Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
United States Government The Almighty Buck Politics Science Your Rights Online

Googlestalking For Covert NSA Research Funding 150

Posted by Zonk
from the because-what-else-are-you-going-to-do dept.
James Hardine writes "Wikileaks is reporting that the CIA has funded covert research on torture techniques, and that the NSA has pushed tens or hundreds of millions into academia through research grants using one particular grant code. Some researchers try to conceal the source of funding, yet commonality in the NSA grant code prefix makes all these attempts transparent. The primary NSA grant-code prefix is 'MDA904'. Googling for this grant code yields 39,000 references although some refer to non-academic contracts (scolar.google.com 2,300). The grants issue from light NSA cover, the "Maryland Procurement Office" or other fronts. From this one can see the broad sweep of academic research interests being driven by the NSA."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Googlestalking For Covert NSA Research Funding

Comments Filter:
  • If this is an accurate report, then they're probably scrubbing the Google indexes even as we speak. Also following up on the original documents to remove the references.

    And *NO*, I do *NOT* want to hop over there and waste my time doing meta-moderation!
    • Next on Google - ModerationSense and clicks per moderator!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 07, 2007 @05:17PM (#20890879)
    That you can google for practically anthing and find it on the Internet? That the NSA pours money into research? This isn't news at all.

    This is just a veiled attempt at provoking more flamewars because it's got NSA, torture and google, hence this is a flamebait story.
    • by mbkennel (97636) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @05:29PM (#20890989)
      The actual story is that the traditional source for engineering funding, DARPA, has been ordered to change to short term projects, as in "a widget for a soldier in 18 months."

      That is not what academics do, it is what private sector contractors do.

      Hence the academics have been overwhelming the National Science Foundation since 2001 or so. Acceptance rates for NSF research proposals are at all time lows. If the NSA also gives money for mathematics and certain segments of computer science, apparently all publicly published, why not take it?

      It has been usual since 1945 that source for non-biological scientific and mathematical research have come through multiple government agencies, many military-affiliated.

      What happens if you don't accept this funding? Somebody else gets it, and they get papers and grants and they stay funded. You don't. You probably won't get promotions or tenure without signficant government funding. If you're on soft money, you're just plain unemployed.

      What will your protest do to stop torture by CIA or whoever? Nothing. BTW those policies didn't come spontaneously from CIA---they were ordered and approved by political appointees.

      BTW: "MDA" usually means "Missile Defense Agency".
      • by Copid (137416) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @08:20PM (#20892081)

        The actual story is that the traditional source for engineering funding, DARPA, has been ordered to change to short term projects, as in "a widget for a soldier in 18 months."

        That is not what academics do, it is what private sector contractors do.
        It's even worse than that. I work for one of those private contractors, and we've been asked three times in the past three years by one of our government's fine agencies if we can produce X in 6 months. We tell them, "No, we can do it, but we'll need 12-16 months." Every time, they come back with the same proposal. Every time, they say, "We're in a hurry because we're up a creek because we didn't get this done earlier." Every time, we tell them we can do it in 12-16 months. Every time, I'm blown away by the fact that the same government that put us on the moon and has run projects from the atomic bomb to stealth bombers can't get its shit together long enough to realize that if they'd simply agreed to the delay, the project they're asking for would have been finished and deployed years ago.

        These are the people who are "keeping us safe" from terrorists. God help us.
  • The linked papers... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by meringuoid (568297) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @05:21PM (#20890915)
    ... all seem to be about either computer science or number theory.

    So. The NSA, whose job it is to create and to crack strong encryption, are interested in computers and in mathematics. Big surprise there, guys.

    • by feyhunde (700477)
      Oh the Horrors!

      Our Cryptography experts in the government are funding papers on Cryptography and mathematical and computer modeling related to it!

      And NP! What will our government do with these horrors! The abuse of terrorists in Camp X-ray is mind boggling using papers like "A unified framework for enforcing multiple access control policies" http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=253260.253364&type=series [acm.org]

    • Research into computer science, number theory or encryption are not the problems. The problem is a run away agency that's able to tap, transcribe and parse every phone conversation in the world. As the author noted:

      Historically the two primary checks on NSA powers have not been Congressional oversight nor even the economic costs of bulk interception, but of costs of bulk transcription and translation.

      None of those doing research had the information they needed to prevent the outrageous political misuse

      • by Beetle B. (516615)
        Likely very few of the research projects they're funding are of use only for questionable purposes.

        If I were doing legitimate research, I would have no qualms about taking research funding from the NSA - as long as I can freely publish and discuss the results of my research.

        And if I were doing research that only a few folks like the NSA could put to use, with little positive uses for my work, then it is irrelevant whether the NSA is funding it or not. If the Salvation Army funded it, then the NSA can misuse
        • by Lars T. (470328)

          Likely very few of the research projects they're funding are of use only for questionable purposes.
          But if it can be used for questionable purposes by the government, it can just put its thumb on it and call it "vital for National Security" - and bang, nobody but the NSA can use it.
      • That's what they will do to you when you are shuffled off to a room or thrown into jail without trial or charges as an "enemy combatant". How does that happen? Just say something bad about GWB.
        So tell me, when was the last time someone was identified as an enemy combatant and jailed without trial (where they were presumably waterboarded) simply for criticising Bush?
      • by PitaBred (632671)

        References to torture are appropriate. That's what they will do to you when you are shuffled off to a room [cnn.com] or thrown into jail without trial or charges as an "enemy combatant". How does that happen? Just say something bad about GWB.

        Pop quiz: someone is screaming and running in the middle of an airport, and fighting with officers who try to calm her down. Do you a) let her go on to do whatever she feels like, which could include hurting other people, or b) take her some place to calm down? Sometimes, you can't save people from themselves, no matter how hard you try. That is in no way the police's fault. They were doing what they could to protect EVERYONE. But you fucking pussies out there who think everyone should be 100% safe no

        • by Erris (531066)

          b) take her some place to calm down? Sometimes, you can't save people from themselves, no matter how hard you try. That is in no way the police's fault. They were doing what they could to protect EVERYONE.

          How about c) forbid her from flying, leaving her stranded far from home and outraged. When she objects, jump on her. Cram your 250lb knee into her 105lb back and wrench her arms out of her socket. Then drag her to the only room in the airport that does not have one of your fucking cameras in it.

          We d

          • by Macthorpe (960048)
            I think the best line in this incredible theatrical performance of a comment is this one:

            Cram your 250lb knee into her 105lb back

            Do you actually know how much people weigh?

            The rest of what you said is complete conjecture. To question the fully witnessed and independently verified version of events outside the cell, then to transfer that level of paranoia to events that weren't witness seems to be a waste of time and completely counter-productive.

            It can't be that hard to wait for the autopsy before you start throwing incredibly theories like "The

    • Doesn't this imply that the NSA, right now, has quantum computers under construction that are attempting to implement Shor's Algorithm for semiprimes greater than 15? And that they have the best (corruptible) cryptographers and physicists working for them?
  • oid (Score:3, Insightful)

    by epine (68316) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @05:21PM (#20890917)

    http://wikileaks.org/wiki/index.php?title=On_the_take_and_loving_it&oldid=6476 [wikileaks.org]

    One would think it would be better for slashdot discussion if TFA was not a moving target. To think slashdot is ten years old. That's one hell of a slow clue train.
  • Conspiracy? (Score:4, Informative)

    by nacturation (646836) <nacturation@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Sunday October 07, 2007 @05:22PM (#20890927) Journal
    Google Scholar search results for "MDA904": about 2300
    Google Scholar search results for "NSA Grant": about 1720

    Doesn't look like many are trying to hide, especially since anybody familiar with the NSA grant code would already know what MDA904 is.
     
    • Tagline (Score:1, Offtopic)

      Hmmmm... it is arguable that the spelling should be "humusly". Either way works.
    • A Google Scholar search for "MDA904 nsa" turns up 1020 hits, many of which include phrases like "NSA grant MDA904-97-C-3055" or "NSA contract MDA904-01-C-0926", the latter of which is from a paper titled "Implementing SELinux as a Linux Security Module". The funding is not covert.
    • Re:Conspiracy? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by siddesu (698447) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @06:13PM (#20891297)
      The article itself read like Mel Gibson wrote it like running away from Jean Luc Picard on a tricycle. FTA: "vaguagely haigiographic ", "mathmatics", "not a univeral reality"... Obviously no preview button on that Wiki site.

      There is no doubt the NSA and the other spying agencies are using talented researchers, and obviously they would have appeal to many people-- after all it is likely their grants are good, they are researching hard and interesting problems, and there is also the patriotic factor (your gubbermint is not your friend, but the foreign gubbermints are even less your friends). So, it is not a surprise that people go for those grants.

      It'd be hard to draw universal moral rules governing such participation. I'd say there is no moral issue if the research is public (as seems to be the case with most of the grants mentioned on the Wikileak). There might be a moral issue if the research is obviously done with the purpose to actively harm people, but it is unlikely such research will be publicized, except by a whistle blower.

      All in all, except for clear-cut Dr. Mengele-like cases, I'd say the blame (if any) should be put on the government (which hires NSA and decides their agenda), and the issue should not be the grants, but, rather, the level and quality of oversight the general public has over such organizations, because it is oversight that will contribute more to keeping spy agencies in check, rather than the attitude of the individual researchers.

      #Echelon noise: company president, Baghdad thief, nuclear family, water bomb
      • by siddesu (698447)
        The article itself read like Mel Gibson wrote it like

        Grr... My comment itself reads like Slashdot has no preview buttons...

        • by PitaBred (632671)
          Isn't the past tense of reads "read"? It may be just me, but your typo still seems to make grammatical sense.
      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        It'd be hard to draw universal moral rules governing such participation. I'd say there is no moral issue if the research is public (as seems to be the case with most of the grants mentioned on the Wikileak).

        "Public" research can easily become classified if someone with authority decides that they don't want to share the results with the public.

        Recall that thesis [slashdot.org] which layed out (using public sources) all the fiber optic cables in the US? The Government wanted to classify his paper and they went ahead and started scrubbing all those public sources of non-classified information.

        They didn't just stop with scrubbing the public fiber optic maps, various agencies were directed to begin pulling all kinds of public,

        • by siddesu (698447)
          I know -- I meant public as in open to the public. If it is classified, all bets are off, and it works like any other spy stuff -- all one can really do is either not have a spy agency, or trust an oversight process.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Kadin2048 (468275) *

          Recall that thesis [slashdot.org] which layed out (using public sources) all the fiber optic cables in the US? The Government wanted to classify his paper and they went ahead and started scrubbing all those public sources of non-classified information.

          I think it's worth pointing out in the case of the Sean Gorman paper that the author (Gorman) and his institution (George Mason Univ.) didn't protest too hard. They pretty much fell over themselves to voluntarily take all sorts of draconian "security" procedures, because they wanted to get into the good graces of the national security establishment. In fact, Gorman has gone on to become an adviser to various government agencies (through his private firm), and it wouldn't surprise me if the company is sup

      • by rtb61 (674572)
        Not to put a too fine point on it but researches are members of the public. What you are saying, is when you are getting paid you no longer have to maintain individual moral judgement. The big thing is the willingness of those people with the skills who agree to participate in these works. Their absence or morals, their basically amoral and immoral attitude is a requirement.

        Of course the obvious problem at the moment is that the best people do in fact refuse to participate in this kind of shite and as a r

        • by siddesu (698447)
          what i am saying is that tfa implies working for the government is morally wrong, or at least it read so to me. working for the government is not always morally wrong, and in some areas -- e.g. fundamental research -- it may not be immediately obvious if the research is used for good or bad.

          in a democratic society the burden is on the general public to oversee what the government is doing via whatever political tools are available. the individual researchers can complement that function, but not be a substi
  • by meburke (736645) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @05:24PM (#20890947)
    Actually, the googled links are a plant to test software that helps the NSA determine who is interested in it's activities, and the grant code is a key to tracing the CPU runningthe browser that is doing the googling.
  • by thesandbender (911391) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @05:25PM (#20890955)
    A sampling of some of these terrible, horrendous projects:

    Duality for modules over finite rings and applications to coding theory

    Bounding the number of geometric permutations induced by k-transversals

    A unified framework for enforcing multiple access control policies

    Affine Lie algebras and multisum identities

    I think these only qualify as torture if you're a math or computer science graduate student.

    The NSA is not a "hands on" group... they are signal intelligence. The bulk of these grants appear to be for exactly that, signal intelligence. I'm sure a few of them may have some mysterious/questionable motives but the bulk of them are nerds working on computers trying to break ciphers or improve our own.

    • RTFA is not a requisite for comprehension The answer is choice
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by david.given (6740)

      Duality for modules over finite rings and applications to coding theory
      Bounding the number of geometric permutations induced by k-transversals
      A unified framework for enforcing multiple access control policies
      Affine Lie algebras and multisum identities

      I think these only qualify as torture if you're a math or computer science graduate student.

      You urgently, urgently need to read The Atrocity Archives, by Charlie Stross. You will very quickly change your mind. Trust me on this.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        You urgently, urgently need to learn the difference between "bad science fiction novel written by a Scottish communist" and "factual information". Trust me on this.

    • ...the bulk of them are nerds working on computers trying to break ciphers or improve our own.



      Freudian slip, eh? ;-)
      -b
      • I don't see how that would be a slip. My tax money paid for those cyphers as well. It is owned by the people, even if it isn't public.
    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      I'm more creeped out by vague but sinister project names like "Project Bare Metal" and "the SHADE Project." Most of this stuff seems to deal with security and cryptography. Looks like our friends at the NSA are trying to figure out how to crack encryption and bypass (or strengthen their own) security. I guess they got bored just reading our email and tapping our phones.
  • by vinsci (537958) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @05:26PM (#20890961) Journal
    Click the History tab [wikileaks.org] of the article. This reveals the edit history:

    # (cur) (last) 20:56, 7 October 2007 1.0.22.53 (Talk) (7,349 bytes)
    # (cur) (last) 19:22, 3 October 2007 Wikileaks (Talk | contribs) m (6,644 bytes)
    # (cur) (last) 15:18, 29 September 2007 Wikileaks (Talk | contribs) m (6,624 bytes)
    Running whois on the IP number 1.0.22.53 comes up with nothing, it's just a reserved net block, according to IANA. So, who could that be? Who's got the power to get anonymous IP number blocks?

    $ whois 1.0.22.53

    OrgName: Internet Assigned Numbers Authority
    OrgID: IANA
    Address: 4676 Admiralty Way, Suite 330
    City: Marina del Rey
    StateProv: CA
    PostalCode: 90292-6695
    Country: US

    NetRange: 1.0.0.0 - 1.255.255.255
    CIDR: 1.0.0.0/8
    NetName: RESERVED-9
    NetHandle: NET-1-0-0-0-1
    Parent:
    NetType: IANA Reserved
    Comment:
    RegDate:
    Updated: 2002-09-12

    OrgAbuseHandle: IANA-IP-ARIN
    OrgAbuseName: Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Number
    OrgAbusePhone: +1-310-301-5820
    OrgAbuseEmail: abuse@iana.org

    OrgTecHandle: IANA-IP-ARIN
    OrgTechName: Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Number
    OrgTechPhone: +1-310-301-5820
    OrgTechEmail: abuse@iana.org

    # ARIN WHOIS database, last updated 2007-10-06 19:10
    # Enter ? for additional hints on searching ARIN's WHOIS database.
    • I have the power:

      # ifconfig eth0:0 1.0.22.53 netmask 255.255.255.0

    • by thesandbender (911391) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @05:56PM (#20891149)
      This is not an "anonymous" IP block. It's a Class A [flumps.org] block reserved by IANA. For example: 6.x.x.x belongs to Army Information Systems Center - USAISC, Yuma Proving Ground, AZ (NET-YPG-NET) 7.x.x.x belongs Defense Information Systems Agency, VA (NET-DISANET2) and it's not just the government that gets love: 9.x.x.x IBM Corporation, NY (NET-IBM) 12.x.x.x AT&T (NET-ATT) 17.x.x.x Apple Computer Inc., CA (NET-APPLE-WWNET) (And Apple can't be evil right?) It is most definitely being spoofed... although, as others have pointed out... this takes some talent.
      • by vinsci (537958)
        There's a difference between "reserved" and "assigned" IP number blocks. This block is not assigned to anyone.
      • by nurb432 (527695)
        Never saw that list before now.

        Interesting how ford has a class A but GM doesnt. ( i remember years ago Ford actually used those valid 19x external addresses even on workstations. Not sure of the network guys were clueless about NAT type devices or just didn't care as it wasnt the same dangerous net as it is today ).

        I wont get into how i know thats what they were doing :)
        • I think the expectation is that since they're extensively firewalled they don't worry about whether the addresses are routable.
        • by truesaer (135079)
          I interned at Ford a few years back in an area related to networking. Basically the deal with corps that get class A blocks is that they happened to request them before people realized that they would run out pretty damn quick. Basically dumb luck on the part of the companies that ended up getting them.
    • by vinsci (537958) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @05:57PM (#20891173) Journal
      Heading over to WikiScanner and searching for edits by the block 1.0.0.0 - 1.255.255.255 [virgil.gr] reveals that these ghost IP:s are editing the Wikipedia. Rather odd edits:

      ip / title / diff / comment / time

      1.1.1.227 ICF International [cur] 126207619 [wikipedia.org] 2007-04-26 19:14:34
      1.1.1.135 RFA Brambleleaf (A81) [cur] 114096896 [wikipedia.org] 2007-03-10 17:53:01
      1.1.1.127 Tata Young [cur] 118261241 [wikipedia.org] /* Thai teen superstar 1994-1995 */ 2007-03-27 14:15:10
      1.2.3.4 User:Kate/lbtest2 [cur] 17115250 [wikipedia.org] testing 2005-01-15 02:58:49
    • ... and look at the hair raising changes this sinister IP did: corrected typo in "scolar".
    • The user talk page [wikileaks.org] for that IP claims it is part of the "Wikileaks anonymizing network".

      • by Lars T. (470328)

        The user talk page [wikileaks.org] for that IP claims it is part of the "Wikileaks anonymizing network".

        Gee, who would have thought, a whistle-blower site that automatically anonymizes the IP-Adresses of its posters.
  • Much of the article was just written a few minutes ago, and it's still being changed right now, by the same IP address.

    Isn't that a bit quick for an article to get /.ed?
  • Now I know why the psychology professors are the highest paid at state universities.
  • The U.S. government is EXTREMELY corrupt. Here are 5 aspects of the corruption:

    1) There are U.S. government agencies that exist for the purpose of murdering, torturing, and otherwise breaking the law and showing no respect for the law.

    2) Those agencies are secret. U.S. citizens must pay for the agencies, but citizens are not allowed to know what the agencies are doing or even how much they are paying.

    3) The secret agencies are not only sometimes lawless, they are allowed to own their own businesses
    • Notice that those who don't want you to see the parent comment have marked it as off topic. However, secret spending of taxpayer money is certainly government corruption. Otherwise, how can citizens have democratic influence and oversight?

      The free movie "Zeitgeist" explains the 3 main parts of U.S. government corruption: Zeitgeist (2007) [zeitgeistmovie.com].

      The Zeitgeist movie is very poor in some places, such as the opening sequences, and excellent in most places.

      Part 1 of the Zeitgeist movie gives an example of
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Without people who call themselves "Christians", but are actually just suffering from the mental illness called anger, George W. Bush could not have been elected, or stayed in office.
        Actually, Bush also need help from people who call themselves "Democrats", but actually just suffering from the mental illness called envy.
        It is difficult for the average person to believe that someone who already has a lot of money would kill others simply because he wants more money. However, people from rich famili
        • Quote: "... your link states that US has bombed 24 countries, not invaded, big difference"

          I guess no member of your family has ever been killed by the U.S. government. If you had lost a loved one to U.S. government violence, you would not be concerned whether it was from bombing or invasion.
        • by Qrlx (258924)
          DU is a health for the same reason lead is. Not because of radioactivity, but because it's a heavy metal.
        • by Lars T. (470328)

          Also from your link Yugoslavia 1999 where's the oil in Yugoslavia?

          According to this map [usgs.gov], right east by south-east of Zagreb, and north and north-east of Belgrade.

          And don't get me started on the BS links about Depleted Uranium shells being used as carcinogenic bullets, guess what's also a carcinogen? LEAD!.

          But lead bullets don't disintegrate to fine dust on impact by design.

      • Now those who control the U.S. and U.K. governments are planning to start a war with Iran, another oil-rich country.

        Yeah and the amazing thing, these guys were able to get the President of Iran to declare war against the US and UK so that they can go to war and claim that Iran started it.
        In May of 2006, the President of Iran sent a letter to President Bush that contained text almost identical to the text that an early Shiite Muslim leader sent to a neighboring government shortly before launching an attack. Various Islamic Mullahs have pointed to the historical letter as a model of proper Islamic declaration of war (con

        • by Romancer (19668)
          Do you have any idea what you are talking about? The effects of global politics does not follow the headlines or editorials. The things that effect history are usually behind the normal view of the general population. Do you ever notice that the news stories that actually report current events are not only skewed for the local audience but are constantly playing catch up to the events they are reporting. I'm not talking about horrific death scenes that garner readership and human interest stories about indi
    • *YAWN* (Score:3, Informative)

      by ChePibe (882378)
      As fun as it is reading the blatherings of 17-year olds (please, for the sake of my own sanity, do not tell me you are an adult) trying to redirect traffic to a website which seems to put forward the argument that a few intensive viewings of Enemy of the State and a glancing look at Loose Change give one sufficient expertise to discuss the national security apparatus of the United States, I think I'll have a good bit of fun and jump in on this one:

      1) There are U.S. government agencies that exist for the pur
      • Quote: "Yes, the CIA breaks the laws of foreign countries regularly. All the time. It's part of the CIA's job...

        OF COURSE the U.S. has an intelligence service devoted to getting information from others through illicit means."


        For more than two centuries, what many people have loved most about the United States is that the rule of law was strong here, and applied to presidents and poor people alike. Now that strength is disappearing, and that makes anyone who loves the U.S. as I do very, very sad.

        Bru
        • The "but in the past, everything was grand!" argument.

          U.S. global activity was previously limited by only two things - lack of a need to do it and a lack of ability. Both exist now.

          For more than two centuries, what many people have loved most about the United States is that the rule of law was strong here, and applied to presidents and poor people alike.

          Wow.

          You're beyond ignorant. Now you've entered the realm of plain stupid.

          Here's a few words for you:

          Jim Crow
          Little Big Horn
          Rosa Parks
          Martin Luther King
          Ext
  • I don't see why this is news...
  • by xPsi (851544) * on Sunday October 07, 2007 @06:31PM (#20891451)
    I'm not sure why this is considered controversial. I do personally think it is sort of interesting, but I'm not sure where the "real" story is. It would be like if someone who just discovered the internet posted "did you know that the suffix .org is meant to be for non-profit organizations but in reality anyone can use it?" Shocking! Must be a conspiracy. This strikes me as the same kind of thing. It is a bit of common trivia not generally known by people who don't write research grants. But its not a whistle-blower revelation regarding a large scale breach of ethics. Is it really surprising that academics who get NSA funding want to keep a little quiet about it? I can think of a lot of practical reasons this might be the case. What bugs me is that the article makes it sounds like chagrin is the motivator: they are ashamed of their funding source because academics are suppose to be free thinking anti-establishment types. But I think the reality is much simpler: academics have a spectrum of beliefs like everyone else and moreover are happy to get funding where they can get it. Although I may not agree with everything the NSA does, taking money from them in the form of formal research grants does not constitute a breach of ethics of any kind (as this wikileak thing implies). Besides, a research grant probably created this really cool kids page [nsa.gov] (its sort of psychotic if you think about it). Another interesting thing is that a huge amount of computing the NSA does has to do with linux-based security issues [nsa.gov]. Perhaps this whole story is just an NSA cover to get a mildly amusing NSA story on the front pages of slashdot. Come on, Dr. Malda and reveal your true funding sources.
    • by enrevanche (953125) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @07:26PM (#20891783)

      It may not be necessarily controversial when taken on the small scale, but its says a lot about the level to which covert organizations are controlling our lives. That should be controversial. It shows the increasing lack of respect for our society in academia and its independence from both government and industry. This may have always been just a myth, but that does not mean it shouldn't be controversial and up for debate.

      What should be controversial is that due the lack of other funding provided by our government, academics have to go to agencies like the NSA to get funded. Our society becomes ever more beholden to the military-industrial complex.

      By the way, university selection process has little to do with free thinking. Universities want staff that gets funding and in this they select those who will not challenge authority. Those who will not question these policies.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by xPsi (851544) *
        Well stated. I defintely see your point. However, as an academic I take some issue with your last paragraph. In my experience, academics are not much different than everyone else. There is a spectrum of drones and people willing to sell their ideals (and those of others) to get ahead. But there are also plenty of iconoclasts and people with strong ideals. You are correct in that a large part of the selection process hinges on the ability to obtain external funding. But being able to get funding for
      • by khallow (566160)

        It may not be necessarily controversial when taken on the small scale, but its says a lot about the level to which covert organizations are controlling our lives. That should be controversial. It shows the increasing lack of respect for our society in academia and its independence from both government and industry. This may have always been just a myth, but that does not mean it shouldn't be controversial and up for debate.

        No, it doesn't show that. NSA performs a role in US national security. It needs answers to some pretty sophisticated problems. Academics often are the only ones that have the answers. Hence, it pays them.

        What should be controversial is that due the lack of other funding provided by our government, academics have to go to agencies like the NSA to get funded. Our society becomes ever more beholden to the military-industrial complex.

        Keep in mind that the military-industrial complex serves a role. It may be way out of control now, but even if it were far better controlled, there'd still be academics working for various parts.

        By the way, university selection process has little to do with free thinking. Universities want staff that gets funding and in this they select those who will not challenge authority. Those who will not question these policies.

        Sure, there are plenty where the above is true, but there are also plenty where this isn't true.

  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @06:46PM (#20891543) Homepage

    It's not much of a cover. NSA lists the Maryland Procurement Office [nsa.gov] on their web site, in the "Doing Business with NSA" section. It's their central point for contractor invoicing. "DoD IECA PKI Certificate is required to access the website."

    NSA used to be far more secretive. But that was a long time ago. Now everyone knows who they are and what they do.

  • by sentientbrendan (316150) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @06:47PM (#20891547)
    a lot of cryptography and security work. I should note that there's absolutely nothing wrong in funding such research, in fact these papers benefit everyone. I don't think this should be confused with torture, as the article seems to do.

    All the information I saw linked was pure mathematics research.

    However, these papers aside, I have to say that the NSA runs with too little public oversight. The domestic wiretapping, which continues to go on without any kind of meaningful regulation is a good example of no american agency should be allowed to run as a black box to the other two branches of the government. Independents need to be brought in to make sure the NSA doesn't continue to step over ethical and legal boundaries.

    Right now, I tend to think that the NSA isn't an evil organization. However, they could easily become destructive in the hands of an administration with the will and ability to politicize the agency. I'm sure the current administration would love to use them to spy on their many political enemies, if they aren't already.
  • ...if I can turn in my neighbors yet.

    They are getting *really* annoying.

    I as going to rig their gas line to rupture, but then I cam to Slashdot and heard about this whole "police state" thing.
  • HAHAHAHAHHA!!!!

    wait....

    let me try it again...

    The USA is a shining bastion of freedom and does not engage in torture!

    HAHAHAHAAHHAHAHAHHAAHAHAHAHAHAA ...ohhh my gut hurts
  • Was cooking dinner, kicking back, cleaning up a bit, and just generally having a nice Sunday. Read some news--boom! Now I have to bookmark a bunch of things, do a lot of reading, make moral decisions, etc.

    I resent that. Yeah, eternal vigilance is the price of freedom, and all that. But eternal is beginning to get very damned eternal. A few years ago, I was wondering why I might have to explain what a blow job was when the kids did what I encouraged them to do--watch the news.

    Those were the simple days. Now,
  • by brennz (715237) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @09:48PM (#20892775)
    full disclosure: I work for the govt.

    The nutcase conspiracy theorists really crack me up. You have crackpots talking about horrible research being done, for perverted government ends.

    I look at the same result thing and see lots of bleeding-edge research in cryptographic, sigint, hardware oriented, and computer security avenues.

    The more links I read on NSA funded research, the more I am pleased that the NSA, more so than any other singular institution, is funding research into critical areas of national security.

    Take a peek for yourself [google.com]
    • funding research into critical areas of national security
      ... like how to more effectively eavesdrop on the private phone calls of citizens without due process?
  • The post and wikileaks article seems unduly breathless -- of the 2000 hits you get for the procurement code, about half of the linked articles also contain the string "NSA" -- and this (in the sample I looked at), usually appears in the acknowledgments section. This is hardly some big secret that has slipped out onto the web.

    It is well known that the NSA pays for fundamental research, and I know a number of very good scientists whose very interesting work is openly supported by them.

    As to the ethical issue
  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday October 07, 2007 @11:50PM (#20893685) Homepage

    Search for "MDA908", the "Virginia Contracting Activity". Much more interesting items come up.

    The Virginia Contracting Activity seems to be the financial management point for DIA, ARDA, and some DARPA and CIA work.
  • Not really news to those in the math community. Many papers even thank the NSA explicitly for funding. In addition NSA mathematicians attend many conferences and even give great talks. But then algorithms for finite fields isn't a sexy cloak and dagger of a research area...
  • by eh2o (471262)
    I for one would much prefer to see money diverted from bomb-making and gratuitous eavesdropping to nerds who like to think about number theory.

  • This research exposes only a single grant code, responsible for up to "tens of $millions" in funding for NSA work. The NSA has budgets in the $BILLIONS, if not tens of $BILLIONS, every year. I'm sure there are more grant codes, and this research is exposing perhaps only one percent or less of what the NSA is spending covertly every year.

Help me, I'm a prisoner in a Fortune cookie file!

Working...