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'Zero Days' director says U.S. government secrecy trend 'appalling'
The director of a new documentary outlining U.S. plans for an extensive cyber attack on Iran said on Wednesday he was angry and appalled by the rapidly growing trend towards secrecy in the U.S. government.
Veteran documentary maker Alex Gibney was speaking to reporters in Berlin, where his film "Zero Days" is being shown in competition for the Berlin International Film Festival's top Golden Bear prize.
The documentary says how the U.S.'s National Security Agency (NSA) developed a cyberwar program dubbed "Nitro Zeus" that it hoped would bring Iran to its knees in the event of hostilities.
"I am angry about the incredible amount of secrecy in the United States and how it has become a kind of obsession that is damaging our democracy," Gibney said at a post-screening news conference.
"I think, frankly, that the trend and the momentum towards greater and greater secrecy in the U.S. administration is appalling.
The documentary focuses on Stuxnet, a computer worm developed by the United States and Israel - but never acknowledged by either government - in order to attack Iran's nuclear program and sabotage centrifuges that were enriching uranium.
Through accounts of whistleblowers, analysts, journalists and secret service officials, the documentary shows how Stuxnet was the first known attack in which computer malware left the realm of cyberspace and caused physical destruction.
The film hints, based on accounts of several NSA insiders, that Stuxnet was just the tip of the iceberg.
"I mean you've been focusing on Stuxnet but that was just part of a much larger operation... Nitro Zeus, NZ," an actress says in the film, speaking for several NSA employees who were interviewed but whose identity was kept secret for source protection.
According to these accounts, the NSA spent "hundreds of millions, maybe billions" on Nitro Zeus to be prepared for the eventuality that Israel decided to attack Iran and the United States would be drawn into the conflict.
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