Skip to comments.Gorelick commented PUBLICLY on Bojinka!
Posted on 04/30/2004 2:27:10 PM PDT by RightOnTheLeftCoast
Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, for providing me with this opportunity to discuss with you the Administration's policy on the important and complex issue of encryption and our position on H.R. 3011. Although the Department of Justice opposes H.R. 3011, we look forward to continuing the productive discussions we have had with Congress on this issue.
Since 1992, when AT&T announced its plan to sell a small, portable telephone device that would provide users with low-cost but robust voice encryption, the issue of encryption -- that is, the use of mathematical algorithms to protect the confidentiality of data -- has been vociferously debated in the United States. Some people -- legitimately concerned about privacy, commerce, and computer security -- have advocated the unfettered proliferation of strong encryption products, and disapprove of the Administration's attempt to promote cryptographic methods that allow for law enforcement access to plain text. They have argued that government should simply stay out of the encryption issue entirely. Government controls on the export of strong cryptography have come in for particular criticism. In the din of the debate and in some legislative proposals, however, the significant impact that unbreakable encryption would have on domestic law enforcement and national security has often been ignored or understated.
First, let me make clear that we believe that the availability and use of strong cryptography are critical if the "Global Information Infrastructure" (GII) is to fulfill its promise. Communications and data must be protected -- both in transit and in storage -- if the GII is to be used for personal communications, financial transactions, medical care, the development of new intellectual property, and myriad other applications. Indeed, people sometimes lose sight of the fact that law enforcement is responsible, in part, for protecting privacy and promoting commerce over our nation's communications networks. We protect communications privacy, for instance, by prosecuting those who would violate the communications privacy of others, and we help promote commerce by enforcing laws that protect intellectual property rights, by combatting computer and communications fraud, and by helping to protect the confidentiality of business data. Our support for robust encryption stems from this commitment to protecting privacy and commerce.
At the same time, however, we must be mindful of our other principal responsibilities: protecting public safety and national security against the threats posed by terrorists, organized crime, foreign intelligence agents, and others, and to prosecute serious crime when it does occur. Thus, notwithstanding the significant benefits of encryption, we are gravely concerned that the proliferation and use of unbreakable encryption would seriously undermine our ability to perform these critical missions.
Court-authorized wiretaps have proven to be one of the most successful law enforcement tools in preventing and prosecuting serious crimes, including terrorism. In addition, as society becomes more dependent on computers, evidence (and the fruits) of crimes are increasingly found in stored computer data, which can be searched and seized pursuant to court-authorized warrants. But if unbreakable encryption proliferates, these critical law enforcement tools would be nullified. Thus, for example, even if the government satisfies the rigorous legal and procedural requirements for obtaining a wiretap order (which can be obtained only in limited circumstances), the wiretap would essentially be worthless if the intercepted communications of the targeted criminals amount to an unintelligible jumble of noises or symbols. The potential harm to law enforcement -- and to the nation's domestic security -- could be devastating.
Our concern is neither theoretical nor overstated. We have already begun to encounter the harmful effects of encryption in recent investigations.
- In the Aldrich Ames spy case, Ames was instructed by his Soviet handlers to encrypt computer file information to be passed to them.
- Ramzi Yousef, recently convicted of conspiring to blow up 10 U.S.-owned airliners in the Far East, and his co-conspirators apparently stored information about their terrorist plot in an encrypted computer file in Manila. (Yousef is also one of the alleged masterminds of the World Trade Center bombing.)
- In a child pornography case, one of the subjects used encryption in transmitting obscene and pornographic images of children over the Internet.
- In a major international drug-trafficking case, the subject of a court-ordered wiretap used a telephone encryption device, significantly hindering the surveillance.
- Some of the anti-government militia groups are now promoting the use of encryption as a means of thwarting law enforcement investigations.
- In several major hacker cases, the subjects have encrypted computer files, thereby concealing evidence of serious crimes.
These are just a few examples of recent cases involving encryption....
If it was important enough to give the government snooping rights into encrypted communications, why wasn't it important enough to act on for America's safety?
Why was firewalling domestic law enforcement from foreign intelligence more important in the era of Ron Brown, James Riady, Johnny Chung and all the rest?
Gorelick should not be on that commission. She should be in the witness chair, and very probably in jail for obstruction of justice regarding Chinagate.
No relation to BOHICA :-}
Western secret services knew as far back as 1995 that suspected terror mastermind Osama bin Laden planned to attack civilian sites using commercial passenger planes. Quoting sources close to western intelligence agencies, the newspaper reported that: The plan was discovered in January 1995 by Philippine police who were investigating a possible attack against Pope John Paul II on a visit to Manila
Federal investigative sources have confirmed that Muradwho was a close confidant and right-hand man to Yousef, who was convicted of crimes relating to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Centerdetailed an entire plot to dive bomb aircraft in the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, VA. along with other U.S. buildings. Yousef independently boasted of the plot to U.S. Secret Service agent Brian Parr and FBI agent Charles Stern on an extradition flight from Pakistan to the United States in February 1995, continues the PEC report. The agents later testified to that fact in court [T]he plan targeted not only the CIA but other U.S. government buildings in Washington, including the Pentagon.
On [Monday] Feb. 27, 1995, the task force had issued its first confidential warning to federal agencies that Islamic terrorists "may soon strike Washington D.C., specifically the Capitol and the White House." This confidential alert, which he said was quietly distributed to federal intelligence agencies and law enforcement, claimed the attacks were to begin after March 21, 1995.
"Striking inside the U.S. is presently a high priority for Iran," stated the warning. The alert also stated that upcoming terrorist strikes might be directed against "airports, airlines and telephone systems." In light of Sept. 11, it was a telling note.
On [Friday] March 3, 1995, the task force issued an update. This "super-sensitive" alert stated there was a "greater likelihood the terrorists would strike at the heart of the U.S." Bodansky also told Davis that after the truck bombing, he reviewed intelligence data that confirmed, "Oklahoma City was on the list of potential targets."
It turns out Gorelick's undated "wall memo" was negligently signed off the very next day -- Mar 4, 1995 -- according to Janet Reno's letter.
This shows there was likely a reason other than terrorism prompting her to raise the wall. She would have put an immediate hold on the memo for national security reasons if there were nothing else pushing her to implement the memo. She also would have listened to mary Jo White if terrorism were her concern. Some other issue related to the use of foreign intel against domestic individuals appears to have set her hair on fire.