US informed about plans to wage cyber-war on Syria

US informed about plans to wage cyber-war on Syria
Wed Feb 26, 2014 10:49:11

US national security team has presented President Barack Obama with new and powerful tools to launch a cyber-attack on the Syrian army forces.

In a New York Times report published Monday, senior administration officials confirm that the president turned down those cyber-attack options against Syria, fearing the precedent their use might set in future conflicts should he proceed.

The National Security Council met last week to review options on how the administration might handle the Syrian crisis going forward, officials say.

Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the National Security Council, would not confirm the meeting to The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. But she said that NSC meetings on Syria are “not a new process.”

“In any situation, the president always wants to have options, and as we have made clear, we are constantly looking at every possible avenue to solve this problem,” Hayden said.

“We remain committed to trying to resolve this conflict, but in a way that doesn’t insert the United States back into a bloody conflict in the Middle East.”

In speeches delivered throughout his presidency, Obama’s secretaries of state, defense and homeland security have repeatedly warned that the US remains vulnerable to cyber-attacks. The president is wary that open cyber warfare in Syria may invite retaliatory strikes from the Syrian government, or its allies.

“We have been clear that there are a range of tools we have at our disposal to protect our national security, including cyber,” Hayden said. “The president signed a classified presidential directive relating to cyber operations that establishes principles and processes so that cyber tools are integrated with the full array of national security tools.”

Outlining a new defense budget on Monday, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said the country needed to boost spending on cyber warfare technology at the expense of traditional military systems and services.

“We chose further reductions in troop strength and force structure in every military service – active and reserve – in order to sustain our readiness and technological superiority and to protect critical capabilities like special operations forces and cyber resources,” Hagel said.

Some claim the use of cyber tactics in Syria could ameliorate the US image, executing hi-tech American power for a humanitarian cause. And yet the gap between America’s cyber capabilities and those of its foes is smaller than the gap between its traditional military might and that of its traditional adversaries.


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