Cyber war becomes the next great fear by Bruce Gagnon + The Online Threat by Seymour M. Hersh

by Bruce Gagnon
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
Organizing Notes
Oct. 27, 2010

Seymour Hersch has another big Pentagon story in The New Yorker, this time called “The Online Threat: Should we be worried about a cyber war?”

The Pentagon is working overtime to ensure that cyber war becomes the next great fear in the minds of the American people – coming after the Red scare of the Cold War and the present “terrorism” freak-out with the Muslim world. In the story Hersch casts doubt on the fear-mongering with this passage:

American intelligence and security officials for the most part agree that the Chinese military, or, for that matter, an independent hacker, is theoretically capable of creating a degree of chaos inside America. But I was told by military, technical, and intelligence experts that these fears have been exaggerated, and are based on a fundamental confusion between cyber espionage and cyber war. Cyber espionage is the science of covertly capturing e-mail traffic, text messages, other electronic communications, and corporate data for the purpose of gathering national-security or commercial intelligence. Cyber war involves the penetration of foreign networks for the purpose of disrupting or dismantling those networks, and making them inoperable. (Some of those I spoke to made the point that China had demonstrated its mastery of cyber espionage in the EP-3E incident, but it did not make overt use of it to wage cyber war.) Blurring the distinction between cyber war and cyber espionage has been profitable for defense contractors—and dispiriting for privacy advocates.

Hersch recalls the story about the U.S. Navy EP-3E spy plane that bumped up along the coastal border of China soon after George W. Bush came into office. The Chinese brought the plane down onto Hainan Island and proceeded to take it apart piece by piece. They learned alot about the U.S. electronic surveillance program in that incident and the Pentagon used it as an opportunity to start crying wolf – the Chinese are coming and are ready to cyber attack us here at home – NOTHING IS SAFE!

One has to wonder if the incident over Hainan Island was a fix. The plane, a slow lumbering propeller driven spy aircraft, was destined to be intercepted during such a mission. With present satellite technology available to the Pentagon today you have to wonder what the plane could do that military satellites aren’t already capable of delivering.

The military industrial complex loves these kinds of scare scenarios… can anyone refute them? How can an inquiring mind or a skeptical public stand up against “the best and the brightest” inside the Pentagon? What they say is gospel, right?

So today we see massive amounts of your tax dollars being poured into the cyber war rat hole to “protect and defend” us against Chinese computer attack when in fact the cyber command is developing U.S. “offensive” cyber attack programs with these new infusions of cash.

So be careful not to fall for these mental tricks being pulled on the public. I know it is almost Halloween and scary things are standard operating procedure this time of year.

Just close the door on this one.


The Online Threat – Should we be worried about a cyber war?

by Seymour M. Hersh
The New Yorker
November 1, 2010

n April 1, 2001, an American EP-3E Aries II reconnaissance plane on an eavesdropping mission collided with a Chinese interceptor jet over the South China Sea, triggering the first international crisis of George W. Bush’s Administration. The Chinese jet crashed, and its pilot was killed, but the pilot of the American aircraft, Navy Lieutenant Shane Osborn, managed to make an emergency landing at a Chinese F-8 fighter base on Hainan Island, fifteen miles from the mainland. Osborn later published a memoir, in which he described the “incessant jackhammer vibration” as the plane fell eight thousand feet in thirty seconds, before he regained control.

The plane carried twenty-four officers and enlisted men and women attached to the Naval Security Group Command, a field component of the National Security Agency. They were repatriated after eleven days; the plane stayed behind. The Pentagon told the press that the crew had followed its protocol, which called for the use of a fire axe, and even hot coffee, to disable the plane’s equipment and software. These included an operating system created and controlled by the N.S.A., and the drivers needed to monitor encrypted Chinese radar, voice, and electronic communications. It was more than two years before the Navy acknowledged that things had not gone so well. “Compromise by the People’s Republic of China of undestroyed classified material . . . is highly probable and cannot be ruled out,” a Navy report issued in September, 2003, said.



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2 thoughts on “Cyber war becomes the next great fear by Bruce Gagnon + The Online Threat by Seymour M. Hersh

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