Subject: IW Mailing List iw/960222
Date: Thu, 22 Feb 1996 01:32:46 -0600
From: Walter Mulder 

I conceive of information warfare as including the following areas:

Misinformation  Spreading of purported facts, usually created by
                people who are not who they claim to be.

Information     Preventing information from reaching its legitimate
Blocking        audience, whether the audience consists of specific
                individuals or a broadcast audience.

Information     Unauthorized access to information, via interception
Theft           or code-breaking.

I think a healthy society needs for people who wish to communicate to be
able to do so, and for people who wish to communicate in privacy to be able
to maintain that.  Similar concerns exist in time of war.  I do not favor
the widespread use of misinformation, although there are certainly
exceptions in times of war.  It's too bad that misinformation exists even in
peacetime, that information cannot always be delivered or received by its
legitimate audience, and that privacy cannot always be maintained in
communication between individuals.

I am very interested in technological ways by which healthy communication
between people and organizations can be promoted.
Date: Wed, 21 Feb 1996 18:03:30 -0800
From: Bruce Sterling 
Subject: The Trolls of the Pentagon

   It would appear that some peole take vigorous exception to the
remarks of Mr Swett concerning the usefulness of the Internet in

Pentagon Trolls the Net - By David Corn - c1996

  Internet users beware; Pentagon snoops are taking an interest in your
cyber-communications.  Last summer, Charles Swett, a policy assistant in
the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations
and Low-Intensity Conflict, produced a report that assessed the
intelligence value of the Internet for the Defense Department.  His
study discovered the obvious: By monitoring computer message traffic and
alternative news sources from around the world, the military might catch
"early warning of impending significant developments." Swett reports
that the "Internet could also be used offensively as an additional
medium in psychological operations campaigns and to help achieve
unconventional warfare objectives." A striking aspect of his study is
that there is one sort of Internet user who attracts a large amount of
attention from Swett: cyber-smart lefties. 

    The thirty-one-page, unclassified study is mostly cut and dry.  Much
of it describes what the Internet is and what can be found within its
infinite confines.  Swett lists various "fringe groups" that are
exploiting the Internet: the white-supremacist National Alliance, the
Michigan Militia, Earth First, and People for the Ethical Treatment of
Animals (PETA).  He highlights MUFON--the Mutual UFO Network--which uses
the Internet to disseminate information on "U.S.  military operations
that members believe relate to investigations and cover-ups of
UFO-related incidents." MUFON computer messages, Swett notes, "contain
details on MUFON's efforts to conduct surveillance of DoD
installations." The report does not suggest that the computer
communications of MUFON and these other groups should be targeted by the
military--though X Filers will be forgiven for wondering if something
sinister is afoot. 

    What Swett apparently finds of greater interest than MUFON and the
"fringe groups" is the online left.  A significant portion of the report
is devoted to the San Francisco-based Institute for Global
Communications, which operates several computer networks, such as
PeaceNet and EcoNet, that are used by progressive activists.  I.G.C. 
demonstrates, he writes, "the breadth of DoD-relevant information
available on the Internet." The paper refers to I.G.C.  conferences that
might be considered noteworthy by the Pentagon, including ones on
anti-nuclear arms campaigns, the extreme right, social change, and
"multicultural, multi-racial news." Swett cites I.G.C.  as the home for
"alternative news sources" that fill gaps in the mainstream media.  (It
might be good for Pentagon analysts to read I.G.C.  dispatches from
Holland's Peace Media Service.) Yet he seems to say that one can also
track the left around the world by monitoring I.G.C.: "Although [I.G.C.]
is clearly a left-wing political organization, without actually joining
I.G.C.  and reading its message traffic, it is difficult to assess the
nature and extent of its members' actual real-world activities."

  Swett's paper presents the world of opportunity awaiting a
cyber-shrewd military and intelligence establishment.  The Pentagon and
intelligence services will conduct "routine monitoring of messages
originating in other countries" in the search for information on
"developing security threats." That means overseas e-mail, like overseas
phonecalls, will be intercepted by the electronic eavesdroppers of the
National Security Agency or some other outfit.  The data will be fed
into filtering computers and then, if it contains any hot-button words,
forwarded to the appropriate analyst.  "Networks of human sources with
access to the Internet could be developed in areas of security concern
to the U.S." (But bureaucrats rest assured; "this approach"--using
computer-assisted spies--"could never replace official DoD intelligence
collection systems or services.") The Internet "can also serve
counterintelligence purposes" by identifying threats to the Pentagon and
U.S.  intelligence activities.  As an example, Swett refers to a message
posted in a discussion group for "left-wing political activists" that
repeated an A.P.  article about an upcoming U.S.  Army Special
Operations Command training exercise at an empty Miami Beach hotel. 

  Another growth area is the dirty tracks department.  Noting that
government officials, military officials, business people, and
journalists all around the world are online, Swett envisions
"Psychological Operations" campaigns in which U.S.  propaganda could be
rapidly disseminated to a wide audience.  He adds, "The U.S.  might be
able to employ the Internet offensively to help achieve unconventional
warfare objectives." Swett does not delve into details on how the
Internet could serve such a mission.  But he tosses out one possibility:
communicating via the Internet with political and paramilitary groups
abroad that Washington wants to assist while "limiting the direct
political involvement of the United States." Imagine this: contras with

  Swett does point to a few potential problems.  The Internet is
chockful of chit-chat of no intelligence value.  Retrieving useful
nuggets will require monumental screening.  He also predicts that one
day video footage of military operations will be captured by
inexpensive, hand-held digital video cameras operated by local
individuals and then up-loaded to the Internet.  Within minutes,
millions of people around the world will see for themselves what has
happened--which could lead to calls for action (or calls to terminate
action) before government leaders have had a chance to react and
formulate a position.  Such a development, he observes, "will greatly
add to the burden on military commanders, whose actions will be
subjected to an unprecedented degree of scrutiny." And opponents of the
Pentagon might try to exploit the Internet for their own devilish ends:
"If it became widely known that DoD were monitoring Internet traffic for
intelligence or counterintelligence purposes, individuals with personal
agendas or political purposes in mind, or who enjoy playing pranks,
would deliberately enter false or misleading messages." The study ends
with a series of vague recommendations--all to be carried out "only in
full compliance with the letter and the spirit of the law, and without
violating the privacy of American citizens."

  The Swett paper is "refreshingly candid," says Steven Aftergood of the
Federation of American Scientists, who placed a copy of the document on
the FAS web site on government secrecy, where it is being downloaded
about twenty times a day (at  The
I.G.C.  staff is amused by Swett's interest.  "We must be doing
something right," notes George Gundrey, program coordinator of I.G.C.'s
PeaceNet.  "But it is interesting that all of his [I.G.C.] examples are
the most left-wing items [on the network]."

  Swett's study is not the first of its kind.  Under the rubric of
"information warfare," other Pentagon outfits and military contractors
have studied how to use computer networks to collect public information,
disseminate propaganda, politically destabilize other governments, and
plant computer viruses into the information systems of foes.  (The
latter task is particularly foolhardy.  Deploying viruses into
cyber-space--even if targeted against an enemy--would likely pose a
danger to the United States, since this country is more networked than
any other.) But Swett's office--the Pentagon's dirty tricks shop--is a
newcomer to this scene, acoording to David Banisar, a policy analyst for
the Electronic Privacy Information Center.  Banisar's group has been
helping international human rights groups use encryption to protect
their global e-mail, "so the spooks don't listen in"

  It is natural that the national security gang will try to infiltrate
and use a communication medium like the Internet to its advantage.  What
is most troubling about Swett's paper is its preoccupation with
left-of-center travelers in cyberspace and _domestic_ political
activities.  In the appendix, Swett reproduces four examples of notable
e-mail.  One (written by progressive activists Richard Cloward and
Frances Fox Piven) calls for 100 days of protest in response to the
Republican's Contract with America, another announces plans for a
demonstration at the 1996 G.O.P.  convention in San Diego, the third
relays to lefties information on the U.S.  Army exercise at the Miami
Beach hotel, and the last is a communique from the Zapatistas of Mexico. 
Swett's use of these cyber dispatches can be explained one of two ways. 
Either the left has made much more progress in cyber-organizing than the
right and "such fringe groups" as PETA, or Swett, true to institutional
tradition, is overwrought about the use of the Internet by a certain
parties.  In any case, the would-be watchers in the defense
establishment ought to be watched closely--especially if Swett's report
refelcts broader sentiment within the Pentagon.