This blog post echos my sentiments exactly, by it's own rules the USA has seemingly committed an act of aggression against another nation state (Iran)...and yet there was no approval by Congress to do so? Please tell me, what exactly has happened to the Constitution?
|Over the past few years, state-sponsored cyber-warriors have unleashed a family of espionage and sabotage programs against computer installations and individuals. Most of the targets were in Iran. Infected systems have been found throughout the Middle East and elsewhere, but these appear to be incidental infections.|
by J.D. Hildebrand, 07/27/2012 04:46 PM EST
I’ve been trying to wrap my brain around some recent events in U.S. international relations. I find the events deeply troubling, though I must admit that I am not quite sure what they all mean.
Over the past few years, state-sponsored cyber-warriors have unleashed a family of espionage and sabotage programs against computer installations and individuals. Most of the targets were in Iran. Infected systems have been found throughout the Middle East and elsewhere, but these appear to be incidental infections.
The New York Times, the Washington Post, and other news sources have reported that these programs – most commonly referred to as Stuxnet, Duqu, and Flame – were developed by the United States government, perhaps with the involvement of Israel. The malware was specifically designed to map out Iranian command-and-control computer systems, disable elements of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, and eavesdrop on high-ranking government and industrial computer users. The news reports are based on leaks from government sources. The U.S. government has not denied the reports, but it has launched an aggressive initiative aimed at identifying and punishing those who leak sensitive information to the press.
At about the same time news reports about the government’s role in creating malware aimed at Iran surfaced, the Times reported on a new Pentagon policy regarding cyber-attacks. According to Pentagon sources, the United States would consider state-sponsored malware intrusions an “act of aggression.” The phrase “act of aggression” has a specific meaning under international law. It refers to military actions that may legally trigger armed attacks as a consequence. (The more commonly used phrase "act of war" has, it turns out, no legal meaning. It's a wonderful rhetorical element, but without implications under international law. You'd be surprised how many hours of research it takes to confirm that "act of war" is not a defined phrase in international law.)
In other words, if U.S. computer resources were to be attacked with malware like Stuxnet or Duqu or Flame, the U.S. would consider itself under attack and would feel itself justified, under international law, in launching a military response.
The irony here is impossible to miss, and the timing is curious. At the same time the U.S. was exposed as the initiator of cyber-attacks against Iran, the Pentagon stated that cyber-attacks were military acts and justification for military response.
To this naïve observer, it appears the Pentagon is daring Iran to retaliate. But why?
The facts and timing of this matter are clear. It’s the big picture that eludes me. What is the U.S. trying to accomplish?
J.D. Hildebrand has written hundreds of articles for dozens of publications and online communities dedicated to software development. He is slowly working his way through the works of Salman Rushdie.