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DoD News Briefing - Rear Adm. Craig R. Quigley, DASD PA

Presenters: Rear Adm. Craig R. Quigley, DASD PA
July 24, 2001 1:30 PM EDT

Tuesday, July 24, 2001 - 1:30 p.m. EDT

Quigley: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I have two announcements this afternoon.

Service members from U.S. Air Forces in Europe, U.S. Army Europe and U.S. Special Operations Command will participate in Exercise Medflag 01-2, starting today till August 3rd. This year's Medflag is led by the headquarters of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and will be held in Nampula and Maputo, Mozambique. Medflag is a multi-service, multi-country medical training and civic assistance exercise conducted annually by the U.S. European Command. [ Web page ]

And second, we have with us today 15 students and two instructors from the Army Public Affairs Advanced Non-Commissioned Officer course at Ft. Meade, Maryland, where they are continuing to develop their skills in the public affairs arena. Welcome to all of you.

With that I'll take your questions. Charlie.

Q: Craig, are the public computers sites for the Defense Department back up again?

Quigley: No, they are not. This is all in response to the worm that I think first came to public light last Friday, I believe. We have taken what we think are prudent precautionary measures to take down the publicly accessible web sites, of which there are many hundreds, probably thousands, within DOD around the world. The worm works in two ways. It does harm to both the servers that it affects directly, and then it sends out threads, I think was the word that our computer experts gave me this morning, to infect up to possibly a hundred other sites. So you do damage not to only the server that was directly attacked, but you could, you know, inadvertently, unwittingly be the source of an attack on 100 further servers. So we thought that the prudent thing to do was to take the publicly accessible sites for the most part off line, and we have a patch in hand. The folks at the Joint Task Force for Computer Network Operations are monitoring the installation of the patch. Also, monitoring network activity. And when they feel that we are properly defended by the installation of the patches throughout our networks around the world as well as the level of activity on the web is such that it's the prudent thing to do to bring those publicly accessible sites back up, we will do that. We're not there yet, however.

[ Update: Public access to DoD web sites has now resumed. The few sites affected by the worm have been repaired. The Code Red worm appears to have gone dormant. The Department will continue to maintain vigilance in the protection of its networks from all unauthorized intrusions, including any potential recurrence of the Code Red worm. ]

Q: Are any sites -- do you have any idea how many sites they've taken down? And are --

Quigley: Of those -- I'm sorry. Go ahead.

Q: And are any sites back up?

Quigley: The answer to the first part of the question was "a few." I don't have an exact number for you, but we were able to catch it in the very early going. And we have no operational impact; I should say, in that context, of tactical military operations around the world; we have no detectable impact there. Certainly none of our classified systems were affected. But it is not -- it is inconvenient. There are still many functions that are performed -- business functions, information sharing, a variety of exercise sites and what-have-you around the world -- that are not classified that are usable by both military members and publicly accessible sites.

But we have kind of tried to do prudent access, and let me give you one example that we're all familiar with, and that's DefenseLink. You have on DefenseLink two ways of getting in. If you have a dot-mil suffix on your computer, if you're here in the Pentagon, let's say if it's me and I'm going to access DefenseLink from my government-owned computer with a dot-mil suffix, I can do that. But if it's a dot-com suffix or a dot-edu or any other suffix from around the world, it is a separate pipe that brings you into DefenseLink, and that pipe has been stopped for now.

Q: A couple of questions on this. Did the infocon level go up?

Quigley: We did. We raised it last Friday.

Q: To what?

Quigley: Alpha. Alpha.

Q: Infocon alpha, from infocon normal?

Quigley: Right. We just drove it up one step.

Q: The patch for this thing was available more than a month ago. When did DoD start putting it in?

Quigley: Well, starting was a month ago, but we're not -- it is not clear as to what networks applied it when. It is one of those things that there's a lot of patches. If you have a PC in your home, you can update the patches for a variety of viruses probably every day. How quickly network administrators around the world applied that patch, it is not clear to us. But since we did not have the 100 percent certain knowledge that they were all affected -- or all installed, I should say -- we took the prudent course of taking them off line.

Q: A couple of years ago with the attacks known as "solar sunrise," one of the things that came out of that was that DISA had warned everybody about the particular vulnerability of the computer system in December, and that attack was launched in February. And that created lots of gnashing of teeth, and people saying we need to be faster, and they all took the changes of putting low-level systems administrators directly reportable to commanders, so that these patches would go in more quickly. Do you see any benefit from that? And could that happen here? Because it seems like maybe it didn't --

Quigley: I don't think I can quantify that for you very well. The -- you issue a combination of patches and warnings, as well as constant monitoring on the part of the Joint Task Force for Computer Network Operations. When you see an unusual level of activity, when you hear about a particular virus or worm or what have you that is affecting systems, you try to react as quickly as you can. You try to put the word out about a patch, and yet it's entirely conceivable that that problem, that virus, that worm may not affect your network. So you watch. You have the ability -- knowing that you have the ability to take your network off line very quickly and then take the corrective measures you need to and then bring it back up. So I guess it's a combination of the two would be the clearest answer I could give.

Q: And do you remain at threatcon -- infocon alpha?

Quigley: We are.

Q: Sir, that network operations control center that DISA runs here in Arlington -- was that the beginning point of your awareness of the threat, and then they instituted this fix and are sort of overseeing the procedures?

Quigley: Correct. That's correct. They're the ones that monitor 24 hours a day networks and then put out warnings, issue advisories, and whatnot.

Now they are physically here, as you indicate, in D.C. But they report to the U.S. Space Command out in Colorado Springs.

Q: Now is -- if I -- I've lost the ball a little bit on the history here, but since that was established back in -- I think it was 2000 or 2001 --

Quigley: Two thousand, I believe, but I would have to check that. [ Correction: 1998 ]

Q: (Off mike.) That -- is this the first major issue that they've had to confront of this nature since they've been --

Quigley: Let me take that. And I don't think so, but let me check on that, and we'll get back to you. [ Update: No, since 1998, the Department, like other major computer users, has been faced with such activities as the Melissa virus, the I Love You bug, and other challenges to computer system usage. ]

Dale?

Q: Has the entry point for this worm into DoD systems been traced? And has anybody determined whether it was simply passed along inadvertently by some innocent person whose computer also was infected and thereby passed it along, or was it done by someone with malicious intent?

Quigley: I do not think we have the knowledge of the sources of the few that were infected. I do not think we know that yet.

Q: Different subject?

Q: Same subject?

Quigley: Same subject?

Q: Are people on military computers able to access the outside world?

Quigley: Yes. Yes. We can go out from a government-owned military computer system -- you can go out to the Web for instance. But you just can't come in unless you have a dot-mil suffix on your thing.

Q: And what is this infocon? I guess I missed that.

Quigley: It's information condition, is what it stands for. And it is a -- yes, or a force protection condition or something like that. And it is descriptive of what the Joint Task Force for Computer Network Operations feels is the level of threat and hack attacks to DOD networks. And it's increasing your normal operations. It's infocon normal, and then you go up to A, B, C and the like as the threat increases.

Q: Being delta?

Quigley: You're currently under an absolutely massive hack attack, from a variety of means, from a variety of sources. You're talking a very concerted, focused attack effort to get into DOD systems.

Barbara?

Q: What's your projection as to how long all this could last?

Quigley: I asked that very question a little while ago and I couldn't get a good answer. It's going to be subject to what we see and what we hear. And by that I mean you're monitoring the network activity, you're monitoring the scanning and the level of attacks and probes that you see coming into DoD networks, or trying to come into DoD networks. And you're also monitoring the implementation of the patch. So when you have a combination of those two events, where the folks over at the joint task force feel that we can prudently put our systems back on line to public access, we'll go there. We're just not there yet.

Q: Well it seems like this is going on even longer than Love Bug went on, if my memory serves correctly. I mean, relatively speaking, is this the most pervasive, significant, long-standing attack you've been under?

Quigley: I don't know that. Let me try to get a good answer for you on that one, too. I think the real problem here is not only the damage to the system that gets affected, but its propagation characteristics to multiply it so quickly. You could inadvertently do damage to other servers, and that's a real problem. [ Each of these situations, the Code Red worm, the I Love You virus, etc. has its own unique features. So, we are unable to make such comparisons. ]

Q: And just one last question. Have you noticed -- have they noticed today any other attempted intrusions, or has it stopped and now you're just in the patch mode?

Quigley: Yes. Well, you've taken the lines -- you've taken the systems off line from the public access, so our vulnerability to the attacks has ceased and it will not -- and again, we're going to have that combination of monitoring network activity plus the implementation of the patches. And when we feel that it's prudent to bring them back up, we will.

There are -- like I said, it is not convenient. Some of our business systems are e-business based or largely e-business based, so we need to accomplish work-arounds, and fax machines and telephones and things of that sort are -- there are work-arounds that you need to put in place while this is going on.

Jim?

Q: It's limited to dot-mil? Not everybody in DOD has a dot-mil extender. There's a dot-gov, too. Are those people able to get into the system?

Quigley: Only dot-mil.

Q: Only dot-mil?

Quigley: Mm-hm. (Affirmative response.)

Q: Are folks getting e-mail?

Quigley: Again, you can receive e-mail, I believe, if it goes through -- or coming from a dot-mil. DefenseLink is still receiving e-mails from citizens because they're coming in that dual pipe. Not all of our public access sites have that dual pipe, however.

Lambros?

Q: President Bush addressed today U.S. troops in Kosovo, told then, inter alia, that you are not going to stay here forever, and as we came in with the European allies, we will depart with them too. May we have your comment and your assessment how this presidential decision is going to affect your military presence in the Balkans?

Quigley: I think I would just take the president's words at face value is the best explanation I think I can give you. You've heard the president say that, you've heard Secretary Powell say it, Secretary Rumsfeld. This was very much something that we went into with our friends and allies in that region, and we're going to stay until the job is done. Now, how long is that? Nobody knows the answer to that question. But that is the president's commitment that he has made.

Q: One follow-up. Anything on the continued heavy fighting today in FYROM around Tetovo area with Albanian extremists, and if you are planning to take any military measures, since your government fully supports the territorial integrity of FYROM?

Quigley: I am not familiar with that incident. I would have to get the details. I don't think the tactical activity there is going to change the United States' position in being a part of the NATO process that has agreed to send forces into FYROM once the political conditions and preconditions have been met. So I don't think the particulars of what may have happened on the ground today will have an effect on that policy. But the details of what went on there today, I'm sorry, I do not have those.

Q: Thank you.

Quigley: Jamie?

Q: Craig, what, if anything, can you tell us about the large bright object that was observed across the Eastern United States yesterday evening? Is that something that was tracked by the U.S. Space Command?

Quigley: You mean the meteorite shower?

Q: Yes. Well, I don't think it was a shower. It was an object that was bright in the sky and seemed like maybe --

Quigley: Well, at least one was particularly bright, yeah.

Q: Do you know anything about it?

Quigley: Well, the U.S. Space Command does not have the ability to track objects that originate from space. I mean, we track -- all of our systems are designed to track orbiting objects from the moment they are placed into orbit until they are predicted to decay.

So those that have a regular path around the world, those we track very carefully. But our focus is not for meteors that would come -- originate from deep space and head towards the earth.

Q: But isn't there an office that also -- and I'm not saying that this was a large object, but isn't there also a process for monitoring large objects such as asteroids or something that might potentially be on a collision course with Earth --

Quigley: Not under the aegis of DoD that I know of, no. The folks within DoD that take a look at what's in space is the U.S. Space Command, and their focus is orbital objects.

Q: So you don't have an asteroid tracking program as well --

Quigley: I don't -- I don't think so. I mean, I can check that, but I would think that would come more under the aegis of NASA rather than DoD. [In the DoD press briefing of March 12, 1998, former Assistant Secretary of Defense Kenneth Bacon answered a similar question by saying, "NASA is the chief of asteroid police in the galaxy of our government, and they have the responsibility for looking out for asteroids. ... We will cooperate with them in any way that we can help them, but it's mainly their job." That continues to be the situation today.]

Q: Nevertheless, you don't have any -- there was no tracking of this object or any explanation or release from the Pentagon --

Quigley: No. No.

Pam.

Q: On the -- could you tell us what the Pentagon stand is on the Biological Weapons Convention protocols that are being discussed right now over in Geneva?

Quigley: We provided our views to the State Department, which is the lead element of the federal government, and I would leave it there. They are the ones that solicit the input from the various elements of the federal government. We were certainly one of those. We made our views known in that interagency process. But I would defer to State to take the lead.

Q: You won't characterize what the Pentagon views are on this?

Quigley: No, I will not.

Q: Can you maybe then just elucidate, say, the side that would be against these protocols and what the thinking would be behind that, why -- it's an odd smattering of countries that are against the protocol: the United States, China, Cuba, Libya -- (laughs) -- not exactly the standard gang.

Quigley: I can't explain their motivations. I'm sorry.

Q: Can you explain possible motivations for people that would be against this, what the military case can be made? There's a reason for this, which is the State Department is going to be talking about it tomorrow. And this way we will have a better understanding of what the military reasoning is behind the announcement.

Quigley: I would defer to the State Department's person that will be explaining that tomorrow, and just safe to say that we were a part of that process and our views were incorporated in the overall effort.

Q: And Secretary Rumsfeld was involved in that -- in those discussions?

Quigley: I don't know if he was personally involved. I don't know. But certainly the department was, yes.

Q: It would be important to find out if he was involved, considering he's twice secretary of Defense and twice the chairman of pharmaceutical companies who are some of the people that have the most concerns about this.

Quigley: Explain that one to me.

Q: Pharmaceutical companies have weighed in on the protocols, and Secretary Rumsfeld was the CEO and president of two pharmaceutical companies in his former life. So it would seem like he would have a lot of input into such a decision. Can you find out for us if he was personally involved in the decisions about --

Quigley: I don't think I agree with your thesis, but I will try to answer the question. [Secretary Rumsfeld represented the views of the Department at a meeting of the Principal's Committee.]

Q: Why don't you agree with my thesis --

Quigley: Well, you're implying some sort of conflict of interest, if I remember --

Q: No! Absolutely not at all! (Light laughter.) I'm saying that the man was the CEO of pharmaceutical companies who have taken a public stand on this, and he was also secretary of Defense. I'm not saying that these two are conflicting at all.

Quigley: I'll see what I can do.

Q: Simply that he's got background that can be really brought to bear on this question.

Quigley: I'll see what I can do.

Hunter?

Q: Sir, are there any additional briefings or reports expected out in the coming week or weeks ahead regarding further elements of the strategic review?

Quigley: I do not think so. I think we're to the point now where the studies that have been done so far are contributing to the ongoing Quadrennial Defense Review, and that's where everybody's efforts are focused right now. So I don't think so.

Q: A week or so back you had mentioned, or perhaps Mr. Rumsfeld himself mentioned this when he was down here speaking to us last Wednesday, that one of the last things on his plate is this integration study, if I remember that correctly. Can you characterize exactly what that's all about? Is that sort of a jointness across the service boundaries, or -- (inaudible) -- integration in another way there?

Quigley: Well, I think he's talking about an integration task force, or an integration group. You had the various studies that were done over the past several months coming up with their particular area of recommendation, whether that be space or it be intelligence or what-have-you, quality of life and morale. But instead of leaving them to just be isolated in their findings, you need to integrate the findings and sew them all together so that you can have a comprehensive approach to how you're entering the QDR. And I think if I understood last Wednesday, that is what he was referring to.

Q: Okay. Thank you.

Q: Craig, on Friday there was a report from a U.S. Navy pilot flying over Kuwait that he thought he had observed a possible surface-to-air missile being fired in his general direction, or near him. Now that more time has passed, do you have any clarity on what happened in that incident? Was in fact a surface-to-air missile fired from Iraq into Kuwaiti airspace, or do you know?

Quigley: Jamie, we don't have much clarity on that incident. The basic description that you provided was correct. It was a visual from the pilot of the E-2 who was in Kuwaiti airspace at the time. The visibility was such that there was no launch seen from a ground site; no electronic emissions were detected, and we just don't have anything more to go on to provide more clarity as to what could have been the origin of the object that the pilot saw.

Q: A meteor, perhaps? (Laughter.)

Quigley: I don't think so. It was kind of going the wrong direction. It was coming up instead of down. But --

Q: But wouldn't an E-2C Hawkeye, which is a sophisticated surveillance plane, sometimes described as a mini AWACS, wouldn't it have the capability to detect the launch of a missile? Isn't that --

Quigley: Well, you would have to have -- I mean, it does have electronic capabilities on board. It has an active radar search and things of that sort. But if there were no electronic emissions from the guidance system, for instance, for a surface-to-air missile, then there's nothing to detect. I have no idea what the particular status of the active search measures -- the radar, for instance, I don't know if it was even on while it was up for its flight.

Q: (Off mike) -- infrared or detecting a plume, or something like that?

Quigley: I do not think it has that capability.

Q: Nevertheless --

Quigley: But the electronics capability is real, I mean the detection of electronics is real, and there were none to detect. So we're kind of hard-pressed to provide more clarity on that.

Q: Well what category are you putting this in? Just an unconfirmed report?

Quigley: Yeah, that would be a good way to put it.

Q: I have a question. If you launch a surface-to-air missile ballistically -- if you launch it ballistically, doesn't that mean there are no electronic emissions?

Quigley: Correct. Correct. You don't need to have -- I mean --

Q: They don't have to turn on their radar to launch.

Quigley: Correct. Now, you suffer in your accuracy, of course, very greatly, but you do eliminate -- not reduce -- eliminate your electronic emissions if you choose to not turn on your fire control system, your fire control radar.

Q: Well, if this was over Kuwaiti airspace, presumably wouldn't parts or pieces of this have fallen into Kuwait? And has any such thing been found on the ground?

Quigley: I do not know.

Q: Craig, back to the Balkans. Apparently Macedonia today closed the border with Kosovo. Has this had any -- do you know, first of all, how long this is going to go on, and what kind of impact that will have on the resupply that's done for the U.S. contingent in Kosovo through Skopje?

Quigley: Well, I certainly don't have any idea on the first part of your question on how long they'll close their border. That's a national issue. But the -- I think the goal in closing the border was to reduce or eliminate as much as possible the illegal border crossings, not through normal road systems, but in paths and routes through the mountains, and what have you, so that smuggling could continue to occur both directions -- weapons, contraband of every kind. And if you close your border and officially so state, you just ratchet up the level of awareness and sensitivity, I think, to a variety of parties, and hopefully that amount of smuggling and border-crossing would close.

What the government of FYROM might allow as far as official -- both the Americans, the Germans, and others that have their logistics hubs in FYROM, I do not know what sort of negotiations are going on to allow that to continue.

Q: Well, that's apparently the difference. The last time they closed the borders they specifically exempted NATO and they could transit it. This time it's everything.

Quigley: I -- I do not know.

Q: You do not.

Quigley: Barbara.

Q: Can you -- different subject. Do you have any update on the SEAL rescue mission up in Hawaii? Are those SEALs now back in Hawaii?

Quigley: I have some. I mean, I don't think that the merchant vessel is due to -- let's see, today's the 24th. The vessel is not supposed to get in port into Hawaii until tomorrow. So you have three of the SEALs that remain on board the merchant and steaming towards Hawaii. The crewmember that had the acute appendicitis was stabilized by the SEAL medic, probably saved his life. And took a helicopter, medevaced them from the merchant to the cruiser Lake Erie. And when Lake Erie then got within helo range of Hawaii, a Coast Guard helo took the corpsman and the injured crewmember, or the affected crewmember to the hospital in Hawaii. He is stable, but guarded condition, I'm told. And the medic in all likelihood saved his life.

Q: How -- in all seriousness, how unusual is this time of SEAL mission, to parachute out of a C-130 and go rescue people?

Quigley: we train our special operations forces to do a variety of things that you would consider out of the norm of military skills. And that's why we call them special operations forces. This is something they train to do. How often do they do it? I guess infrequently would be the answer. But it sure is nice to have that skill. That's one crewmember that's live today because they practice that skill.

Q: Thank you.

Quigley: Mm-hmm.

Q: Craig?

Quigley: Lena?

Q: One last question.

Quigley: Sure.

Q: On Vieques. On Sunday there's going to be a local referendum in Vieques. One of the three options on the ballot states that the Navy will leave immediately. If people vote for that ballot -- you know, for that option, does that mean that the Navy will cease training immediately?

Quigley: No. Absolutely not. Secretary England has stated his intention for the Navy and Marine Corps to cease training on Vieques in May of 2003.

But until then, the availability of the training ranges in and around Vieques remain an essential part of Atlantic Fleet readiness. So, leaving sooner then is simply not an option.

There is no alternative site that's yet been developed. The Center for Naval Analysis has named the two heads of the study group that will now take a look at those alternatives, but that's an effort that's just getting under way. We need that time, 18 months, 20 months or so, to develop those alternatives, put them in place, so that when May of 2003 comes, we can shift our training focus elsewhere. But leaving immediately is just not a viable option.

Q: Or ceasing training during the next 18 to 20 months, that's not a reality?

Quigley: And not provide training for Atlantic Fleet sailors and Marines? It makes no sense. Can't do it.

Q: Thank you.

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