[ISN] Why the U.S. Should Use Cyber Weapons Against Syria

http://www.defenseone.com/technology/2013/08/why-us-should-use-cyber-weapons-against-syria/69776/ By Jason Healey Defense One August 30, 2013 If the Obama administration does conduct military strikes against Syria, as seems likely, it should use military cyber weapons at the earliest possible moment to show the upside of military cyber power. Though this is risky, as it puts the focus on the U.S. militarization of cyberspace, it is likely worth doing to show that cyber operations are not evil witchcraft but can be humanitarian. This is not the first time the United States has been here. In 1999, the White House was reported to have initially approved a plan for covert “computer attacks on foreign bank accounts held by [Slobodan] Milosevic and other Serbian leaders, such as draining assets or altering banking records.” A few years later, during the time of the second invasion of Iraq, a similar plan was rolled out to “cripple” the financial system of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, leaving him “no money for war supplies. No money to pay troops.” Neither plan seems to have been executed. The Treasury Department and senior political officials apparently blocked these attacks, for fear of cascading failures and setting a precedent of targeting banks. More recently, according to the New York Times, the Obama administration and military commanders considered “a cyberoffensive to disrupt and even disable the Gaddafi government’s air-defense system.” A cyber strike on Libya was apparently ruled out both because there was not enough time and also because officials felt that cyber capabilities are like a “Ferrari” which should be saved for the “big race.” The Israeli Air Force apparently did not think so, as it was widely reported they used a backdoor “kill switch” to disable Syrian air defenses en route to destroying an illicit nuclear reactor. Given this history, what can and should the United States do today against Syria? […]