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Tuesday, April 28, 2009


The other swine flu and "defensive" warfare

With swine flu in the news, someone emailed me a reminder of the episode in 1971 when a different swine disease, African swine fever virus, became one of the many forms of terrorism direct against Cuba by the U.S./CIA/anti-Cuban gang cabal:
With at least the tacit backing of U.S. Central Intelligence Agency officials, operatives linked to anti-Castro terrorists introduced African swine fever virus into Cuba in 1971.

Six weeks later an outbreak of the disease forced the slaughter of 500,000 pigs to prevent a nationwide animal epidemic.

A U.S. intelligence source told Newsday last week he was given the virus in a sealed, unmarked container at a U.S. Army base and CIA training ground in the Panama Canal Zone, with instructions to turn it over to the anti-Castro group.

The 1971 outbreak, the first and only time the disease has hit the Western Hemisphere, was labeled the "most alarming event" of 1971 by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization. African swine fever is a highly contagious and usually lethal viral disease that infects only pigs and, unlike swine flu, cannot be transmitted to humans.
The U.S. government always claims that its development of biological and chemical warfare agents is just "defense," that they're just figuring out ways to defend against them. But somehow (it's a mystery), those supposed "defenses" always end up being used for offense (think anthrax for a different kind of example).

Strangely enough, there's a related story in today's news, about cyberwarfare. The New York Times, where the story originates, has a carefully circumspect headline: "U.S. Steps Up Effort on Digital Defenses." "Defenses." But the San Jose Mercury News carries the same article with a different, more honest, headline: "U.S. Plans Attack and Defense in Web Warfare." The article itself is guarded:

But the broader question — one the administration so far declines to discuss — is whether the best defense against cyberattack is the development of a robust capability to wage cyberwar.
The Times article elaborates:
But Mr. Obama is expected to say little or nothing about the nation’s offensive capabilities, on which the military and the nation’s intelligence agencies have been spending billions. In interviews over the past several months, a range of military and intelligence officials, as well as outside experts, have described a huge increase in the sophistication of American cyberwarfare capabilities.
Outside of an either-or situation like football (either one team has the ball or the other does), the proposition that "the best defense is a good offense" is simply nonsense. Should I prevent someone from robbing my house by robbing theirs? No, I should lock my doors and windows. Yes, it's true that thinking about how I might rob someone's house might lead me to better understand how to protect my own from robbery, and that is the justification the U.S. uses for these investigations. But history proves that such investigations time after time lead not to better defense, but simply to more offense. And in the cyberwarfare case, note how the Times, despite its headline which talks only about "defense," makes very clear that the U.S. is spending millions on cyberwarfare, not just on cyberdefense.

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