America's war on the web
While the US remains committed to hunting down al-Qaeda
operatives, it is now taking the battle to new fronts. Deep
within the Pentagon, technologies are being deployed to wage the
war on terror on the internet, in newspapers and even through
mobile phones. I
By Neil Mackay
Herald" -- --
IMAGINE a world where wars are
fought over the internet; where TV broadcasts and newspaper
reports are designed by the military to confuse the population;
and where a foreign armed power can shut down your computer,
phone, radio or TV at will.
In 2006, we are just about to enter such a world. This is the
age of information warfare, and details of how this new military
doctrine will affect everyone on the planet are contained in a
The Information Operations Roadmap,
commissioned and approved by US secretary of defence Donald
Rumsfeld and seen by the Sunday Herald.
The Pentagon has already signed off $383 million to force
through the document’s recommendations by 2009. Military and
intelligence sources in the US talk of “a revolution in the
concept of warfare”. The report orders three new developments in
America’s approach to warfare:
lFirstly, the Pentagon says it will wage war against the
internet in order to dominate the realm of communications,
prevent digital attacks on the US and its allies, and to have
the upper hand when launching cyber-attacks against enemies.
lSecondly, psychological military operations, known as psyops,
will be at the heart of future military action. Psyops involve
using any media – from newspapers, books and posters to the
internet, music, Blackberrys and personal digital assistants (PDAs)
– to put out black propaganda to assist government and military
strategy. Psyops involve the dissemination of lies and fake
stories and releasing information to wrong-foot the enemy.
lThirdly, the US wants to take control of the Earth’s
electromagnetic spectrum, allowing US war planners to dominate
mobile phones, PDAs, the web, radio, TV and other forms of
modern communication. That could see entire countries denied
access to telecommunications at the flick of a switch by
Freedom of speech advocates are horrified at this new doctrine,
but military planners and members of the intelligence community
embrace the idea as a necessary development in modern combat.
Human rights lawyer John Scott, who chairs the Scottish Centre
for Human Rights, said: “This is an unwelcome but natural
development of what we have seen. I find what is said in this
document to be frightening, and it needs serious parliamentary
Crispin Black – who has worked for the Joint Intelligence
Committee, and has been an Army lieutenant colonel, a military
intelligence officer, a member of the Defence Intelligence Staff
and a Cabinet Office intelligence analyst who briefed Number 10
– said he broadly supported the report as it tallied with the
Pentagon’s over-arching vision for “full spectrum dominance” in
all military matters.
“I’m all for taking down al-Qaeda websites. Shutting down enemy
propaganda is a reasonable course of action. Al-Qaeda is very
good at [information warfare on the internet], so we need to
catch up. The US needs to lift its game,” he said.
This revolution in information warfare is merely an extension of
the politics of the “neoconservative” Bush White House. Even
before getting into power, key players in Team Bush were
planning total military and political domination of the globe.
In September 2000, the now notorious document Rebuilding
America’s Defences – written by the Project for the New American
Century (PNAC), a think-tank staffed by some of the Bush
presidency’s leading lights – said that America needed a
“blueprint for maintaining US global pre-eminence, precluding
the rise of a great power-rival, and shaping the international
security order in line with American principles and interests”.
The PNAC was founded by Dick Cheney, the vice-president; Donald
Rumsfeld, the defence secretary; Bush’s younger brother, Jeb;
Paul Wolfowitz, once Rumsfeld’s deputy and now head of the World
Bank; and Lewis Libby, Cheney’s former chief of staff, now
indicted for perjury in America.
Rebuilding America’s Defences also spoke of taking control of
the internet. A heavily censored version of the document was
released under Freedom of Information legislation to the
National Security Archive at George Washington University in the
The report admits the US is vulnerable to electronic warfare.
“Networks are growing faster than we can defend them,” the
report notes. “The sophistication and capability of … nation
states to degrade system and network operations are rapidly
T he report says the US military’s first priority is that the
“department [of defence] must be prepared to ‘fight the net’”.
The internet is seen in much the same way as an enemy state by
the Pentagon because of the way it can be used to propagandise,
organise and mount electronic attacks on crucial US targets.
Under the heading “offensive cyber operations”, two pages
outlining possible operations are blacked out.
Next, the Pentagon focuses on electronic warfare, saying it must
be elevated to the heart of US military war planning. It will
“provide maximum control of the electromagnetic spectrum,
denying, degrading, disrupting or destroying the full spectrum
of communications equipment … it is increasingly important that
our forces dominate the electromagnetic spectrum with attack
capabilities”. Put simply, this means US forces having the power
to knock out any or all forms of telecommunications on the
After electronic warfare, the US war planners turn their
attention to psychological operations: “Military forces must be
better prepared to use psyops in support of military
operations.” The State Department, which carries out US
diplomatic functions, is known to be worried that the rise of
such operations could undermine American diplomacy if uncovered
by foreign states. Other examples of information war listed in
the report include the creation of “Truth Squads” to provide
public information when negative publicity, such as the Abu
Ghraib torture scandal, hits US operations, and the
establishment of “Humanitarian Road Shows”, which will talk up
American support for democracy and freedom.
The Pentagon also wants to target a “broader set of select
foreign media and audiences”, with $161m set aside to help place
pro-US articles in overseas media.
Copyright © 2006 smg sunday newspapers ltd. no.176088