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U.S. Congress Authorizes Offensive Use of Cyberwarfare 206

Posted by Soulskill
from the take-the-battle-to-the-enemy's-router dept.
smitty777 writes "Congress has recently authorized the use of offensive military action in cyberspace. From the December 12th conference on the National Defense Authorization Act, it states, 'Congress affirms that the Department of Defense has the capability, and upon direction by the President may conduct offensive operations in cyberspace to defend our Nation, Allies and interests, subject to: (1) the policy principles and legal regimes that the Department follows for kinetic capabilities, including the law of armed conflict; and (2) the War Powers Resolution.' According to the FAS, 'Debate continues on whether using the War Powers Resolution is effective as a means of assuring congressional participation in decisions that might get the United States involved in a significant military conflict.'"
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U.S. Congress Authorizes Offensive Use of Cyberwarfare

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  • Americans (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dunbal (464142) * on Friday December 23, 2011 @03:42PM (#38475456)

    may conduct offensive operations in cyberspace to defend

    You see nothing wrong with this. Then you wonder why the world hates you.

    • by Colin Smith (2679) on Friday December 23, 2011 @03:53PM (#38475588)

      To the penchant for destabilising democratically elected governments and installing puppet dictators in order to acquire resources and dominate regions militarily.

      • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Friday December 23, 2011 @04:06PM (#38475724)

        To the penchant for destabilising democratically elected governments and installing puppet dictators in order to acquire resources and dominate regions militarily.

        It was the peer pressure... all the cool kids had colonial empires and we wanted to be cool too. But before we could find acceptance, fashion changed and the US is now wearing the equivalent of global bell bottoms.

    • Seem to like our money well enough. If you *really* hate us so much then stop coming around with your hand out.

      • Re:Americans (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Dunbal (464142) * on Friday December 23, 2011 @05:13PM (#38476420)
        America is the world's debtor, not the world's creditor. It is you who "owes" us money.
        • by Bucky24 (1943328)
          Depends on which country you are talking about. We owe China a lot of money. On the other hand, plenty of countries in Africa and the Middle East "borrow" money from us all the time (which we likely will never get back). So you're right, America is not the world's creditor. We don't really lend that much money at all, since lending implies that we'll get it back.

          (This post sounds a little like flamebait, and I apologize for that. I'm not trying to anger anyone, just trying to point something out).
          • Re:Americans (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Dunbal (464142) * on Friday December 23, 2011 @05:36PM (#38476728)
            Oh I'm far from angry, just wanted to open the poster's eyes a little. If you have a crack addict who borrows 100K from the Mafia, and gives away 20K to his "buddies" while spending the other 80K on a Porsche he somehow got financing for, more cocaine, bling, and other frivolous things, then you have a fair analogy. Instead of crack read oil. Instead of Porsche and bling read any number of entitlement and useless spending (including inflated "defense" spending that gets you multi-million dollar drones that can be easily captured by Iran), etc. You would not say that this person is rich. In fact you would say that this person is going to be in deep trouble when the Mafia decide to collect. And his "friends" are fair-weather friends of convenience. And it's useless to say "I told you so", because that person is damned certain that there is nothing wrong with their life-style.
            • by Bucky24 (1943328)
              Oh i fully agree with you.

              And the poster in question isn't right anyway... The countries that "hate" the US aren't the ones asking for aid...
              • by Pharmboy (216950)

                The countries that "hate" the US aren't the ones asking for aid...

                Pakistan is just the tip of the iceburg when it comes to "enemies" we give money to. Cuba, Somalia and even China get aid. I don't understand it either.

        • America is the world's debtor, not the world's creditor. It is you who "owes" us money.

          Yes, not only is the American government in more debt than it can handle to China, American citizens are in a very large amount of personal debt as well. So, that is two kinds of debt for America. Meanwhile Russia is doing well enough to let some of America's old friends borrow some money for a while, and make something the U.S. gov't does not want them to have: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/business/article/vietnam-gets-9bln-loan-to-build-first-nuke-plant/448380.html [themoscowtimes.com] -JS

    • Re:Americans (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hedwards (940851) on Friday December 23, 2011 @04:29PM (#38475968)

      As opposed to the other nations that are already doing that, just without any formal declaration. I would be very surprised indeed if China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, Israel and others weren't already engaging in offensive operations online.

      OTOH, why let the likely truth prevent such bigoted trash talk from being posted.

    • Re:Americans (Score:4, Interesting)

      by miserere nobis (1332335) on Friday December 23, 2011 @06:06PM (#38477052)
      There is nothing wrong with this. This entire discussion thread has taken failing to read the article to a new level. This section of the bill in question affirms that violence commenced via the Internet falls under the same rules as violence with regular guns, and thus it is subject to the laws of war and the War Powers Resolution. It is not a declaration of war, it is not permission to "fire at will." Nor is it an affirmation of pre-emptive strikes. Offensive use of force in defense of the nation is not a new or strange concept. The President has been, since the beginning of the republic, authorized to conduct offensive operations with the military to defend the United States, subject to Constitutional and Congressional limitations and the laws of warfare. This section effectively says, "cyberspace is an arena in which this may also occur." Nothing more. In that regard, it is actually an assertion that there are limits on Presidential use of the Internet for violent acts, although exactly how to apply the established laws regarding warfare to cyber-warfare is obviously a really big question.
  • SOPA? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lexx Greatrex (1160847) * on Friday December 23, 2011 @03:46PM (#38475518) Homepage Journal

    "Debate continues on whether using the War Powers Resolution is effective as a means of assuring congressional participation in decisions that might get the United States involved in a significant military conflict."

    I read the War Powers Resolution is also effective as a means of assuring congressional participation in Internet censorship .

    Time for the voting public to purge this misguided house of government of all its privilege and narcissism.

    • Why? It'll be far more fun sitting back and watching them fall flat on their faces when they realize the internet doesn't work the way they think it does, despite them inventing it!
      • Or better yet, when the internet 'self-heals' to exclude them entirely
        • Re:SOPA? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by lightknight (213164) on Friday December 23, 2011 @04:00PM (#38475670) Homepage

          While that will be entertaining to see, this beast, having lost its head, will stagger around and flail its limbs, catching others unawares, before it finally succumbs to death.

        • by hedwards (940851)

          Contrary to your statement the internet doesn't just self heal, as long as you take down the correct bit of infrastructure somebody has to go out and fix it. Moreover they have to recognize that something's gone wrong and that can take time if the damage is subtle enough.

          Beyond that, you need people to go out and fix the connectivity to a particular region. Sure the internet at large just routes around it, but I can't imagine that even the hawks in the DoD are suggesting that we take the entire net down, mo

      • by Bucky24 (1943328)
        While I agree that it will probably be a lot more entertaining for a lot of people, consider the collateral damage that will undoubtedly be inflicted against a lot of other people (ie, techs who actually understand the internet). If congress ever actually gets their heads around the idea that the internet is almost impossible to control there will be attempted crackdowns and all manner of hell before they give up.
    • Re:SOPA! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rwa2 (4391) * on Friday December 23, 2011 @03:58PM (#38475646) Homepage Journal

      Yeah, who needs SOPA when you have the US military to enforce royalty payments!

      Yes, it's a new age of intellectual property imperialism! Except instead of the huge royal navies of England and France fighting pirates and collecting royalties on trade routes, we'll have the DoD DDoS attacks taking down all parties that don't pony up!

      It's suiting for the US, much of whose wealth and economy is now based on imaginary assets, like patents and copyrights on, well, just about anything having to do with "popular" culture or business processes. What better way to make money for nothing than to have a piece of legal paper that says that people have to pay you money for doing ${thing}s? And then having a bunch of other people fund your military, the largest in the world, to enforce those payments?

      Subjugation! Success!

    • That's exactly what I thought as soon as I read the headline. Pass SOPA, allow MAFIAA to hire operators to shut down websites with nothing more than a claim of supporting terrorism.
      It won't change anything regarding file-sharing - but it'll sure make the people who are spending all that money supporting politicians feel better about their large bonuses.

  • by zill (1690130) on Friday December 23, 2011 @03:54PM (#38475594)

    and (2) the War Powers Resolution

    Let's drop the charade. If robotic aerial bombardment doesn't constitute "war", then sending strings of ones and zeros through a series of tubes certainly doesn't count as "war". There is effectively no congressional oversight because cyber-warfare does not fall under the purview of "war" according to the executive branch. There's also no way for congress to cut funding for cyber-warfare since all the computers and networks are already paid for, and there's very little operational costs to waging a cyber war.

    • by Trepidity (597)

      By:

      Debate continues on whether using the War Powers Resolution is effective as a means of assuring congressional participation in decisions that might get the United States involved in a significant military conflict

      I assume they meant something more like: "debate continues" in legal journals, where scholars analyze some very interesting theoretical questions. Meanwhile, Presidents of either party don't find these theoretical questions particularly interesting, and don't consider them a significant barrier

    • by Nimey (114278) on Friday December 23, 2011 @04:16PM (#38475824) Homepage Journal

      We warned you people that Bush's grubbing for power would come back and bite us in the ass later on. Once power is gained, it is seldom let go of.

      We warned you that the War Powers Act is unconstitutional.

      Eisenhower warned us about the military-industrial complex.

      When will enough people listen and act?

      • We warned you people that Bush's grubbing for power would come back and bite us in the ass later on. Once power is gained, it is seldom let go of.

        We warned you that the War Powers Act is unconstitutional.

        Eisenhower warned us about the military-industrial complex.

        o/~ One of these things is not like the others ... o/~

        By "War Powers Act" you probably mean the War Powers Resolution of 1973 (the actual War Powers Acts were WW2 laws) which is intented to limit the President's ability to wage war without Congressional approval. To the degree that it functions as intended (not very well, unfortunately) it thereby serves as a check on executive power and the growth of the military-industrial complex. Those who argue that it is unconstitutional -- which regrettably include

        • by Nimey (114278)

          I'm coming at it from the angle of it giving too much power to the executive: the constitution give Congress the power to declare war, full stop, and the president should on no account start a shooting war with someone else without congressional approval.

      • Eisenhower's original formulation was the military-industrial-congressional complex. He saw the corruption of the nation's political organs by lobbying and campaign finance way back then, but was advised to remove the "congressional" bit since he was delivering the speech to Congress.

    • What? If it doesn't count as war, then it counts as spam, and I HATE spam! Time to build some thermonuclear spam filters...
  • Cyberwarfare ? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sambo_serg (2538126) on Friday December 23, 2011 @03:54PM (#38475600) Homepage
    Cyberwarfare is fiction.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Cyberwarfare is fiction.

      Yes - at most it causes inconvenience.

      When someone hacks into a computer and causes someone to die or destroys some military asset as a direct result of that hack, then I will consider it to be "warfare".

      Until then, I will take this "cyber warfare" propaganda as just that - propaganda that will justify the spending of millions of dollars on projects run by people who have the political connections.

  • This will be my first motion for all forms of government and associated militaries to be permanently banned from the internet.

    Do I hear a second?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 23, 2011 @03:57PM (#38475628)

    Would this give the citizens of America the right to form a Cyber militia and the right to bear Cyber arms under the constitution?

  • "Interests" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hadlock (143607) on Friday December 23, 2011 @03:58PM (#38475648) Homepage Journal

    upon direction by the President may conduct offensive operations in cyberspace to defend our Nation, Allies and interests

    "Interests" is an interesting term. We have well defined (codified in law) ideas of who our allies and what our nation is, but interests can range anywhere from democracy to oil to bombing airplane manufacturing plants in Brazil and China to protect our (civilian) areospace industry.
     
    Diplomatic cables have already revealed that we lean pretty heavily on our allies to buy Boeing and Locheed Martin products, both civilian and defense oriented. If anyone needs a reminder, we just "convinced" Japan to buy 150+ still on the drawing board F-35 stealth fighters, (things yet to fix: major fire hazards, lack of stealth, weak airframe, buggy software, bad aerodynamics) rather than the EuroFighter earlier this week, right after Kim Jong Ill died.
     
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_Martin_F-35_Lightning_II
     
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/japan-to-pick-lockheeds-f-35-as-new-stealth-fighter/2011/12/13/gIQAbuYUrO_story.html

  • So wasn't there a Star Trek TOS episode where they fought their wars in their computers? Congress should be ashamed of stealing Prior Art.

    • by k6mfw (1182893)

      So wasn't there a Star Trek TOS episode where they fought their wars in their computers? Congress should be ashamed of stealing Prior Art.

      Yep. To make the battles more "clean" (reduce collateral damage) they used "computer games" to carry out battles. Reason is they have been at war for 500 years and come to an agreement to make the war not as devastating. Program would tally up casulties and each side by agreement have to send some of their people into these tubes that vaporizes them. Capt Kirk blasted a portion of their computer system that also brought down both offense and defense computer (and probably severed the comm link with the oth

  • Geneva Convention (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lkcl (517947) <lkcl@lkcl.net> on Friday December 23, 2011 @04:11PM (#38475778) Homepage

    somebody in the u.s. hasn't been reading the geneva convention. if the U.S. is hell-bent on linking the words "cyber" and "warfare", then the U.S. had better be ready for the consequences. the consequences of "declaring war" on another country are very very simple: under the Geneva Convention, a declaration of war legitimises and grants the right for any citizen of the country being attacked to immediately take offensive action, no matter where they are, against citizens and against all soil of the aggressors.

    in other words, should the United States respond with physical force against another country's citizens just because a computer which was wide open to the world (with 3 letter passwords), that is an "act of war", and the citizens of the country being attacked are automatically granted the right to take immediate offensive violent action against any United States Citizens or against any United States "property" and soil.

    in other words, this is an incredibly stupid thing for the United States Government to be doing. especially given that many people in the United States Military have absolutely no idea what constitutes a cyber attack, and they certainly don't understand that 3 letter passwords are an invitation to go "cooeeee! i 0wn youuu!"

    madness. absolute madness.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 23, 2011 @04:15PM (#38475820)
      By their actions in Guantanamo Bay I do not think that the USA is concerned about the Geneva Convention.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 23, 2011 @05:34PM (#38476700)

      First, the Geneva Convention never gives someone the right to take violent action against all of a nation's citizens. Noncombants are afforded protection under the conventions. You should cite which convention you have derived your information from. Since the basis of your argument is false, the rest does not matter. However, I will state that if the U.S. began treating cyberwarfare as actual war, then any physical force against another country would most likely be accompanied by attempting to sever the country's lines of communication as well. Besides, all this does is address the fact that China (et al) has been pursuing aggressive cyber attacks against foreign intelligence for some time.

    • by jbolden (176878)

      Huh? What country do you think would want to get into an armed conflict with the United States? There are many countries that want to be in a state of low level conflict but few want to actually be at war. We have a long tradition of making war, win or lose just miserably expensive for the opponents.

      No one is going to attack the USA through violent action and if they were willing to, the Geneva Convention isn't going to matter one way or another.

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Friday December 23, 2011 @04:15PM (#38475816)
    The Constitution does not give Congress authority to delegate their war-making powers to ANYONE else, including the President.

    If this can legitimately be considered "warfare", then there is no question whatever that it is unconstitutional. The "War Powers Act" notwithstanding... it is unconstitutional, too. You can't use one unconstitutional law to justify another.

    If Congress hasn't declared war, then it's not a Constitutional (legal) war. Period. And that means we haven't had a legal war in over 60 years.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Fun fact: The United States has only formally declared war 5 times!
      (our last one was WWII, but that's closer to 70 years now)

      • "Fun fact: The United States has only formally declared war 5 times!
        (our last one was WWII, but that's closer to 70 years now)"

        Precisely my point.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      whoever modded "Funny": kill yourself

    • by jbolden (176878)

      The Constitution doesn't specify mechanisms for delegation of scope of delegation. The constitution is silent on the issue of what can or can't be delegated.

      As far as the response to 9/11 congress passed a treaty and we acted under Nato treaty article 5. We can take military action based upon treaties.

    • Don't misunderstand me: I don't mind the mod of "funny". But the fact that it WAS modded funny just shows that people don't know their history of the Constitution.

      Seriously. This is a portion of history that seems to have been neglected. But I can give you a hint: many things are probably not how you think they are. And many things the government and the news tell you are wrong.
  • Oh boy, here we go (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ElusiveJoe (1716808) on Friday December 23, 2011 @04:20PM (#38475850)

    The nationalization and segmentation of Internet has begun. It was a nice place with no borders and equal for everyone. But of course, old power-greedy bastards has awoken and now want to subjugate everyone under their rule, claim "territories" that they own and build armies to fight with each other. And common folks as always are blinded with "patriotism" propaganda, while really are just used as a resource for some self-proclaimed sociopathic "leaders". Since the dawn of ages. Humanity, will you ever learn?

  • Those cutting edge Senators and Representatives have a hunch that China and others may one day consider developing such a cyberwar capacity, and want the USA to be the first to develop it.
  • Oops.....We just Hacked Ourselves, destroyed our own prosperity, and captured our own freedom. Now that's a victory for self defeat.
  • They are already disconnecting foreign sites on general domains [slashdot.org] that are in the way of their market interests. What is it if not an aggressive action?

  • I really think the older generation doesn't understand that the virtual world isn't just 'virtual', that actions that take place in it really do affect the real world. Actually, I don't think even newer generations understand this either. They simply believe that anything that happens in the virtual world will stay there. When their laptop is broken they can simply by a new one. A simple brute force solution for a very elegant problem.

    Cyberwarfare is going to turn into a very messy can of worms. Someone men
  • by Tolkien (664315)
    Americans are war-weary? Legalize the hacking they've already been doing in secret!

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