Pentagon Also Looking To Set Up A Branch Office In The Silicon Valley

from the the-NEW-East-Coast/West-Coast-rivalry dept

It’s officially a trend. US government agencies are making cross-country treks to Silicon Valley in hopes of talking tech companies into joining forces as they work towards thwarting the upcoming Cybergeddon.

President Obama’s newly installed defense secretary, Ashton B. Carter, toured Silicon Valley last week to announce a new military strategy for computer conflict, starting the latest Pentagon effort to invest in promising start-ups and to meet with engineers whose talent he declared the Pentagon desperately needed in fending off the nation’s adversaries.

I’m sure the government could use the help but sending pitchmen tied to domestic surveillance/crotch-grabbing airport “security” (as in the case of DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson) or extrajudicial killings/endless wars (as in the case of Carter and the DoD) isn’t going to win many new converts. It’s going to have even less success winning over those who’ve already decided there’s no way they’re partnering up with the US government, not after two years of leaked documents showing the NSA has backdoored hardware, software, mobile devices… basically anything these companies touch.

Carter wants to rebuild trust. He could start by declassifying a pile of documents on Dept. of Defense activities before some leaker does it for him, but he’s really not here to offer increased transparency. All he’s offering is the same talking point agencies have routinely deferred to when commenting on exposed surveillance programs.

“I think that people and companies need to be convinced that everything we do in the cyber domain is lawful and appropriate and necessary,” Mr. Carter told students and faculty at Stanford.

That sentence is full of truth, but fundamentally dishonest. Yes, people and companies need to be “convinced” that these government agencies are acting lawfully and only doing what’s ‘”appropriate or necessary.” But a really good place to start would be actually ensuring that government agencies act lawfully and only do what is appropriate and necessary. Simply claiming you are when the facts show otherwise doesn’t do anything for anybody.

There’s a CyberWar coming and the government is heavily scouting the West Coast for foot soldiers. If the government finds itself continually rebuffed by tech companies, will it decide to institute a cyberdraft? Legislators are pushing through bills to make “information sharing” — something that would normally describe voluntary efforts — mandatory. What Carter says sounds like he’s prepared to initiate a cyber-Vietnam Conflict in hopes of heading off the next cyber-Pearl Harbor.

He urged the next generation of software pioneers and entrepreneurs to take a break from developing killer apps and consider a tour of service fending off Chinese, Russian and North Korean hackers…

Or, as Dealbreaker’s Thornton McEnery refers to this pitch: “Lean in… or Die.”

It’s not just touching base with tech companies. The Pentagon wants an actual base in the Silicon Valley.

The Pentagon plans to open its first office in Silicon Valley and provide venture capital in an effort to tap commercial technology that can be used to develop more advanced weapons and intelligence systems.

The desire for bright, young minds is understandable. What isn’t is the government’s apparent belief that a few chats and moving into the neighborhood will somehow make years of uncovered abuses simply vanish. The outreach would be admirable if it wasn’t mired in the usual talking points. The government should expect nothing from the tech world — for years.

The DoD and DHS opening branch offices in the Silicon Valley just as cybersecurity bills edge closer to becoming law is no coincidence. Much like many military-industrial contractors build offices and plants in the Beltway area to ensure maximum access to legislators, the government must also have a West Coast presence if it wants to efficiently “lobby” for information sharing and surveillance-ready products and services. And let’s not forget the government’s desire to “share” information is still mostly about obtaining usable exploits and beefing up existing surveillance programs, rather than ensuring the security of its constituents. Any statements to the contrary aren’t to be trusted.

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Comments on “Pentagon Also Looking To Set Up A Branch Office In The Silicon Valley”

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AricTheRed says:


You think this is gonna werk?

How about…


Or how about in the immortal words of Oceanside Photo and Telescope customer J. Grant Britton, to the new owners/managers of Transworld Magazines, AOL Time Warner “You are so lame!”.

They claimed ownership of every photographic work he had created (Private, Personal, Independent-Professional (incliding his fine-art creations useing the 20×24 Polaroid with his private students) while in the employ with Transworld Magazines…

And that was his retort.

The way the venom dripped off his “You are so Lame!” when he told Wifey and I about his interaction with “Management” about their claims, made me hope none ever said I was that lame.

Meh Johnson, et. al., try again…

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Spending money

Tim, seriously, don’t you know that you have to spend money to make money? No PR effort and the kickbacks, er budget allocations, just won’t come in. Gotta get some peoples scared cause we gotta fight the terrorists who are not us don’t ya know…oh…wait!

(More seriously, it is the US government hackers that scare me more than foreign hackers. I gave up clicking on links in emails like 20 years ago. Now, Nigerian princes seem really enticing. How come I haven’t been invited to give them my bank account numbers recently?)

Anonymous Coward says:

So, the government realizes it’s pissed on and pissed off the very people it needs. So now it wants to send in the kiss and make it better guys but isn’t going to change how it does things. Yeah, this is really going to work well. Just as well go ahead and institute the draft cause the NSA has already been here and it’s not doing too well.

The government I guess has yet to understand they didn’t just hand Silicon Valley the shitty end of the stick, they fairly well demanded that Silicon Valley suck on it. Now they are all at the point that enough is enough. It’ll take a lot of money to convince them their principals aren’t important.

Anonymous Coward says:

They already got Apple to sign-up for the cyber-sharing stuff, and Apple owns 50% of the smartphone market in US. I imagine they feel confident they’ll eventually make the rest of Silicon Valley fall in line, too.

All Tim Cook did at the cybersecurity summit was to talk about privacy to mask the fact that REAL announcement that day was about giving in to the government. But everyone was too focused on his privacy speech to figure out Apple made a Devil’s deal with the government.

scotts13 (profile) says:

They'll get plenty of recruits

All they have to do is buy them. They may not get the very best of the best, but how many people will turn down two or three times the going salary? it’s not like the government has limited financial resources. Same for companies – pay them enough, and they’re on board. The local office just makes it more tempting. “They’re right across the street…”

Jeremy Lyman (profile) says:

Seen Any "Cyber" Dutch Boys?

“as they work towards thwarting the upcoming Cybergeddon.”

…which they have created by undermining security at every turn, driven by crippling fear of the unknown. Now maybe they’re beginning to realize our national “cyber” defense is a leaking patchwork of hole-filled damns, because they thought holes would make it easier to see the water level.

Anonymous Coward says:

“He urged the next generation of software pioneers and entrepreneurs to take a break from developing killer apps and consider a tour of service fending off Chinese, Russian and North Korean hackers…”

Or they could just join the CIA and write software for their drones if they want to continue “developing killer apps.”

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Lawful and appropriate and necessary

I think that people and companies need to be convinced that everything we do in the cyber domain is lawful and appropriate and necessary

To bring up a point that Jon Stewart made when everyone was talking about how perfectly legal everything the NSA did was:

Maybe it shouldn’t be.

Maybe that sort of thing shouldn’t be lawful or appropriate.

And maybe, if you think it’s necessary, you’re doing freedom wrong.

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