Mr. Obama, according to participants in the many Situation Room meetings on Olympic Games, was acutely aware that with every attack he was pushing the United States into new territory, much as his predecessors had with the first use of atomic weapons in the 1940s, of intercontinental missiles in the 1950s and of drones in the past decade. He repeatedly expressed concerns that any American acknowledgment that it was using cyberweapons — even under the most careful and limited circumstances — could enable other countries, terrorists or hackers to justify their own attacks.
Isn’t it amazing how the U.S. is constantly the world’s first nation to use new, highly destructive weapons — at the same time that it bombs, invades, and kills more than any other country by far — and yet it still somehow gets its media to tell its citizenry that it is America’s Enemies who are the aggressors and the U.S. is simply a nation of peace seeking to defend itself.
Needless to say, if any cyber-attack is directed at the U.S. — rather than by the U.S. — it will be instantly depicted as an act of unparalleled aggression and evil: Terrorism. Just last year, the Pentagon decreed that any cyberattack on the U.S. would be deemed “an act of war.” As Rudy Giuliani said about whether waterboarding is torture: “It depends on who does it.” Here’s a cartoon from today making the same point.
Administration defenders will undoubtedly insist that unleashing cyber warfare was all necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and impeding an Israeli attack — even though the U.S. Government acknowledges there is no evidence that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons; Iran has the absolute right to enrich uranium for civilian purposes, and it is far from clear that this virus meaningfully impeded Iran’s nuclear program. But no matter: once a Manichean storyline is implanted (Evil Iran v. Virtuous America), all acts of aggression by the super-hero against the villain are inherently justified.
Beyond the substance of this revelation, there is something quite notable going on here. This morning’s story by Sanger is but the latest in a long line of leaks about classified programs that have two attributes in common: (1) they come from senior Obama administration officials; and (2) they are designed to depict President Obama, in an Election Year, as a super-tough, hands-on, no-nonsense Warrior. Put another way, the administration that is pathologically fixated on secrecy and harshly punishing whistleblowers routinely leaks national security secrets when doing so can politically benefit the President.
I’m disturbed by our empire and its leader, and I’m even more disturbed by the docility of our populace. Any response to our outright aggression will be used to push more internet “security” measures on the U.S. population which will of course mean huge government contracts for private firms who have expensive cyber defense system to foist on us.
The U.S. acts as child in the world who goes around hitting beehives with sticks and then starts screaming and wailing about how much the bee stings hurt when there is response. Due to the bee stings being unpleasant this child then determines that the bees themselves must be evil for hurting him, and decides to declare war on bees by setting all the hives on fire and then dancing around the ashes like he did something noble.