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[liberationtech] Is the Cyberwar beginning?

Gregory Foster gfoster at
Wed Feb 6 07:29:12 PST 2013

NYT (Feb 4) - "Broad Powers Seen for Obama in Cyberstrikes":

> A secret legal review on the use of America’s growing arsenal of 
> cyberweapons has concluded that President Obama has the broad power to 
> order a pre-emptive strike if the United States detects credible 
> evidence of a major digital attack looming from abroad, according to 
> officials involved in the review.
> That decision is among several reached in recent months as the 
> administration moves, in the next few weeks, to approve the nation’s 
> first rules for how the military can defend, or retaliate, against a 
> major cyberattack. New policies will also govern how the intelligence 
> agencies can carry out searches of faraway computer networks for signs 
> of potential attacks on the United States and, if the president 
> approves, attack adversaries by injecting them with destructive code — 
> even if there is no declared war.

I'm somewhat amazed at the authorization for intelligence agencies to 
routinely "search" "faraway computer networks".  That begs the question: 
well, how does one "search" a computer system?  I'm guessing I can't use 
Google for that.  And how far away is "faraway" - and will it always 
stay far away?

Geographic borders are about to become more relevant to the Internet, a 
development which many would argue is counter to the spirit and purpose 
of the Internet.  Given the network climate that the US government seems 
to be encouraging, sealed national networks such as China's Great 
Firewall may be considered forward-looking to future Net generations.

And as regards this Administration's definition of "credible evidence" 
to justify pre-emptive strikes, look no further than the recently 
released DOJ memo on targeted killing of Americans by the American 
government, which states:

> “The condition that an operational leader present an ‘imminent’ threat 
> of violent attack against the United States does not require the 
> United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. 
> persons and interests will take place in the immediate future,” 


On 2/5/13 2:56 PM, Yuval Adam wrote:
> Distinction should be made between 'classic' military cyber-force 
> buildup (be it any type of resource), and privatized force. We can be 
> assured, to a certain degree, that only agents of state (i.e. armies) 
> have access to 'classic' strategic weapons. The same cannot be said 
> about cyber weapons of similar (potential) magnitude.
> Probably the most disturbing aspect of "cyberwar" is the newspeak 
> rhetoric. War has always been a violent state of affairs between 
> countries/nations/alliances, while "cyberwar" never needs to be 
> explained or otherwise justified - it just *is*. "Cyberwar" exists by 
> its own right, with no need to claim who's Side A and Side B. It is 
> effectively the perfect vague, always-existing, Orwellian state of war 
> of the new era.

Gregory Foster || gfoster at
@gregoryfoster <>

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