REUTERS: "Pentagon Says Never Lied About Y2K Status" - "I'm much more interested in making sure we could protect the country than I am in -- in you getting to be able to file a story.''greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
Tuesday January 4
Pentagon Says Never Lied About Y2K Status
By Jim Wolf
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon rejected on Tuesday any suggestion that it lied about the status of its systems after a key U.S. spy satellite hookup was hobbled by a Year 2000 computer glitch.
``At no time did we attempt to mislead or misdirect anyone in the press,'' Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre told a briefing on the ``remarkably successful'' century date change for the Pentagon's 2,101 most important systems.
At the same time, Hamre acknowledged that the U.S. intelligence community may have ``misestimated'' the computer reliance of countries such as China, Russia, Ukraine, Egypt, India and Indonesia.
The CIA and companion intelligence outfits said in a report to Congress Oct. 12 that those countries were ``especially vulnerable'' to Y2K disruptions because of supposedly inadequate preparations.
``If we had a failing, it may be that we extrapolated to the rest of the world the kind of business practices that we have developed here in the United States,'' he said in reply to a question.
Hamre said he owed no apology for the way the Pentagon handled disclosure of the glitch that prevented full U.S. access to a ``crucial'' reconnaissance system during the weekend. The Pentagon called the problem, one of only a handful reported, by far its most ``significant'' problem.
Crippled Ground Station
The glitch crippled a ground station that processes images beamed from the sharpest U.S. eyes in the sky. The outage occurred at 7 p.m. EST on Friday, or midnight Greenwich Mean Time, the standard to which aerospace systems are tuned, the Pentagon disclosed on Saturday.
The incident apparently cut off access to the Air Force's Keyhole photographic reconnaissance satellites and Lacrosse all-weather imaging satellites, which use radar to peer through clouds and darkness. The Pentagon did not discuss details.
A temporary fix let the National Reconnaissance Office, the Pentagon agency that runs U.S. spy satellites, process only the highest-priority images over the weekend. Some were ``lost forever'' before a backup kicked in, Hamre disclosed.
The system -- ``a significant dimension'' of U.S. spying -- returned to full operational status after repairs were completed on Sunday, Hamre said.
He said the failure had been disclosed in the interest of maintaining maximum transparency in government operations during the 2000 rollover.
``This is the first time we have ever made a report on one of these systems,'' he said. ``In the full commitment we made to transparency for the year 2000, we felt that we should do that.''
But he bristled at any suggestion that the Pentagon had knowingly misled the public before disclosing the problem.
``I mean, we were at a global alert for potential terrorist activity around the world,'' he said, referring to fears that guerrillas might strike on or about New Year's Day.
Hamre, who managed the $3.6 billion spent by the Defense Department to prepare for Y2K, had spoken to reporters informally on New Year's Eve at the Pentagon when they shared a toast over apple cider.
Lacked Details When He Spoke
He said he lacked details then on the problem at the National Reconnaissance Office ground station.
Even if he had known, Hamre said he was not sure he would have disclosed the glitch until it was fixed for fear of telling ``the bad guys of the world that we had a potential -- you know -- an anomaly at the time.''
Between the time of the failure and its disclosure, a Pentagon spokesman reported that U.S. systems were operating normally as the New Year rolled westward.
``All of the systems are green,'' Navy Rear Adm. Bob Willard, a spokesman for the U.S. military Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at a Friday evening briefing.
Hamre said neither he nor Willard had been aware of the problem at that time, nor was it clear that it was date-related.
``Indeed, the information was only coming in to the national command center, through the normal reporting mechanisms, at approximately the time that Admiral Willard was wrapping up his press conference,'' Hamre said.
In any case, he added, ``I'm much more interested in making sure we could protect the country than I am in -- in you getting to be able to file a story.''
-- John Whitley (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 05, 2000
Why didn't the reporter ask the natural next question: Will our Defense Dept. tell us NOW about any other glitches still unfixed? Of course not. Is it likely foreign countries also would tell the world NOW about their still-unfixed glitches? No. This is common sense, yet we are to believe that because a government says all is perfectly fine and there are ABSOLUTELY NO Y2K GLITCHES that it really is so.
-- J Wheel (email@example.com), January 05, 2000.
From ABC Nightly News:
Y2K Bug Causes Intelligence Losses
Defense Silent Due to Terrorist Fears Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre acknowledges that a "significant source of information" was affected by the Y2K bug. But he insists there was no major impact on U.S. national security. By John McWethy
Jan. 4 Defense Department officials now acknowledge that there was an intelligence blackout on New Years Eve and that the Y2K glitch was a big deal.
"It was a significant source of information in our national intelligence capabilities," Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre said today. "It was not an unimportant dimension. It was a significant dimension."
Sources tell ABCNEWS that for two hours, the United States lost all information from spy satellites that take pictures over places like the Middle East and Russia.
The data was beamed back to Earth, officials say, but computers at Fort Belvoir, Va., could not translate the information, and it was lost forever.
Temporary repairs were begun quickly, but it took two days to complete the job.
Reporters were told New Years Eve that there were no Y2K glitches.
Wouldnt Have Admitted Problem
Today, Hamre said he did not know at the time there was a problem, but he made it clear, even if he had, he probably would not have leveled with reporters.
"I mean, we were at a global alert for potential terrorist activity around the world," he said. "Forgive me for being disrespectful, but if its trying to respect your right to file a story and my responsibility to protect the country, Im going to protect the country."
Hamre insisted that although the failure was big, the impact on American security was not.
Officials elsewhere in the government say that at the time, they did not know what they were dealing with. It was, they say, a very bad night.
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 05, 2000.
A missed opportunity... should have held up a map with a huge building marked "CHINESE EMBASSY! DO NOT BOMB!" surrounded by big red arrows and exclamation marks, then asked them to identify a suitable precision bombing target.
IIRC, it's a matter of record that you can get more accurate predictions and information from just about any mainstream newspaper (really!) than from the gaggingly expensive daily CIA world report.
-- Servant (email@example.com), January 05, 2000.
Any THINKING person, who gives him/herself time to THINK about the issue, has to agree with the stance on release of information like the satelite ground station failure. I have GOT to commend them on this. Tis a simply rational approach.
the BEST analogy is, if you are scheduled to duel someone, and you find out that, while the weapon selected is knives and you and your opponent are allowed to wear mail, your mail is missing a few links in the critical upper left chest, are you going to disclose this???
Somehow, I doubt it.
-- Chuck, a night driver (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 05, 2000.