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OT: All National Park Service's Web sites Down

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  • lilsteve68@aol.com
    Interior Dept. Blacks Out Web Sites Following Court Order Friday, December 07, 2001 WASHINGTON — If you re planning a trip to one of America s national parks
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 8, 2001
      Interior Dept. Blacks Out Web Sites Following Court Order

      Friday, December 07, 2001

      WASHINGTON — If you're planning a trip to one of America's national parks
      soon and browsing the Web for information, don't bother going to the National
      Park Service's official sites. They're all down.

      They, along with the entire network of Web sites operated by the U.S.
      Department of Interior, were inaccessible Friday following an order by a U.S.
      District judge who feared flimsy security might have contributed to the loss
      of billions of Native American Indian trust monies.

      Employees with agencies in the department were notified of the shutdown
      Thursday. E-mail operations are also interrupted.

      It is unclear how long the blackout will last. Judge Royce C. Lamberth
      ordered Department Secretary Gail Norton late Wednesday to immediately shut
      down Internet access from any computer, server and system in the department
      that has access to individual Indian trust data.

      In response to the order, the department has shut down its e-mail and more
      than 100 Web sites including those for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
      the National Park Service, and the Bureau of Land Management. None of the
      sites were accessible Friday.

      BLM spokeswoman Celia Boddington said she could send e-mail to other BLM
      employees, but could not contact anyone outside the bureau.

      Lamberth, who has presided over a long-running lawsuit accusing the federal
      government of losing more than $10 billion in Indian trust money over the
      last century, ordered the shutdown after a hacker hired by a court-appointed
      investigator broke into the trust fund twice without much effort.

      "Without such direct oversight, the threat to records crucial to the welfare
      of hundreds of thousands of (Indian) beneficiaries will continue unchecked,"
      investigator Alan Balaran wrote in a statement to Judge Lamberth.

      The computer system currently tracks $500 million a year in royalties, rents
      and other income from 54 acres of land held in trust by the DOI and its
      Bureau of Indian Affairs since 1887. That money is supposed to be doled out
      methodically to Indian beneficiaries, but as the lawsuit contends, much has
      been mismanaged, lost or downright stolen over the decades.

      Balaran said his hacker merely used a normal Internet connection and free
      software to get into the system. Once inside, he said, there were no
      firewalls and or anything installed to detect intruders. Another hacker hired
      by the DOI found the same shortcomings in the system.

      Dennis Gingold, the attorney who asked the judge for the order, said Interior
      didn't need to take such a sweeping approach to comply with the judge's

      "This just shows you how inept they are," he said. "They don't even
      understand how these systems relate to each other so they just pull the plug
      on the entire system."

      Secretary Norton, who inherited the lawsuit initiated during the Clinton
      administration, is expected back in court Dec. 10 to defend her office
      against contempt of court allegations.

      She is charged with showing that her office complied with Lamberth's 1999
      order that the Interior Department piece together how much is owed to 300,000
      Indians who sued the agency. Norton also must prove that she did not file
      false or misleading reports about the status of the accounting and the
      department's current system of tracking the Indian royalties.

      In 1999, Lamberth held former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt and former
      Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin in contempt and fined them $600,000 for
      failing to produce documents in the case.

      He also ordered Interior to fix the system and account for the lost money,
      but so far the department has failed to do either despite spending $614
      million on the effort, according to reports by court-appointed watchdogs.

      At an Oct. 30 hearing, Lamberth scolded the Interior Department's lawyer and
      advised the lawyer to "throw yourself on the mercy of the court," rather than
      defending conduct he called "so clearly contemptuous."

      The Associated Press contributed to this report


      Your most Obedient Servant
      Steven N. Cone

      The history of this heroic struggle will be written by the enemy, our youth
      will be trained by Northern schoolteachers, Learn from Northern Schoolbooks
      their version of the war To regard are gallant dead as traitors ---
      Maj. Gen. Patrick R. Cleburne January 1864

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