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"We must fight the net"

January 27, 2006

The BBC has posted a pdf of a declassified 2003 Department of Defense report that, according to a cover note from Donald Rumsfeld, "provides the Department with a plan to advance the goal of information operations as a core military competency." In its executive summary, the report lists "three matters of key importance that require immediate attention":

1. We Must Fight the Net.

2. We Must Improve PSYOP.

3. We Must Improve Network and Electro-Magnetic Attack Capability.

Fight the Net? This phrase, which appears more than once in the heavily redacted document, appears to refer to the possibility of the internet and other networks being used as a weapon of attack. The BBC writes:

[The report] seems to see the internet as being equivalent to an enemy weapons system. "Strategy should be based on the premise that the Department [of Defense] will 'fight the net' as it would an enemy weapons system," it reads. The slogan "fight the net" appears several times throughout the roadmap. The authors warn that US networks are very vulnerable to attack by hackers, enemies seeking to disable them, or spies looking for intelligence. "Networks are growing faster than we can defend them... Attack sophistication is increasing... Number of events is increasing."

In its PSYOPS section, the report notes that the internet is allowing propaganda targeted at foreign audiences to circle back to U.S. audiences. As the BBC summarizes:

Perhaps the most startling aspect of the roadmap is its acknowledgement that information put out as part of the military's psychological operations, or Psyops, is finding its way onto the computer and television screens of ordinary Americans. "Information intended for foreign audiences, including public diplomacy and Psyops, is increasingly consumed by our domestic audience," it reads.

It's hardly a surprise that such a document exists. There is every reason to believe that information networks will be battlefields of one sort or another in the future, and a national defense strategy needs to take that fact into account. Still, it's fascinating, and a little scary, to read about plans to "disrupt or destroy the full spectrum of globally emerging communications systems, sensors, and weapons systems dependent on the electromagnetic spectrum." Put your head between your knees, and kiss your data goodbye.


This is why we should allow Google to sacrifice it's principles in order to penetrate the Chinese market. Their search engine could be an effective intelligence tool if the government were to subpoena results or Google chose to cooperate in order to meet national interests.


Posted by: Andrew Schmitt at January 27, 2006 04:38 PM

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