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Infrastructure Secrecy

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  • paul rosa
    August 29, 2004 New York Times Mapping Natural Gas Lines: Advise the Public, Tip Off the Terrorists By IAN URBINA ohn Young says he is an agent for change,
    Message 1 of 3 , Aug 28, 2004
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      August 29, 2004 New York Times


      Mapping Natural Gas Lines: Advise the Public, Tip Off the Terrorists

      By IAN URBINA

      ohn Young says he is an agent for change, hoping to point out places
      where the government needs to bolster national security. Since 1996, he
      has been posting documents on his Web site, ranging from detailed maps
      of nuclear storage facilities in New Mexico to aerial photographs of
      police preparations for the Republican National Convention. He has never
      attracted much attention from the authorities, and what he does is fully
      legal.

      But last month, Mr. Young, a 68-year-old architect originally from
      Odessa, Tex., began publishing maps and pictures of natural gas
      pipelines in New York City on his site (www.cryptome.org). One
      photograph was of a large sign in Midtown Manhattan warning about the
      presence of a major gas main, a sign that had been meant to prevent
      deadly accidents. Within a week, the company that owns the pipeline took
      the sign down.

      "They posted the signs because they thought someone might accidentally
      blow the pipeline up,'' Mr. Young said. "Now, they're taking them down
      because they think someone might intentionally blow it up.''

      For Mr. Young - and for a range of experts across the country - the
      strange and unnoticed little episode in Manhattan underscores one of the
      great tensions of the post-9/11 world: how to balance the desire for
      secrecy with decisions on what is best for public safety.

      Few issues highlight that tension better than the topic of natural gas.

      Private industry and local governments have spent much of the last
      several decades trying to make natural gas pipelines safer by
      publicizing where they are. Natural gas, highly explosive and
      transported in pipes underneath unknowing residents or uncharted along
      waterways, has been the cause of scores of lethal accidents - fiery
      explosions caused by misdirected backhoes or wayward boat anchors.

      But recent concerns have pushed in the opposite direction. Increasingly,
      gas companies have been clearing their Web sites of pipeline maps
      previously used by contractors before excavating. Almost all nautical
      charts once indicated where gas pipes run. Fewer do now.

      "Federal regulations require companies to make these lines as obvious as
      possible and educate the public about where they are,'' said Kelly Swan,
      a spokesman for Williams, the company that owns the pipe supplying
      Manhattan. "But local laws indicate that we were allowed to get rid of
      that particular sign, and after the recent publicity about it, we did.''

      Edward M. Stroz, a retired F.B.I. agent who runs his own consulting firm
      on security issues, said many infrastructure companies found themselves
      caught between old risks and new threats.

      "The challenge is to make this infrastructure not so obvious that it's
      almost inviting to terrorists,'' he said, "while also not pulling so
      much information out of public reach that accidents occur.''

      Natural gas arrives in New York City through six so-called city gates,
      reached after traveling thousands of miles in pipes running from
      deposits deep beneath southeastern Texas and Sable Island, off the east
      coast of Nova Scotia. Here it enters a local grid of smaller pipes owned
      by Consolidated Edison in Manhattan, the Bronx and portions of Queens,
      and owned by Keyspan in the rest of the city. The gas is used for
      heating, cooking, and increasingly for fuel in city power plants.

      But natural gas is also at risk of sabotage.

      "This tactic actually comes from our own playbook,'' said Thomas C.
      Reed, the former secretary of the Air Force under President Gerald R.
      Ford and the author of "At the Abyss: An Insider's History of the Cold
      War.'' In 1982, the C.I.A. hacked into the software that controlled
      Soviet natural gas pipelines, causing vital pumps, turbines and valves
      to go haywire, he explained. The result, Mr. Reed said, was the largest
      nonnuclear explosion and fire ever seen from space and a major blow to
      Soviet sales of natural gas to Western Europe.

      "The tactic was a stroke of genius,'' he said.

      Jose Padilla, the former Chicago gang member who grew up in Brooklyn,
      and who was accused of becoming an operative for Al Qaeda, intended to
      use natural gas to blow up three tall buildings, the authorities say.
      According to government documents, Mr. Padilla intended to rent
      apartments in three high-rise buildings that used natural gas, fill each
      apartment with fumes and detonate the three buildings simultaneously
      using timers.

      Security experts have repeatedly pointed to the natural gas pipeline
      system as a dangerous Achilles' heel in the domestic infrastructure. A
      report by the Council on Foreign Relations in 2002 said that city gates
      and compressor stations, which keep the gas moving through the
      pipelines, were most vulnerable. These critical nodes, the report
      explained, are usually above ground and sometimes protected only by
      chain-link fences and padlocks. If even one or two of these locations
      were disabled in any major city, the report said, it could result in a
      wide blackout since most new turbines being brought online in major
      cities are powered by natural gas.

      A 2002 report conducted by the National Academy of Sciences drew the
      same conclusion, explaining that restoring power after an attack on the
      natural gas system could take several weeks since spare parts for many
      of the mechanisms, especially those at compressor stations, are
      expensive, hard to find and often made only overseas. The report also
      predicted logistical challenges: every nonelectronic pilot light in the
      city would have to be manually relighted to avoid explosions.

      "We take security of natural gas very seriously,'' a Con Ed spokesman,
      Joe Petta, said. Since the Sept. 11 attacks, Con Ed has added fencing,
      cameras, and patrols around gas pipeline facilities, he said. The
      utility has also begun inspecting pipeline valves monthly, and four
      times a year it tests responses to city gate failures, he said.

      "None of that will help,'' said Mr. Young, standing about 30 feet and a
      chain-link fence from one of the four central pipes that feed natural
      gas to Manhattan. Even if certain facilities were patrolled around the
      clock, he said, and most are not, the rest of the system is still exposed.

      "The fact that pipelines run largely underground reduces their exposure
      to external threats,'' said a study concerning infrastructure safety
      conducted by the Congressional Research Service in 2002. But required
      markings alert emergency workers, homeowners and terrorists to the
      location of pipelines.

      This is today's central conundrum, Mr. Young said, adding that he will
      continue posting on his Web site the results of his daily prowls
      searching for weak spots. In the meantime, he added, "I imagine law
      enforcement will probably be keeping an eye on me.''

      In fact, Mr. Young got his first visit from F.B.I. agents several weeks
      ago. But the issue was not all the nuclear reactor information he has
      put in the public domain. Rather, they wanted to talk about the natural
      gas pipeline maps, he said.



      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • David Lesher
      ... Cryptome.org ... I have met John & chatted several times. He s serious about his work and has the money to stand his ground. He feels that faux security is
      Message 2 of 3 , Aug 29, 2004
      • 0 Attachment
        Speaking on Deep Background, the Press Secretary whispered:
        >
        > What's the link to his website? :)

        Cryptome.org

        > Seriously, it is a probelm. The buried lines (and critical electric
        > lines, etc.) are also shown on many USGS topo maps which are available
        > on the Net along with geospacing information, so they can be used with
        > GPS devices and GIS software. There is nothing to be done about any of
        > it. After WW II we took pride during the Cold War in that we were an
        > open society and we placed very little security on information about
        > infrastructure targets. The info has been out there so long, and so
        > widely distributed that any enemy that didn't pick the information they
        > wanted sometime in the last 60 years, can find it in any library in
        > almost any country.

        I have met John & chatted several times. He's serious about his
        work and has the money to stand his ground. He feels that faux
        security is worse than none at all.


        --
        A host is a host from coast to coast.................wb8foz@...
        & no one will talk to a host that's close........[v].(301) 56-LINUX
        Unless the host (that isn't close).........................pob 1433
        is busy, hung or dead....................................20915-1433
      • Kenneth Coney
        What s the link to his website? :) Seriously, it is a probelm. The buried lines (and critical electric lines, etc.) are also shown on many USGS topo maps
        Message 3 of 3 , Aug 29, 2004
        • 0 Attachment
          What's the link to his website? :)

          Seriously, it is a probelm. The buried lines (and critical electric
          lines, etc.) are also shown on many USGS topo maps which are available
          on the Net along with geospacing information, so they can be used with
          GPS devices and GIS software. There is nothing to be done about any of
          it. After WW II we took pride during the Cold War in that we were an
          open society and we placed very little security on information about
          infrastructure targets. The info has been out there so long, and so
          widely distributed that any enemy that didn't pick the information they
          wanted sometime in the last 60 years, can find it in any library in
          almost any country.


          paul rosa wrote:

          > August 29, 2004 New York Times
          >
          >
          > Mapping Natural Gas Lines: Advise the Public, Tip Off the Terrorists
          >
          >By IAN URBINA
          >
          >ohn Young says he is an agent for change, hoping to point out places
          >where the government needs to bolster national security. Since 1996, he
          >has been posting documents on his Web site, ranging from detailed maps
          >of nuclear storage facilities in New Mexico to aerial photographs of
          >police preparations for the Republican National Convention. He has never
          >attracted much attention from the authorities, and what he does is fully
          >legal.
          >
          >But last month, Mr. Young, a 68-year-old architect originally from
          >Odessa, Tex., began publishing maps and pictures of natural gas
          >pipelines in New York City on his site (www.cryptome.org). One
          >photograph was of a large sign in Midtown Manhattan warning about the
          >presence of a major gas main, a sign that had been meant to prevent
          >deadly accidents. Within a week, the company that owns the pipeline took
          >the sign down.
          >
          >"They posted the signs because they thought someone might accidentally
          >blow the pipeline up,'' Mr. Young said. "Now, they're taking them down
          >because they think someone might intentionally blow it up.''
          >
          >For Mr. Young - and for a range of experts across the country - the
          >strange and unnoticed little episode in Manhattan underscores one of the
          >great tensions of the post-9/11 world: how to balance the desire for
          >secrecy with decisions on what is best for public safety.
          >
          >Few issues highlight that tension better than the topic of natural gas.
          >
          >Private industry and local governments have spent much of the last
          >several decades trying to make natural gas pipelines safer by
          >publicizing where they are. Natural gas, highly explosive and
          >transported in pipes underneath unknowing residents or uncharted along
          >waterways, has been the cause of scores of lethal accidents - fiery
          >explosions caused by misdirected backhoes or wayward boat anchors.
          >
          >But recent concerns have pushed in the opposite direction. Increasingly,
          >gas companies have been clearing their Web sites of pipeline maps
          >previously used by contractors before excavating. Almost all nautical
          >charts once indicated where gas pipes run. Fewer do now.
          >
          >"Federal regulations require companies to make these lines as obvious as
          >possible and educate the public about where they are,'' said Kelly Swan,
          >a spokesman for Williams, the company that owns the pipe supplying
          >Manhattan. "But local laws indicate that we were allowed to get rid of
          >that particular sign, and after the recent publicity about it, we did.''
          >
          >Edward M. Stroz, a retired F.B.I. agent who runs his own consulting firm
          >on security issues, said many infrastructure companies found themselves
          >caught between old risks and new threats.
          >
          >"The challenge is to make this infrastructure not so obvious that it's
          >almost inviting to terrorists,'' he said, "while also not pulling so
          >much information out of public reach that accidents occur.''
          >
          >Natural gas arrives in New York City through six so-called city gates,
          >reached after traveling thousands of miles in pipes running from
          >deposits deep beneath southeastern Texas and Sable Island, off the east
          >coast of Nova Scotia. Here it enters a local grid of smaller pipes owned
          >by Consolidated Edison in Manhattan, the Bronx and portions of Queens,
          >and owned by Keyspan in the rest of the city. The gas is used for
          >heating, cooking, and increasingly for fuel in city power plants.
          >
          >But natural gas is also at risk of sabotage.
          >
          >"This tactic actually comes from our own playbook,'' said Thomas C.
          >Reed, the former secretary of the Air Force under President Gerald R.
          >Ford and the author of "At the Abyss: An Insider's History of the Cold
          >War.'' In 1982, the C.I.A. hacked into the software that controlled
          >Soviet natural gas pipelines, causing vital pumps, turbines and valves
          >to go haywire, he explained. The result, Mr. Reed said, was the largest
          >nonnuclear explosion and fire ever seen from space and a major blow to
          >Soviet sales of natural gas to Western Europe.
          >
          >"The tactic was a stroke of genius,'' he said.
          >
          >Jose Padilla, the former Chicago gang member who grew up in Brooklyn,
          >and who was accused of becoming an operative for Al Qaeda, intended to
          >use natural gas to blow up three tall buildings, the authorities say.
          >According to government documents, Mr. Padilla intended to rent
          >apartments in three high-rise buildings that used natural gas, fill each
          >apartment with fumes and detonate the three buildings simultaneously
          >using timers.
          >
          >Security experts have repeatedly pointed to the natural gas pipeline
          >system as a dangerous Achilles' heel in the domestic infrastructure. A
          >report by the Council on Foreign Relations in 2002 said that city gates
          >and compressor stations, which keep the gas moving through the
          >pipelines, were most vulnerable. These critical nodes, the report
          >explained, are usually above ground and sometimes protected only by
          >chain-link fences and padlocks. If even one or two of these locations
          >were disabled in any major city, the report said, it could result in a
          >wide blackout since most new turbines being brought online in major
          >cities are powered by natural gas.
          >
          >A 2002 report conducted by the National Academy of Sciences drew the
          >same conclusion, explaining that restoring power after an attack on the
          >natural gas system could take several weeks since spare parts for many
          >of the mechanisms, especially those at compressor stations, are
          >expensive, hard to find and often made only overseas. The report also
          >predicted logistical challenges: every nonelectronic pilot light in the
          >city would have to be manually relighted to avoid explosions.
          >
          >"We take security of natural gas very seriously,'' a Con Ed spokesman,
          >Joe Petta, said. Since the Sept. 11 attacks, Con Ed has added fencing,
          >cameras, and patrols around gas pipeline facilities, he said. The
          >utility has also begun inspecting pipeline valves monthly, and four
          >times a year it tests responses to city gate failures, he said.
          >
          >"None of that will help,'' said Mr. Young, standing about 30 feet and a
          >chain-link fence from one of the four central pipes that feed natural
          >gas to Manhattan. Even if certain facilities were patrolled around the
          >clock, he said, and most are not, the rest of the system is still exposed.
          >
          >"The fact that pipelines run largely underground reduces their exposure
          >to external threats,'' said a study concerning infrastructure safety
          >conducted by the Congressional Research Service in 2002. But required
          >markings alert emergency workers, homeowners and terrorists to the
          >location of pipelines.
          >
          >This is today's central conundrum, Mr. Young said, adding that he will
          >continue posting on his Web site the results of his daily prowls
          >searching for weak spots. In the meantime, he added, "I imagine law
          >enforcement will probably be keeping an eye on me.''
          >
          >In fact, Mr. Young got his first visit from F.B.I. agents several weeks
          >ago. But the issue was not all the nuclear reactor information he has
          >put in the public domain. Rather, they wanted to talk about the natural
          >gas pipeline maps, he said.
          >
          >
          >
          >[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >Yahoo! Groups Links
          >
          >
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