increasing clamour to restrict and control the internet on behalf
of the government, the Pentagon, the intelligence community
and their private corporate arms, could result in a staged cyber
attack being used as justification.
Over recent months we have seen a great increase in media coverage
of inflated fears over a possible “electronic Pearl Harbor”
event, with reports claiming that the U.S. could be "felled
within 15 minutes".
Vastly over-hyped (and in some cases completely asinine) claims
that the power grids and other key infrastructure such as rail
networks and water sources are wired up to the public internet
have permeated such coverage.
Threats against computer networks in the United States are
grossly exaggerated. Dire reports issued by the Defense Science
Board and the Center for Strategic and International Studies
“are usually richer in vivid metaphor — with fears
of ‘digital Pearl Harbors’ and ‘cyber-Katrinas’
— than in factual foundation,” writes Evgeny
Morozov, a respected researcher and blogger who
writes on the political effects of the internet.
Morozov notes that much of the data on the supposed cyber threat
“are gathered by ultra-secretive government agencies —
which need to justify their own existence — and cyber-security
companies — which derive commercial benefits from popular
When the Cybersecurity Act was introduced by Senator John Rockefeller
last year, he made similar claims about the threat of cyber
attacks, adding "Would it have been better if we’d
have never invented the Internet?".
Rockefeller's legislation gives the president the ability to
“declare a cybersecurity emergency” and shut down
or limit Internet traffic in any “critical” information
network “in the interest of national security.”
The bill does not define a critical information network or a
cybersecurity emergency. That definition would be left to the
president, according to a Mother
Provisions in the bill would allow the federal government,
via the DHS and the NSA, to tap
into any digital aspect of every citizen’s information
without a warrant. Banking, business and medical records would
be wide open to inspection, as well as personal instant message
and e mail communications - all in the name of heading off cyber
attacks on the nation.
Enhancements of such provisions are contained in the more recent
Cyberspace as a National Asset Act", which
is being pushed hard by Senator Joe Lieberman. The bill would
hand absolute power to the federal government to close down
networks, and block incoming Internet traffic from certain countries
under a declared national emergency.
An accompanying cybersecurity
control grid would only create greater risk according
to experts who note that it would essentially "establish
a path for the bad guys to skip down." Other countries,
such as Australia and the UK are following
During the Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing,
Alexander said the Pentagon’s Cyber Command would enjoy
“significant synergy” with the NSA. “We have
to show what we’re doing to ensure that we comport, comply
with the laws,” said Alexander, perversely claiming the
agency is respecting and protecting the privacy of the American
The enemy is never specifically named, it is merely whoever
uses the net, because the enemy IS the net. The enemy is the
freedom the net provides to billions around the globe and the
threat to militaristic dominance of information and the ultimate
power that affords.
“This is going to be a goat rope on the Hill" McConnell
said. My prediction is that we’re going to screw around
with this until something horrendous happens.”
As we have previously
reported, large corporations such as Google, AT&T,
Facebook and Yahoo to name but a few are intimately involved
in the overarching program. Those corporations have specific
government arms that are supplying the software, hardware and
tech support to US intelligence agencies in the process of creating
a vast closed source database for global spy networks to share
Clearly the implications of this program for the open and free
internet, and for liberty in general are very worrying, this
has been reflected in the resistance and criticism from groups
such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
In light of this, there is a real danger of a hyped or completely
staged cyber attack being propagated in order to bring the issue
to public attention and counter the critics who have exposed
it as a part of the agenda to restrict the Internet.
In 2008 Stanford Law professor Lawrence Lessig detailed such
ongoing government plans for overhaul and restriction.
Lessig told attendees of a high profile Tech conference that
going to be an i-9/11 event" which will act
as a catalyst for a radical reworking of the law pertaining
to the internet.
Lessig said that he came to that conclusion following a conversation
with former government Counter Terrorism Czar Richard Clarke,
who informed him that there is already in existence a cyber
equivalent of the Patriot Act, an "i-Patriot Act"
if you will, and that the Justice Department is just waiting
for a cyber terrorism event in order to implement its provisions.
Lessig is the founder of Stanford Law School's Center for Internet
and Society. He is founding board member of Creative Commons
and is a board member of the Software Freedom Law Center. He
is best known as a proponent of reduced legal restrictions on
copyright, trademark and radio frequency spectrum, particularly
in technology applications.
These are clearly not the ravings of some paranoid cyber geek.
We have also recently seen multiple mock attacks conducted
by the government, via private outsourcing, on it's own infrastructure
systems. On such exercise, called "We
Were Warned: Cyber Shockwave", involved Former
Department of Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff and
former CIA deputy director John McLaughlin taking the roles
of government leaders. CNN
broadcast the entire simulation on prime time television.
Alex Jones recently discussed this issue on Russia Today news
Journalist Webster Tarpley also lays out the hyping of cyber
threats as a pretext to takedown the internet: