Sunday, June 15, 2008

Two years to crack Khan's hard drive encryption and reveal more bad nuke news

Presumably the NSA was truly responsible for cracking Khan's hard drive. It wasn't easy ...
Nuclear Ring Reportedly Had Advanced Weapon Design -

...Two former Bush administration officials said they believed Mr. Tinner had provided information to the Central Intelligence Agency while he was still working for Dr. Khan, including some of the information that helped American and British officials intercept shipments of centrifuges on their way to Libya in 2003.

When news of that interception became public and Libya turned its $100 million program over to American and I.A.E.A. officials, President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan forced Dr. Khan to issue a vague confession and then placed him under house arrest. Dr. Khan has since renounced that confession in Pakistani and Western media, saying he made it only to save Pakistan greater embarrassment.

It was not until 2005 that officials of the I.A.E.A., which is based in Vienna, finally cracked the hard drives on the Khan computers recovered around the world. And as they sifted through files and images on the hard drives, investigators found tons of material — orders for equipment, names and places where the Khan network operated, even old love letters. In all, they found several terabytes of data, a huge amount to sift through.

“There was stuff about dealing with Iranians in 2003, about how to avoid intelligence agents,” said one official who had reviewed it. But the most important document was a digitized design for a nuclear bomb, one that investigators quickly recognized as Pakistani. “It was plain where this came from,” one senior official of the I.A.E.A. said. “But the Pakistanis want to argue that the Khan case is closed, and so they have said very little....
I noted related stories in 2004, including the last good Maureen Dowd column and Seymour Hersh's theory that Pakistan would give us bin Laden if we went easy on them for AF Khan.

Of course Pakistan didn't deliver bin Laden and now they're getting ready to release Khan from house arrest. So that deal is off I suppose.

It will all make for a fascinating book, assuming our peculiar luck streak continues.

For today though I'm most interested in how the encrypted data was hacked. I suspect that story won't be out for a long time ...

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