Good News! NY Times Exposes Yet Another Secret Program

The NY Times has apparently given up on its research into Sarah Palin’s tanning bed interest, after realizing that, damnitall, she was a hard working governor who did an excellent job, and turns their attention to screwing dissidents around the world

The Obama administration is leading a global effort to deploy “shadow” Internet and mobile phone systems that dissidents can use to undermine repressive governments that seek to silence them by censoring or shutting down telecommunications networks.

How does it feel to get the Bush treatment on secret programs, Barry?

The effort includes secretive projects to create independent cellphone networks inside foreign countries, as well as one operation out of a spy novel in a fifth-floor shop on L Street in Washington, where a group of young entrepreneurs who look as if they could be in a garage band are fitting deceptively innocent-looking hardware into a prototype “Internet in a suitcase.”

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Financed with a $2 million State Department grant, the suitcase could be secreted across a border and quickly set up to allow wireless communication over a wide area with a link to the global Internet.

Secretive, eh? How secretive?

The American effort, revealed in dozens of interviews, planning documents and classified diplomatic cables obtained by The New York Times, ranges in scale, cost and sophistication.

But, rather than sit on this, the Times gleefully announces it to the world. The Times had to be dragged kicking and screaming to cover Anthony Weiner, but, a secret US program designed to help people seeking freedom from tyrannical governments around the world? They jump on it.

The State Department, for example, is financing the creation of stealth wireless networks that would enable activists to communicate outside the reach of governments in countries like Iran, Syria and Libya, according to participants in the projects.

In one of the most ambitious efforts, United States officials say, the State Department and Pentagon have spent at least $50 million to create an independent cellphone network in Afghanistan using towers on protected military bases inside the country. It is intended to offset the Taliban’s ability to shut down the official Afghan services, seemingly at will.

And now those governments and groups know about it, and can work to disrupt the network. Good job, Fish Wrap!

The rest of the story is mostly background and information on how some of the programs, some sponsored by the US government, some by private entrepreneurs, work. The Times even exposes how others are doing it

That need is so urgent, citizens are finding their own ways to set up rudimentary networks. Mehdi Yahyanejad, an Iranian expatriate and technology developer who co-founded a popular Persian-language Web site, estimates that nearly half the people who visit the site from inside Iran share files using Bluetooth – which is best known in the West for running wireless headsets and the like. In more closed societies, however, Bluetooth is used to discreetly beam information – a video, an electronic business card – directly from one cellphone to another.

And now the governments in those “closed societies” have a better idea how Bluetooth is being used, and can work to shut it down. They can stop the sale of BT enabled phones, and have the police confiscated existing ones.

Sometimes, Fish Wrap, it’s better to leaved the information secret.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.

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