indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439   fax: 202 318 2182
Dynamic Homes
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Judge sets hearing on Indian trust fund security
Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The federal judge overseeing the Indian trust fund ordered a trial on Monday to determine whether the Interior Department's computer systems are safe from Internet hackers.

In a three-page order, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth scheduled an evidentiary hearing to begin May 2 at the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C. He asked the Bush administration to submit a list of witnesses who will testify about the security of information technology systems that house billions of dollars worth of Indian trust fund data.

Among those Lamberth wants to hear from is Jim Cason, the associate deputy secretary who is temporarily acting as the assistant secretary for Indian affairs. In court testimony, Cason has said the department has reduced the vulnerabilities of its computer systems down to near "zero."

Since then, the department has disclosed that Indian trust data at the Bureau of Land Management is at risk to computer hackers. Earlier this month, the Inspector General conducted tests that uncovered a "poor state of network security" at the agency.

"So we will hear Mr. Cason's explanation then at this evidentiary hearing," Lamberth said last week when he heard from the Cobell plaintiffs about their request to shut down the computer systems and disconnect them from the Internet.

The plaintiffs called for the hearing in light of the IG's discovery. They say they have been kept in the dark about the overall status of information technology at the department.

"The government has not been forthcoming with this type of information and they have seemed as a matter of practice put [officials] forward who know less about the facts than just about anybody else," Dennis Gingold, an attorney for the plaintiffs, told Lamberth.

The plaintiffs will be getting some information as a result of Lamberth's order yesterday. The judge said Interior must turn over "all relevant reports, risk assessments, memoranda, and other documents" under a protective order issued last Friday aimed at protecting sensitive data.

Among the reports that will have to be turned over are the results of the IG's tests. A Department of Justice lawyer acknowledged in open court last week that the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Business Center have been tested in addition to the BLM. It is not known how these agencies fared on the tests because Interior has not said anything about them.

Government attorney Glenn Gillette told the court that tests are still being conducted at the Minerals Management Service, the agency that handles billions of dollars in royalty payments to Indian beneficiaries. "The testing of these systems exceeds the standards that normally are applied to these kinds of systems," he said. "The test is expected to come with vulnerabilities."

"In fact, this is one of the purposes -- to find vulnerabilities and resolve them to ensure the security of your system," he added.

Since computer security emerged as an issue in the case in November 2001, Lamberth has ordered Interior to shut down its systems on three different occasions. The Bush administration appealed the most recent order on the grounds that Lamberth exceeded his authority.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals last December lifted the shutdown order but said Lamberth was well within his rights to act. "It is indisputable that the Secretary has current and prospective trust management duties that necessitate maintaining secure IT systems in order to render accurate accountings now and in the future," a three-judge panel wrote.

The judges said they were removing the order because Lamberth failed to conduct an evidentiary hearing before issuing the preliminary injunction. The hearing is needed to ensure there is a "factual basis" for shutting down the systems, the appeals court said.

Court Orders:
Evidentiary Hearing Order (April 25, 2005) | Protective Order (April 22, 2005)

Relevant Links:
Indian Trust: Cobell v. Norton - http://www.indiantrust.com
Cobell v. Norton, Department of Justice - http://www.usdoj.gov/civil/cases/cobell/index.htm
Indian Trust, Department of Interior - http://www.doi.gov/indiantrust

Related Stories:
Cobell: Ross Swimmer and the truth rarely mix (4/22)
Trust fund security again an issue in Cobell case (4/21)
Lamberth schedules hearing on computer systems (4/20)
Norton blocking information technology report (4/18)
Appeals court supports Lamberth's authority on IT (12/06)
Lamberth critical of Norton's 'bad faith' on trust fund (10/25)
NCAI 04 Wrapup: Day 2 (10/13)
Interior denies attempt to halt trust fund payments (10/05)
Swimmer: Communication with account holders on hold (10/04)
Bush administration challenges trust fund ruling (09/16)
Appeals court takes on Cobell trust fund case (9/15)
Richardson pushes Norton to protect trust fund (08/16)
Small percentage of Interior's IT systems secure (08/10)
Johnson promises 'meaningful' investigation of OST (06/21)
BIA takes advantage of Internet shutdown (05/11)
DOI's Internet connection shut down for third time (03/16)
BIA shows off information technology facility (3/2)
Anderson touts benefits of Cobell trust fund case (02/25)
Lamberth orders DOI to turn over IT reports (12/12)
DOI fares poorly on computer security report card (12/11)
Judge seeks to break impasse over trust systems (07/29)
BIA incident prompts high-level recommendation (03/27)
Court report blasts McCaleb for destroying records (01/27)
Court: McCaleb 'fabricated' e-mail story (1/24)
BIA aides circumventing court (12/16)
Martin's role in incident surfaces (12/16)
BIA aides e-mail use prompts inquiry (12/17)
McCaleb admits to e-mail 'misunderstanding' (10/23)
Burns takes on BIA problems in stride (08/23)
McCaleb gets new computer official (6/5)
Retaliation charged as BIA official jumps ship (7/25)

Copyright © 2000-2005 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Tim Giago: Taking a trip down memory lane with Lakota Times (4/24)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe puts hold on ethics board (4/24)
Steven Newcomb: Gradual stealing of Western Shoshone land (4/24)
John Kane: Keystone battle is about Native identity and land (4/24)
Albert Bender: Cowboys and Indians unite to fight Keystone (4/24)
Joyce Oberly: Teach all sides of tribal land theft in Oklahoma (4/24)
Dina Gilio-Whitaker: Treating Native culture as a commodity (4/24)
Al Jazeera: Pascua Yaqui Tribe looks for justice under VAWA (4/24)
Northern Arapaho Tribe per cap stirs boost in local economy (4/24)
Navajo Nation Council fails to revive higher tax on junk foods (4/24)
Graton Rancheria defends decision to pave over historic site (4/24)
North Dakota commission backs power line opposed by tribes (4/24)
Former Cedarville Rancheria leader back in court for murders (4/24)
Florida court rejects tribal jurisdiction in child custody dispute (4/24)
South Dakota Tribal Relations Secretary to step down from job (4/24)
Yakama Nation sues to put a stop to tours on sacred mountain (4/24)
CSKT firm lands $1.8M contract to provide military equipment (4/24)
Indiana settles lawsuit over religious rights of Indian inmates (4/24)
District leaders on Tohono O'odham Nation removed over theft (4/24)
Morongo Band announces partnership for Internet poker game (4/24)
Snoqualmie Tribe seeks repayment of investment in Fiji casino (4/24)
Tunica-Biloxi Tribe expected to miss second gaming payment (4/24)
Judge won't block construction of Jamul Indian Village casino (4/24)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe awaits decision in gaming lawsuit (4/24)
Native Sun News: Oglala student makes name as young writer (4/23)
Mark Trahant: Budget predictions at the Indian Health Service (4/23)
Zoltán Grossman: Cowboy Indian Alliance rides in Washington (4/23)
Gyasi Ross: Stop Keystone XL Pipeline and protect homelands (4/23)
Videos: Cowboy Indian Alliance protests Keystone XL Pipeline (4/23)
Steve Russell: Indians often seen an obstacle to government (4/23)
Mary Pember: Ojibwe women rise to protect the environment (4/23)
Brent Cahwee: Shoni Schimmel brings her show to the WNBA (4/23)
Malcolm Benally: Some Navajo leaders clueless on mascots (4/23)
Jacoby Ellsbury makes strong debut with New York Yankees (4/23)
Washington team owner says he 'understands' Indian issues (4/23)
Gathering of Nations ready for annual powwow and pageant (4/23)
Paskenta Band suspends family during contentious meeting (4/23)
Navajo family sues restaurant over drunken driving deaths (4/23)
Crushplate: 10 disturbing facts about Indian Country health (4/23)
North Dakota tribe ranks high among energy producers in US (4/23)
WXPR: Forest County Potawatomi Tribe taps green energy (4/23)
Opinion: Tribal members challenge California taxation rules (4/23)
Supreme Court allows ban on affirmative action in Michigan (4/23)
Turtle Talk: No word from Supreme Court on Bay Mills case (4/23)
ICT interview with Ernie Stevens of NIGA on racist mascots (4/23)
Jamul Band rejects claim about burial ground at casino site (4/23)
Stockbridge-Munsee Band sends $1M casino application fee (4/23)
Ho-Chunk Nation seeks road grant for off-reservation casino (4/23)
Teacher resigns after arrest for theft at Poarch Creek casino (4/23)
Native Sun News: Sisseton Wahpeton fighter gets big chance (4/22)
Native Sun News: Pine Ridge man behind Revolution Couture (4/22)
CDC reports show high death rates among Native Americans (4/22)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.