by Tom Burghardt
October 31, 2010
As the "War on Terror" morphs into a
multiyear, multitrillion dollar blood-soaked adventure to secure advantage over
imperialism's geopolitical rivals (and steal other people's resources in the
process), hitting the corporate "sweet spot," now as during the golden days
of the Cold War, is as American as a preemptive war and the "pack of lies"
that launch them.
Always inventive when it comes to ginning-up a profitable panic, U.S.
defense and security grifters have rolled-out a product line guaranteed to
scare the bejesus out of everyone: a "cyber epidemic"!
This one has it all:
hordes of crazed "communist" Chinese hackers poised to
bring down the power grid
swarthy armies of al-Qaeda fanatics who "hate us
for our freedom"
"trusted insiders" who do us harm by leaking "sensitive
information", i.e. bringing evidence of war crimes and corporate malfeasance
to light by spilling the beans to secrecy-shredding web sites like
Public Intelligence and
And to combat this latest threat to public order, the Pentagon's geek squad,
the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) have launched several
Armed with catchy acronyms like
SMITE, for "Suspected Malicious Insider
Threat Elimination," and a related program,
CINDER, for "Cyber Insider
Threat," the agency's masters hope to,
"greatly increase the accuracy, rate
and speed with which insider threats are detected and impede the ability of
adversaries to operate undetected within government and military interest
Just another day in our collapsing American Empire!
During an Executive Leadership Conference last week in Williamsburg,
Virginia, deep in the heart of the Military-Industrial-Security corridor, Bob Dix, vice president for U.S. government and critical infrastructure
protection for Juniper Networks cautioned that the United States is facing a
Government Computer News, Dix told the contract-hungry hordes
gathered at the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council's
(ACT-IAC) conclave that "overall cyber defense isn't strong enough."
All the more reason then for the secret state to weaken encryption standards
that might help protect individual users and critical infrastructure from
malicious hacks and network intrusions, as the
Obama administration will
As reported earlier this month, along with watering-down those standards,
the administration is seeking authority from Congress that would force
telecommunication companies to redesign their networks to more easily
facilitate internet spying.
Add to the mix the recent "Memorandum of Agreement" between the National
Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security that will usher in a
"synchronization of current operational cybersecurity efforts," and it's a
as averred, that the Pentagon has come out on top in the
intramural tussle within the security apparat.
During the ACT-IAC
conference, greedily or lovingly sponsored (you make the
call!) by "Platinum" angels AT&T, CACI, HP, Harris Corp. and Lockheed
Martin, Sherri Ramsay, the director of NSA's Threat Operations Center, told
"Right now, we're a soft target, we're very easy."
Dix chimed in:
"Nothing we're talking about today is new. What's new is the
threat is more severe."
Music to the ears of all concerned I'm sure, considering the "cumulative
market valued at $55 billion" over the next five years and the 6.2% annual
growth rate in the "U.S. Federal Cybersecurity Market" that Market Research
told us about.
Never mind that the number of "incidents of malicious cyber activity"
targeting the Defense Department has actually decreased in 2010, as security
journalist Noah Shachtman
reported in Wired.
If we were inclined to believe Pentagon claims or those of "former
intelligence officials" (we're not) that the United States faces an
"unprecedented threat" from imperial rivals, hackers and terrorists, then
perhaps (just for the sake of argument, mind you) their overwrought
assertions and fulsome pronouncements might have some merit.
After all, didn't NSA and U.S. Cyber Command director, General Keith
Alexander tell the U.S. Senate during confirmation hearings in April that he
was "alarmed by the increase, especially this year" in the number of
breaches of military networks?
And didn't former Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell,
currently a top executive with the spooky Booz Allen Hamilton firm, whose
cyber portfolio is well-watered with taxpayer dollars, pen an alarmist
screed in The Washington Post
"the United States is fighting a
cyber-war today, and we are losing"?
Not to be outdone in the panic department, Deputy Defense Secretary William
J. Lynn warned in a recent piece in the
Council On Foreign Relations
Foreign Affairs, that,
"the frequency and
sophistication of intrusions into U.S. military networks have increased
exponentially," and that "a rogue program operating silently, [is] poised to
deliver operational plans into the hands of an unknown adversary."
However, as Shachtman points out,
"according to statistics compiled by the
U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission... the commission notes
in a draft report on China and the internet, '2010 could be the first year
in a decade in which the quantity of logged events declines'."
Better hush that up quick or else those government contractors "specializing
in the most attractive niche segments of the market" as Washington
averred earlier this month, might see the all-important price per
share drop, a real national crisis!
Panic sells however, and once the terms of the debate have been set by
interested parties out to feather their nests well, it's off to the races!
After all as Defense Systems
"as cyberspace gains momentum the
military must adjust its approach in order to take on an increasingly
Indeed, Major General Ed Bolton, the Air Force point man heading up
and space operations thundered during a recent
meet-and-greet organized by
the Armed Forces Communications Electronics Association at the Sheraton
Premier in McClean, Virginia that,
"we are a nation at war, and cyberspace is
a warfighting domain."
Along these lines the Air Force and CYBERCOM are working out,
doctrine and strategies" that will enable our high-tech warriors to
integrate cyber "in combat, operation plans and exercises," Bolton
And according to Brigadier General Ian Dickinson, Space Command's CIO,
"help the military take on an evolving war strategy
[close] a gap between traditional and cyber-era defense," Defense Systems
"That's something we worry about," Space Command's Col. Kim Crider told
AFCEA, perhaps over squab and a lobster tail or two, "integrating our
non-kinetic capabilities with space operations."
"We think it's a good opportunity to partner with industry to develop and
integrate these capabilities," Crider said, contemplating perhaps his
employment opportunities after retiring from national service.
And why not, considering that AFCEA's board of directors are chock-a-block
with executives from cyberfightin' firms like Booz Allen, SAIC, Raytheon,
Northrop Grumman, Boeing and General Dynamics.
Perhaps too, the generals and full bird colonels on the Sheraton dais need
reminding that "integrating our non-kinetic capabilities with space
operations," has already been a matter of considerable import to U.S.
Strategic Command's Gen. Kevin Chilton.
In 2009, the STRATCOM commander informed us that,
"the White House retains
the option to respond with physical force - potentially even using nuclear
weapons - if a foreign entity conducts a disabling cyber attack against U.S.
That would certainly up the ante a notch or two!
"I think you don't take any response options off the table
from an attack on the United States of America," Global Security Newswire
reported. "Why would we constrain ourselves on how we respond?"
Judging by the way the U.S. imperial war machine conducts itself in Iraq and
Afghanistan, there's no reason that the general's bellicose rhetoric
shouldn't be taken seriously.
"I think that's been our policy on any attack on the United States of
America," Chilton said. "And I don't see any reason to treat cyber any
differently. I mean, why would we tie the president's hands? I can't. It's
up to the president to decide."
Even short of nuclear war a full-on cyber attack on an adversary's
infrastructure could have unintended consequences that would boomerang on
anyone foolish enough to unleash military-grade computer worms and viruses.
All the more reason then to classify everything and move towards
transforming the internet and electronic communications in general into a "warfighting
domain" lorded-over by the Pentagon and America's alphabet-soup intelligence
As The Washington Post
reported on September 29, the secret state announced
"it had spent $80.1 billion on intelligence activities over the past 12
According to the Post,
"the National Intelligence Program, run by the CIA
and other agencies that report to the Director of National Intelligence,
cost $53.1 billion in fiscal 2010, which ended Sept. 30, while the Military
Intelligence Program cost an additional $27 billion."
By comparison, the total spent by America's shadow warriors exceeds Russia's
entire military budget.
Despite releasing the budget figures, the Office of Director and National
Intelligence and Defense Department officials refused to disclose any
What percentage goes towards
National Security Agency "black" programs,
including those illegally targeting the communications of the American
people are, like torture and assassination operations, closely guarded state
And with calls for more cash to "inoculate" the American body politic
against a looming "cyber epidemic," the right to privacy, civil liberties
and dissent, are soon destined to be little more than quaint relics of our
As security expert Bruce Schneier
"we surely need to improve cybersecurity."
However, "words have meaning, and metaphors matter."
"If we frame the debate in terms of war" Schneier writes, "we reinforce the
notion that we're helpless - what person or organization can defend itself in
a war? - and others need to protect us. We invite the military to take over
security, and to ignore the limits on power that often get jettisoned during
As well, using catchy disease metaphors like "epidemic" to describe
challenges posed by high-tech espionage and cyber crime evoke disturbing
parallels to totalitarian states of the past.
Such formulas are all the more dangerous when the "antibodies" proposed by
powerful military and corporate centers of power will be deployed with
little in the way of democratic oversight and control and are concealed from
the public behind veils of "national security" and "proprietary business