WASHINGTON – U.S. lawmakers have reportedly authorized the army to begin “kinetic military actions” – to take place on the Internet.

The announcement came with no fanfare, but quietly, in a short paragraph that includes the military budget for 2012.

The House and Senate agreed to give the U.S. military the power to conduct “offensive” strikes online — including clandestine attacks, via a little-noticed provision in the military’s 2012 funding bill.

The power, which was included in the House version but not the Senate version, was included in the final “reconciled” bill that is all but guaranteed to pass into law.

“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.).”

While “offensive” action isn’t defined, that’s likely to include things like unleashing a worm like the Stuxnet worm that damaged Iran’s nuclear centrifuges, hacking into another country’s power grid to bring it down, disabling websites via denial-of-service attacks, or as the CIA has already done with some collateral damage, hacking into a forum where would-be terrorists meet in order to permanently disable it.

The military budget, which approved the classification of the law, states: “Congress affirms that the Department of Defense has the potential for and, under specific directions, can perform offensive operations in cyberspace to defend our nation, partners and other interests, in accordance with the principles and legal systems that the Department defines for the kinetic action potential, inclusive within armed conflict and the resolution of the powers of war.”

The President and his military leaders now have a free way to declare, also, a war on the Internet where they will operate without the need to follow any principles or legal systems that require permission from Congress.

There are also other obscure terms, for example, what do they consider an “offensive action”? Although not specified, the Pentagon’s strategy for “security on the Internet,” is another nice euphemism. They have been occupied in trying to define the meaning of this offensive for months.

It is worth explaining that “offensive actions” may include the release of viruses of all kinds, the destruction of services and the ability to invade the energy control systems in other countries, disabling their power grids and generating complete blackouts.

We stress the fact that the actions “may include” because there are no precedents in relation to net cyber war or war, and these actions can expect to receive similar responses, as with real warfare attacks, keeping in view everything that has been pointed out as offensive in this text

This threat of war is precipitated by cyber-paranoia, prophesying all sorts of cyber-apocalypse scenarios and other cyber-deception to promote fear.

There is no record of any attacks from hackers that have put anyone in real danger, not even at risk, it is “highly dependent on Internet infrastructure.”

The conference report goes on to say:

“The conferees recognize that because of the evolving nature of cyber warfare, there is a lack of historical precedent for what constitutes traditional military activities in relation to cyber operations and that it is necessary to affirm that such operations may be conducted pursuant to the same policy, principles, and legal regimes that pertain to kinetic capabilities.

The conferees also recognize that in certain instances, the most effective way to deal with threats and protect U.S. and coalition forces is to undertake offensive military cyber activities, including where the role of the United States Government is not apparent or to be acknowledged. The conferees stress that, as with any use of force, the War Powers Resolution may apply.

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.”

Over the last few years, there’s been a drumbeat from D.C. and security contractors about the possibility of “cyberwar,” and the military has been pushing for, and largely receiving, increased funding for internet security research and more power to monitor and operate on the civilian internet.

Chinese hackers, perhaps affiliated with the government, have targeted large U.S. corporations, defense contractors and human rights groups with data-stealing trojans, something Bloomberg News trumpeted Tuesday as an “undeclared global cyber war.”

However, 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.

Source: Cubadebate, with information on Tribuna Popular TP 

Translated from the Portuguese version by:
Lisa Karpova

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