Senate Appropriations Committee outs U.K. eavesdropping site; Don't out the CDR location; Good news and bad news for NCES wannabes; Fast NCES collaboration tool rollout

Senate Appropriations Committee outs U.K. eavesdropping site

The Interceptor makes a lot of overseas phone calls and always assumes that the National Security Agency is listening. I say hello to Lt. Gen. Mike Hayden, former NSA director, and his former colleagues at Fort Meade whenever I make such a call or send an overseas e-mail message.

The media have reported extensively on a massive NSA effort to listen in on Americans' phone conversations and track Internet traffic with foreign connections. Because NSA has not bothered to fill me in on the scheme, I can't verify its existence.

But a line buried in a fiscal 2007 budget report by the Senate Appropriations Committee's Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee leads me to conclude that the Air Force's Air Intelligence Agency at Menwith Hill Station, which is in rural Yorkshire, England, is doing some snooping.

The report states that Menwith Hill and a Special Forces chopper hangar in Qatar are 'clearly linked to the global war on terror.' The subcommittee provided an extra $46.3 million for an operations and technical building at Menwith Hill.

That building might focus only on tracking suspicious cows and sheep wandering the Yorkshire Dales in northern England. But a quick Google search produces hundreds of hits that describe Menwith Hill as the largest communications monitoring station in the world.

Therefore, I have a sneaking suspicion Menwith Hill is at the heart of NSA snooping on the private communications of ordinary Americans, and the extra $46.3 million will help it snarf up even more comms.

Yeah, I'm paranoid. But unlike President Bill Clinton, I did inhale.

Don't out the CDR location

Although you can easily find intelligence on Menwith Hill, determining the location of the mainframe facility that houses the Military Health System's Clinical Data Repository is much more difficult. CDR will eventually contain the electronic health records of 9.2 million active-duty and retired service personnel and their family members.

Here at Intercepts Central, we know the location of at least one CDR but have never published it in Federal Computer Week or Government Health IT because of the sensitivity of the information.
But the Senate Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee revealed the location of one CDR in its report, which is available through the Library of Congress' Thomas database.
It was probably the fault of a 25-year-old staffer still wearing training suspenders.

Good news and bad news for NCES wannabes

First, here's the good news. Rebecca Harris, the Defense Information Systems Agency's program executive officer for Global Information Grid-Enterprise Services, tells me that the agency has every intention of awarding a second provider for collaboration services under the Net-Centric Enterprise Services contract.

IBM won the first NCES contract valued at $17 million earlier this month, and ever since, I've been bombarded with e-mails from paranoid vendors concerned that IBM won the whole enchilada, fears that Harris' statement should allay.

Now for the bad news. Harris said that instead of making the second award off the original contract, DISA plans to issue a new request for proposals soon, but she declined to define soon no matter how much I begged and whined.

A new RFP will provide an opportunity for folks who did not bid on the original job to pitch their wares, Harris said. Bidders on the original contract, I'm told, included a wide range of companies, from midsize integrators such as Apptis to biggies such as Microsoft and ' a surprise to me ' Verizon Federal.

Does this signal a move by Verizon Federal into the services business? It has to be more profitable than selling voice calls for a penny a minute or less.

Fast NCES collaboration tool rollout

IBM will provide all Defense Department users with a wide range of collaboration tools from its Lotus Sametime software suite, including instant messaging, Web conferencing, white board tools, chat, and audio/video capabilities. Harris told me DISA wants to deploy this capability quickly.

DISA plans to test NCES with users and combatant commands in August and September. The agency wants to make the system available departmentwide by the end of the year, Harris said.
Some of the software does not work well for users with low bandwidth, such as shipboard and tactical users with thin satellite circuits. DISA plans to support them by providing the entire toolset, which can run in an enclave, saving the need to connect to a Defense Information Systems Network point of presence, Harris said.

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