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NSA Declassifies Memo About Failed TRAILBLAZER Project

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the what-a-wonderful-job-you've-done-embezzling-funds dept.

Government 15

decora writes "Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post reports that the NSA has just declassified one of the 5 documents NSA whistleblower Thomas Andrews Drake was charged under the Espionage Act for retaining in his basement. The document, which Drake previously faced years in prison for possessing, is essentially a cheerleading memo, complimenting the Trailblazer project team for a great presentation and demo. It stands in stark contrast to numerous other reports that described the NSA IT project as an overbudget, ineffective, billion dollar seven year boondoggle."

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false dichotomy? (3, Insightful)

Kozz (7764) | more than 2 years ago | (#40747735)

From TFS:

The document, which Drake previously faced years in prison for possessing, is essentially a cheerleading memo, complimenting the Trailblazer project team for a great presentation and demo. It stands in stark contrast to numerous other reports that described the NSA IT project as an overbudget, ineffective, billion dollar seven year boondoggle.

(emphasis mine)

I don't see why it can't be both. I think maybe it's a combination of poor management and cognitive dissonance that leads some to cheer the loudest for projects even if they're failing hard. I think we've probably all seen this phenomenon.

Re:false dichotomy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40747819)

Did you read the memo? It speaks of people jumping out of chairs and cheering; it's as if there were a big circlejerk with a lot of back patting amongst career yes-men. Cognitive dissonance indeed.

Re:false dichotomy? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40749039)

Did you read the memo? It speaks of people jumping out of chairs and cheering; it's as if there were a big circlejerk with a lot of back patting amongst career yes-men. Cognitive dissonance indeed.

It also mentions three or four other programmes. It's innocuous in that it doesn't mention what the programmes are for (although one of them appears to be named so as to suggest something). Enough of these innocuous memos start floating around, and you could probably piece something less-innocuous together.

An interesting coincidence is the timing between this release, which provides evidence that the good General recognizes the need for talent at least as far back this memo, and this week's surprise announcement that he'll be popping in to DEFCON XX to say hello.

Re:false dichotomy? (1)

CrazyDuke (529195) | more than 2 years ago | (#40747823)

It can be anything from just trying to be positive (too scared to criticize, feels it will do more harm that good) to flat-out Narcissistic manipulation and posturing. There is too little to go on to narrow the field. But, considering organizational politics, it's probably some of both and quite a bit more. There's all kinds in the zoo.

Re:false dichotomy? (2)

evil_aaronm (671521) | more than 2 years ago | (#40748027)

In that time-frame, "criticizing" was tantamount to being an "America-hating terrorist." The Emperor's clothes weren't just pretty, they were fucking gorgeous!

Normal? (5, Insightful)

mseeger (40923) | more than 2 years ago | (#40747831)

I think 90+% of all failed projects started with a great presentation. Bad presentations don't start projects ;-).

Good coffee (1)

azalin (67640) | more than 2 years ago | (#40748015)

Colorful pictures, good coffee and cookies will get you started, but in the end you need something more substantial for a project to succeed.

Re:Good coffee (1)

daremonai (859175) | more than 2 years ago | (#40752779)

That's where the pizza comes in.

Bad Summary (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40748659)

The linked memo is very clearly about TURBULENCE, not TRAILBLAZER. Do Slashdot's editors even read what they post anymore?

Re:Bad Summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40749253)

Slashdot has editors? Why have I not heard of this before?

i apologize (1)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#40759243)

considering that i wrote most of the wikipedia articles about these projects, that i am one of the people who filed FOIA requests about them, and that ive spent hundreds of hours reading about it, youd think id know this.

however, 60+ hour weeks and staying up too late trying to write slashdot summaries can fell the basic reading comprehension of anyone.

and no they dont have editors. they have curators who expect their authors to do a good job which i have clearly been failing at lately.

Ahh... these inkjet printers (1)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | more than 2 years ago | (#40749307)

After careful examination of the meaningless documents, I'd say it looks a lot like the NSA needs a new inkjet printer. Or, at least they should use the automatic cleaning function (but in that case they'll also need a new ink cartridge).

Re:Ahh... these inkjet printers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40750405)

Or possibly each printer is made to generate a unique pattern of what appear to be print-head errors, leaving a fingerprint to help identify the source of a leak.

As for why they'd actually go to such lengths... well you gotta spend the budget on something, right?

NSA vs WikiLeaks - anyone ??? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40749589)

The NSA must be desperate to remain relevant now because they seem to want to pit themselves up against WikiLeaks.

"we both believe information increases in value by sharing;"

Well if that isn't the organisational goal of WikiLeaks, I don't know what is.

"we both respect protection of privacy and civil liberties;"

WikiLeaks lets for you discover your civil liberties are being violated, at an unselective, but arguably necessary cost of some privacy loss.

"we both believe in the need for oversight that fosters innovation,"

WikiLeaks provides a mechanism for oversight.

"doesn’t pick winners and losers, and retains freedom and flexibility;"

WikiLeaks.

"we both oppose malicious and criminal behavior."

WikiLeaks provides am excellent mechanism to oppose both of those exact things. Of course, unless the deemed criminal behaviour is actually point number 1: "we both believe information increases in value by sharing;".

"We should build on this common ground because we have a shared responsibility to secure cyberspace."

Thats a pleasant sentiment. However in the face of the real successes that WikiLeaks has already actually achieved (while NSA has made no such contributions towards many of those exact stated goals), you can just subtract all of those major points for which the NSA is simply not capable of ever acheiving. With or without the help of hackers. Those fewer and (far less significant) points that remains are simply what the NSA organisational goals already are / were. I don't see this talk helping anybody except for Obama to justify writing a fat paycheck to "Cybercecurity Chief" job role. Which is itself completely irrelevant to the world and its geopolitical events. What a complete waste of other people's time and money. Glad I'm not going to be there.

Wrong program (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40751513)

That memo is about Turbulence not Trailblazer. Do some research and you'll find that they're very different (in fact, pretty much opposite).

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