Soob

Politics, Foreign Policy, Current Events and Occasional Outbursts Lacking Couth

Soob brought my attention to Michael Tanji's comments at Dreaming 5GW about the nature of western non-state counter-terrorists like the Jawas and PIST versus the floods of Islamic online extremists. It brought up the ethics of what we were participating in. When I talk of ethics, I mean the ethics of transgressing the rules presented by the western state actors that we live under.

I could think of two state actors that western cyber-militias might transgress. Those are:

  1. Law Enforcement and;
  2. Intelligence agencies.

Let us imagine a scenario where a sub-state actor like the FBI (or many of the other domestic law enforcement agencies around the world) were surveilling a major website of Islamic extremists. A cyber-militia action, such as shutting down the site, is potentially messing with evidence gathering, rather than intelligence, which in some cases could mean lawsuits against cyber-militia members. Imagine another scenario where a cyber-militia member had been trying to talk to a terrorist on the net, and that terrorist was also targeted by law enforcement, the cyber-militia member may be called to court if it goes to trial, because now, the western non-state civilian is a witness (after a long process of investigation by the domestic law enforcement (LE) for possible connections to terrorists).

The second group cyber-militias may transgress are Intelligence agencies. Something that relates to both LE and Intel are the core assumptions of cyber-militias (not all members of cyber-militias hold these assumptions, these are based on what I have read and seen from interacting amongst them, please read on with your critical thinking cap). Some of the key assumptions of cyber-militias are:

  1. western state actors have failed in certain areas of the war effort particularly psychological operations and;
  2. anti-western non-state actors are vast and stretch western state capabilities to wage counter-psyops.

Are these assumptions true? The first assumption is a very broad statement and could bring about many arguments for and against. Another problem with the first assumption is that we are trapped "in history" and it may take sometime to have a clear, broad perspective of the psychological conflict.

The second assumption is probably more clear. There is an immense amount of these groups and individuals. The output of the extremist hordes is impressive. The second part of the second assumption is something that is problematic. How do we know the western intelligence club are overwhelmed and not up to the task? Let us take the Hollywood Echelon scenario where information is picked up by keywords (whether in real life intercept operators sit there and transcribe the tedious banter of the lives of their targets, until the targets stuff up and breaks comms security). The keywords algorithm scenario is the most likely way to do sweeping information gathering of nascent terror websites. However, think how many times a second on the Internet certain key words like Osama, terrorist, IED would be spoken (and these are all in English, imagine non-english languages that targets could possibly speak, like Arabic dialects, Bahasa Indonesian, Tagalog etc. etc.) In December last year Kent's Imperative had a post entitled 'SIGINT in an Exaflood environment' which discussed intelligence gathering in a futurist environment where noise drowns out the signal. I would say the Anglo Intelligence club is already in such an environment. The tracking of nascent terrorist websites would be near impossible to do with algorithms at this stage, humans would still be needed as a sieve. Do western Intelligence agencies have that many officers to track online threats? Especially officers who speak the variety of target languages?

I would say that for major websites that have been identified as social network hubs for online extremists then the Intelligence agencies would probably allocate resources to targeting them. So directed intelligence gathering against specific targets is likely. Broad intelligence gathering of the entire Internet is less likely because of technical, time, and translating means. So the transgressions could lay with the cyber-militias targeting the major sites and messing with state actor Intelligence gathering, whilst minor, or growing extremist websites should be free game to the cyber-militias.

The major ethical dilemma I have raised here is non-state actors, e.g. cyber-militias, getting in the way of state actors. I'd like to open up the discussion here. I know Cannoneer feels pretty strongly about it and makes some good arguments for the use of cyber-militias.

Weighing up some of the core assumptions of state actor failure, and the continuing intelligence collection by state actors: Would a just person participate in counter-terrorist cyber-operations?

24 comments:

subadei said...

I've got plenty to say about this (as you know) but will leave the forum open to commentary. Perhaps we should invite some that might not read this to opine?

subadei said...

Oh, and the analysis is top notch and very thought provocative.

Münzenberg said...

sounds good, who should we ask? Cannoneer has posted on the Dreaming5GW post of yours in response to Tanji.

Cannoneer No. 4 said...

Concerned Netizens for Internal Defense and Development

Our wars are fought by an all volunteer force, and our warfighters are loved, supported and appreciated by volunteer citizens.

The Government can't decide what they would like you to do, besides keep paying your taxes. Significant factions within the Government would prefer to see you out marching in the streets with protest signs. These factions couldn't prevent America from going to war, but they can and do prevent America from applying the full spectrum of Diplomatic, Information, Military and Economic power against the "enemy", whoever the enemy is. They also veto any effective use by the Goverment of the proven methods of mass communications to bolster the morale of the civilian population and maintain support for the war effort.

Irregular Restrictive Measures — Blogospheric Computer Network Attack

My perception has been managed, accidently or by design on somebody’s part, to assume that the Other Government Agencies are incompetent in fighting the War of Ideas. On matters of efficiency, effectiveness, judgement, agility, speed, I don’t give OGA’s much benefit of the doubt. My default position holds them as jacked up until proven otherwise.

Blue Force failed to mobilize us, so we have come out of the mall and mobilized ourselves. Blue Force failed to convince us that they had everything under control and didn’t need us, and now they have to live with a certain amount of IO fratricide. The genie is out of the bottle. Our non-state actors are engaging their non-state actors in cyber space and Blue Force can influence, persuade and convince but they cannot command us. I recommend they accept the fait accompli, learn to like it, and get people to believe it was their idea all along.


Virtual Cyber Militias Must Run with the Ball OGAs Dropped

Cannoneer No. 4 said...

Are these assumptions true?

Do we perceive them to be true?

Our assumptions are based on how our perceptions have been managed, by design or by default.

Citizens who believe those assumptions are false have no motivation to self-mobilize. Citizens who believe those assumptions to be true are likely predisposed to cooperate with the agents of the Westphalian nation-state they self-mobilized to support, and if credible LE or IC sources ask nicely they will probably get what they asked for.

Ymarsakar said...

The major ethical dilemma I have raised here is non-state actors, e.g. cyber-militias, getting in the way of state actors.

Such problems already exist between FBI and CIA and Congressional limitations of NSA, FBI, etc intel gathering ops.

Those aren't ethical dilemmas given that the CIA and FBI and Congress don't have the same mission statement, so to speak. While they are supposed to work on the same side, technically speaking, they often work against each other because working against each other creates a balance of powers to prevent any one branch from becoming too powerful. Turf wars. This removes unity and stability from the country in return for bureaucratic malfeasance, inefficiency, and other things.

Non-state actors are in the same position, their specific specialization is apart from FBI, CIA, or Congress.

It may be counter-productive for CIA not to give lists of terrorist visa violators to the FBI before 9/11, but such things cannot be corrected entirely without combining FBI and CIA so they stop stepping on each other's toes.

But that won't happen because Congress believes that would put too much power in the hands of spies that are spying on foreigners and Americans. If Congress rejects wiretaps and NSA and refuses to renew them, then what would they say to breaking down the barriers between intel gathering orgs?

More mobile and maneuverable organizations based upon the citizens don't have to deal with this red tape. Such citizen organizations are not intended to replace the FBI or do its work of intel gathering. Such organizations are primarily focused on psychological warfare, which is not, last time I checked, a segment of the FBI mandate.

In fact, there are laws specifically preventing the US military or government officials from conducting psychological warfare against America. It doesn't always work for politicians, of course, because of the need for power and votes, but they do tend to regulate such advertisement.

It doesn't stop politicians from lying and manipulating, nor stop the media from helping the politicians manipulate and deceive America, but they are still restrictions that citizens do not operate under.

Grim Beorn with his article "On the Virtues of Killing Children" would have been taken differently had a politician wrote it. Sure, if a politician made it public, it would get more press, but which politician would have done so given the limitations and restrictions of how the government works? The restrictions of government does nullify the effectiveness of positive propaganda operations on the American people. If the government will not or can not support the morale of the American citizenry, then Americans have to do it themselves.

Just like the people of Flight 93 had to decide whether they were going to do something themselves or wait for the government to tell them what to do, lest what they do harm what the government was planning.

PS.

I'm not entirely against the compartamentalization of information and secrets. There's a good reason the FBI doesn't tell the CIA certain things and vice a versa. There are also bad reasons, but the good reasons are that the more compartamentalized info is, the less easy it becomes for a mole, spy, or intel leak to damage the entire network.

The FBI are naturally concerned about sources and methods being given to the CIA, when the CIA doesn't concern themselves with domestic surveillaince and counter-terrorism. Thus the FBI have a legitimate reason to worry whether the CIA is more liable to foul things up cause their organization has no interest in ensuring success in domestic networks.The opposite holds true in one fashion or another.

When CIA bureaucrats or FBI leak information to hurt Bush, all kinds of networks may be compromised by the illegal release of such information. This is the natural price of keeping a secret, the assumption that your teammates that don't know this secret will step on your foes, not because they want to, because they don't know any better.

I said before that it is not a matter of ethics and I meant it. The FBI nor the civilian counter-insurgency groups literally CANNOT work together, it is not a matter of ethical choice of sharing info or refusing to step on each other's toes. The FBI literally cannot and should not give such groups the required information in order to work better together. This is not because civilian groups are necessarily more full of opsec holes than the FBI, but because the nature of civilian counter-insurgency operations against jihadist networks means that there is a diffusion of information. Just as we know what they are up to because they are in the public domain internet, so can they know what we are up to. If they ever correlated our actions with the actions of the FBI, it would not be a good thing for FBI operations.

Also, counter-insurgency operations should not give information to the FBI on a regular basis. If people find an imminent threat, that would be different, but usually it is not a good idea given the fact that the FBI has to obey laws and has a hierarchy they obey. If they are fed information from civilian COIN groups, they would have a natural tendency to try to control and regulate such groups, if only to prevent Congress from smacking the FBI with prosecutions.

Cannoneer No. 4 said...

What A Novel Idea!

Seriously, its about control of the battle space. Cyberspace is part of the battle space in this war. al-Qaeda seeks to use cyberspace to get its message out and to organize. We must at least show up and to fight them in this medium. Not so much to drive all terrorists from the internet. That's neither possible nor desirable. But we must show up to the fight. To break up the perception of legitimacy and power that a web presence brings. -- Howie

subadei said...

Hi C-4. I've been turning this bit around in my head for some time since Michael Tanji's commentary at D5GW. I understand perfectly well the reasoning and am sympathetic to the want to conduct an irregular resistance. Especially in light of what appears to be a case of day late and dollar short as far as the government is concerned in reacting to the open frontier of cyber-jihad (for lack of a better expression.)

My concerns have nil to do with the philosophical genesis of our PIST endeavor. This is evident in how quick I was to sign on and get involved.

However, my correspondence with M. Tanji brought about some glaring possibilities that I hadn't entertained before. Which is odd, as I'm generally inclined to analyze with a fair amount of proficiency.

What concerns me:

-The possibility of interference in state agency operations. Possibilities include; not every Jihadist website is necessarily what it seems; an online collective isn't necessary a bad thing, as it may serve a source of surveillance.
-The legality of these operations. Swarming offending websites with complaints to the ISP is one thing, but; Do we subvert the law in our efforts?

I think the entire effort (speaking about PIST) lacks definition. You've got plenty of enlistee's and yet none know what it is, exactly, that they'll be doing. The principles are there but a definition of the methods (other than Jawa's swarming that I mentioned above) aren't.

Let me know what you think, C.

Cannoneer No. 4 said...

Should we do nothing on the off chance that doing something may inconvenience a bureaucrat?

How would US Army Special Forces influence a guerrilla chief not to blow up a bridge HQ wants left up?

Same principle. The Regulars, if they don't want to be inconvenienced by Irregulars, will need to establish a rapport and some liaison.

Do we subvert the law? Well, we are virtual counterinsurgent vigilantes. We wouldn't bother if we had confidence that the civil servants, career military, contractors and political appointees were effectively countering enemy propaganda on the internet. Non-state actors are eating our lunch in the infowar and the regularly constituted authorities of my beloved Westphalian nation-state have neither the mandate, the resources, nor the political will to capture or destroy enemies in cyberspace. Those of us who still think America and Americans and American minds and American intellectual, virtual, and physical property are still worth protecting are rapidly realizing the limits of .gov.

PIST is a virtual militia paramilitary information support team. It is very loosely based on a military information support team, but a PIST can be any team effort to conduct counterpropaganda or any other counterinsurgent supporting influence operation. Some milblogs are PIST's, IMHO.

11 members on PIST 10 so far, haven't told them, exactly, what they're going to be doing because we haven't hashed all that out yet. Still rounding up cats. Haven't tried herding them, yet.

gerald said...

Maybe others have concerns also. Our freedom of speech, protected by the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights, is one of our most basic constitutional rights.

Which gives anyone the right to speak his/her mind.
Irrespective of what the Government wants.

Another assumptions is that
the Feds have no input into what is taken down, or left up? Am part of a civilian effort, I havn't spoken about Gov. affiliations.

If a web site is violating a law of the USA in the USA, anyone can file a complaint.

Al Qaeda and the Insurgent groups have in excess of 4000 web sites,
Forums, groups etc.
They have convinced their key demographic that continual losses is a good thing, Martyrs.
They are waging a virtual information war.
Their are two basic views, the "Western News" and " terrorists".
Their brand has placed them on a level with News.
And it is a world wide brand, the 'recognition value' any CEO would be happy to have.
I'm not afraid of what the terrorists say, I can't stop or control that on the Internet. I am afraid of not answering their lies.
A lie posted often enough
in enough places
and over a long enough period of time
IS BELIEVED TO BE THE TRUTH...

From a post on a terrorist site:
the media magnates and urged them to move forward in the way of their struggle despite the risks encountered and where he fouling them: "Ask God to make men Information jihadist cause for spreading the message Islam and uniformity of each floor and creating awareness among the masses sincere nation and to revive the spirit of pride and dignity and sacrifice, sacrifice and jihad and martyrdom among Muslims...

in the web site al-jinan, who recruited members to down load an DDos program and perform group attacks on sites.

We took them out:
Al-Jinan.net is BACK.


and burned the leader:
"CYBER ALERT" Islamofascist head ...


They were attacking web sites in third world countries.
Their attack list ran maybe 50 sites total?
This is a good example of my confusion in how to answer your Excellent question.
This guy lived in Syria, and ran a web site hosted in the USA ( at one time, I think, almost sure, can't remember, their site was knocked down several times ) and recruited members from SA, PK, Af, even USA, to attack sites world wide, some in third world countries.
"conducting Cyber warfare activities in 3rd world nations?"

as I understand it, it requires an order/ok from Bush to take down a server, and that kind of offensive is forming, ON THEIR SIDE, I could be wrong, and hope I am.

There doesn't seem to be any rules for engagement for Gov, MIL, NAV, etc.?

The civilian sector lacks organization, direction and instruction..
AND FUNDING, This effort currently runs us about $12,000 out of pocket, all work is pro-bono.

While it is not my intention to tell anybody how to do this, we wanted to show what the civilians have done and are doing.

A Russian hacking team just announced placing keyloggers on some terrorist PC's. And exposed the Porno visits of the Jaddiees.

Civilians provide deniability but run the risk of prosecution without a letter of Marq, all our limits are governed by, directed by CI paradigm, nothing illegal, of course we have the potential of developing those capabilities, but the risk of prosecution constrains us.

If al Qaeda can manage perception, I think USA is also capable of same.
They have managed to convince the Ummah that all the insurgent DEAD, is GOOD....Martyrs. Dying = winning. ???

The value of OSINT may not be fully appreciated.


Our OSINT picked up the "Arabic Hacker" Trainer.
Some civilian sectors are well versed in OSINT, Competitive Intelligence rely on it.

A Question we had to address was how to run propaganda with out interfering with any 'OFFICIAL' Ops.
We found a solution on a Pakti forum:
Our efforts have been guided by Pakti Intelligence manual .
"Psychological warfare is an art adopted to defeat the enemy's will to fight. It predominantly aims to win the battle before it starts. It is aimed at convincing the enemy that:-
( Our operations have been designed around these three concepts )
a. Your equipment and war assets are obsolete. "ck5 shoulder fired rocket, martyr maker"
b. You are being commanded by inefficient commanders. "new leader of al Qaeda."
c. Your basic human rights are being suppressed." suicide bombers dance, for al Qaeda."

There are ways of getting things done without hacking or violating the law, which I'm not about to discuss.

One can confront the terrorist on the Internet, or as Patton said shovel shit in Louisiana.

Gerald

subadei said...

"There are ways of getting things done without hacking or violating the law, which I'm not about to discuss."

Thankyou and that's what I needed to see, G.

Münzenberg said...

gentlemen, good discussion.

I want to make it clear that my position is one of support. I think our governments have done a terrible job of the psychological conflict and like Soob said, they are too late.

So there is no argument about that.

what I'm trying to do is to temper the steel of what we are doing.

If the underlying moral legitmacy of what we are doing holds, then we have a moral backing in the conflict (again, moral backing in the domestic/legal/societal sense, the morality of what we do to stop terrorists isn't what I'm raising here).

Cannoneer, as per usual, you make a compelling argument on this issue and I've taken time to re-read through your blogposts.

As I'm understanding your arguments, hopefully I'm not misconstruing it, is something along the following:

Premises

1. Elements within the government/media are curbing the war effort against the enemy and making the OGA's look incompetent through perception management.

2. The OGA's themselves failed to convince us of their competency.

3. Cyber-militias have the same goals as OGA's.

4. Citizens who believe premise one to be false won't self-mobilize.

Conclusion

Citizens who believe premise one to be true are likely, and should, self-mobilize. They are also likely to cooperate with OGA's due to premise three.

My thoughts on your comment cannoneer.

It's quite a good argument and I generally agree with your conclusion. I do however have problems with some of the premises.

Regarding premise two, OGA's really can't convince us of their competency because to do so would not be conducive to their inherent secrecy. So we can't know with certainty about their operations either way (apart from information involved in premise one).

I also find premise three problematic. Do cyber-militias really have the same goals as OGA's? (What about OGA's from other countries?) Overarching goals of stopping terrorists coincide with each other but after that our subgoals differ a lot. Ours are mostly counter-propaganda. What about distinct OGA goals between law enforcement and intelligence gathering?

Investigation, and intelligence collection, of online terrorist activities is a goal of OGA's. Shutting down those websites, or generally messing with the websites in some fashion, is stopping an OGA's goal. Therefore we have different goals to that of OGA's.

I realise that premise two stops us from knowing whether their goals clash with ours and like you wrote, there may be inevitable IO fratricide, but on that level, our goals don't match up. Your comment on liaisons and rapport would be a definite fix to the problem raised in premise three.


Ymarsakar, thank you for your comment. You bring up a different, and valuable point of view. Just so I'm not misrepresenting your view, I've written down your premises and conclusion.

Premises

1. Governments are held back by red tape.

2. Cyber-militias are not held back by red tape.

3. Governments cannot, or will not, support the morale of the citizenary.

4. OGA's and Cyber-militias are completely different in function and form.

a) Cyber-militias function is psychological warfare.

b) OGA's function is not psychological warfare.

5. Cyber-militia and OGA cooperation is unsafe due to possibility of terrorists noticing our correlated actions from shared info.

Conclusion

Citizens have to do mobilize themselves and by themselves. Governments can't do it because of premises 1, 3, 4 (b). Cyber-militias are not likely to cooperate with OGA's due to premise 4 and 5.

My thoughts on your comment Ymarsakar.

It is also a damn good argument and I generally agree with your conclusion too. Some questions regarding your premises.

Re: Premise two. There is a chance cyber-militias could still be held back by red tape. I raised a possible scenario (and it is quite possible) in the original post of cyber-militia members being brought forth out of the ether and into the police interview rooms and the courts. I'm not a lawyer myself, but are there any laws regarding citizens waging positive psychological warfare against its own citizenary? Failing that, even entering the major jihadi networks is going to bring cyber-militias into contact with investigative OGA's.

Laws and protracted investigations are a form of red tape. If a cyber-militia or one of its elements are brought under investigation for whatever reason. Then they will be bounded by the same red tape as OGA's, but this time as a citizen versus the state.

Premise four is also a problem. What do you think about recent efforts by governments to engage in the wars of ideas? Yes, I'm in agreeance with you all, too little, too late. Although, we really can't know how the governments are going to do on this level, they have the resources, brains and the technology to be quite powerful players on the psychological warfare stage. Once governments, or if governments, become adept at psychological warfare will there still be room for cyber-militias function?

Premise five is also a very pertinent point, I'm glad you brought it up.

I've also realised from your comment that I may need to go back and read more COIN literature and get my head around the idea of COIN and propaganda applied to a virtual environment against jihadists.

Will respond to geralds, soobs and the other comments soon.

Münzenberg said...

actually ymarsakar, scratch that problem with premise four. I just read your premise three. There obviously will still be a need for cyber-militias, because other government agencies (OGA's) will be fighting the war of ideas against the enemy, not necessarily supporting the morale of their own citizenary.

DISREGARD THAT PARAGRAPH ON THE PROBLEM OF PREMISE FOUR FOLKS. I HAD A BRAIN FART.

Münzenberg said...

Actually, rather than writing another lengthy comment because my brain seems to be a bit fried at the moment, I'd rather state that Geralds comment on the free speech aspect is also very important and I'm glad he is going to talk about the legality side of things later on.

All in all, some good arguments, I'm rather convinced by the whole endeavour.

Ymarsakar said...

Subadei,

-The possibility of interference in state agency operations. Possibilities include; not every Jihadist website is necessarily what it seems; an online collective isn't necessary a bad thing, as it may serve a source of surveillance.

Even that is a mixed bag when or if it actually happens. Sure, if you take down the website and actively attacked FBI resources or data gathering operations under the assumption that they were enemy collated, this would setback the FBI somewhat. But their resources are vast, just taking down a website or two wouldn't really do anything to them. It is not as if it was an assassination of any permanency.

What else would be going on here is that the jihadists and fighters for the annihilation of human progress are also a factor. The FBI wants data, and data can be best gotten through credibility such as if terrorists believe the FBI is running a legit anti-American operation or black market or arms sealing deal. The fact that American guerrillas are attacking FBI efforts to get into contact with the jihad, can actually provide the FBI with the cover they need to make the deal complete easier.

All the terrorists would know is that their counter-parts in the cyberworld are messing around with one of their own websites. Does this not make the job of the FBI easier concerning insinuating themselves into the Jihad cyber or unofficial network? These are just some of the possibilities. I definitely recognize that it is easier to destroy than to create, that it is easier to bungle things than to make things go smoothly. But that applies to anything the US government or its citizens might come up with concerning fighting our common foe.

If the US helps us or we help them, or even if we ignore their websites, that can still backfire. People are going to have to burn this bridge when they cross it. If they are good and more clever than their enemies, they will win an advantage. If they aren't, bad things can happen, minor setbacks.

Sting operations have often "gone bad" because something unexpected occured. Nothing the FBI does can stop such things, they can only limit it. So thus the concern that we will step on their toes or they will step on our toes is no fundamental problem we have.

-The legality of these operations. Swarming offending websites with complaints to the ISP is one thing, but; Do we subvert the law in our efforts?

China already hacked into US datanets and acquired some espionage material. If things aren't legal for us but are legal for our enemies, who exactly is going to win this conflict? And isn't it the responsibility of Congress, that all seeing body of enlightenment, to correct such problems as they often tout themselves as being capable of?

Munzenberg,

There is a chance cyber-militias could still be held back by red tape.

There's nothing fundamental in your listed premises that I disagree with. What is different is some of the details and perhaps the description "fundamentally different".

Cyber-militias or any guerrilla force does have limitations, they just don't have the same limitations as government or occupation forces.

The government is limited by internal turf wars, politics, budgets, and the various other things that hurt individual initiative. We are limited by personal resources, time, and the limits of our social networking. The government provides the resources and networking for their official forces, but that limits at the same time it helps their forces.

For military historians, the analogy would be the combined arms approach of Alexander's Macedonian army. Macedonian phalanxes combined with heavy shock cavalry. The phalanxes hold the enemy in check at the front while cavalry use their mobility to slam the enemy from the rear. Just as the cavalry has different strengths and weaknesses than the infantry, so do guerrilla forces have different strengths and weaknesses compared to official government forces. It is the difference in mobility, you may say, between a fully up-armored humvee, with a soldier wearing full body armor, accompanied by a M1A2 Abrams tank in relation to infantry without much body armor at all, in technicals, jumping around the countryside haphazardly.

The heavily armored and equipped force has firepower and mass. The light force has mobility, flexibility, and greater endurance. American soldiers found out that it was really hard finding those damn terrorists in the streets because catching them in full armor was a pain, a real pain. And you can't live amongst the people of Iraq in full armor cause you would cook and have to go back to base, thus the armor that was supposed to protect you actually did the opposite, because only by living 24/7 with the people of your area could you acquire the necessary bonds and intel that you needed to keep yourself alive and your area safe. And yet, without heavy infantry and fire support, living with the Iraqis would be meaningless, as you wouldn't have the firepower to protect them or youself for that matter.

I thus do not think that government forces, by their fecklessness, are unnecessary. Nor even if government were competent, would I think we wouldn't need civilian self-mobilized factions and orgs. Both forces are needed for an effective combined arms approach against an enemy. Not just one.

but are there any laws regarding citizens waging positive psychological warfare against its own citizenary?

They would have to be the same laws governing publicity, the news media, and business advertisements, would it not.

Politicians already wage "positive" psychological warfare against us. So do advertisements. The difference is, the context of the struggle in which those avenues are living in do not involve life or death issues, or rather it doesn't always involve life and death issues.

When any political or news agencies release their "polls", that is simply using some of the principles of psychological warfare. The "polls" don't reflect public sentiment so much as shape it. And the questions and data are specifically crafted so that the results can be reported in a planned manner at a pre-targeted audience. The difference between propaganda, which is far more common, and psychological warfare is that psychological warfare is designed to use propaganda and psychology to destroy and exterminate enemies. It's not just designed to convince people that something is true, it's actively designed so that they, the targets, will destroy themselves or let us do it for them. It is not a business advertisement using propaganda and psychological tricks to get you to pay attention to their brand. Psychological warfare, because of the warfare component, is not a way of one faction getting their brand name out for economic or ideological gain, as I see it.

So, whether you are bolstering your own side's morale so that they don't suicide or whether you are trying to destroy your enemy's morale so that they will suicide, all fits under psychological warfare.

Laws and protracted investigations are a form of red tape. If a cyber-militia or one of its elements are brought under investigation for whatever reason. Then they will be bounded by the same red tape as OGA's, but this time as a citizen versus the state.

Such things already happened to Canadian journalists, reporters, and others such as Mark Steyn via the HRC.

It just shows that our enemies are a couple of steps ahead of us, that they are at the level where they can manipulate even the government resources of our own alliance. That, of course, is the ultimate goal, is it not. Guerrilla operations must expand and consume ever more resources and territory, or it dies.

What do you think about recent efforts by governments to engage in the wars of ideas?

It really depends upon if they have a Reagan or a Teddy Roosevelt or not. And even if they did, you might get someone like Obama at the top. Government is a very strict hierarchy, so they depend a lot more on a single person at the top providing leadership than we do. We require leaders as well, but our networks are distributed so the loss of any one good leader isn't fatal. For government, that isn't quite true.

Although, we really can't know how the governments are going to do on this level

Open source data has given us some clues and insights into how the FBI operates. Especially with that fake network they setup to nab a terrorist trying to buy munitions. They couldn't "fake" a network like that unless they studied it and knew it intimately. You don't want to give any clues to your target that the organization he is dealing with is "acting inconsistent" with its stated appearance.

As for cooperation between civilian locals and government forces, I am only against regular and strictly combined cooperation. I want there to be a separation, precisely because of the risk of the law getting in our way, not just our allies' way. The FBI or the police already, on an individual or precinct basis, have irregular consultants and what not. They can handle such things on a personal basis because the people they are dealing with "aren't" organizations. If the FBI or police tried to do the same with organizations, that gets into different territory. Suspiciously dangerous territory, especially if Congress wants a piece. And Congress, of course, always wants a piece of a lucrative pie. And if they need something like the KELO Act for it, then that is what they will do.

because other government agencies (OGA's) will be fighting the war of ideas against the enemy, not necessarily supporting the morale of their own citizenary.

And even if they did, I wouldn't particularly like a FBI or internal security bureaucracy deciding that if they can influence American opinion one way against an enemy, that this wouldn't work equally well against the bureaucracy's political enemies, which would be us coincidentally.

There was a reason why the President is supposed to be in charge of these executive decisions, speaking to the people, and representing them. In the short term, government can use their resources to craft and shape the opinion of the people. In the long term what happens is what happened with Hollywood. Hollywood used their resources to produce propaganda for America and to bolster American morale in WWII. Then they decided to abuse that power later on. Government is not any less likely to go on that route once they are given the power and know that it can be done.

It's just safer, on a civic level, to keep psychological warfare weapons, weapons more effective than nukes, to the people that are the most affected by its use or lack of.

After all, does the United States absolutely need the Iraqis of Al Anbar to actively go and hunt down terrorists, with the comcomitant risk that Iraqi forces will interfere with American ops? No, because if all the local Iraqis did was keep Al Anbar safe, that would be more than enough to free American forces to do what it is best at doing.

One of the reasons OGAs are ineffective and incompetent is because the terrorists are running rings around them, just like they almost did to US forces in Iraq. Because of the limitations of official forces, they couldn't just blast the terrorists and where they were hiding, cause they didn't know where they were at and getting that knowledge required changing themselves. The US military made great leaps at adaptation, the most competent incarnation of an OGA, but they still needed local auxiliary forces to supplement the gaps in their force structure.

If all the civilians in American can do is to free the government from this miasma of self-doubt, internal sabotage, or anything else hogging the keel of the ship of America, then that would be more than sufficient for ultimate victory.

(Hogging is when the keel of a wooden ship bends like a banana cause of the weight of the ship. Government is nothing if but heavy.)

Ymarsakar said...

a) Cyber-militias function is psychological warfare.

b) OGA's function is not psychological warfare.


The premise behind those two lines is that the system in power tends to react differently than the group not in the system or in power.

Thus insurgents use hit and run tactics, instead of conventional tactics, because they don't got the firepower or training for conventional warfare.

OGA has so many hammers at their disposal, why would they ever want to use psychological warfare?

That kind of warfare is for people that don't have the power to launch nukes or send trillions on their pet projects. That kind of war benefits people who focus more on cleverness and mobility than brute force power and huge resource bases.

TO distill things down to a mind numbing level, it is the small underdog using tricks, cleverness, brains, and agility to outsmart and outmaneuver the big and tough guy.

The reason why I say mind numbing is because both the small and big dogs are using violence. Psychological warfare can be accomplished through the use of conventional warfare tactics like nukes and missiles just the same as conventional warfare objectives can be accomplished through "soft power" and psychological warfare principles (breaking the morale of an army, for example).

The two are not fundamentally different. They are just different like the difference between smart bombs and a sniper rifle. Same method and application of violence, different methods.

subadei said...

Ymarsakar, thanks for the thoughtful comment. I'm not privy to the inner-workings of FBI or intelligence operations. Which is why I've voiced concerns.
What's important in such a situation is the method applied in a possible intersection between the non-state and state actors. By voicing (en masse) concern to the ISP and getting the site suspended, I'm hard pressed to see a violation that could be made to stick. Geralds pointing out of our rights under the 1st amendment would seem to be protection.
However, messing up such an operation via an inherently illegal (no matter the good intentions) measure would seem to be an invitation for a charge of obstructing justice.
More thoughts to come.

Cannoneer No. 4 said...

Munzenberg:

As I'm understanding your arguments, hopefully I'm not misconstruing it, is something along the following:

Premises

1. Elements within the government/media are curbing the war effort against the enemy and making the OGA's look incompetent through perception management.


Check.

2. The OGA's themselves failed to convince us of their competency.

Check.

3. Cyber-militias have the same goals as OGA's.

Hold.
There are a myriad of Other Government Agencies, each with a unique claim on the taxpayer's dime, each with their own organizational culture, public persona and private agenda. The CIA in particular is an OGA with internal goals at variance with the C-in-C's and a virtual militia supportive of that C-in-C.

VADM Redd stated back in September that there is no "home office" for the war of ideas in the US. Neither FBI, IC, or HLS are doing counterpropaganda, bothering with whack-a-mole, mitigating enemy Morale Operations, or reacting to jihadis on the internet, so far as I can tell.

What is the goal of a cyber militia? The cyber militia I want to be a part of has the goal of Fighting the War of Ideas Like a Real War, free to act instead of looking for excuses for inaction, immune from veto by oppositional elements, unencumbered by bureaucratic turf wars, not beholden to politicians for our budget.

4. Citizens who believe premise one to be false won't self-mobilize.

Check.

Conclusion

Citizens who believe premise one to be true are likely, and should, self-mobilize.


Check.

They are also likely to cooperate with OGA's due to premise three.

Hold. They are likely to cooperate because they WANT to be told that their government actually is running operations that could be blown, and they want such operations to succeed, and don't want to be the cause of failure.

My thoughts on your comment cannoneer.

It's quite a good argument and I generally agree with your conclusion. I do however have problems with some of the premises.

Regarding premise two, OGA's really can't convince us of their competency because to do so would not be conducive to their inherent secrecy. So we can't know with certainty about their operations either way (apart from information involved in premise one).


We can know with certainty that enemy propaganda is not being countered. We can know with certainty that there are a helluva lot of jihadi websites on the internet. We can know with certainty that we lack confidence in the government's competency in The War of Ideas.

I also find premise three problematic. Do cyber-militias really have the same goals as OGA's?

Not necessarily. See above. There may be other cyber-militias with different goals than annoying Islamists on the internet. And there may be OGA's who would prefer that some enemies not be annoyed.

(What about OGA's from other countries?)

Depends on the country. UK, CDN, AUS OGA's would get a more sympathetic hearing than say, a Russian OGA.

Ymarsakar said...

This is a nice example of why the subject matter is so critical to the war effort

Münzenberg said...

Ymarsakar and Cannoneer thank you for your responses to the queries I had, it has cleared things up for me. This has been a great discussion and a great read.

Ymarsakar said...

However, messing up such an operation via an inherently illegal (no matter the good intentions) measure would seem to be an invitation for a charge of obstructing justice.

The government will invite itself if they really want to persecute somebody, regardless of whether we are legit or not.

Certainly it is a potential threat and it would make it easier for them to prosecute if we lack legal protections, but the primary threat is if government ever got an interest in blocking us in the first place. Prevent that interest by preventing enemy infiltration and enemy crafted political shenanigans affecting US politicians, and you are far more likely to keep the heat off than to depend solely on the law as a protection.

The police naturally don't like people interfering in their jurisdiction. FBI and local police have often had this problem, although I get the sense that lately it is far more rarer. The solution is to convince them that you are more useful in the loop or at least left alone, than for the FBI or police to take an active interest in stamping you out. This requires cooperation, but first it requires demonstration of usefulness and competency. If the FBI has no need of civilian aid or sees no need for civilian aid, then they will have a far higher chance of prosecuting those groups just to get them out of the way. Convince the government otherwise, through personal relationships, demonstration of organization effectiveness, or appealing to their greed and self-interest, and they will ignore you at best instead of using the law to get rid of you.

A sufficiently motivated individual, like Spitzer, can always find legal problems to charge you with, no matter how close you try to adhere to the law. This goes double for warfare.

Munzenberg and Subadei,

Thanks, I enjoyed this discussion and found it beneficial as well.

Cannoneer No. 4 said...

Michael is at it again.

http://haftofthespear.com/2008/03/again-plenty-of-room-for-every/

Purpleslog said...

I think there is a good chance federal and local law enforcement will go after the cyber-militias because it will be easier then going after bad guys. cyber-militias will be crossing their turf.

Cannoneer No. 4 said...

How do they cross local turf?

Feds who persecute the self-mobilized just compund their strategic communications competence deficit.