Monday, June 11, 2012

Not Getting Caught In A Lie

Is not the same thing as telling the truth...

The retort is paraphrased from Three Days of the Condor, one of the best spy thrillers of all time.  These days it seems that no one working inside The Beltway ever watched the 1975 classic.  [Apparently no one there watched The Battle of Algiers (1966) before invading Iraq either.  What, you movers, shakers, and influence peddlers never heard of Netflix?]

All sorts of people, some of them usually pretty smart, others not so much, are going on and on about determining who in the Obama administration leaked the details of which used the Stuxnet virus (and others) to set back the Iranian nuclear program by a couple years.

Joel Harding, author of the To Inform Is To Influence blog, last week posted a piece titled The Atomic Bomb of Cyberspace, in which he laments

It’s official.  The United States of America was the first to use an atomic bomb against an enemy and now the United States is the first to have acknowledged using a cyber weapon against another country.  We are now certified bad guys to the rest of the world.
We are the first nation-state to admit to having used a cyberweapon on another nation-state.
To whoever leaked the information from the Obama administration, for whatever purpose, you have now doomed the United States to a terrible legacy forever.  Now the United States will forever lose the war of ideas when it comes to innocence.

To which I reply, if this is a “terrible legacy” then responsibility for it resides with those who unleashed Duqu, Stuxnet, and Flame, not those who leaked the truth about it.  We will “forever lose the war of ideas about when it comes to innocence” because we are guilty of the act, not because our lying about being innocent didn’t hold up.  We will be credited with first use of cyber weapons because we used cyber weapons first, not because we failed to maintain (as with our drone attacks in Pakistan, a rather transparent) deniability.

Do I care that we wrecked Iranian centrifuges?  No, not at all, and all the better we used USB drives instead of MOPS or nukes.  Should the leaker stretch a rope for committing treason?  Maybe, but let's not pretend the responsibility for our Stuxnet legacy lies with anyone other than the paymaster behind Project "Olympic Games."