|As the concept of online warfare advances, the international community is scrambling to lay out rules to regulate this potentially devastating new kind of conflict. Last week, the International Committee of the Red Cross released its first ever position paper on the subject, stating that "there is no question" that laws of war apply to cyberspace – but what that actually means remains unclear.
The Red Cross paper comes on the heels of the first major international attempt to offer a solution: a nonbinding NATO-backed report called the Tallinn Manual. At the same time, a recently leaked U.S. policy directive suggests that our government is already writing its own rules for cyber-war – and some say the administration's reasoning raises many of the same concerns that surround other kinds of 21st-century American war.
The directive, which first appeared in The Guardian last month, states that the U.S. government retains the right to take "anticipatory action against imminent threats" in a cyber-conflict. For many administration critics, the use of the vaguely defined term "imminent"—which appears seven times in the 18-page document—is a major red flag. In a now-infamous Department of Justice white paper leaked earlier this year, the Obama administration laid out a partial legal rationale for when an American citizen can be killed without a trial, concluding that a person can be deemed an "imminent threat" even if there's no evidence of an attack happening in the immediate future. […]
Critics say the U.S. government's continued reliance on the broadly defined idea of "imminence" is part of a larger, problematic pattern. "Language is being abused," says security technologist and author Bruce Schneier, who also cites Director of National Intelligence James Clapper's recent efforts to shift the meaning of the word "collect" after he was caught lying to Congress about the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance programs.
Schneier believes that we are in the early years of a cyber-arms race; in the absence of stricter international rules, he says the U.S.' current approach could have disastrous consequences. "In a world where hacks can happen in seconds," says Schneier, "everything is imminent."
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2003—So who is in charge of finding WMDs?:
|How can anyone claim Bush knows what he's doing, when he doesn't even know who's in charge of finding WMDs in Iraq?
Meeting last month at a sweltering U.S. base outside Doha, Qatar, with his top Iraq commanders, President Bush skipped quickly past the niceties and went straight to his chief political obsession: Where are the weapons of mass destruction? Turning to his Baghdad proconsul, Paul Bremer, Bush asked, "Are you in charge of finding WMD?" Bremer said no, he was not. Bush then put the same question to his military commander, General Tommy Franks. But Franks said it wasn't his job either. A little exasperated, Bush asked, So who is in charge of finding WMD? After aides conferred for a moment, someone volunteered the name of Stephen Cambone, a little-known deputy to Donald Rumsfeld, back in Washington. Pause. "Who?" Bush asked.
The rank incompetence within this administration's Iraq team is breathless. And Bush's ignorance as to the most important issue facing him -- the finding of WMDs -- is startling.
Good thing Mr. Cambone, lurking in the bowels of the Pentagon, is on the trail of those "missing" WMDs. With any luck he should trip over a germ lab or two in just a matter of days.
Today's "encore performance" of Kagro in the Morning is our July 3, 2012 post-Derecho show. Greg Dworkin brought us the first round of polling following the SCOTUS ACA ruling, as well as early polling validating the focus on Bain Capital (even after Ed Rendell & Cory Booker tried to warn Dems off). Meteor Blades discussed his efforts to boost voter turnout & fight voter suppression in the American Indian community. Armando joined in as well, on the Republican governors then threatening to fight post-ACA Medicare expansion, the historical paradox of the Tea Party being named for anti-corporate activism, Romney's Lake Winnipesaukee vacation, the upcoming London Olympics & more.