More Reasons for Freedom Bombs

There are always reasons for force:

The Pentagon has concluded that computer sabotage coming from another country can constitute an act of war, a finding that for the first time opens the door for the U.S. to respond using traditional military force.

The Pentagon’s first formal cyber strategy, unclassified portions of which are expected to become public next month, represents an early attempt to grapple with a changing world in which a hacker could pose as significant a threat to U.S. nuclear reactors, subways or pipelines as a hostile country’s military.

In part, the Pentagon intends its plan as a warning to potential adversaries of the consequences of attacking the U.S. in this way. “If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks,” said a military official.

Wonder how the usuals suspects will fare in the market this morning (General Dynamics, etc.).






43 replies
  1. 1
    cathyx says:

    How will they know it was a government doing it and not just some hacker that lives somewhere else?

  2. 2
    cleek says:

    “If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks,”

    hard to argue with that.

    harder to see how they’d be able to tell if a “cyber-attack” (hate that phrase) is the deliberate work of a government, and not just some script kiddies fucking around. anyone clever enough to take out a power grid is probably clever enough to hide his/her tracks.

  3. 3
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @cathyx:

    How will they know it was a government doing it and not just some hacker that lives somewhere else?

    Why does that matter?

  4. 4
    geg6 says:

    Completely OT, but I just read about this in my NASFAA newsletter:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05......html?_r=2

    In 2004, when Todd S. Nelson was chief executive of the University of Phoenix, the nation’s largest for-profit college, he signed a $9.8 million settlement with the Department of Education, which found that Phoenix had “systematically and intentionally” broken the federal rules against paying recruiters for students.

    __

    Mr. Nelson is now chief executive of the nation’s second-largest for-profit college company, Education Management Corporation, or EDMC, and the Justice Department and two state attorneys general are intervening in a whistle-blower lawsuit charging that EDMC also violated the ban on what is known as incentive compensation. That practice encourages aggressive recruitment of unqualified students for their federal student aid.

    __

    Mr. Nelson joined the company in 2007 and had nothing to do with designing the pay policy that went into effect in 2003, Mr. Guida noted. The chief executive before him was Jock McKernan, a former governor of Maine who still serves as chairman of the board. A company spokeswoman said neither Mr. Nelson nor Mr. McKernan was available for interviews.

    Apart from the financial consequences for the colleges, the lawsuit could have political fallout: Mr. McKernan is married to Senator Olympia Snowe, a Republican from Maine whose 2010 financial disclosure form lists EDMC stock and options worth $2 million to $10 million. Scott D’Amboise, who is challenging her in the 2012 Republican primary, has called on Ms. Snowe to resign because she benefited from her husband’s receiving “millions of our hard-earned tax dollars.” Senator Snowe declined to comment.

    Heh.

    ETA: FYWP. Obviously, all except the “Heh” is supposed to be blockquoted.

  5. 5
    jibeaux says:

    I don’t know that I necessarily disagree with that, either, given that you could potentially do with technology what maybe it used to take a bomber to do. But an interesting position given that haven’t we basically admitted to screwing up Iran’s nuclear facilities with some sort of worm? Not that I necessarily disagree with that either…

  6. 6
    dpCap says:

    Are they ready to go to war with China?

    I didn’t think so.

  7. 7
    Jon says:

    So we perpetrated an act of war against Iran when we (perhaps) participated in the development and deployment of the Stuxnet virus?

  8. 8

    I heard this on the radio this morning. I literally facepalmed.

  9. 9
    D.H. says:

    Well, we’re already fighting an analog war on a common noun, so why not declare war on an intangible service while we’re at it?

  10. 10
    cathyx says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: Yes, exactly. It’s the perfect way to start a war anywhere we want.

  11. 11
    PeakVT says:

    The Pentagon has concluded that computer sabotage coming from another country can constitute an act of war

    Shorter Pentagon: Our incompetence is a valid reason for bombing you.

  12. 12
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @cathyx:

    Yes, exactly. It’s the perfect way to start a war anywhere we want.

    Never look gift wars in the mouth.

  13. 13
    beemer says:

    Stuxnet.

  14. 14
    aimai says:

    First time Facebook goes down the smokestack gets it!

    What a great new slogan.

    aimai

  15. 15
    Marc says:

    “If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks.”

    And yet it’s vitally important that we don’t let gays and lesbians serve openly.

  16. 16
    alwhite says:

    When the only tool you have is a hammer every problem looks like a nail.

  17. 17
    lacp says:

    Wait a minute – I hack in and leave a photoshop of somebody’s crotch on your site, and you respond with a Hellfire missile to my apartment? Sounds a tad disproportionate, dude.

  18. 18
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    Does this mean the US declared war on Sweden when the feds DDOS’d Wikileaks servers to try to stop the release of the Iraq docs?

  19. 19
    NonyNony says:

    “If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks,”

    Ah, so rather than examining just why we allow a guy sitting at a computer on the other side of the world the opportunity to shut down our power grid via the Internet, we’re going to instead just use it as an excuse to drop some bombs.

    Gotcha. Why don’t we go around and remove the locks from the Pentagon next and just tell people that if they wander in and take any sensitive secrets we’ll just bomb their country. It sure would save us money on security if we just threw bombs around instead of, you know, locking things up.

  20. 20
    red plaid says:

    @beemer:

    This was also the first thought that came to my mind. Doesn’t this mean that Israel (and possibly the US) have already gone to war with Iran? Or is it one of those things where only if our enemies do it then it is called war?

    It would also be very difficult to prove that a specific government is responsible for an attack. I doubt this designation will deter any country from engaging in cyber warfare, so the only thing this definition is good/bad for is for justifying attacking other countries.

  21. 21
    Continental Op says:

    Operation Screaming Fist.

  22. 22
    Poopyman says:

    @red plaid: Rhetorical question, I presume?

  23. 23
    Amir_Khalid says:

    Avenging computer system hacks with bombs? That sounds damn fucking stupid. Is the USAF to bomb every one of millions of innocent people’s computers used in a distributed attack? And how would that repair the damage done or prevent further sabotage?

    A capacity to retaliate might have deterrent value, but only if you had a surefire means of identifying the guilty party. As far as I know, such a means does not exist. And it might not even be possible to create one. If you can’t identify the attacker, any retaliation is blind. Blindly lashing out at people would put the US, or any nation that did it, in a really bad position as regards its moral standing.

  24. 24
    Joe Buck says:

    It’s trivial to make a “cyber attack” appear to come from somewhere else, and maybe the kids from Anonymous might decide to start World War 3 for the lulz.

  25. 25
    Poopyman says:

    @Amir_Khalid:

    Blindly lashing out at people would put the US, or any nation that did it, in a really bad position as regards its moral standing.

    That ship sailed long ago, and let me tell you, it really sucks standing here on the shore watching it disappear over the horizon.

  26. 26
    Ivan Ivanovich Renko says:

    @Continental Op: I’m in favor if it leads to razorgirls and the Rastafarian Space Navy.

  27. 27
    Fred says:

    Well at least you moved on from Weinergate.

  28. 28
    cyd says:

    Funny thing is, there has been exactly one unambiguous case of sovereign cyber-belligerence, and that country is Israel…

  29. 29
    gex says:

    So now any teenaged Matthew Broderick War Games character can invite war on his entire country? Can’t we treat anything as a law enforcement issue?

    I saw a guy fishing without a license. Probably deserves to be bombed into compliance.

  30. 30
    gex says:

    Also, doesn’t this open up a lot more possibilities for Rep. Weiner to deal with this Twitter hacker?

  31. 31
    JaneGoth says:

    Good thing this isn’t back dated or the US would be at war with the UK thanks to Gary McKinnon’s hacking and we just had your nice Mr Obama over visiting the Queen

  32. 32
    Ryan Cunningham says:

    Shall we play a game?

  33. 33
    mpbruss says:

    So, by this logic, Iran would be justified in attacking Israel and / or the U.S. for that nasty worm a few months back?

  34. 34
    fasteddie9318 says:

    I’m always looking for solutions to conflicts, ways to bring people together instead of breaking them apart. In that spirit, I think it’s time to rethink our national motto. “In God We Trust” is arguably unconstitutional and undoubtedly exclusionary when dealing with religions and non-religions that do not espouse belief in The God of the monotheistic tradition. Of course, many believers feel quite strongly about the importance of affirming a national belief in God, so they resist a change to the motto quite strenuously. This leads to harsh disagreement. I’m here to help.

    Luckily for us, a large portion of believers who would resist a new motto in place of “In God We Trust” are also quite supportive of American military might and the violence it graciously bestows on various peoples around the world. Ergo, I propose that our national motto be changed from “In God We Trust” to “Maybe We Will Put a Missile Down One of Your Smokestacks.” Now everybody is happy and we’ve come together in a positive way.

    You’re welcome.

  35. 35
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @mpbruss:

    So, by this logic, Iran would be justified in attacking Israel and / or the U.S. for that nasty worm a few months back?

    Uh, no, because the Pentagon only said that there are consequences to attacking the US in this way. They totally did not say that about attacking Iran. It’s called logic, hello, amirite?

  36. 36
    catclub says:

    @fasteddie9318: I guess ‘Dona Nobis Pacem’ is runner up?

  37. 37
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @catclub: Get out of here with that hippie crap, Commie.

  38. 38
    Mike M says:

    Sabotage has long been considered an act of war. I don’t know why cyber attacks would be any different. Of course, it may be difficult to distinguish an act of a government from that of an independent hacker, but that’s a matter of detective work. Certainly, the government needs to take seriously any cyber attack that leads to the loss of life or jeopardizes critical infrastructure.

    As anyone who has ever managed a corporate network knows, cyber attacks are a fact of every day life. Without adequate protections in place, any server placed on the internet will be compromised in a matter of minutes. Many of these attacks are just nuisances, meant either to disrupt operations or steal information. Still, there certainly have been times when I wish I had had a button to push that would fry the equipment of the attackers on the other end, more often than not originating somewhere in China or Russia.

  39. 39
    Scamp Dog says:

    @Continental Op: Between the ‘nym and the remark, you’ve hit two of my favorite reads!

  40. 40
    EJ says:

    Since when does the Pentagon decide what constitutes an “Act of War”?

    Their job is to figure out how to fight a war, not whether or not there actually is a war.

  41. 41
    r€nato says:

    @Jon: you hit the nail on the head.

    furthermore… I loathe conspiracy theorists but this one is just ripe for their type. Suppose in the future we get a Bush/Cheney-type regime, one which is just itching to get their war on with Iran or N. Korea or whoever the Hitler of the week is. Remember how they took advantage of 9/11 to move on Iraq.

    It would not be all that difficult to conjure up a false-flag cyberattack as an excuse to go to war. If a plane with the People’s Army emblem on it bombs your local power plant, you know who did it. If a computer virus takes it down… all you will ever have is the government’s word that it was Kim Jong-Il who was behind it.

    Such an operation would be far, far easier to pull off than the crackpot ‘9/11 was an inside job’ theories, which require the complicity of hundreds if not thousands to pull off… none of whom has ever spilled the beans.

    (has it ever occurred to the truthers that Wikileaks has not obtained one single document supporting their claims? Unless they think Assange is part of the conspiracy…)

  42. 42
    Yesbutwehavenobananas says:

    We know where these cyberterrorists are. They’re in the area around [a city we want to bomb] and [another city we want to bomb] and east, west, south and north somewhat.

  43. 43

    […] couple of days ago John wrote about the seemingly new doctrine of armed response to acts of cyber sabotage.  I’m broadly with him on the badness of […]

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