The National Technical Intelligence Bureau (NTIB)
for Transhuman Space
by Aaron Kavli
A Short History
As the proliferation of advanced communications systems made global data streams ubiquitous, the US government decided it was time to have a cohesive agency to address security concerns associated with the Web. Hypothetical information wars had actually come to pass, capable of interfering with a nation's economic, military, and government data systems.
The US Senate Intelligence Oversight Committee and National Security Council decided that the National Security Agency and Executive Order 12333 (December 4th, 1981), that established the NSA's responsibilities, weren't sufficient to meet the new threats. Between the FBI, CIA, NSA, and local enforcement agencies there simply was not enough effective communication. At the speed in which a security threat around the web can spread in this new information, lack of inter agency communication could be disastrous.
During the 2010s, Congress began drafting the principles and missions of the National Technical Intelligence Bureau (NTIB), with the help of various intelligence and web experts. The agency needed the authority and skills to handle the current leaps in cryptology, web, and computer technologies. It also needed a flexible charter that allowed it to meet the, correctly, perceived advances of future advances, as well as perform current SIGINT operations. The experts also decided that the NTIB should be responsible for monitoring all government web access and communications to ensure that no one agency lagged behind, possibly compromising the integrity of other departments.
The final proposal was presented to the US administration in June of 2014, and Executive Order 13563 was signed on August 12th. The NTIB was placed under the Department of Homeland Security, and staffed with the majority of the prior NSA personnel, whose skills were still needed, and new technicians and agents skilled in matters of web operations.
While signal and information intelligence gathering remains paramount, cyber warfare is a real and constant danger to the stability of the United States. Terrorists and other hostile political agencies no longer need transports to launch an invasion on foreign shores. And cyberspace attacks don't show up on radar.
Countless attempts each day are made to cause mischief via the Web. During the Andes War and the Pacific War, US data systems, both public and private, were under constant attack. The NTIB was responsible for defending against these attacks. Only one attack during the Pacific War, perpetrated by a dedicated TSA data warfare unit in a secret location in Vietnam, managed to penetrate NTIB defenses (though it wasn't the only success against other US assets), causing a great upset in federal payrolls for the Department of Immigration that took a week to fix. The computer counter-attack launched by the NTIB seemed to have little effect, but the secret building "accidentally" burned to the ground two weeks later.
The Current NTIB
The NTIB is constantly walking the fine line between national security and information privacy. The US has had a definite shift from the solid patriotism of the beginning of the century, to a more independent attitude from its citizens. This shift has seen the NTIB become somewhat unpopular in many areas, as fewer people are willing to accept information monitoring in the name of national security. The most hostile attitudes come from free web advocates; AI rights groups, and cyberdemocratic groups. Especially since the US government doesn't regard AI infomorphs as citizens.
Accusations from the NTIB's detractors range from being corrupt federales, to actively hunting down and assassinating innocent SAIs, to making people disappear if they speak out against the government, to controlling the minds US citizens via insidious memetic campaigns. Critics refer to the agency as "Big Sister" (derived from the SISINT division), and have a rather Orwellian view of their activities in the name of national security.
While it is a notable and vocal minority that object to the NTIB on general principle, the NTIB enjoys acceptance from most US citizens as a necessary evil, and has a great deal of support from the government. In 2100, there is no organization that could survive long without some sort of information intelligence and defense capability.
Despite having vocal critics, few argue the fact that the NTIB has one of the most skilled cadres of technicians, mathematicians, operatives, and analysts available. The NTIB has small field offices all over the nation, especially in larger cities and arcologies on the coasts. The bureau's headquarters are currently in Denver, CO. This was one of the first departments to have its main offices any distance from the capital. The ability to telecommute effectively and the desire for a more centralized location to aid in speedy deployment, made this move acceptable. The NTIB currently employs over 15,000 people on all levels across the solar system, of these almost 600 are ghosts.
NTIB HQ is housed in the old Denver Mint, which was shut down in 2053 when it was decided the Philadelphia mint alone, in the wake of global shifts to electronic transactions, could handle the amount of physical currency needed for circulation.
While the outside of the mint building retains its classical look, the interior was upgraded for top line networking and security against cyber intrusion. The bureau also maintains facilities and personnel in the Martian Commonwealth on Mars, Titan AFB, and has a small but active department on DeSoto station in GEO around Earth. As off world areas lack the extensive web of Earth, the NTIB sticks mostly to SISINT operations, monitoring Chinese and Duncanite communications, as well as tracking hostile organizations such as Negative Growth. These listening posts work very closely with the SIA and US military assets on location.
The NTIB is divided up into five divisions.
The Signal and Information Systems Intelligence (SISINT) Division performs many of the same duties the NSA did. This division is comprised mostly of skilled technicians and a handful of SAIs. Their main function is to intercept and analyze information gained via RF, laser, and web surveillance. The SISINT division operates a series of satellites, data nodes, and Earth based listening posts. They work in conjunction with US military forces, especially the USN and USAF, for close in monitoring of foreign signals.
On the web, the NTIB maintains several AIs that try to infiltrate foreign data nodes, lurk at interconnect points, and inconspicuously monitor data streams. The SISINT division also performs all cryptology functions and has a network of dedicated macroframes and SAIs that constantly work to decode impossibly encrypted data.
The current Chief of SISINT is Marita Juanita Johnson, known as Mary Jane or M.J. She joined the NTIB after college as an agent in 2015 during a massive hiring wave for the new agency. Mary Jane is considered one of the foremost experts in the US on SISINT, and with her specially raised SAI, Samson, seems to be able to pull important information from the most innocent bits of data. After threatening to retire in 2050, the Director of SISINT offered her free rejuvenation treatments as an incentive. Though over 100 years old, Mary Jane appears no older than 50.
The Memetics Defense Division (MDD) has the responsibility of monitoring and analyzing any harmful memetic codes introduced to the web of the United States . . . which is to say any web, as the US has the most extensive on Earth. They rely on the SISINT and IIDD to trace the sources of introduced hostile memes, but the MDD specializes in analyzing the intended effect of a meme, and its likely developers. As memetic warfare has become the favored attack of terrorists and hostile NGOs, it is the MDD that maintains the database and follows the movements of those agencies.
The damage done to the citizens of the US can go undetected for a time before the hostile meme is discovered. Almost half of the MDD staff is made up of memesplicers and psychologists. In an effort to try to undo any meme damage, the division has extensive meme counseling facilities across the US in various universities and medical centers. This counseling is free to anyone who feels they've been affected by a hostile meme, and the MDD maintains a dedicated facility at their office in Aurora, CO. This meme center is used for interrogations and for those who don't realize the full extent of their memetic tampering.
Currently the MDD does little in the way of long term, strategic, offensive memetic operations. Most operations are usually directed at area known to house small cells of dissidents, foreign and domestic, that are known to carry out violent or memetic actions against US interests. There are no acknowledged operations against any civilian populations as a whole.
The current Chief of the MDD is Dr. Raymond Kalipikov. With a doctorate in criminal psychology, memetic engineering, and pathological psychology, he is well in his element. Unfortunately his skills as an administrator leave much to be desired. Raymond was forced into the position after his predecessor disappeared without a trace. Skilled in research and analysis, Dr. Kalipikov was ill prepared for the politics and responsibilities of his new post.
The Information Intrusion and Detection Division (IIDD) specializes in the tracking, hacking, and cracking of data nodes. They are also responsible for security and data systems for the US government and any agencies granted access to those systems. IIDD also specializes in breaking the security of hostile data nodes, study and analysis of viruses and weblife, as well as investigating crimes committed by infomorphs. They maintain a database of all known rogue AIs, shadows, ghosts, and xoxs. Of all the NTIB divisions, the IIDD investigates the Free Net most often. This division also actively hunts new forms of weblife with a series of honey pot data nodes, called online arcologies, and detains any criminal infomorphs that have been captured.
The most controversial duty of the IIDD is the handling of rogue infomorphs. All digital entities in custody, even weblife, are given the ASIT (p. TS91) to legally determine their status. Ghosts are considered citizens in the US, with the same legal rights as any other human, and are kept in a "VR jail" (called Digitraz) if need be, and handed over to the Justice Department for legal proceedings. The US however, does not recognize the rights of SAIs or EIs as citizens, and has issued the authority to handle them to the NTIB. As it is an uncertain, expensive, and time consuming process, criminal infomorphs are no longer reprogrammed; they are simply studied and deleted. No judicial proceedings are required. This authority above all else is the most objectionable to pan-sapient rights groups.
The IIDD has a specialized agency called the Emulation Enforcement Task Force (EETF) that deals directly with the investigation and tracking down of criminal infomorphs to their physical location. As some ghosts and rogue AIs can have very violent temperaments and well-armed cybershells and bioshells, the agents of the EETF are trained in the use of military hardware and tactics, as well as criminal investigation. As it falls in their purview of operation, the task force is also responsible for investigating and prosecuting illegal emulations, earning them the nickname, "Xox Cops," or "H/K Boys." Those on the task force insist H/K means "hunter/killer," but others claim it means "Hugs and Kisses," from the "xoxo" that adolescent girls often sign letters with.
The current Chief of IIDD is Thomas Simpson, a Major in the US Army. Simpson has spent his entire career in the intelligence field, including field operations during the Pacific War. He was critically wounded in 2090 when his transport, on route to Titan AFB, was destroyed by a rouge TSA AKV. Unable to save his physical body, Simpson was placed in nanostasis and was later destructively uploaded. He is currently one of the few "ghosts" to hold such a high rank in the military or position in the US Government. His unique abilities and great knowledge of emulation operations makes him a valuable asset to the NTIB. Simpson is also the training liaison with the US Army Special Forces, who train the EETF in the use of modern weaponry and tactics. The Major is known to still perform his own operations on the web, to the displeasure of the Director.
The Technical Research and Development Division (TR&D) has the daunting task of keeping up with the onslaught of new technology in the Fifth Wave world. The engineers of TR&D must not only analyze technical data and equipment (captured or otherwise) from nations and corporations from throughout the solar system, they must also develop their own equipment and modify existing US gear to meet the challenges of the advanced world. Lower ranking technicians are responsible for updating, programming, and maintaining the equipment used by engineers and agents, as well as the massive computer assets of the Bureau. The NTIB, needless to say, has access to top of the line military, computer, and spy gear. Most of the personnel in the division refer to it as simply R&D, as their official acronym has an unfortunate sobriquet oft used by other NTIB departments.
The current Chief of TR&D is Francis Xue, former dean of the MIT Virtual Web Program. Xue left his position after charges were brought against him by a number of students concerning corruption and bribery. Xue was dismissed with little investigation or any attempt to talk to him about the charges. Using his own impressive technical abilities, Xue managed to find a subtle conspiracy that included the use of memetic influence, bribery, and blackmail. While he was never able to uncover the true culprits or find out why he had been targeted, Francis Xue was able to sue the university for several million dollars, get a severance package, and the case resulted in a majority of the Web Program administrators being fired. NTIB monitors noticed Xue's efforts on the Web and he was offered a job in 2088, which he accepted.
The Public Information and Liaison Division (PILD) is responsible for collating data from the MDD, SISINT, and IIDD to inform the US public about new memetic and web threats. They develop new systems, free to the public, that are designed to allow everyone to keep informed and defend themselves against new viruses, rogue infomorphs, dangerous web life, and memetic introduction. The PILD maintains a large online arcology that houses safe and interesting weblife for public virtual viewing.
As a Public Relations body, they are also the contact for the security forces of other nations like the GRA and the BND. This contact is as often to coordinate operations, as it is to file complaints about NTIB activities. As rogue infomorphs can essentially travel at the speed of light, crossing borders across and between countries handily, the NTIB works closely with the FBI's Emulation Crimes Bureau.
The PILD is also responsible for sanitizing publicly released NTIB and other US Government documents and maintaining public opinion about the department. Officially, no meme work is done on its public relations front, but most are cynical to that claim.
The current Chief of the PILD is Allison Nakimora, a long time federal employee. She has worked in the departments of transportation, treasury, agriculture, and the Pentagon in one form of public relations or the other. Allison's skills are admirable, but she has become involved in an infomorph rights activist group and is secretly under close scrutiny.
The Director of the NTIB is Admiral Lars Gesperston, who has spent over 48 years in the US Navy, which required he get a waiver after having had rejuvenation treatments. After a four-year enlistment as an electrician, Lars entered the officer candidate school and graduated to be a pilot. A decade after, however, he was forced to switch jobs as UCAV's became more popular in the US military. Lars entered Naval Intelligence and worked with special forces before finally making it to the Pentagon. With his political connections and years of service and experience, he was appointed to the position of Director of the NTIB in 2097. Admiral Gesperston is a highly intelligent and motivated man who manages to keep abreast of all NTIB operations without undue interference on his own behalf. The Admiral must give final approval on all infomorph erasures, a duty that sometimes troubles him.
The Deputy Director of the NTIB is Dr. Madison Giles. She entered the NTIB only ten years ago as a cryptology technician. She has degrees from several advanced universities and teaches several online courses in between her duties as deputy director. She is not overly popular due to her somewhat coarse personality and almost absolute refusal to answer messages or correspondence personally, leaving the task to her equally unpopular LAI, Numero Uno. There are some who despairingly claim Madison has only been promoted due to her obvious "off the shelf" cosmetic upgrades and a stray backstabber meme.
Executive Order 12333 of December 4th, 1981, described the duties of the National Security Agency. Executive Order 13563, signed on August 12th, 2014 established the NTIB and its duties, incorporating the mission of the NSA. The resources and responsibilities of the National Technical Intelligence Bureau were organized to allow performing of seven national missions. The mission statement has undergone revisions three times since its creation.
- The Information Assurance mission provides the solutions, products and services, and conducts defensive information operations, to achieve information assurance for information infrastructures critical to U.S. national security interests.
- The foreign signals and information systems intelligence, or SISINT, mission allows for an effective, unified organization and control of all the foreign signals and data transfer collection and processing activities of the United States. NTIB is authorized to produce SISINT in accordance with objectives, requirements and priorities established by the Department of Homeland Security, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and Director of the Space Intelligence Agency with the advice of the National Foreign Intelligence Board and any other security agency as ordered.
- The effective monitoring and defense of US information resources are vital to national security. The NTIB is given the authority to monitor and enforce all matters of information defense deemed to be hostile in nature from internal or external sources. This includes, but is not limited to: espionage efforts, destructive data introduction, corporate or financial tampering, hostile meme manipulation and propagation, attempts at illegal access, and other violations of information legislation and national security.
- Due to the instant access and data transfer speeds readily available to the public at large, not to mention possibly hostile government agencies and NGOs, hostile action can be launched from nearly anywhere on the globe. To ensure the NTIB is able to react quickly to physically apprehend violators, local law enforcement assets, including FBI, DEA, and other federal enforcement agencies, will be required to instantly provide on site support in NTIB apprehension operations via the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security. This may extend to CIA, SIA, and other foreign or domestic US assets on a case-by-case basis depending on the level of threat and available resources.
- To ensure that no department of the US government -- through lack of expertise, budgeting, or miscommunication -- is allowed to compromise national information security, the NTIB will be responsible for monitoring and maintaining all US information systems with access outside of internal data systems. This includes all hardware, software, and AI systems employed by US government agencies and any civilian agencies granted access to government systems. Ensuring that all departments with concerns for national security have a common, accessible database will require the NTIB to create, operate, and maintain the Interdepartmental Security and Homeland Defense Database.
- Hostile data and memetic manipulation efforts can be launched against the unsuspecting citizens of the United States by almost anyone. The NTIB will be responsible for monitoring information systems for such efforts and devise ways to defend against them. NTIB experts will constantly evaluate such threats and make readily available to the public education and information to aid in countering and preventing such threats. This includes providing software and operating system operating system and memetic counseling to undo any such psychological damage that may have occurred.
- With the coming of sentient AI infomorphs and the independent formation of new and unknown weblife, a new class of possible danger threatens the US government. Constant monitoring for illegal actions carried out by infomorphs and weblife is essential to the data security of the United States. To this end the NTIB will have jurisdiction over crimes committed by infomorphs, including the right to investigate, monitor, detain, and even delete such infomorphs as is deemed necessary. The NTIB will also offer any and all technical assistance requested by the FBI, CIA, SIA, local law enforcement, and any other division of the Department of Homeland Security.
A Few Good Sapients
The NTIB is a powerful Patron or Enemy, depending on the situation. PCs who actually work for the NTIB must have Patron (NTIB) 15 points, Duty (NTIB, 15 or less) -15 points, Rank 1 (US Government) 10 points, and Taboo Traits (Criminal Reputation, Genetic Defects, Mental Instability). Agents and Enforcers must have the Legal Enforcement (international jurisdiction, covert investigations, effective suspension of privacy rights) 15 points, as they are given wide leeway in undercover and intelligence operations. Most technical or administrative members of the NTIB will have no legal enforcement powers unless specifically assigned to a case. Employees acting on orders from a senior supervisor, or assigned to a task force, will be granted a temporary 10-point Legal Enforcement advantage at no character cost.
As an Enemy, the NTIB qualifies as a -30-point disadvantage due to their skills, size, funding, and ubiquitous monitoring of the web. The frequency of appearance will of course depend on how badly they want the PC. For infomorph characters that go out on the web, the minimum frequency of appearance is 9 or less for those who use the Web. Individual NTIB agents with an axe to grind against a PC will probably be a base -10 points.
The NTIB works in several high tech fields, and this requires a number of skilled workers. The bureau uses AI systems extensively, but there are many tasks the US government does not want left in the hands of computers alone.
Despite a relatively integrated and streamlined organization, the NTIB is at heart a government bureaucracy. All manner of clerks, administrators, lawyers, spokesmen, and number crunchers are needed to work with departmental AIs to keep track of the massive amount of raw data the bureau deals with on a daily basis. They are also tasked with investigating financial accounts, ledgers, and documents to aid investigations. Useful skills include Accounting, Administration, Diplomacy, Computer Operation, Law, Professional Skill (Office Clerk), and any other skills useful to a government office environment.
Each division has need of field operators. SISINT agents set up remote taps and man observation posts; IIDD agents infiltrate facilities to deploy spy bots; MDD agents observe groups bent on spreading memes; and even the PILD are known to investigate overly vocal dissidents within the US. These are the people who follow physical suspects, gather material evidence, infiltrate hostile organizations, and work undercover for sting operations. See Intelligence Agent (p. TS111) for appropriate skills. NTIB agents will also have Combat/Weapon, Intelligence Analyst, and Computer Hacking skills.
The Emulation Enforcement Task Force is considered by some (especially the EETF) to be the elite of the NTIB. They perform many of the same functions as other agents as far as investigations and intelligence gathering, especially when tracking down xoxs, but are issued heavy hardware to deal with hyped up cyber and bio shells. They are also called in to assist other divisions when some serious firepower may be needed. Enforcers go undercover occasionally, but tend to limit such operations to US held areas. Foreign government frown on armed members of the US government carrying out raids within their borders, which may or may not be a consideration for NTIB planners. Enforcers will have skills similar to a Gunjin (p. TS111).
Technicians & Specialists
All manner of skilled technical personnel are needed by the NTIB. This includes armorers, computer technicians, robotic engineers, linguists, cryptologists, programmers, hackers, sensor operators, and even mechanics for NTIB vehicles. Obviously, PC technical experts need at least one appropriate technical skill! Engineers, Programmers, Hazmat Specialist, and other technical fields are appropriate. SIGINT and Electronics Operation (Sensors and Communications) are needed for those who intercept data. Some of the most valued, and rare, technicians are those skilled in obsolete technology!
While one of the missions of the NTIB is monitoring and hunting down rogue infomorphs, these digital beings are among the most useful of the bureau's tools. Infomorphs are one with the web and can provide a great deal of information and analysis of threats. Any manner of infomorph PC can find a place in the NTIB; from simple office assistants, to the personal advisor of a field agent, to an SAI quantum macroframe used to crack codes and break into enemy data nodes. Some of the current infomorphs in service to the NTIB were at one time informants used to crack cases. While controversial, the NTIB has been accused of using bioshells to house its ghost and infomorph employees. AI characters will be treated as property in this US agency; ghosts will have full citizen's rights.
While somewhat rare for a governmental agency, the NTIB has been known to hire freelancers for irregular missions. This could be people who have a special knowledge of a new threat, contacts that would allow operations where NTIB agents would be suspect, or the occasional plausible deniability mission. Regardless of the reasons, PC freelancers will be given certain guidelines to follow. How strict depends on the needs of the mission, but outright wetwork will usually be right out except for self defense, and contracts (except for plausible deniability missions) will be signed ensuring PCs will pay the consequences for any ill fated plans they carry out.
Medical Field Specialists
In order to keep up with new biological and memetic threats, the NTIB has a great need for medical specialists. Medical doctors are needed for autopsies, genesplicers are needed to analyze bioroids and biological threats, and memetic engineers analyze and counter threats introduced to the US public. Psychologists offer counseling and perform high tech interrogations. Skills from the Doctor/Medic, Genehacker, Memetic Engineer, and Psychologist are appropriate.
See GURPS Cops for ideas on running a federal agency. Keep in mind that the NTIB is an intelligence agency, however.
Article publication date: March 21, 2003
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