Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Mine Shaft Gap

"Cyber-" , as in "cyberdefense," "cyberattack," and "cybersecurity", has become a very popular building block for Washington-speak, the neologisms that pour out of government whenever a new propaganda campaign to pitch a controversial project is released into the ether. Both the Washington Post and the NY Times have articles laden with the "cyber-" words because the Pentagon is about to announce a new command ("cybercom," naturally) that with the National Security Agency will begin monitoring computer networks abroad and internally in order to keep us "cybersafe."

From the NY Times article:

A plan to create a new Pentagon cybercommand is raising significant privacy and diplomatic concerns, as the Obama administration moves ahead on efforts to protect the nation from cyberattack and to prepare for possible offensive operations against adversaries’ computer networks.

President Obama has said that the new cyberdefense strategy he unveiled last month will provide protections for personal privacy and civil liberties. But senior Pentagon and military officials say that Mr. Obama’s assurances may be challenging to guarantee in practice, particularly in trying to monitor the thousands of daily attacks on security systems in the United States that have set off a race to develop better cyberweapons.

Much of the new military command’s work is expected to be carried out by the National Security Agency, whose role in intercepting the domestic end of international calls and e-mail messages after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, under secret orders issued by the Bush administration, has already generated intense controversy.

There is simply no way, the officials say, to effectively conduct computer operations without entering networks inside the United States, where the military is prohibited from operating, or traveling electronic paths through countries that are not themselves American targets. ...

While the N.S.A.’s job is chiefly one of detection and monitoring, the agency also possesses what Michael D. McConnell, the former director of national intelligence, called “the critical skill set” to respond quickly to cyberattacks. Yet the Defense Department views cyberspace as its domain as well, a new battleground after land, sea, air and space.

Village-speak at its finest, eh?

So, what does this all mean, after the garbage language designed to hide rather than illuminate is stripped away? To begin with, the new military command working in conjunction with the NSA will be developing systems to snoop with more sophistication on domestic emails and internet usage. Because of the howls of outrage when the Bush program to do the same came to light, the Obama administration has decided to gamble on more openness when it comes to invading our rights to privacy. To accomplish this, they're framing the issue as a matter of national security.

Our banks and other commercial institutions might get hacked and our iffy economy might be sent swirling down the commode as all of our savings and checking accounts get drained by the nefarious Chinese/Russian/North Korean/Iranian evildoers who are jealous of our capitalist wealth and freedoms.

More importantly, our government computer systems, including those of the Pentagon, might get attacked by the same miscreants and leave us with no defenses whatsoever. Missiles and bombs will come raining down on us because our military will not be able to engage in any kind of defense as all of its computers get hit simultaneously with the blue screen of death.

There's nothing we can do to prevent such awful consequences but to open a new battlefield, a cyberbattlefield, if you will, a battlefield which has no boundaries in the traditional sense. Not only will the military be able to now spy on Americans (something which to this point has been forbidden), it will be able to electronically invade and spy on other countries, many of them our allies.

The scenario is only too familiar, especially after the last eight years. In fact, it was predicted decades ago, it just took a little longer than George Orwell expected.

This needs to be stopped.

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Blogger Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

Like Nukes, and the "space Command," this cyber-war effort is primarily a first-strike, offensive weapon.

We pretend the purpose is 'defense,' but we lie, as usual.

Nothing in the USer vmilitary arsenal is primarily 'defensive.'

We are the most war-like, aggressive, militaristic "culture" on the planet.

But it cannot last. It never does.

8:48 AM  
Blogger shrimplate said...

It just sounds like another excuse to snoop, to me.

9:17 AM  

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