Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pentagon Ramps-Up Cyberwar Plans, June 14 2011

Tom BurghardtDissident Voice
As the Obama administration expands Bush-era surveillance programs over the nation’s electronic communications’ infrastructure, recent media reports provide tantalizing hints of Pentagon plans for waging cyberwar against imperialism’s geopolitical rivals.

On May 31, The Wall Street Journal disclosed that the Pentagon now asserts “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.”

One sound bite savvy wag told journalist Siobhan Gorman, “if you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks.”

Also on May 31, The Washington Post reported that America’s shadow warriors have “developed a list of cyber-weapons and -tools, including viruses that can sabotage an adversary’s critical networks, to streamline how the United States engages in computer warfare.”

That “classified list of capabilities has been in use for several months,” with the approval of “other agencies, including the CIA.” Post reporter Ellen Nakashima informed us that this “sensitive program … forms part of the Pentagon’s set of approved weapons or ‘fires’ that can be employed against an enemy.”

Not to be left in the dust by their U.S. and Israeli allies, The Guardian reported that the “UK is developing a cyber-weapons programme that will give ministers an attacking capability to help counter growing threats to national security from cyberspace.”

Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey told The Guardian that “action in cyberspace will form part of the future battlefield” and will become “an integral part of the country’s armoury.”

It appears that Western military establishments are in the grips of a full-blown cyber panic or, more likely, beating the war drums as they roll out new product lines with encouragement from corporate partners eager to make billions developing new weapons systems for their respective political masters.

And why not? As Bloomberg News reported back in 2008, both Lockheed Martin and Boeing “are deploying forces and resources to a new battlefield: cyberspace.”

Bloomberg averred that military contractors and the wider defense industry are “eager to capture a share of a market that may reach $11 billion in 2013,” and “have formed new business units to tap increased spending to protect U.S. government computers from attack.”

Linda Gooden, executive vice president of Lockheed’s Information Systems & Global Services unit told Bloomberg, “The whole area of cyber is probably one of the faster-growing areas” of the U.S. budget. “It’s something that we’re very focused on.”

As part of the new strategy to be released later this month, the Post reports that the military needs “presidential authorization to penetrate a foreign computer network and leave a cyber-virus that can be activated later.”

However, when it comes to espionage or other activities loudly denounced as illegal intrusions into the sacrosanct world of government and corporate crime and corruption, the “military does not need such approval.”

We’re told such “benign” activities “include studying the cyber-capabilities of adversaries or examining how power plants or other networks operate.”

“Military cyber-warriors,” Nakashima writes, “can also, without presidential authorization, leave beacons to mark spots for later targeting by viruses,” an “unnamed military official” told the Post.

But wait, aren’t those precisely the types of covert actions decried by politicians, media commentators and assorted experts when they’re directed against the heimat? Is there a double standard here? Well, of course there is!
Along with a flurry of Defense Department leaks designed to ratchet-up the fear factor and lay the groundwork for billions more from Congress for giant defense firms servicing the Pentagon’s unquenchable thirst for ever-deadlier weapons systems–cyber, or otherwise–”threat inflation” scaremongering described by researchers Jerry Brito and Tate Watkins in their essential paper,Loving the Cyber Bomb?, take center stage.

Just last week, former Democratic party congressional hack, current CIA Director and Obama’s nominee to lead the Defense Department, Leon Panetta, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that “the next Pearl Harbor that we confront could very well be a cyberattack that cripples America’s electrical grid and its security and financial systems,” The Christian Science Monitor reported.

Cripple the financial system? Why greedy banksters and corporate bottom-feeders seem to be doing a splendid job of it on their own without an assist from shadowy Russian hackers, the People’s Liberation Army or LulzSec pranksters!

However, the Pentagon’s propaganda blitz (courtesy of a gullible or complicitous corporate media, take your pick) is neither meant to inform nor educate the public but rather, to conceal an essential fact: the United States isalready engaged in hostile cyber operations against their geopolitical rivals–and allies–and have been doing so since the 1990s, if not earlier, as journalist Nicky Hager revealed when he blew the lid off NSA’s Echelon program in a 1997 piece for CovertAction Quarterly.

Botnets and Root Kits: What the HBGary Hack Revealed
When The Wall Street Journal informed readers that the “Pentagon’s first formal cyber strategy … 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,” what the Journal didn’t disclose is that the Defense Department is seeking the technological means to do just that.

Implying that hacking might soon constitute an “act of war” worthy of a “shock and awe” campaign, never mind that attributing an attack by a criminal or a state is no simple matter, where would the Pentagon draw the line?

After all as The Guardian reported, with the “underground world of computer hackers … so thoroughly infiltrated in the US by the FBI and secret service,” will some enterprising criminal acting as a catspaw for his/her U.S. handlers, gin-up an incident thereby creating Panetta’s “cyber Pearl Harbor” as a pretext for a new resource war?

Full article here

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