December 15, 2011
In addition to kidnapping Americans and tossing them into Camp Gitmo without recourse or trial, the draconian NDAA bill passed in the House yesterday contains language that will allow the Pentagon to wage cyberwar on domestic enemies of the state.
The following language is in the final “reconciled” bill that will now travel to the Senate and ultimately Obama’s desk where it will be signed into law despite earlier assertions that he would veto the legislation:
Congress affirms that the Department of Defense has the capability, and upon direction by the President may conduct offensive operations in cyberspace to defend our Nation, Allies and interests, subject to–
(1) the policy principles and legal regimes that the Department follows for kinetic capabilities, including the law of armed conflict; and
(2) the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1541 et seq.).
In July, the Pentagon released its cybersecurity plan. It declared the internet a domain of war but did not specify how the military would use it for offensive strikes. The report claimed that hostile parties “are working to exploit DOD unclassified and classified networks, and some foreign intelligence organizations have already acquired the capacity to disrupt elements of DOD’s information infrastructure.” In addition, according to the Pentagon, “non-state actors increasingly threaten to penetrate and disrupt DOD networks and systems.”
“If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks,” an official said prior to the release of the official document. “The US is vulnerable to sabotage in defense, power, telecommunications, banking. An attack on any one of those essential infrastructures could be as damaging as any kinetic attack on US soil,” Sami Saydjari, a former Pentagon cyber expert who now runs a consultancy called Cyber Defense Agency, told The Guardian in May.
The Pentagon and its contractors are overstating the case, writes Ryan Singel of Wired. “Despite mainstream news accounts, there’s been no documented hacking attacks on U.S. infrastructure designed to cripple it. A recent report from a post-9/11 intelligence fusion center that a water pump in Illinois had been destroyed by Russian hackers turned out to be baseless — and was simply a contractor logging in from his vacation at the behest of the water company,” Singel notes.
Singel also notes that the Pentagon is characterizing spying as an offensive act. Spying “isn’t an act of war — just ask the NSA and CIA, who spend billions of dollars a year spying on other countries by intercepting communications and persuading foreign citizens to give the U.S. valuable intelligence. It’s certainly an aggressive state action, and a diplomatic issue. But if spying was an act of war, every CIA agent hiding under diplomatic cover would count as cause for a country to attack the U.S.,” he writes.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
The Pentagon has considered the internet enemy territory since it produced its Information Operations Roadmap in 2003. The document was released to the public after a Freedom of Information Request by the National Security Archive at George Washington University in 2006. The document declares the Pentagon will “fight the net” as it would a weapons system.
The document does not describes how the Pentagon will destroy the internet, but gradually degrade it.
“The internet is useful not only as a business tool but also is excellent for monitoring and tracking users, acclimatizing people to a virtual world, and developing detailed psychological profiles of every user, among many other Pentagon positives,” writes Brent Jessop. “But, one problem with the current internet is the potential for the dissemination of ideas and information not consistent with US government themes and messages, commonly known as free speech.”
The Pentagon war on manufactured and exaggerated cyber threats was expanded to include the private sector in 2010. “In a break with previous policy, the military now is prepared to provide cyber expertise to other government agencies and to certain private companies to counter attacks on their computer networks, the Pentagon’s cyber policy chief, Robert Butler, said Oct. 20,” Defense News reported. “An agreement signed this month with the Department of Homeland Security and an earlier initiative to protect companies in the defense industrial base make it likely that the military will be a key part of any response to a cyber attack.”
Under the new rules, the New York Times noted at the time, “the president would approve the use of the military’s expertise in computer-network warfare, and the Department of Homeland Security would direct the work.”
A caveat, however, was added to calm fears about further trashing of the Constitution. “Officials involved in drafting the rules said the goal was to ensure a rapid response to a cyberthreat while balancing concerns that civil liberties might be at risk should the military take over such domestic operations.”
After the NDAA is signed into law by Obama, he will have the authority to wage war against “domestic terrorists,” defined by the Department of Homeland Security as “rightwing extremists” and other anti-government types. As noted above, it will be the DHS that will “direct the work” against enemies of the state. It will work with the Pentagon to militarily neutralize the threat posed by activists and the alternative media.
In November, the DHS practiced its work by coordinating a nationwide police crackdown on the OWS movement. In the not too distant future, it may be using the Pentagon – now that Posse Comitatus is a dead letter – in its ongoing efforts to wage war on political opposition to the establishment.