IT/Web: March 2013 Archives

Chinese ex-NASA worker to be released pending trial

"At a detention hearing today, U.S. Magistrate Judge Lawrence Leonard ordered Jiang released after a federal prosecutor acknowledged there is no evidence so far that he was in possession of any sensitive, secret or classified material. Jiang will be under supervision of the federal probation office, will be prohibited from traveling outside the Eastern District of Virginia, and will be tracked by an electronic monitoring system. He has surrendered his passport."

Ex-NASA Langley contractor released on bond, Daily Press

"Jiang's court-appointed attorney, Fernando Groene, said that Jiang didn't have access to sensitive or classified information when he worked at NIA. Groene says that Jiang did violate NASA's policy by taking the equipment out the country, but there was nothing classified on the laptop or hard drive. "NASA has looked at the computer up and down and can't find any information that violates the export control act," Groene said."

Former NASA Langley Research Center pleads not guilty to lying, judge OKs release on bond, Washington Post

"Groene has suggested that Jiang is only in jail and under investigation because U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., has inferred that Jiang may be a spy. Wolf has targeted Jiang in news conferences and congressional hearings about NASA security, saying the space agency is using contractors to get around rules prohibiting citizens of certain countries from working for NASA."

Bo Jiang To Plead Not Guilty; Will Ask For Jury Trial, earlier post

Paypal To Drop VMware From 80,000 Servers and Replace It With OpenStack, Forbes

"Backed by Intel and Dell, Mirantis has emerged as a clear leader in the OpenStack world heavily promoting and supporting the adoption of the platform originally developed by NASA and Rackspace."

NASA CIO Dumps NASA-Developed Open Stack, earlier post

"NASA's prestige and participation has been a selling point for advocates of the OpenStack open source cloud project, which NASA co-founded with San Antonio infrastructure-as-a-service provider RackSpace. Unfortunately, they'll have to get along without NASA from here on."

Earlier OpenStack postings


Keith's note: You would think that the NASA Chief Information Officer would at least have something to say about all of this IT hysteria. You would think. The CIO blog has been dormant since October 2012 (no mention of the laptop fiasco either). The incumbent NASA Chief Information Officer, Linda Cureton, is leaving - but she's still on the job until 4 April 2013 - and there is a staff at the CIO to do things like this. There's nothing on the NASA Scientific and Technical Information Program blog either. One has to wonder if the CIO is part of the problem or part of the solution.

NASA Tightens Security In Response To Insider Threat, Information Week

"NASA has closed down its technical reports database and imposed tighter restrictions on remote access to its computer systems following the arrest of a Chinese contractor on suspicion of intellectual property theft."

NASA Technical Reports Database Goes Dark, Secrecy News

"There is a HUGE amount of material on NTRS," said [National Academy of Sciences] space policy analyst Dwayne Day. "If NASA is forced to review it all, it will never go back online." ... "I'd also note that a large amount of historical Mercury/Gemini/Apollo documents that were previously available at NARA Fort Worth is now apparently withdrawn due to ITAR [export controls]," said Dr. Day."

Keith's note: There is a new notice on NTRS now: "The NASA technical reports server will be unavailable for public access while the agency conducts a review of the site's content to ensure that it does not contain technical information that is subject to U.S. export control laws and regulations and that the appropriate reviews were performed. The site will return to service when the review is complete. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause."

How can we be certain that there isn't something posted on SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System Abstract Service or at If NASA was really trying to check on whether things have been posted that should not have been posted then shouldn't NASA lock down these sites too? What about NASATechBriefs? Look at all that technology transfer goodness on their site.

If NTRS is offline why are the JPL Technical Report Server, NASA Johnson Technical Reports Server and the NASA Engineering Network online? If you want to see the NACA material from 1917-1958 that NTRS has taken offline (1917? Yes, the Wright brothers built warplanes) you can still see it here. The University of Texas seems to have a lof NTRS stuff online as well.

NASA Technical Reports Server Mysteriously Taken Offline, earlier post

Former Huntsville NASA center boss Robert Lightfoot will lead foreign security probe, Huntsville Times

"NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot will lead a new in-house probe of foreign access to NASA field centers in the wake of the arrest of a Chinese national allegedly attempting to smuggle data out of the U.S. to China. Lightfoot was director of the Marshall Space Flight Center before being promoted in 2012 to the top civil service position in the agency."

Wolf Threatens To Call NASA Security Whistleblowers To Testify, Aviation Week

"Career civil servants" have been coming out of the woodwork with reports of lax security practices at NASA since Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) raised the issue publicly, and the powerful committee chairman may call some of the whistleblowers to testify publicly about their charges."

Attorney: Former Chinese contractor at NASA's Langley Research Center to plead not guilty, Washington Post

"Jiang's attorney Fernando Groene said Jiang was unfairly targeted and is looking forward to being vindicated. He said he plans to ask for a jury trial and wants Jiang's side of the story coming out. Groene said Jiang was leaving the country because his work visa was about to expire and he had been unable to find other employment since losing his job in January."

Attorney: Former NASA contractor subject of 'witch hunt', Daily Press

"... But Jiang's lawyer, Fernando Groene -- a former federal prosecutor who now practices out of Williamsburg -- said he's not going to let Wolf misportray Jiang. ... Groene challenged Wolf to come to the trial in Newport News federal court to present his evidence against Jiang. If Congressman Wolf testifies as a government witness, Groene said, "We'll be glad to cross-examine him." Asked why Jiang was going to China, Groene said, "He was going home."

- Congress Vs NASA on China (Home Alone with Wolf and Bolden), earlier post
- NASA Technical Reports Server Mysteriously Taken Offline, earlier post
- Former NASA/NIA Employee Arrested by FBI Trying to Leave U.S., earlier post

NTRS Collections - NASA Technical Reports Server

"Until further notice, the NTRS system will be unavailable for public access. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you and anticipate that this site will return to service in the near future."

Keith's note: NASA just yanks this website offline. No press release, no official notice at Why is this invaluable resource offline? NASA brags about all of its spinoffs and then one of the largest online repositories thereof is stealthily taken offline. Oddly these related NASA sites with linkage to NTRS are still online for "public access".

- JPL Technical Report Server
- NASA Johnson Technical Reports Server

Oh wait - there's this item from Rep. Wolf the other day. Coincidence?

Wolf: Chinese National Potentially Involved In NASA Langley Security Violations

"Second: NASA should immediately take down all publicly available technical data sources until all documents that have not been subjected to export control review have received such a review and all controlled documents are removed from the system."

Keith's update: According to a response from NASA HQ PAO this morning "It's down for review to ensure there is no sensitive content on the server." Why is it that NASA cannot be honest with people in the note on the NTRS website and explain why the site is offline? What is really baffling is how this site could have been online - for decades - and not have had a process to prevent inapproprate material from being posted. Did Rep. Wolf's office actually find something online - specifically at NTRS - that shouldn't have been there - or is this a knee jerk reaction - on both sides? Why aren't other NASA technical information websites offline? When I sent an inquiry to the person listed as the point of contact for NTRS he declined to reply and referred me to LaRC PAO.

OIG: NASA's Process for Acquiring Information Technology Security Assessment and Monitoring Tools

"NASA has not fully implemented a process for identifying its IT security assets, a necessity to meet federally mandated requirements and improve IT acquisition outcomes. Lack of such controls result in missed opportunities to capitalize on efficiencies and leverage purchasing power on critical IT security investments. NASA could use two internal management control processes Capital Planning and Investment Control (CPIC) and APM to improve visibility over purchases of IT security assessment and monitoring tools."

International Space Apps Challenge

"The International Space Apps Challenge is a technology development event during which citizens from around the world work together to solve challenges relevant to improving life on Earth and life in space. Join us in over 75 cities around the world or at home on April 20-21, 2013."

Keith's note: At the NASA Advisory Council Committee on Education and Public Outreach meeting on Tuesday, Leland Melvin, the AA for Education at NASA, lamented why people are not promoting the International Space Apps challenge and urged committee members to spread the word. Well ... have a look at the NASA Education website. No mention is made of the International Space Apps Challenge. No mention at the NASA CIO, NASA Open Government, or's calendar either. Yawn.

NASA's Inconsistent Support of the International Space Apps Challenge, earlier post

"I think it is inexcusable that NASA has not made more of an effort to promote things such as the International Space Apps Challenge - especially when the White House places such a priority on things like this. There is much risk in this ad hoc and dysfunctional public engagement policy at NASA. Now that the first apps challenge event was such a success, efforts like this could continue - without overt NASA involvement - thus making NASA less - rather than more relevant. If that happens NASA only has itself to blame."

Keith's update: Here's a related event that also gets zero mention on NASA's Education website - or on NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate - the sponsor of the event itself.

Dark Side of the Jam: 'On March 8th, game developers around the planet will gather to make games about space and science. The Dark Side of the Jam is open to all, whether you're a veteran developer, hobbyist, or student. Ideally your games will not only be great achievements in coding prowess, but will help capture the public's interest in the real science and technology advancements being made in aerospace exploration. DSJ is an educational project of the Night Rover Challenge. Learn more about this $1.5 Million dollar NASA Centennial Challenge for advanced energy storage technology."



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