Monday, June 16, 2003

Next-Generation Internet Protocol to Enable Net-Centric Operations

Implementation of the next-generation Internet protocol that will bring the Department of Defense closer to its goal of net-centric warfare and operations was announced today by John P. Stenbit, assistant secretary of defense for networks and information integration and DoD chief information officer.

The new Internet protocol, known as IPv6, will facilitate integration of the essential elements of DoD’s Global Information Grid -- its sensors, weapons, platforms, information and people. Secretary Stenbit is directing the DoD-wide transition.

The current version of the Internet’s operating system, IPv4, has been in use by DoD for almost 30 years. Its fundamental limitations, along with the world-wide explosion of Internet use, inhibit net-centric operations. IPv6 is designed to overcome those limitations by expanding available IP address space, improving end-to-end security, facilitating mobile communications, enhancing quality of service and easing system management burdens.

“Enterprise-wide deployment of IPv6 will keep the warfighter secure and connected in a fast-moving battlespace,” Secretary Stenbit said. “Achievement of net-centric operations and warfare depends on effectively implementing the transition.”

Secretary Stenbit signed a policy memorandum on June 9 that outlines a strategy to ensure an integrated, timely and effective transition. A key element of the transition minimizes future transition costs by requiring that, starting in October 2003, all network capabilities purchased by DoD be both IPv6-capable and interoperable with the department’s extensive IPv4 installed base.

Nasa Lets Congress See Secret Interviews

The Deal Said Names Or Details From The Shuttle Probe Cannot Be Made Public (The Last Frontiers Man Was Riding on Columbia
The board investigating the shuttle Columbia tragedy will give Congress -- but not the public -- limited access to transcripts of confidential interviews conducted during its nearly five-month probe, under terms of a deal announced Friday.

The deal, reportedly agreed to by ranking members of the committees that oversee the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, will permit a handful of representatives and senators and as many as 16 staffers to read and take notes on about 225 secret interviews conducted by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board.

But the agreement forbids any copying of the transcripts and bars making names or specific details public. That means that the statements of dozens of NASA employees, managers and scientists -- which are expected to strongly influence the board's ultimate report on the Columbia -- may never be available to the public.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who has called for complete public access to the testimony, said Friday that he opposes the deal. "That's not going to cut it with the American people," the Florida Democrat said.

While Nelson said he admires the work the board has done so far, he added that hiding anything about the Columbia investigation from the public would only harm NASA and the credibility of the board's report, which is expected in late July.

"The process needs to be open and transparent for the American people to know there was not a cover-up," Nelson said.

But the chairman of the House Science Committee -- which along with the Senate Commerce Committee oversees NASA's programs and budget -- hailed the agreement Friday as ratification of Congress' right of access.

"There should be no confusion over the committee's right to all information in the CAIB's possession," wrote Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, R-N.Y., and the committee's ranking Democrat, Rep. Ralph Hall of Texas, in a letter to board chairman Harold Gehman.

House aides said their Senate counterparts had signed off on the deal. Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Fritz Hollings, D-S.C., the chairman and ranking member of the Commerce Committee, were unavailable Friday, but aides said they expect a declaration of support could come as early as Monday.

The deal is largely a victory for Gehman, a retired Navy admiral who has insisted on the board's right to conduct private interviews since he was named chairman on Feb. 2, the day after Columbia disintegrated over Texas, killing its crew of seven. Years earlier, anticipating a possible accident, NASA had established an investigatory panel composed of federal military and civilian air-safety experts.

Gehman, citing the accident-investigation procedure used by the military, announced that the board would conduct interviews "in confidence" so that witnesses could provide important details and opinions "without fear of retribution."

Indeed, to get around federal rules requiring that boards that include nonfederal employees operate in public, Gehman was made a federal employee at a salary rate of $142,500 a year. When Congress complained that a NASA-appointed board couldn't be fully independent, five outside members were added -- and quietly added to NASA's payroll at a rate of $134,000 per year, to ensure they could operate behind closed doors.

At one point, Gehman even promised the transcripts would remain secret forever. "Those are never going to see the light of day," he told the Orlando Sentinel last month.

But that was too much for members of Congress, who zealously protect their power to force information from the executive branch of government. Last month, when Gehman asserted the board's right to confidentiality, several senators reacted critically.

"He more or less gives that command like he's still in the Navy," Hollings complained. Nelson, who also sits on the Commerce Committee, said Congress should subpoena the board's transcripts if Gehman failed to turn them over.

The deal announced Friday does in fact protect Congress' right to see the transcripts. But as board spokeswoman Laura Brown made clear, it's a limited right. "It's a situation where they would have to come over to the board's offices," she said.

David Goldston, majority staff director for the House Science Committee and one of the main negotiators, said the conditions should allow Congress to do its job without compromising the witnesses.

"It gives us everything we need, which is basically unimpeded ability to read the documents, and we need that both to be able to evaluate the conclusions that Gehman draws and, assuming we agree with those, to be able to hold NASA's feet to the fire," he said.

"These witnesses presumably testified because they want changes at NASA, or to prevent changes at NASA -- basically, because they thought this investigation was significant and should lead to real results," he said. "And that's less likely to happen if we don't have access. So, presumably, our motivations in seeking this information and their motivations in testifying are identical."

But open-government advocates said the deal still falls short of the public disclosure needed to correct the board circumventing federal open-government laws by hiring civilians as federal employees.

"What it is is an acknowledgment that the deal made by the board [promising confidentiality] was unacceptable," said Steven Aftergood, head of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists. "I suppose it's good news, but it's an incomplete solution."

John Pike, director of, a think-tank that tracks space, defense and intelligence issues, noted that none of the key NASA managers involved in the accident investigation has testified publicly to the board, meaning the public has no way to evaluate their performance during Columbia's mission.

"I think it would be far more useful for them to put this material in the public record instead of having all of these public hearings with public testimony from people not involved in the program," Pike said.

"All this will do is spawn conspiracy theories in NASA and with the shuttle," he said.

Helicopter shot down by Iraqi 'terrorists'
It reminds me of choppers crashing due to faulty parts...
US forces patrolling in Tuwaitha, 30 miles south of Baghdad. The US has been conducting sweeps for Saddam loyalists

AMERICAN FORCES are engaged in a wide-ranging effort to stamp out what they have described as "Iraqi terrorists" who shot down an American helicopter yesterday morning.

The AH-64 Apache helicopter was brought down north of Baghdad in an area said to be a stronghold of Iraqi fighters loyal to former president Saddam Hussein. It was the first helicopter to be shot down since Saddam was ousted two months ago. The operation against Saddam loyalists is the largest since the end of hostilities and has been going on for the past three days, focusing on the town of Duliyah, 45 miles north of Baghdad. Some 4,000 US soldiers have been involved in the effort, named Operation Peninsula Strike.

Along with the sweep through the largely Sunni Muslim area of central Iraq, north of the Iraqi capital, US forces struck what they described as a "terrorist training camp" about 95 miles north-west of Baghdad. Fighter jets, helicopters and unmanned aerial drones supported ground troops in the strike on the camp, in which 10 to 15 Iraqis were killed and four US soldiers injured.

The region north and west of Baghdad is part of the so-called Sunni triangle, the heartland of support for Saddam's now-banned Baath party and close to the ex-leader's home town of Tikrit. This area has been identified as part of an arc in which the former leader is reported to have been seen since he was forced from power. Ahmed Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress, said this week that Saddam was offering a reward of $ 200 for every US soldier killed.

The sweep has resulted in the capture of up to 400 Iraqis, who were being questioned by US officials "armed with intelligence that has directed the finger toward these suspects", said Lieutenant Ryan Fitzgerald, a spokesman for the US Central Command. Lt Fitzgerald added: "If we believe they're dangerous and will cause problems for the Iraqi people or coalition forces, we'll keep them for further information."

This week the Pentagon announced that 183 US military personnel had been killed since the war began. Of those, 45 have been killed since President George Bush declared the war in Iraq over on 1 May. Earlier this week, the Associated Press said its inquiries had established that at least 3,240 Iraqi civilians were killed in one month, between 20 March and 20 April.

Brigadier Daniel Hahn, chief of staff for V Corps, which oversees US Army operations in Iraq, said: "There have been a growing number of former regime loyalists, Baath party officials, Fedayeen and Iraqi Intelligence Service-type people who exist in the Sunni triangle and continue to hire individuals to come in and attack Americans."

John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.Org, a Washington-based military research group, said he believed the attacks on Americans were taking place as US forces worked out the scale and nature of the presence required to ensure law and order in various parts of Iraq. "I think they are nipping it in the bud as the buds appear," he said. "They have a fundamental dilemma in the sense that on the one hand they do not have an overwhelming military presence. There would be no useful purpose in having large battalions driving around and reminding people that they have been occupied - that would provoke what you are trying to avoid. It is going to be a learning process."

Live "Song of Love" Recording Session

New Yorkers are invited to the largest outdoor recording session set up to bring a smile to Danielle Dugan.

Participants can lend their voices in the recording of a "Song of Love" for Danielle on Sunday June 29th in Central Park.

The live recording is sponsored by The Songs of Love Foundation, a nonprofit group that creates personalized songs for seriously ill children nationwide.

Danielle is an 8-year old cancer patient being treated at the Schneider Children's Hospital on Long Island. She'll receive her "Song of Love" with thousands of voices singing the chorus of her special song.

Danielle's "Song of Love" will be written by the legendary Tony Asher.

Tony has written most of the Beach Boys 'Pet Sounds' songs with Brian Wilson, including "God Only Knows" and "Wouldn't It Be Nice." Tony will be signing autographs, along with other surprise guest performers the day of the event.

Organizers say they're still accepting volunteers and singers. The event is Sunday June 29th from 1pm to 3pm at the Central Park Bandshell at East 72nd Street.

The song for Danielle is also part of a celebration to mark the organization's 4000th "Song of Love."

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