These weapons and their have been hailed as a break through in the War on Terror, but are designed in such a way that target indiscriminate populations and often effect populations without any obvious ties to terrorist groups. One has to ask why are such weapons appropriate for use on a war that is specifically aimed at special targets, yet in these applications used widespread on populations or infrastructure. Does a society or culture that does not necessarily support or embrace terrorism as a component of government policy or activity deserve to suffer the effects of such a program that can cripple and damage whole populations regardless of their Involvement in such activities.When Iranian President Ahmedinejad announced that Iran was enriching Uranium in the Natanz facility using centrifuges, the idea of a cyberattack or cyber virus program was presented for President George W. Bush’s approval under the title of “Olympic Games”.The cyber attack program utilized a form of malware developed by hackers in The United States National Security Agency called “Stuxnet”.
The program took years to code and develop and has been reported to contain of the largest code of any other worm. The challenge of the designers and US military was getting it into the computer system of the Natanz network at the nuclear plant. The enrichment facility was blocked by an Internet moat or what is referred to as an air gap. This space surrounding the plant was implemented to block any network access or traffic that could interact with the systems running the enrichment site.Various German companies including Siemens were contracted or responsible for much of the technology utilized at the plant.
The implementation of the worm it was decided would best be accomplished using USB thumb drives brought in through technicians or representatives of the private companies. Independent technicians, through the use of these infected thumb drives that carried the Stuxnet worm were able to infiltrate the air gap placed around the Natanz nuclear facility in Iran. Since the deployment of “Stuxnet” into the plant, the malware program has escaped the air gap and is infecting computers worldwide. It has broken through the air gap via these technicians thumb drives into other Nuclear enrichment facilities and 60% of Iranian personal computers. The Iranian Nuclear program utilizes the centrifuge method to enrich uranium for weapons grade or fuel rod grade enriched uranium. This method utilizes cascading centrifuges filled with uranium that are spun at high speeds to which gas is added to the centrifuges. This process strips the uranium of some of its heavier isotopes(U235) into the centrifuges. These isotopes travel with the gas into the next centrifuge repeating the process and yielding a higher concentration of nuclear grade uranium. By creating centrifuges that are of a favorable isotope for Uranium enrichment, more of the uranium can be utilized in the fission process.
After the original malware was released into the enrichment plant at Natanz, the Israeli military intelligence agency, Mossad, found out about the malware. Whether they helped the U.S.develop it previous to this or discovered the malware through their espionage program active in Iran and the U.S. or even within their own nuclear program possibly infected by the malware is unknown. The malware infection was spread by technician’s thumb drives after they left Natanz for other nuclear sites in the course of their business. Realizing that their common interests, the destruction of Iran’s nuclear capabilities, were similar, the NSA combined to work jointly with Israel’s Department 8200, to aid in the “Olympic Games ” project. The updated malware was reinserted and managed to cause the automated enrichment process to slow down or speed up rotation of the centrifuge production, which caused the centrifuges to be destroyed rendering them unable to provide the high grade uranium needed for any nuclear program.
At the height of the malware’s infection of Natanz, nearly 60 % of Iran’s centrifuges were damaged and physically destroyed. It is not known if these were to be used in the production of clean energy for the country so devastated by the continued depletion of their crude oil reserves by foreign companies or for the production of nuclear weapons. To bring home the accomplishment of what had occurred, the computer program was able to break thru the internet gap and change the construction of solid matter rendering it useless. What became of the centrifuges after they could not be used for high grade uranium enrichment.
The success of this first cyberattack collaboration between the United States and Israel, which has a unique program for those Israelis caught hacking-the hackers are either faced with a prison term or service in Department 8200, Israel’s version of the Nation Security Administration, has birthed a plethora of cyber weapons projects. Department 8200 is Israel’s premier unit associated with cyber surveillance, and military cyber defense systems, as well as the development of cyber weapons. The joint program, with the NSA, yielded the first actual cyber weapon that produced physical damage and subsequent cyber programs target enemies communications networks, government infrastructure, banking, transportation systems, and power grids.After the success of the “Olympic Project” and the long term ramifications of such a cyber weapon, other systems in development were implemented in The War on Terror. Some of these weapons systems implemented have been used against Libya, and Al Qaida since these programs have proved successful. President Obama, supports these systems as well as the expansion of the drone policy. Both of which have the ability to cripple a nation from an unseen enemy that does not differentiate between military targets, servicemen, or civilians. In fact, the cyber weapons programs being designed after the success of the Stuxnet malware target enemy nations power grids, sewage treatment facilities, banking systems, and Internet.
The War on Terror, directed at a specific Muslim religious extremist groups, including Al Qaida, is now being used as the vehicle to indiscriminately target whole nations and their peoples; regardless of religious, political, sex, military, or sectarian membership, enabling the complete and utter destruction of a nation’s government, infrastructure, and all those within the affected areas. This is a form of Orientalism and is rampant and clearly exemplified by the use of the Stuxnet Malware. Its use against an enemy nation, Iran, without evidence of active Al Qaida members, in fact, one of the few larger concentrations of Shi’a Muslims, shows how this war is now indiscriminately used as a way to attack any perceived enemy. Shi’a Muslims, are more often the terror victims of the mainly Sunni members of Al Qaida, even more so than any Western nation. The attack on Iran shows a blatant misuse of the War on Terror and the powers of the president to use any type of non discriminate weapons in the fight against terrorism. By abandoning the production or reducing the dependence of Iran on its crude oil production and the foreign companies that still finance and sell off Iran’s resources for the profits of the oil companies, Iran has stepped into the War on Terror without evidence of any terrorist activity within its borders.
This type of blanket weapons systems that aim to cripple a whole country regardless of leadership, more often than not doing more harm to its peoples actually creates an environment ripe for terrorist groups to proliferate as seen in the war in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The use of cyber weapons in Afghanistan and Syria provides further documentation of this. These weapons also, although not utilized in the Middle East proved beneficial in the bringing down of all of North Korea’s internet capabilities, thus cutting them off from the rest of the world and their citizenry completely.The latest known admission of the consideration of the use of such cyber weapons in Afghanistan has shown another dimension of the program. Marine Lieutenant General Richard Mills claims he has used such cyber weapons during his command of international troops in the field to hack into control and command capabilities of his enemy’s forces, thus infecting and crippling the network and its communication capabilities cutting off communication to troops.The weapon was developed by DARPA, the agency under the control of the NSA. The success of this small scale program has spawned “Plan X”, a larger version designed to map out an enemy’s entire computer network in the war zone. It concentrates on a weak point in the network and is designed to once initiated into a weak point grow and infect the entire network similar to the Stuxnet worm. The Results of the beginnings of these cyber programs and the drone policy have been shown to provide the terror groups an environment ripe for the expansion or takeover into such areas. This is evident in the current proliferation and rapid expansion of ISIS; rumored and identified as the political wing of the Al Qaida network. In recent months ISIS’s takeover of areas in these affected countries has been the next enemy in the declaration of war on this new enemy. Had these weapons not been deployed or utilized in such a manner that created an environment and victimization of whole populations ideal for extremist groups to grab control of power from the vacuum and aftermath of these attacks. The US by targeting nations as a whole creating widespread chaos to infrastructures and alienating entire groups of people creates the threat.
While the interface between private sector development and the NSA relies heavily on the corporate side currently the hottest jobs in the NSA involve the transfer of the development of such programs under military control. Recruitment at cyber computer and hacker gatherings is strong now with the military actively seizing these recruits away from the private sector security companies that most are employed by.
As the U.S. Moves forward on such policies to replace the traditional military of ground forces and move away from a military versus military theater of confrontation it targets civilian populations directly without concern as to collateral damage or the killing of innocents not involved in military or terrorist activity. This flies in the face of the self proclaimed enemy which is usually a minority within the country or area of conflict. This policy shows a complete lack of thought or care in who the real enemy is, simply lumping all members of a society or culture together as “terrorists”.
In this doctrine The United States itself becomes the ultimate terrorists as the population that democratically elects the lawmakers that embrace and vote on these programs embracing them as a whole. This is seen by the congressional votes on the such legislation as the War on Terror, The Patriot Act and subsequent re-votes, and more recent the declaration of war on ISIS with little or no opposition in the votes against such programs in either party. The same cannot be said of the enemy which do not vote on such attacks in their own countries but rather arise in the power vacuum after such attacks out of fear and intimidation by our policies. Such policies are clearly in violation of nearly every treaty or rules of engagement such as the Geneva Convention and United Nations votes.
In such policies The U.S. Moves away from warfare against a known identified enemy armed, funded, and organized by a unifying power to the unknown. The vague terms defining the enemy such as terrorists, and ISIS do not fall under any known treaty, leadership, or border even and are used to make warfare on anyone. How does one extricate or negotiate with such an enemy to declare an end to hostilities, a peace treaty, or cease fire? Who are the leaders of such unknown, border less combatants and after nearly 15 years of such warfare when does the conflict end? At what juncture is victory declared? How many times have we heard that victory is at hand with the capture and killing of Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, and other important leaders of these terrorist groups, for now we are without names or faces of the enemy. This is the policy that insures the survival of the military industrial complex that General Dwight D. Eisenhower warned of just prior to leaving office in 1960. A war without end on any and all deemed the enemy.
Update…5/24/2015 New news, The Face of The Enemy. Solutions, simple solutions.
Well it looks like we finally have some names to go with our Isis Enemies. Over the past few weeks The U.S. Government through centcom has released the names and photos of some of our enemies in ISIS. ” What! are you sure we want to show the enemy! “ Well, if we show them after they’re dead, with their names, showing them will prove we had enemies. it is in this way they will not be viewed as living people that can be interacted with ever. One wonders if they were enemies if we did not kill them on a battlefield.
In one of my courses at the local Community college Sacramento City College, in an anthropology class, our Professor Bruce Pierini asked one of our fellow classmates to speak of his experience as an interrogator by virtue of speaking Arabic or learning Arabic while in the U.S. military’s War on Terror, stationed in Iraq several years ago. He was extremely scared and the experience seemed raw, not to mention he was funded for school by the government through the Gi Bill. I will not mention his name . It was his job to round up Iraqis that may have been thought of as having links to Al-Qaeda. He could not differentiate who was linked to terrorism and who was not. He was walking patrols in the evening and had a quota to fill daily. He inquired to his commanding officers as to how to tell the difference?
“It doesn’t matter.” was their response.
The struggles he must have faced were evident as he choked up remembering his nightly quota of ten and how he selected them with the cry of “it doesn’t matter”. Knowing that many of these people nightly will not be returning to their families for a meal, or the income to provide for it. This done nightly before interrogations which had quotas as well. The interrogations and their process unspoken by him, communicated through his eyes, the horror and guilt.The entire class saw what our friends, brothers, cousins, and young volunteer soldiers did in our name. We, collectively, were silent and weighted. It did not matter, just grab the first ten you see, shortly after the curfew, or go into a home with an address you were given and take the men. Democracy indeed.
Imagine going on to this CyberCaliphate Wordpress site that is listed again below, I will not put a link on it, this is an American Site recruiting for Isis, and referencing the Shia Sunni conflict in its title, with a woman veiled in a designer scarf. Maybe she made the site, maybe her cousin in Michigan made it. Maybe she has nothing to do with Al-Qaida but she is completely veiled. Is she obscuring her identity with it? Why wear it at home? She is telling the world though that she has money, a computer, Internet access, and a voice. Maybe she waits for a son that left to get formula for his daughter whose mother, his wife , was killed by an explosion in the bazaar. She heard he last was brought in for questioning a minute after curfew since the local bazaar was bombed out and he had to walk farther to get his daughters milk.
It was many years ago. Now, her grand mother is actually the one taking her picture in the scarf. She knows English from the soldiers and recruits for ISIS, it is the only way she can pay back the charity since the Muslim Brotherhood is what kept her and her grandmother alive after the Americans killed everything. There is no one to negotiate her dowry and no dowry to start with even. She is a spinster at 18, after being orphaned at 3. Who will share her table tonight?
Wouldn’t this be a hoot, for an interesting cultural experience and maybe an attempt to use this technology for Peace. Go on this or any other social networking site to arrange a meal with 2 other cultures over web cams- on skype, or any other web meeting program. You can list the memberships on the networking sites. It could and would be good to do during a holiday or holy period, like during Ramadan, Passover, Holy Week, or any time for that matter. One sets up the site to host and invites others, arranging a Ramadan break the fast meal between cultures, bring in some Jewish folks, and over webcams eat a meal together.
At each site the participants say a blessing that reflects their spirituality or gratitude, for those other guests and the people, resources, and sacrifice it took to get the meal to their table. After each table does this! they break bread, introducing themselves as they take a hunk of bread. When all are done, explain your meals, did you grow the food, process it , bake the bread from a starter, how far did you walk to get the products in your meal, what are commemorating with this holiday, why do you fast all day? Imagine the connections, although meal times might be a bit off in timing, with some effort it could be done cross meals. Like Breakfast in Jerusalem with dinner in New York.
How could one after eating with a family and hearing how they got the food to the table, want to drop a bomb, or fly a drone into their house or pay to have it done. Imagine dining with them while or if such an event happens. You are eating during a holiday with them, seeing them massacred by a pilotless drone, maybe the size of a fly equipped with a poison dart, knowing that your taxes paid to kill them. What defense did they have? Yet they knew as it was happening you paid for it, and you did too, watching them die, still eating with your children after blessing each other.
That is the power of a webcam and streaming projector shared with families and kids. This could bridge all differences brought by propaganda and isolation. The power of the computer and wireless technology to link us as families, the human family, having a meal together. Could this bring peace as it is now being used to make war on innocent families.
Works CitedWorks Cited
“Cyberwarfare and Cyberweapons, a Real and Growing Threat”. infosecinstitute.com
Ghelten, Tom. “First Strike: U.S. Cyber Warriors Seize the Offensive”. worldaffairsjournal.org.
“Iran Nuclear Facilities Hit By Cyber Attack that Plays AC/DC Thunderstruck at Full Volume.”
Moskowitz, Jeff. “Cyber Security Unit Drives Israel Internet Economy.” CS monitor.com
Sanger, David. “Obama Order Sped Up Wave of Cyberattacks Against Iran.” The New York
“Uranium Enrichment” http://www.NRC.gov. 10/21/2014
Zettler,Kim. “Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and The Launch of The World’s First Digital
Weapon.” wired.com. 11/03/2014.