1993-03-11 - F-117A Nighthawk post–Conclusions of Experiment

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From: tcmay@netcom.com (Timothy C. May)
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: b9d1a890ef6f964665f8b1ba181bb624e3008b180a867e753a865de9866cbda6
Message ID: <9303110107.AA05111@netcom.netcom.com>
Reply To: N/A
UTC Datetime: 1993-03-11 01:08:44 UTC
Raw Date: Wed, 10 Mar 93 17:08:44 PST

Raw message

From: tcmay@netcom.com (Timothy C. May)
Date: Wed, 10 Mar 93 17:08:44 PST
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: F-117A Nighthawk post--Conclusions of Experiment
Message-ID: <9303110107.AA05111@netcom.netcom.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

J. Michael Diehl guesses the truth:

>Lets assume that the poster was a "good-guy," as opposed to just a prankster.
>Then he has pointed out a serious flaw in the WB system.  He has demonstrated 
>the ability for a person to obtain (bonefied) classified information and 
>broadcast it worldwide, with out any fear of being caught or censored.  I 
>support anonymity, but I wonder about how it will be "regulated" to keep this
>from happening for real.

Well, I _hope_ I am a good guy, at least by the standards of this list.

I posted the F-117A "revelations" about the Stealth fighter, through a
series of 6 or 7 remailers (which I first tested, as I like to do, by
pinging them all) in order to examine the reactions of the list to what
"whistleblowing" acts are very likely to look like.

The reactions have been interesting. Some of you got angry, some even
practically foamed at the mouth, calling me a "treasonous fool." Fair
enough, as I hoped to see this kind of range of opinions. 

Some points:

1. Nothing in the posting, as some of you observed, was controversial or
classified. I took an article from the book, "Stealth Technology: The Art
of Black Magic," J. Jones, Aero Books, 1989, and scanned it and OCRed it. A
few "probably"s and "could be"s were deleted, and minor other changes were
made (e.g., I converted approximate numbers to precise--though of course
wrong--numbers). The speculations about supersonic capability were in the
original--I can't say how plausible they are. Likewise, the stuff about
"changing color" was also in the original (I was trained as
physicist--would I make something like that up?).

2. Ironically, the "Discovery Channel" ran an hour-long program,
"Nighthawk: Secrets of the Stealth," which was many times more revealing
than my post. "Aviation Week and Space Technology," also known as "Aviation
Leak and Spy Technology," has also carried far more detailed information
over the years.

3. As both Joe Thomas and J. Michael Diehl pointed out, I was "testing" the
nascent "whistleblower" system. I decided it would be interesting to guage
the reaction of the list to what might at first glance look like classified
information being posted--something we can surely expect to see if the
"whistleblower" group really gets going. (That, and deliberate
misinformation to discredit the group, flames to drown out the actual
whistleblowing, illegal or grossly offensive material to try to get the
group taken off the Net, etc.)

If you folks really want to set such a thing up, better be prepared for all
kinds of weird stuff. Of course, the posting of "classified"
documents--ersatz though this one may have been (in the sense of not being
classified!)--can happen even without the "whistleblower"
connotations...any anonymous remailer will work, naturally. But a
whistleblower list (which I support, by the way) is going to attract all
kinds of strange postings, once publicity is gotten (as it must, else
what's the point?).

4. On the appropriateness of defense information as "whistleblower"
material, consider these facts: The most serious cases of whistleblowing in
the last few years have been on *defense* issues--coast over-runs, weapons
systems that failed to work or were unsafe, bribes to DoD or company
officials, and so on. This is the fodder for "60 Minutes" and "20/20,"
who've all run pieces on defective weapons systems, the Bradley Fighting
Vehicle, the Apache Helicopter, the "DIVAD" gun, and so on. (Would my
article have been any less offensive to some of the censorious among you if
I'd fabricated stuff about the Nighthawk not meeting design goals, not
being safe to fly, costing too much, etc.? I suspect not.)

5. In most cases, the DoD has tried to limit the scrutiny on such systems
by invoking "national security" as a cloak. This, even though the Soviets
already had the info--generally far in advance and in much greater detail.
The invocation of national security has generally resulted in Americans
being ignorant of malfeasance and chicanery. The whole idea of the
whistleblowing list is to allow anonymous, untraceable postings of
controversial material like this! Much of what is posted will by necessity
contain material that someone thinks should not be released to the public.
Q.E.D. (or haven't folks thought this one out?).

(So if you whistleblower advocates out there are going to get cold feet
when seemingly sensitive materials is sent out, you'd better just quit
right now!)

6. Paul Robichaux and Dave Deltorto have opined that posts like this should
*not* be posted (and tell me how they'll ever be stopped in the real
world?), as they invite the attention of the NSA and other TLAs (Three
Letter Acronyms). This seems overly paranoid for even this list, given the
megabytes of solid info published by Av Leak and other technical mags. If
some defense stuff is going to get us shut down, we'd better stop now.

(Actually, the problems with the whistleblower's list or group are
sufficiently clear that I'd recommend that nobody be _formally_ affiliated
with it. If it just "appears," somehow, probably in the alt heierchy, then
people can post to it through anonymous remailers.)

7. Speaking of which, a whistleblowers group will likely face attack on
several fronts, depending on whose ox is gored. There may in fact be
deliberate postings of truly classified material just to cause the group to
be shut down (or to cause Internet sites not to carry it, etc.). Some child
porn posted anonymously may get nearly any group pulled. Ditto for
Holocause revisionism, racist jokes, extortion demands, etc. Consider my
little experiment a very benign little "innoculation," a hint of what to

8. Again, I feel we should all be _using_ anonymous remailers to test, or
probe, these various ideas we have. Better that we try out a few ideas
related to "whistleblowing" in the safety of our own group before launching
it out into the world.

Of course, now that I've exposed myself as the originator, this may make
you all skeptical of posts from "Anonymous" or "Nobody." And you _should_
be skeptical!
That's an important part of the whole process.

And don't assume everything from "Anonymous" is from me!



aka, Tim May, Cypherpunk, Crypto Anarchist, and Gadfly

Timothy C. May               | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,  
tcmay@netcom.com        | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
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