Using the Wi-Fi connection at Starbucks was a better bet than risking putting confidential defense documents on a glitch-prone Pentagon computer network, a senior Defense Department official testified on Thursday at the Guantanamo trial of five prisoners charged with plotting the September 11 hijacked plane attacks.

The Internet link at the local Starbucks was “the best bad option that we had,” Air Force Colonel Karen Mayberry, the chief defense counsel for the war crimes tribunal, told the judge.

Defense lawyers have asked the judge to halt pretrial hearings in the death penalty case of the alleged plotters at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in Cuba until the computer system can be fixed to ensure that outsiders cannot access confidential defense documents.

Mayberry ordered her team of lawyers to stop putting sensitive documents on that system in April, citing their ethical obligation to protect confidentiality.

The lawyers have since been using personal computers to email documents from coffee shops and hotel lobbies. Mayberry said it was possible these networks were not secure, but she was certain that the Pentagon network had been compromised…

Some of the Internet problems were blamed on a switch in email systems. Others were blamed on an attempt to replicate lawyers’ work on two separate networks, one in the Washington area and one at the remote Guantanamo base.

Internet technology supervisor Paul Scott Parr tried to explain in laymen’s terms what went wrong. A “dirty shutdown” occurred when the server shut down while the replication program was still running, he said.

Backups that were supposed to occur daily had not been done for more than three months, Parr said. Seven gigabytes of data previously described as “lost” had merely been “misplaced” and had mostly been restored, he said.

The song remains the same: Military justice is to justice as military music is to music!



  1. Captain Obvious says:

    A lot of networks have crappy security. Threat assessment was probably an afterthought at Guantanamo.

    But, no one taught these people safe computing habits. Or more likely, the went through one of those passive training programs where they learned nothing.

  2. Dallas says:

    Need to give DOD more money. $800,000,000,000 every year is not enough. I had to spend $79 for mine.

    • Lightning Rod says:

      And that goes to show how stupid YOU are too!

      Even mobile WiFi can be had for less. Check out Virgin, T-Mobile, Verizon or even that spammiest of all ISP’s Netzero just for starters. But I bet you also get phone and TV with your service since you probably can’t USE the internet for those services either. (Pssst! It’s called “cutting the cord.” Of course, look who I’m telling.)

  3. MikeN says:

    Plus, the Starbucks CEO has kindly requested that gun owners not bring their guns into Starbucks, while the military is getting shot at.

  4. Mextli says:

    I don’t know if it’s still true but at one time DOD computers with extremely sensitive information were not allowed to be connected to networks.

    • Lightning Rod says:

      What propaganda crap have you been looking at?!

      The DoD (Department of Defense) which is basically the MILITARY has always been “networked” as long as there has been a way to connect systems together. Even as early as the 1950’s!

      I think what you mean to say is that the DoD was once prohibited from connecting over public networks such as the Internet or public telephone systems or any other similar unsecured “pathway”. However, that’s pretty much been over since at least 1995 – almost TWENTY YEARS AGO!

      Here’s some more history if you want something to read: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Internet

      • Mextli says:

        The “propaganda crap” I was looking at was certain equipment I was tasked with maintaining. Not every computer is the same or is configured the same. In addition I said “at one time ” and “DOD computers with extremely sensitive information”.

        FYI, this is from the days when a simple PNP/NPN transistor was the size of a #2 pencil eraser.

        You can return to Wikipedia now. Good luck on your home schooling.

  5. Uncle Patso says:

    The story is about emails and file storage; the military lawyers assigned to the defense in the case are complaining that their emails and files were mistakenly available to the prosecution and possible outside hackers. It’s not about capital D Defense Department secrets.

  6. deowll says:

    I like military music. Their IT department may still be working to WW II specs.

  7. Lightning Rod says:

    What we have here are a group of complete idiots who think that the Internet is some kind of magical technology that can only be obtained over the air via cell data or via that other catch phrase most people seem to always incorrectly use, “WiFi”. Either that or even more mysteriously they might actually think the Internet is provided to them through some kind of magical voodoo which is now at risk.

    Now, it is true that “WiFi” is a huge security risk since even a 10-year old can often crack it (usually as a result of the victim choosing poor passwords). But that’s just one area!!!

    Clearly, if you want better security then you have to consider better encryption. But even certain standards like Adobe’s Flash or Microsoft’s .NET technologies, just as examples, need to be considered too. Spyware and even viruses/rootkits can also introduce security problems with those standards. But then there are also configuration problems such as open ports which is what a properly configured firewall is supposed to help with.

    Even the very pathways to/from the Internet may occasionally become vulnerable. Or perhaps maybe you don’t recall how the NSA tapped the entire North American feed to/from the Pacific backbone in AT&T’s famous “Room 641-A” which allowed them to basically snoop on every AT&T customer (something that Google and Microsoft now seem to be doing to everyone only without having to illegally tap any physical lines).

    But since encryption is about the only thing most people can control then it’s not too surprisingly that any implementation of it is either lacking often as a result of a desire for more convenience or done incorrectly. Encryption is critical to insure a more secure WiFi connection but that’s not the only place where encryption comes into play. Web sites are another place where you probably should be looking for addresses that begin with HTTPS. And last time I looked, most people never even considered using public/private encryption keys with their EMAIL! (Hello?! McFly!!! Hello?!!!)

    So it’s hard to understand what some moronic lawyer means when she says something isn’t secure. DUH! These people probably still do rain dances when their Internet access is slow or cut off.

    Personally, I find it even more amazing how so many of these managing “IT” idiots don’t even consider simple security fixes either. Simple hard wiring of sensitive computer systems is definitely at the top of my list. But then so too is prohibiting over the air (OTA) WiFi access on my own property. Using black/white lists to/from risky IP addresses may be other things to consider too. But does anyone actually do it? Of course not. Because that might mean someone would have to get up off their ass and go check out the equipment.

    But I digress. What we’re really talking about here is some moronic lawyer – a politician, most likely – who is doing the Chicken Little dance over computer security. Clearly, that lawyer has no idea what she is talking about and I can only guess she is looking for a little more power over things she has NO concept for. My conclusion: she must be a Democrat.

    • dusanmal says:

      I worked in similar branch of the Government – DOE. Really sensitive machines were indeed only on the “intranet” without any ability (hardwired) to connect to anything but other similarly secured DOE systems. However, e-mail was not considered “sensitive enough”. E-mail servers were accessible on the ye-olde-general-Internet as any other e-mail servers anywhere else, which means that if the individual haven’t encrypted their e-mail – it could have been easily intercepted, e-mail protocol being what it is. No e-mail encryption advice, never mind mandate. Likely same in this case.

    • Captain Obvious says:

      Of course it would have to be a Democrat, the Republicans don’t allow women to run for office or even vote.

  8. Rose says:

    Pentagon’s WiFi network is less secure than Starbucks.


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