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Panel Advises Clarifying U.S. Plans on Cyberwar

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A report based on a three-year study by a panel assembled by the National Academy of Sciences says the United States does not have a clear military policy on how to respond to a cyberattack. The report, "Technology, Policy, Law, and Ethics Regarding U.S. Acquisition and Use of Cyberattack Capabilities," says the United States needs to clarify both its offensive capabilities and its planned defensive response.

Admiral William A. Owens, a former vice chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and an author of the report, says the notion of "enduring unilateral dominance in cyberspace" by the U.S. is not realistic, in part due to the low cost of the technologies required to mount attacks. Owens also says the idea that offensive attacks are non-risky military options also is incorrect. The report's authors included several scientists and cyberspecialists.

The report says the United States should create a public national policy regarding cyberattacks based on an open debate about the issues and urges the United States to find common ground with other nations on cyberattacks to avoid future military crises. The Pentagon National Military Strategy states that cyberattacks on U.S. commercial information systems or transportation networks could have a greater economic or psychological effect than a relatively small release of a lethal agent. The effort to project a lack of clarity is seen as being important to keeping adversaries uncertain of the severity of a U.S. counterattack, which has historically been an essential element of deterrence.

From The New York Times
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Abstracts Copyright © 2009 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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