Military Looking For Signs Of Attack




 
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Military Looking For Signs Of Attack
 
June 30th, 2008  
Team Infidel
 
 

Topic: Military Looking For Signs Of Attack


Military Looking For Signs Of Attack
Washington Times
June 30, 2008
Pg. 21
Contractor to check sites
By Shaun Waterman, United Press International
The U.S. military is looking for a contractor to patrol cyberspace, watching for warning signs of forthcoming terrorist attacks or other hostile activity on the Web.
"If someone wants to blow us up, we want to know about it," Robert Hembrook, the deputy intelligence chief of the U.S. Army´s Fifth Signal Command in Mannheim, Germany, told United Press International.
In a solicitation posted on the Web last week, the command said it was looking for a contractor to provide "Internet awareness services" to support "force protection," meaning the security of U.S. military installations and personnel.
"The purpose of the services will be to identify and assess stated and implied threat, antipathy, unrest, and other contextual data relating to selected Internet domains," says the solicitation.
Mr. Hembrook, a civilian, was otherwise tight-lipped about the proposal. "The more we talk about it, the less effective it will be," he said.
"If we didn´t have to put it out in public [to make the contract award], we wouldn´t have."
He would not comment on the kinds of Internet sites that the contractor would be directed to look at but acknowledged that it was "not far off" to assume that violent Islamic extremists would be at the top of the list.
The solicitation says the successful contractor will "analyze various Web pages, chat rooms, blogs and other Internet domains to aggregate and assess data of interest," adding that "the contractor will prioritize foreign language domains that relate to specific areas of concern ... [and] will also identify new Internet domains" that might relate to the "specific local requirements" of the command.
Officials were keen to stress that the contract covered only information that could be found by anyone with access to the Web.
"We´re not interested in being Big Brother," said LeAnne MacAllister, chief spokeswoman for the command, which runs communications in Europe for the U.S. Army and the military´s joint commands there.
"I would not characterize it as monitoring," added Ms. MacAllister. "This is a research tool gathering information that is already in the public domain."
Experts say Islamic extremists such as al Qaeda use the Web for propaganda and fundraising purposes, although the extent to which it is employed in operational planning is less clear.
Mr. Hembrook said the main purpose of the contract was to analyze "trends in information."
The contractor would "help us find those needles in that haystack of information."
While declining to comment on the specific solicitation, Ben Venzke, chief executive officer of IntelCenter, an Alexandria-based company that monitors Islamic extremist propaganda for clients including U.S. government agencies, said it was "common" for the military or other agencies to employ contractors "to support their own work on these issues."
"What most people don´t get," he said, "is that [each agency or entity] has their own very specific requirements ... They are looking for one type of thing in particular."
Mr. Venzke explained that while an analyst for a big-city police department might be looking at extremist Web sites for certain kinds of information, their requirements would be different from those of intelligence analysts looking for evidence of trends in extremist targeting or ideology.
"There is some overlap," he said, "and you always have to work to minimize that, but generally, there are so many different ... pieces you can look at ... it´s not duplication."
 


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