18 February 1999
DoD News Briefing Thursday, February 18, 1999 - 1:45 p.m. Captain Mike Doubleday, DASD PA [Excerpt] Q: Could you explain why Secretary Cohen is going to speak at Microsoft today when it's in the middle of these antitrust suits that the U.S. Government... (Laughter) Why do that? A: Well, Secretary Cohen is embarked on a program to talk to people throughout the United States that the Department of Defense may not previously have talked to. He, as you may be aware, talked to the Illinois Statehouse. He is today talking to Microsoft. He is delivering a message that talks about the Department of Defense. It's an important message that we feel that all corners of the country should hear. He is going to be traveling to other parts of the country in coming months, and I think you'll see other venues that are probably non-traditional for a Secretary of Defense to speak in. But I think it's an interesting way to carry the message and one that is welcomed. Q: Could you say whether consideration was given to the fact that Microsoft is engaged, unlike the Illinois chamber, in a massive suit with the government? A: That certainly was not a major consideration. I think the major consideration is the fact that Microsoft is a high tech company. The U.S. armed forces of today are high-tech operations. They utilize a lot of software from a variety of companies that are on the leading edge of technology. And these are people who are looking to the future and being very innovative, and certainly people that we want to deal with and talk to on a continuing basis. Q: Can you say, or if you can't say, can you take the question of whether this was cleared with the White House, and whether Justice Department's views were sought. A: I will see what I can do for you on that one.
18 February 1999
Questions to Secretary Cohen are not intended to be about the classified and/or "means and methods of intelligence" -- about which DoD has a policy to never comment on -- of the Echelon signals interception program (active since at least the mid-1970s official USG documents show) but about what impact on US international defense policy the Echelon furor has had and what the USG intends to do in response to assure its global partners that the US is trustworthy. It is this global building of trust that Cohen's September 1998 talk at the Council on Foreign Relations addressed.
Date: Wed, 17 Feb 1999 17:05:02 -0500 Sender: DOD PRESS ADVISORIES LIST <DODADVISORIES-L@DTIC.MIL> No. 026-P PRESS ADVISORY February 17, 1999 Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen will not hold a media availability following his remarks to Microsoft employees in Seattle Thursday. The cancellation of the media availability previously announced in Memorandum for Correspondents No. 014-M was necessitated by a scheduling change to the Secretary's itinerary. -END-
16 February 1999
From a DoD press briefing 16 February 1999: Secretary Cohen is leaving tomorrow for Seattle. Thursday he will meet with and address the employees of Microsoft to discuss national defense, national security issues with them. If any MS-employee plans to attend this, I wonder if you would be willing to ask questions of Secretary Cohen on my behalf or yours. Since last September I have had a request pending at DoD for an interview with Cohen on Echelon and DoD information security policy (copy of messages below). Today I was told by Susan Hansen, DoD Public Affairs, with whom I had previously spoken and exchanged e-mail (see below), that she had been unable to find anyone in DoD who would talk about Echelon because "it is just a term some journalist used but does not refer to any official US program or policy." (See first public report on Echelon: http://jya.com/echelon-dc.htm.) I reminded Ms. Hansen that my original request concerned Secretary Cohen's September speech in which he talked about the goal of building better relations with other nations, and that my request for an interview was for him to comment on how the furor over Echelon affected this goal. She said, and here is the controversial part: "Political appointees such as the Secretary are not informed enough to discuss such matters, and that I should take this up with the National Security Agency." Implying that only military people are informed, and not the civilans who supposedly outrank them. I have left a message of inquiry with the NSA today (for Ms. Emmel, 301-688-6524, as suggested by Ms. Hansen). So the questions for Secretary Cohen are those contained in the first message below to Mr. Kenneth Bacon. And, then, a question on whether what Ms. Hansen said today is accurate: that political appointees such as the Secretary are not informed enough to comment on such programs as Echelon (which corresponds with what Mr. Bacon told me after the CFR talk in September). Thanks much. John Young <email@example.com> ---------- September 15, 1998 Kenneth H. Bacon Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs OASD (PA) 1400 Defense Pentagon Washington D.C. 20301-1400 Dear Mr. Bacon, Three points of Secretary Cohen's informative talk at the Council on Foreign Relations last evening would benefit by amplification, and I ask your assistance in arranging an interview with the Secretary to focus on the Department's policy on information security technology. 1. The first concerns his view on the interdependency of military and economic affairs for assurance of national security. 1.1 What does he see as the prospect for further declassification of restricted defense technology for use by industry for protection of information against economic espionage, as exemplified in the declassification of the Skipjack encryption algorithm. 1.2 And what other services and/or technology the defense supply and intelligence agencies may provide non-governmental customers in competition with other nations where closer cooperation between such agencies and industry is more common. 2. The second concerns the need for international cooperation for US defense policy and how that is impacted by publicity and criticism of the Echelon electronic intercept program and other national technical means not customarily discussed in public by the Department. 2.1 What are Secretary Cohen's views of programs such as Echelon political and international trust issues and what he is his view of European calls for investigation of Echelon. 2.2 What are Secretary Cohen's views as a constructive response to charges that Echelon and other national technical means are offensive military and economic espionage against those from whom the US desires defense cooperation. 3. In the Q&A on the topic of terrorism and encryption, Secretary Cohen remarked that the American people will have to decide how much privacy they are willing to give up in order to be protected from terrorist threats. 3.1 What are the Secretary's views on how disputes on encryption policy could be resolved in light of his calls for closer connection between military and economic interests and for international cooperation for defense policy. Your office has always been exemplary in responding to requests for information. Thank you very much. Sincerely, John Young JYA/Urban Deadline 251 West 89th Street, Suite 6E New York, NY 10024 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 212-873-8700 Fax: 212-799-4003 ---------- January 7, 1999 Kenneth H. Bacon Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs OASD (PA) 1400 Defense Pentagon Washington D.C. 20301-1400 Dear Mr. Bacon, This follows up two telephone conversations in November with members of your staff -- the last with Susan Hansen -- on my September request to you for an interview (copy below) on the the Department's policy on information security technology. Ms. Hansen said on November 18 that she had passed along my inquiry and would attempt to get a response from a knowledgeable person. Since then nothing has been heard. Your attention to this request would be very much appreciated. Sincerely, John Young JYA/Urban Deadline 251 West 89th Street, Suite 6E New York, NY 10024 Tel: 212-873-8700 ---------- From: "Hansen, Susan, CIV, OASD/PA" <email@example.com> To: "'firstname.lastname@example.org'" <email@example.com> Subject: Your interest in Echelon and Encryption Policies Date: Wed, 20 Jan 1999 09:06:07 -0500 Mr. Young, Assistant Secretary Bacon has forwarded me your recent e-mail, following up your interest in the Department's views on various encryption issues. I apologize that I have not had any information to forward since many of these matters are still under review. I have again asked the staff of the Office of the Secretary of Defense for some comments in response to your particular concerns. I hope we can be more timely in any response. Sincerely, Susan Hansen Defense Public Affairs 703-693-6858 ---------- Date: Tue, 16 Feb 1999 10:20:33 -0500 To: "Hansen, Susan, CIV, OASD/PA" <firstname.lastname@example.org> From: John Young <email@example.com> Subject: Re: Your interest in Echelon and Encryption Policies Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org Dear Ms. Hansen, Could you let me know about progress on my request for an interview on Echelon and information security policies? This repeats a telphone message left for you today. You will recall my initial request to Mr. Bacon in September 1998, your and my telephone talk in November 1998, my second request to Mr. Bacon on January 7, 1999 and e-mail from him in and you later that month. Appended are my two requests to Mr. Bacon. Thank you very much. John Young JYA/Urban Deadline 251 West 89th Street, Suite 6E New York, NY 10024 E-mail: email@example.com Tel: 212-873-8700 Fax: 212-799-4003