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Some Considerations

Listening to snippets of the AG and President about the new CT strategy throughout the day brought to mind three things:

The first is that it is nice to see that someone has finally dusted off and started reading all those assessment my colleagues and I wrote about terrorism and the ‘Net not that we were the first or the only, but it was what we got paid to do. If I were more cynical I’d say that they were dredging the bottom of the barrel of ideas since us cyber guys and gals usually got short shrift but I gave up raw, unadulterated cynicism for Lent.

The second is that we can probably expect more chit-chat about how scary the .com-ers are going to be, which is certainly a concern though not one I loose a lot of sleep over. Frankly, you become as good a terrorist from online learning as you do a swordsman playing World of Warcraft. I can drill 9mm holes in a target the size of a cookie from 7 meters out because I actually practice drilling 9mm holes in a target that size. I don’t care how good you are at a FPS, in a gunfight I’m the one that’ll be walking home.

Having said that, the AG is right in that the movement of terrorism training online is going to create a lot more “homegrown” terrorists with mediocre or worse skills. What I don’t see anyone talking about how we’re re-tooling to combat the threat. More bad guys operating domestically means a greater demand for domestic intelligence. It also means that there will probably be less national-international phone and email comms to monitor and more strictly internal comms to keep watch over. If anything the need for a real domestic intelligence capability – separate from law enforcement – has never been greater, but you don’t see that in any strategy document. Consequently expect to see more revelations about needed but questionable “domestic spying” programs . . .

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji spent nearly 20 years in the US intelligence community. Trained in both SIGINT and HUMINT disciplines he has worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the National Reconnaissance Office. At various points in his career he served as an expert in information warfare, computer network operations, computer forensics, and indications and warning. A veteran of the US Army, Michael has served in both strategic and tactical assignments in the Pacific Theater, the Balkans, and the Middle East.