Johns Hopkins University Orders Cryptography Professor’s Blog Posting Removed for Classified NSA Links (Larson & Elliott)

Jeff Larson and Justin Elliott write at ProPublica

Citing concerns about linking to classified material, Johns Hopkins University asked a professor this morning to remove a blog post discussing  last week’s revelations about the NSA’s efforts to break encryption. The post had linked to government documents published by ProPublica, the Guardian, and the New York Times.  

Several hours later, after computer science professor Matthew Green tweeted about the request, the university reversed itself.

Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins, which is short drive from the NSA’s headquarters at Fort Meade, works closely with the spy agency.

The university’s Applied Physics Laboratory, which employs about 5,000 people, does many projects with the NSA. 

According to the lab’s website, “APL staff working with NSA are engaged in strategic planning, development of enterprise and program architectures, conducting quantitative analysis to support engineering decisions, development of engineering processes, and formulation of the governance structures for the work in the new Technology Directorate (TD).”

The website also notes that the lab “completed a strategic study that analyzed NSA’s global information technology infrastructure to determine the top locations for the large-scale data centers.”

Green said on Twitter that he had “been told” that someone from the Applied Physics Laboratory had first flagged his blog post.

Asked about the Applied Physics Laboratory’s role, Hopkins spokesman Dennis O’Shea said, “We are still tracing the path of this event, which all exploded into our notice over the past couple of hours. So I don’t think we’re ready yet with an answer on that.”

In an earlier statement, O’Shea said: “The university received information this morning that Matthew Green’s blog contained a link or links to classified material and also used the NSA logo. For that reason, we asked Professor Green to remove the Johns Hopkins-hosted mirror site for his blog.”

He continued: “Upon further review, we note that the NSA logo has been removed and that he appears to link to material that has been published in the news media. Interim Dean Andrew Douglas will inform Professor Green that the mirror site may be restored.”

Green removed the post from his university site but it remained mirrored on Google’s blogger service. Green has since removed the agency’s logo from the post on his blog.

An expert in the field of cryptography, Green was quoted in the story published by ProPublica and the New York Times.

In his blog post, Green linked to a document that outlines the NSA’s SIGINT Enabling Project, a program focused on subverting encryption products. The document is marked Top Secret and was part of the cache taken by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Green added in the post that he has not seen documents beyond the ones published with the story last week. 

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Mirrored from Propublica

8 Responses

  1. I am deeply disturbed by the complicit relationship between a number of leading universities and the government.
    There is also a huge financial dependence on the part of, again, universities and big business.
    The American educational system at the university level in in a crisis of ethics of genuine education.
    I think the evidence is obvious when one follows the political discourse of our degreed politicians.
    A total failure of critical thinking and logic.

    • So, John Hopkins University is “controlled” by NSA. Applied Physics Laboratory stooges don’t even feel the ring in their nose.

    • “The American educational system at the university level in (sic) in a crisis of ethics of genuine education….A total failure of critical thinking and logic.”

      Am I correct in assuming that you are a product of that educational system?

    • It has been known for a long time that the U.S. intelligence community recruits at the top universities and conducts joint research projects with these universities.

      In the 1960s, a University of Miami medical school building became the largest domestic CIA station – it took over operation of the entire building with the exception of the toxicology department. It was the HQ of Operation Mongoose a joint CIA-Army project to destabilize the Castro regime.

  2. Johns Hopkins and GW are well connected to the neo cons. Especially during the Bush-Cheney admin, there seemed preferential hiring of students from these universities’ programs, including over at State

  3. So…What is the NSA logo? Why is a logo top secret? Why does the NSA need a logo? The NSA is top secret. Logos, wiki is there to remind, are to aid and promote instant public recognition. If a person were to aid and promote public recognition of the NSA they would be in trouble. It would seem NSA’s own logo breaks NSA rules. How much money did they spend designing this logo? What security classification was necessary for the artists involved? How many prototype logos were vetted? Was the initial rendering in house or farmed out? How many writers with what security classifications wrote, edited, and approved the NSA rulebook sections on permissible use, non-permissible use, and penalties for non-permissible use of the NSA logo. Does not the writing of rules specifying NSA logo use mean the resulting rules must have the lowest possible NSA security clearance? If the rules specifying NSA logo use are classified above the level of some NSA employees, can an NSA employeed be fired, rendered, tortured, shunned, or executed for a mindless doodle on a piece of paper? IF so is there any difference between NSA policies and formally randomized penalites? What published NSA procedures exist for the answering of questions about NSA logo use? Who gets to see them? Is there a phone number an NSA person can call, or a logo information clearinghouse to rectify unclear logo use rules, misprints, flyspecks, or sheer editorial stupidity? Does the logo have a sunset provision?

    The application of simple curiosity to this surveillence/police state oddity reveals the degree to which farce is a key element of the NSA. Would the grave insistence on all of the above by an individual human be more or less likely to be regarded as proof of the individual’s sanity?

    • The NSA emblem is not any secret.

      It is a bald eagle holding a key.

      It symbolizes that the NSA holds the key to America’s secrets and opens the secrets of others.

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