Bonum Certa Men Certa

Cablegate: Iraq Rebuilt With Free/Open Source Software


Summary: Folks from MIT (home of the FSF/GNU) were said to be using "open-source software" for an "Intranet [that] would rely on radio and satellite data links to avoid dependence on Iraq's telecom system" and more

"Gatti said MIT plans to set up the system using open-source software," claims the following Cablegate cable, which speaks about setting up some communication infrastructure for post-invasion Iraq. Here is the full cable:

C O N F I D E N T I A L ROME 002050



E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/22/2014 TAGS: EAID [Foreign Economic Assistance], EINT [Economic and Commercial Internet], PREL [External Political Relations], IT [Italy], IZ [Iraq], IRAQI FREEDOM SUBJECT: IRAQ: SECURITY CONCERNS PUT E-GOV PROGRAM IN LIMBO

Classified By: Economic Minister-Counselor Scott Kilner for reasons 1.4 (b)(d)

SUMMARY -------

ۦ1. (C) Italy's Ministry of Innovation and Technology (MIT) is ready to send a team to Baghdad to start work on a Euro 11 million project to build an Intranet system for the Iraqi government. According to an aide to MIT Minister Lucio Stanca, however, the Italian Foreign Ministry will not approve the trip because of security concerns. The completed system would link 20-30 Iraqi government departments to each other and the Internet using a mix of radio and satellite links. End summary.

Safety Concerns Delay E-Government Project. -------------------------------------------

ۦ2. (C) Stefano Gatti (protect), Diplomatic Advisor to Innovation and Technology Minister Lucio Stanca, recently gave Econoff an update of Italy's Euro 10-11 million project to provide the Iraqi government with a basic Intranet infrastructure. The MIT has a team ready to go to Baghdad to conduct an initial survey of the Iraqi Ministries' requirements; but, Gatti explained with some exasperation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) is delaying approval of the trip. Gatti speculated that the MFA was nervous about sending additional Italian officials to Baghdad given the unresolved status of three Italian hostages, the death this month of an Italian soldier in Nasiriyah, and the assassination of Interim Governing Council President Ezzedine Salim outside the Green Zone. In this environment, Gatti said, the GOI is reluctant to send more people to Baghdad. Gatti said the MIT has pared down the team from eight to four people in deference to the MFA's security concerns, but the MFA is still withholding approval.

Need for Iraqi Coordinator --------------------------

ۦ3. (SBU) A second problem the project has encountered, Gatti remarked, is finding an Iraqi agency to coordinate with the MIT team. He explained that, since the project involves hooking up several Iraqi ministries to a central Intranet hub, Italy must find an Iraqi authority capable of overseeing such a government-wide project. Gatti predicted, however, that this problem would be overcome once the Ministry has its own people on the ground in Baghdad.

Background ----------

ۦ4. (SBU) MIT's proposed Euro 10-11 million Iraqi Government Intranet project is designed to give the Iraqi government a basic system for electronically linking ministries and, possibly, municipal and provincial governments. The initial budget covers the cost of a central server bank, connections for 20-30 government departments (each with 20 work stations), a remote back-up system (possibly located in Italy), plus training and technical support. The Iraqi Intranet would rely on radio and satellite data links to avoid dependence on Iraq's telecom system. In addition to providing Iraqi officials with basic email and Internet connectivity, the Intranet network could also be used for telephone service among government departments. Gatti said MIT plans to set up the system using open-source software.

(Note: A copy of Italy's proposal for the Iraqi Government Intranet is available on Rome's Classnet homepage under the section "Italy Background Notes." Please do not distribute this document outside the USG. End note.)

Start-up Funding Available from MFA and World Bank --------------------------------------------- -----

ۦ5. (SBU) Gatti said the MFA already has Euro two million available to start the project. The MIT expects to receive another Euro two million from the World Bank's Development Gateway Foundation, he said. The MIT, Gatti asserted, is ready to start the project even though it has yet to secure the full Euro 10-11 million in funding. Gatti predicted the

additional money would fall into place once the project got underway. (Note: The GOI is counting this project as part of its Euro 200 million Madrid pledge. End note.)

COMMENT -------

ۦ6. (C) The delay in sending the MIT team to Baghdad demonstrates how the continuing Italian hostage ordeal and recent violence around Nasiriyah is creating government nervousness with negative consequences for reconstruction work. However, assuming the security situation stabilizes and there are no more high-profile attacks or kidnappings that target Italians, we expect that the MIT team will be cleared to go to Baghdad in coming weeks.


Visit Rome's Classified Website: m


NNNN 2004ROME02050 - Classification: CONFIDENTIAL

It is possible that a lot of systems were built with proprietary systems (contractors helping other contractors), but the above is noteworthy nonetheless.

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