The Cyberwar Plan

The Cyberwar Plan
The Cyberwar Plan

Forwarded from: William Knowles 

By Shane Harris
National Journal
Nov. 14, 2009

Cover Story

In May 2007, President Bush authorized the National Security Agency, 
based at Fort Meade, Md., to launch a sophisticated attack on an enemy 
thousands of miles away without firing a bullet or dropping a bomb.

At the request of his national intelligence director, Bush ordered an 
NSA cyberattack on the cellular phones and computers that insurgents in 
Iraq were using to plan roadside bombings. The devices allowed the 
fighters to coordinate their strikes and, later, post videos of the 
attacks on the Internet to recruit followers. According to a former 
senior administration official who was present at an Oval Office meeting 
when the president authorized the attack, the operation helped U.S. 
forces to commandeer the Iraqi fighters' communications system. With 
this capability, the Americans could deceive their adversaries with 
false information, including messages to lead unwitting insurgents into 
the fire of waiting U.S. soldiers.

Former officials with knowledge of the computer network attack, all of 
whom requested anonymity when discussing intelligence techniques, said 
that the operation helped turn the tide of the war. Even more than the 
thousands of additional ground troops that Bush ordered to Iraq as part 
of the 2007 "surge," they credit the cyberattacks with allowing military 
planners to track and kill some of the most influential insurgents. The 
cyber-intelligence augmented information coming in from unmanned aerial 
drones as well as an expanding network of human spies. A Pentagon 
spokesman declined to discuss the operation.

Bush's authorization of "information warfare," a broad term that 
encompasses computerized attacks, has been previously reported by 
National Journal and other publications. But the details of specific 
operations that specially trained digital warriors waged through 
cyberspace aren't widely known, nor has the turnaround in the Iraq 
ground war been directly attributed to the cyber campaign. The reason 
that cyber techniques weren't used earlier may have to do with the 
military's long-held fear that such warfare can quickly spiral out of 
control. Indeed, in the months before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 
2003, military planners considered a computerized attack to disable the 
networks that controlled Iraq's banking system, but they backed off when 
they realized that those networks were global and connected to banks in 


"Communications without intelligence is noise;  Intelligence
without communications is irrelevant." Gen Alfred. M. Gray, USMC - Computer Security, & Intelligence - 

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