IMAGINE a world where wars are fought over
the internet; where TV broadcasts and newspaper reports are designed by
the military to confuse the population; and where a foreign armed power
can shut down your computer, phone, radio or TV at will.
In 2006, we
are just about to enter such a world. This is the age of information
warfare, and details of how this new military doctrine will affect
everyone on the planet are contained in a report, entitled The
Information Operations Roadmap, commissioned and approved by US
secretary of defence Donald Rumsfeld and seen by the Sunday Herald.
Pentagon has already signed off $383 million to force through the
document’s recommendations by 2009. Military and intelligence sources
in the US talk of “a revolution in the concept of warfare”. The report
orders three new developments in America’s approach to warfare:
the Pentagon says it will wage war against the internet in order to
dominate the realm of communications, prevent digital attacks on the US
and its allies, and to have the upper hand when launching cyber-attacks
lSecondly, psychological military operations,
known as psyops, will be at the heart of future military action. Psyops
involve using any media – from newspapers, books and posters to the
internet, music, Blackberrys and personal digital assistants (PDAs) –
to put out black propaganda to assist government and military strategy.
Psyops involve the dissemination of lies and fake stories and releasing
information to wrong-foot the enemy.
lThirdly, the US wants to
take control of the Earth’s electromagnetic spectrum, allowing US war
planners to dominate mobile phones, PDAs, the web, radio, TV and other
forms of modern communication. That could see entire countries denied
access to telecommunications at the flick of a switch by America.
of speech advocates are horrified at this new doctrine, but military
planners and members of the intelligence community embrace the idea as
a necessary development in modern combat.
Human rights lawyer
John Scott, who chairs the Scottish Centre for Human Rights, said:
“This is an unwelcome but natural development of what we have seen. I
find what is said in this document to be frightening, and it needs
serious parliamentary scrutiny.”
Crispin Black – who has worked
for the Joint Intelligence Committee, and has been an Army lieutenant
colonel, a military intelligence officer, a member of the Defence
Intelligence Staff and a Cabinet Office intelligence analyst who
briefed Number 10 – said he broadly supported the report as it tallied
with the Pentagon’s over-arching vision for “full spectrum dominance”
in all military matters.
“I’m all for taking down al-Qaeda
websites. Shutting down enemy propaganda is a reasonable course of
action. Al-Qaeda is very good at [information warfare on the internet],
so we need to catch up. The US needs to lift its game,” he said.
revolution in information warfare is merely an extension of the
politics of the “neoconservative” Bush White House. Even before getting
into power, key players in Team Bush were planning total military and
political domination of the globe. In September 2000, the now notorious
document Rebuilding America’s Defences – written by the Project for the
New American Century (PNAC), a think-tank staffed by some of the Bush
presidency’s leading lights – said that America needed a “blueprint for
maintaining US global pre-eminence, precluding the rise of a great
power-rival, and shaping the international security order in line with
American principles and interests”.
The PNAC was founded by Dick
Cheney, the vice-president; Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary;
Bush’s younger brother, Jeb; Paul Wolfowitz, once Rumsfeld’s deputy and
now head of the World Bank; and Lewis Libby, Cheney’s former chief of
staff, now indicted for perjury in America.
Defences also spoke of taking control of the internet. A heavily
censored version of the document was released under Freedom of
Information legislation to the National Security Archive at George
Washington University in the US.
The report admits the US is
vulnerable to electronic warfare. “Networks are growing faster than we
can defend them,” the report notes. “The sophistication and capability
of … nation states to degrade system and network operations are rapidly
T he report says the US military’s first priority is
that the “department [of defence] must be prepared to ‘fight the net’”.
The internet is seen in much the same way as an enemy state by the
Pentagon because of the way it can be used to propagandise, organise
and mount electronic attacks on crucial US targets. Under the heading
“offensive cyber operations”, two pages outlining possible operations
are blacked out.
Next, the Pentagon focuses on electronic
warfare, saying it must be elevated to the heart of US military war
planning. It will “provide maximum control of the electromagnetic
spectrum, denying, degrading, disrupting or destroying the full
spectrum of communications equipment … it is increasingly important
that our forces dominate the electromagnetic spectrum with attack
capabilities”. Put simply, this means US forces having the power to
knock out any or all forms of telecommunications on the planet.
electronic warfare, the US war planners turn their attention to
psychological operations: “Military forces must be better prepared to
use psyops in support of military operations.” The State Department,
which carries out US diplomatic functions, is known to be worried that
the rise of such operations could undermine American diplomacy if
uncovered by foreign states. Other examples of information war listed
in the report include the creation of “Truth Squads” to provide public
information when negative publicity, such as the Abu Ghraib torture
scandal, hits US operations, and the establishment of “Humanitarian
Road Shows”, which will talk up American support for democracy and
The Pentagon also wants to target a “broader set of
select foreign media and audiences”, with $161m set aside to help place
pro-US articles in overseas media.