Sunday, August 02, 2009

The unknown dangers of cyberwar delayed its introduction

Would you believe there was a form of war the Bush administration was afraid to attempt back in 2003? According to the Global New York times there was.
In 2003, the Pentagon and American intelligence agencies made plans for a cyberattack to freeze billions of dollars in the bank accounts of Saddam Hussein and cripple his government’s financial system before the United States invaded Iraq. He would have no money for war supplies. No money to pay troops.

“We knew we could pull it off — we had the tools,” said one senior official who worked at the Pentagon when the highly classified plan was developed.

But the attack never got the green light. Bush administration officials worried that the effects would not be limited to Iraq but would instead create worldwide financial havoc, spreading across the Middle East to Europe and perhaps to the United States.

Fears of such collateral damage are at the heart of the debate as the Obama administration and its Pentagon leadership struggle to develop rules and tactics for carrying out attacks in cyberspace.
So we could have done it in 2003 but didn't know how far the collateral damage to the global financial system would have extended. So the Bush administration would do it.

But a mere conventional invasion of Iraq was alright. Sure there were certain to be many civilian casualties as collateral damage to a military invasion, but as long as no bankers got hurt ....

Of course, if a terrorist group were to develop the techniques, destroying the global banking networks that the West depend on just might be the goal instead of a nasty side effect to be avoided.

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