Monday, February 15, 2010

Torture is Bad, Um'kay?

I cannot believe there are still dipshits out there who contend that torture is a good thing, such as this piece in the UK's Independent by Bruce Anderson.

Henry Porter points out why many of his arguments are bad in the Guardian.

I have to admit to Torture Fatigue. Like David Schaengold, I cannot believe we are still having this argument.

Wintermute and the War for Cyberspace

A recent Defense Tech article about cyber-warfare suggests that the US needs a national strategy to "close the gaps in policies, regulations and definitions that currently exist between military, law enforcement, the federal government, civilian authorities and private organizations."

Could homeland cyber-security be the impetus for overarching regulations of virtual worlds?

Back in 2007, U.S. Air Force officials openly stated that cyberspace as a war-​​fighting domain. At that time the statement attracted little attention. Today, cyberspace has rapidly evolved into a key domain similar context to land, air, and sea for military conflict. This evolution has occurred at a pace few had anticipated....

The question for U.S. military and government leaders is: How to update current operational policies and doctrine? ...

Operations and warfare in cyberspace encompass a substantial number of elements in technology and society as well as in the government and private sector.... The unique modalities of operations in [cyberspace] make this the most difficult domain in which to resolve international disputes and conflict....

Given the nature of the Internet, an international doctrine [and] vetting process must be employed so that a common understanding and decision framework covering what it means to [be attacked and launch a legal counterattack and then] conduct war in [cyberspace].

Finally there is a tendency to evaluate and create cyber warfare doctrine in isolation.
The [cyberspace] domain enables military action in the other domains of land, sea, air and space and therefore the doctrines must be fully integrated.

Offensive [cyberspace] operations can be conducted at all levels of conflict and across the conflict spectrum including counter terrorism operations to achieve established objectives. A few years ago U. S. Strategic Command began to develop tactics, techniques, and procedures as well as other operational concepts designed to integrate offensive, defensive and intelligence [cyberspace] capabilities into cross-​​mission strike plans. The development and integration of cyber warfare doctrine should be considered as an opportunity to drive tactics, processes and procedures to coordinate the employment of cyber weapons as a mechanism of support across all domains of conflict.

We don’t have much time for research on this topic. There are already tension between military objectives, intelligence-​​gathering requirements and law enforcement efforts. A formal doctrine must be in place given the increase in cyber attack frequency, complexity and impact that we have seen over the last few months. |Defense Tech|


I agree that this is an international problem, but I despair at the thought of trying to get an international agreement on what constitutes an attack and what is an appropriate response.

I also think that counter-attacks and defensive responses will literally take place at the speed of light and any international vetting will be after the fact, not prior to a response.

Still, a provocative piece that makes excellent points.

In case you don't catch the literary allusion in the title, Wintermute was an artificial intelligence in William Gibson's novel Neuromancer |Wikipedia| that forecast the creation of the Internet and vividly described it as a battlefield.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Honor among Thieves?

Vice magazine has an article about a Baltimore stick-up artist Donnie Andrews who was (largely) the inspiration for The Wire's character Omar Little.

Omar Little is an interesting example of a likable but violent thief.


Criminals form their own ecologies and in prisons it's common for inmates to dominate and rob each other based on power and physical force.

Australians use the word toe-cutter to describe thieves who rob other thieves.

It's strikes me as reasonable that criminals might develop their own "codes" but if there is no enforcement mechanism and no method to enforce these rules, then I think they're more whimsical than anything else.