James Forsyth

A technological surge

A technological surge
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This week’s National Journal has a fascinating piece about how in May 2007 the US used cyber-war tactics to decapitate the insurgency in Iraq. Here’s the magazine’s account of the importance of the effort:

“Bush ordered an NSA cyberattack on the cellular phones and computers that insurgents in Iraq were using to plan roadside bombings. The devices allowed the fighters to coordinate their strikes and, later, post videos of the attacks on the Internet to recruit followers. According to a former senior administration official who was present at an Oval Office meeting when the president authorized the attack, the operation helped U.S. forces to commandeer the Iraqi fighters' communications system. With this capability, the Americans could deceive their adversaries with false information, including messages to lead unwitting insurgents into the fire of waiting U.S. soldiers.

Former officials with knowledge of the computer network attack, all of whom requested anonymity when discussing intelligence techniques, said that the operation helped turn the tide of the war. Even more than the thousands of additional ground troops that Bush ordered to Iraq as part of the 2007 "surge," they credit the cyberattacks with allowing military planners to track and kill some of the most influential insurgents.” The whole article about cyber-warfare, and Russia’s use of it against Estonia, is well-worth reading.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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