Thursday, March 29, 2007

NSA, US Military Target Computer Users, For Freedom!

Jim Michaels of USAT reports in Military beefs up Internet arsenal--Terrorists expand use of computers...that the NSA, the Pentagon and the Air Force are working on a 4–year, $40 million project to "expand capabilities to attack terrorists computer networks, including websites that glorify insurgent attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq” with the contracted ‘help’ of private companies, of course.

Apparently the desk-bound US military is pretty upset with the “sophistication and volume” of their [Al Qaeda and others] videos and messages. Terrorists, it seems, make the best mash-ups.

"You should not let them operate uncontested" on the Internet and elsewhere in cyberspace, said Marine Brig. Gen. John Davis, who heads a military command located at the National Security Agency.

Davis and other officials declined to say whether the military has actually attacked any networks, which would require presidential authorization.

Given that the president has already attacked Iraq, liberals, Democrats, the Constitution and international law I’d be surprised if he hadn’t already authorized network attacks too (the NSA wiretapping of the US phone network doesn’t count as an attack, it's defense).

So how would the NSA attack terrorist computers and networks?

The techniques are highly classified.

So the NSA isn’t using standard techniques like spamming, port intrusion, spy-ware, ad-ware or viruses? I guess not, otherwise they wouldn’t need to spend $10 million a year to employ those readily available techniques, would they?

John Arquilla, a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School who also works for the Defense Department on cyberwar issues…favors an offensive approach he calls a "virtual scorched-earth policy."

Unfortunately Jim Michaels doesn’t seem to have enough column-inches to explain what the hell this means, but it sounds like some kind of secret DoD-sponsored Second Life landscaping business that sneakily ruins the Second Life lawns of Second Life terrorists.

Read the whole article –it’s short, but its chock full of stupid ideas from stupid people fucking-around with an extra $40 million of taxpayers’ money on top of their regular salaries and benefits.

Jim Michaels did manage to find a couple of reasonable voices that expressed circumspection about the premise (if not the actual program) but Marine Brigadier General John Davis has at least one politician behind him, money in his pocket, and some kind of pixilated, VRML Mount Suribachi in his sights:

"Our opponents do a heck of a lot more than just watch us in cyberspace," Davis said. "They are acting in cyberspace. We need to develop options so that we can … dominate cyberspace."

I’ve never served, I’ve never fired a gun, but I have to ask: What the fuck kind of Marine Brigadier General is this?

Your opponents, General Davis, attack Marines with real bullets and real explosives and I highly doubt that they would feel particularly well-served that $40-million is being spent on the crackpot computer game you are running when that money could be spent in the field, on vital supplies and support.
What are you planning to do General; defeat terrorism in an online version of Zork? Or do you plan to defeat the enemy in a more up-to-date competitive arena, like HALO?

But apart from all that, I have to wonder what this means for the rest of us. After all doesn’t Bush decide who is a terrorist, based on what Jesus or Barney or Cheney or Gonzalez tell him? And if this $40 million program actually produces anything at all, couldn’t the NSA then apply it domestically too?

You know, former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld (after much deliberation with the voices in his head) figured out that the reason the freedomization of Iraq wasn’t working out the way he expected was that although the army he thought he had were actually a bunch of whining fuck-ups, the real problem was that the terrorists had superior and more creative public-relations which is why Rumsfeld spent $100 million to create an entirely fake “free-press” to inform the Iraqis on the fantastic benefits of invasion, war and occupation (this old post is IMHO one of my funniest—take a look, please!?)

I try to find the humor in absurdity and adversity--I really do; but Jesus H. Christ! the money, lives and futures of millions are STILL in the hands of MORONS!
The US military hasn't necessarily been broken so much by being given a mission it was not designed or properly trained or equipped for (occupation and urban combat) but by the entrenchment of business practices and corporate ideals over military practicalites, and Brig Gen. John Davis's cyberwar fantasy is just one example.


sumo said...

I don't know what to say about this...but I guess we'll just have to wait and see what transpires. It is hard to imagine what they'd have up their sleeve now.

InternetJunkie said...

This story was covered on 60 Minutes a few weeks back and the internet is being used effectively by al Qaida and other wannabees.

That said, wouldn't it make more sense to hire back all the translators they let go because they were 1) of arab descent or 2) gay. Seems to me until you have competent individuals who can decipher those "terrorist" web sites, throwing money at the problem isn't going to make any difference.

Wait a minute... I thought Democrats were the only ones who "throw money at a problem".


5th Estate said...

How does one measure the success of these proposed attacks I wonder? It would have to be contingent on the necessity of the computer systems and websites right? As one expert sugests at the bottom of the article it mightbe counter-productive to deny the oppositions communications, better to monitor them to see where they lead. But Arquilla favors a "virtual scorched-earth policy" menaing complete denial of resources.
And Gen. John Davis talks about "dominating cyberspace".
This kind of talk strikes me as being utterly stupid--Davis surely has no clue as to how the internet works and how it is used.

Not only are these guys throwing money at a 'problem', it's the wrong goddam problem. US policy and it;s execution is the problem.

Like you said IJ, maybe they should re-hire those translators they fired, And a smarter solution is to use an opponents tools against them.

teaghan's mom said...

i hope the trip to DC wasn't too much of a bother for you.

Carl said...

5th Estate said...
And Gen. John Davis talks about "dominating cyberspace".
This kind of talk strikes me as being utterly stupid--Davis surely has no clue as to how the internet works and how it is used.

The 'Net was a DARPA project (remember, Al Gore introduced the funding to take it public), so I suspect there may be eddies and channels in the current that we know nothing about.

As a whole, true, it would be impossible to "own" cyberspace, but I'd bet that you could carve out enough of the appropriate terrortory (typo intended) and closely monitor that, and wreak havoc there.

not_over_it said...

Hey Fifth, did you get a chance to read the "Vanity Fair" article by Donald L. Bartlett and James B. Steele regarding the military-industrial complex?

Good stuff.