07.02.09

Electronic Pearl Harbor Man unearthed: Put him back in ground, please

Posted in Cyberterrorism at 7:59 am by George Smith

Jack Goldsmith, a professor at Harvard Law School who was an assistant attorney general from 2003 to 2004, is writing a book on cyberwar, threatened a by-line on the op-ed pages of the NY Times yesterday. (Tip o’ the hat to bonze for pointing it out.)

Goldsmith, a lawyer from the Bush administration awarded a get-out-of-jail-free-card for his tell-all book on the ‘terror presidency’, joins other famous ex-government officials, who as soon as they’ve finished with their cash-ins, refashion themselves as seers of the techno-future and set about writing tomes which are part thriller, part warning, containing multitudes of allegedly new-fangled plots and actions against the country.

The most notable example is Richard A. Clarke. Clarke set to work writing security warnings/techno-thrillers. His first, “The Scorpion’s Gate,” was a success. The second novel, “Breakpoint,” on cyberterrorism, sank without much trace.

To paraphrase the opening line to the article referencing Clarke’s side career as a poor man’s Tom Clancy, for the purpose of stereotyping of the entire cohort: Is there no beginning to the talents of these men?

Continuing in the same vein:

However, it’s as silly to condemn the genre as it is to disrespect hotdogs as not proper food. Techno-thrillers have made up a necessary part of the book rack in supermarkets for the last few decades and many Americans probably wouldn’t buy anything with print in it if they didn’t see it near the checkout stand.

So, for the Times, Goldsmith emitted a bit of a teaser, casting himself as one of the new electronic Pearl Harbor men, a species in no short supply.

Goldsmith, probably now anathema to his old GOP cohorts, has newly discovered cybersecurity. For the Times, his opinion pieces furnishes the standard cliches and sincere hand-wringing concern on the menacing nature of it and what must be done. Just like the ten thousand or so before him over the last fifteen years.

In Goldsmith’s first graf, we get the blame China meme. Federal law now mandates it be inserted in every opinion piece on cyberwar.

OUR economy, energy supply, means of transportation and military defenses are dependent on vast, interconnected computer and telecommunications networks. These networks are poorly defended and vulnerable to theft, disruption or destruction by foreign states, criminal organizations, individual hackers and, potentially, terrorists. In the last few months it has been reported that Chinese network operations have found their way into American electricity grids, and computer spies have broken into the Pentagonís Joint Strike Fighter project.

“The government should jump-start this [security] education by mandating minimum computer security standards and by requiring Internet service providers to deny or delay Internet access to computers that fall below these standards, or that are sending spam or suspicious multiple computer probes into the network,” he opines.

Good idea. Require licensing and vetting for everyone’s home and business desktop PC or refuse entry to the net. First step: Close down all the unregulated PC departments in consumer electronics stores like BestBuy. Second step: Decertify and refuse connection to all desktop and laptop PCs in use at public schools and at universities. Third step: Disallow all connection to the Internet by DSL, cable modem, wireless or dial-up from private residences, apartments and Internet cafes until all PCs are declared sanitized and impervious to penetration. Fourth: Raid and take out of business all big ISPs unable to guarantee their customers to be computer virus free. Last: Immediately put those damn kids always launching scripted UDP floods in jail.

Just pulling your leg. Tee-hee.


Hey, did you hear this new joke? I stole it from the GOP, sort of. What are the eight most dangerous and scary words you’ll hear from ex-officials put out to pasture: “I’m from Harvard and I’m here to help.”

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