election. As alleged by the grand jury in an indictment, Russian intelligence officers who were part of the Russian military launched a concerted attack on our political system. The indictment alleges that they used sophisticated cyber techniques to hack into computers and networks used by the Clinton campaign. They stole private information and then released that information through fake online identities and through the organization Wikileaks. The releases were designed and times to interfere with our election and to damage a presidential candidate.
CIA Source Who Built Case for War Swindles $10,000 from Iraq. The plump, smooth-talking stranger hailing himself as a patriot and liberator should have been enough reason for caution. And if that didn't ring alarm bells, a check of his name, Rafid Ahmed Alwan, through any internet search engine most definitely would have. But neither instinct nor due diligence managed to stop the man the world knows as Curveball from swindling yet another government earlier this year - this time his own - in a $10,000 scam that reveals how little he has changed since his false claims helped the US come up with a pretext to invade Iraq almost eight years ago. The return to notoriety of Curveball began in September last year when an unassuming member of Iraq's National Reconciliation Commission, Fa'al Niema Thehieb, took a call from an expatriate, now living in Germany, who said he wanted to return home to form a political party that could help the re-election campaign of Nouri al-Maliki. The caller was Curveball, the most infamous of all Iraqi defectors in the lead-up to the 2003 war. He had stayed away from his homeland for a decade, during which time he had fooled the CIA and Germany's BND into believing Saddam Hussein had a secret biological weapons program that could be moved around the country on lorries. His fabulous tales of dispensing biotoxins to the winds forever tainted the career of the then US secretary of state, Colin Powell, who used them in his abortive attempt to win United Nations support for the Iraq invasion. This time around, however, his deception was on nowhere near as grand a scale. "We spoke on the telephone and I invited him to Iraq," said Thehieb in his office in Baghdad recently. "I asked him to come here as a guest of the government." Curveball was given a security detail and a room in a plush hotel - all paid for from government coffers. He arrived claiming he had formed a political group, which he called the Development and Reform party, which was to nominate in Baghdad and Najaf for the general election held on 7 March this year. He paid a $20,000 registration fee and sat down to meet Theheib. "He said he had important information which may help the Government's re-election," said Thehieb. "He said he had played a role in the liberation of Iraq, but he wasn't specific. After a while it became clear to me that neither he or his friend had anything to offer. I told them that we could not support them after three days as our guests. I said this is their country and they are free to stay if they choose." That's where it would have ended, if curiosity had not got the better of Thehieb, who wanted to send his teenage daughter abroad to study radiology. Curveball said he could help her get started in Germany, where he remains under the protection of the German spy service, the BND, who according to a German documentary to be aired tonight on NDR Channel provided him with German nationality in 2008 after offering him protection for a decade. "He told me it would cost $10,000 to help with her visa application and residency," said Thehieb. "He said the Germans would not treat my daughter as a potential asylum seeker if she had money in a bank account in Germany." Thieheb sent the money to Curveball via a Western Union transfer last December. Curveball soon collected it, but Thehieb has not heard from him since. Several months ago Thehieb registered a complaint with the Iraqi consulate in Frankfurt and has enlisted friends to help track Curveball down. "I know it won't be easy," said a somewhat sheepish Thehieb. "I've heard he owes the greengrocer a lot of money too." Stories of Iraq's most famous defector misbehaving in his new home town of Karlsruhe have become legendary. He is reported to have developed a taste for whiskey and blondes. He gets around town in an old Mercedes, believed to have been given to him by the still-supportive German spy service. But despite the high life, things haven't always gone well for Curveball during his self-imposed exile. He was seen flipping burgers for a living at one point and his small flat could best be described as modest. And then there's the failed foray into Iraqi politics. Curveball's party attracted only 1,311 votes in the March election, 663 in Baghdad and 648 in Najaf. He did just as poorly during an earlier tilt at public life ahead of provincial elections in 2008. "This is life in Iraq," said Thehieb, with a sense of grudging admiration. "I don't care so much about the $10,000. But I admit, if I had known the full extent of what he had done, of course I wouldn't have done business with him. "We can thank him for one thing though: he got rid of Saddam Hussein." Others who dealt with their country's best-known fabulist seem bemused at their encounters. "I didn't actually meet him, said Ziad al-Salehi, a spokesman for the Najaf Council, who ended up standing on Curveball's ticket. "He was vouched for by someone I knew and I joined up. But this is the first time I have heard about his reputation and the fact that he was the reason my country was invaded." [Guardian/1December2010] Who is New Mossad Chief Tamir Pardo? Tamir Pardo was announced Monday as the new chief of Israel's Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations, the Mossad. Pardo, 57, served twice as deputy Mossad chief. He spent his entire career in the organization, serving as an IDF communications officer as well as in the elite commando unit Sayeret Matkal. During his service in Sayeret Matkal he was under the command of Yoni Netanyahu, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's older brother, who was killed during Operation Entebbe in Uganda in 1976. After completing his military service, Pardo was recruited to the Mossad, serving in various positions, including head of a department responsible, according to foreign publications, for operations in various destinations, which include wire tapping and photography. Pardo also performed several management positions in the Mossas, primarily technology-related. Pardo is relatively inexperienced in the field of HUMINT, intelligence gathered by human agents. However, he was exposed to such activity during his position as deputy chief, as he was in charge of Mossad operations. Pardo served as deputy chief under outgoing chief Meir Dagan from 2002 until 2005, when Pardo went on leave hoping to return to the position of chief. During his absence from the Mossad, Pardo was a special operations advisor for the IDF. Pardo then returned to the position of deputy chief, after Dagan had caused the dismissal of his former deputy, suspected of leaking material to the press. Pardo hoped that Dagan would retire and recommend him as his successor, but in 2009 Dagan's term was extended for another 6 months, which caused Pardo to finally retire from the Mossad. Other potential candidates mulled over by Netanyahu were Shin Bet director Yuval Diskin, retiring Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin and Teva CEO, former Maj. Gen. Shlomo Yanai, who refused the offer. The only blemish in Pardo's record is his involvement in the Galant case, in which IDF officials tried to sabotage incoming Chief of Staff Yoav Galant's candidacy by forging a PR document attributed to him. Apparently Pardo had known about the document before it reached Channel 2 reporter Amnon Abramovitch. However, Defense Minister Ehud Barak approved the nomination despite Pardo's involvement in the case. Pardo's appointment is an attempt to diffuse criticism from within the Mossad, which has seen its directors come from outside of the organization. Many senior Mossad officials will undoubtedly approve of Pardo as chief. In his new position, Pardo will have to deal with the Mossad's major challenge, which continues to be Iran's nuclear program. [Melman/Haaretz/29November2010] 2b1af7f3a8