Pentagon: Cyber Attacks Are Acts of War (Except When We Do It)

John Glaser, May 31, 2011

Today’s Wall Street Journal:

The Pentagon has concluded that computer sabotage coming from another country can constitute an act of war, a finding that for the first time opens the door for the U.S. to respond using traditional military force.

…In part, the Pentagon intends its plan as a warning to potential adversaries of the consequences of attacking the U.S. in this way. “If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks,” said a military official.

In other words, the Pentagon has declared that the Iranian regime has the right to attack the United States with missiles. At least, that’s the principle being laid down by this announcement. Cyber attacks have been an official policy, as far as we can gather, of the United States towards Iran for some time. No military response is even worried about from Iranians – they don’t have that prerogative. We, on the other hand, rule the world. And rules that apply to others simply don’t apply to us.

It’s a dangerous iteration of war policy to declare that if some foreign government hacks into a power grid in the U.S., they will suffer death and destruction. First of all, there are serious questions of proportionality consider. Murdering people from the sky is not warranted by a power outage.

Furthermore, the Pentagon has said that the United States will not distinguish between governments who aim cyber attacks at us and rogue individual hackers from some other country who commit such an act. The Pentagon will hold the government of whatever country such an attack comes from responsible regardless of who actually committed it. Among the ominous potential unintended consequences to come from this policy is that it could very well become a justification for government control of the internet  in all kinds of countries. If governments want to protect their sovereignty, freedom of access to the open world wide web seems too risky as per this policy.




12 Responses to “Pentagon: Cyber Attacks Are Acts of War (Except When We Do It)”

  1. Light work ahead for "Radio Gleiwitz" operations. No need to even produce a body. These firewall logs will do.

  2. And all these years I thought Joseph Stalin was crazy for purging the Red Army's leadership in the late 1930s.
    I think I'm beginning to understand now. It's troubling, but I think I'm beginning to understand.

  3. I'm with Max, see above.

    "In the end there will be fewer- but better- Americans."

  4. How convenient. So you place assets inside another country to falsely "hack" your own defenses and use that as a pretex to attack the "host" country? Good grief allmighty! May as well call that the Tonkin virus.

  5. Would they attack China since many attacks we are told origionated from there?

  6. One that will certainly fool millions of willingly gullible sheeple, all of whom are just salivating in anticipation of "their" government starting another "war" it can't afford.

    Call hospice care. This country is terminal.

  7. They're stupid enough to believe that they're powerful enough to do just that, but are much too cowardly to actually do it.

  8. Bullies only attack those too weak to fight back.

  9. [...] points out that, by this logic, the Iranians are already justified in attacking the US with missiles, considering all the hackers the Pentagon has pointed at [...]

  10. [...] points out that, by this logic, the Iranians are already justified in attacking the US with missiles, considering all the hackers the Pentagon has pointed at [...]

  11. [...] AntiWar.com points out that by this logic the Iranians are already justified in attacking the U.S. with missiles, considering all the hackers the Pentagon has pointed at them. [...]

  12. as a pretex to attack the "host" country? Good grief allmighty! May as well call that the Tonkin virus.