Essay, Research Paper: Information Terrorism


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The introduction of the computer has created a new type of terrorism known as
informational terrorism, which presents a threat, equal to or greater than
physical terrorism. E-mail bombs and attacks on internet servers are the lowest
forms of informational terrorism in terms of destruction. Higher forms of
informational warfare include using the internet as a catalyst to produce
physical terrorism on a higher scale. “The national security establishment is
concerned with a new form of conflict; informational warfare.” (Devost, 1) The
Department of Defense definition of terrorism is "the calculated use of
violence or the threat of violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to
intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally
political, religious, or ideological." (Research, 1) While in physical
terrorism, the perpetrator must come in contact with the target, in
informational terrorism the perpetrator only needs a computer connection. Not
only are the tools of information terrorism more accessible but the implications
can be more devastating. In conjunction with the Internet and the infancy of its
laws, the criminal justice system has fallen behind with its vague set of
incoherent laws. Terroristic violence, as portrayed in Tom Clancy’s Clear and
Present Danger, presents a serious threat to the U.S. which should be dealt not
only with caution and security, but also in conjunction with response.
“Identifying international terrorists and their networks providing warning so
that protective or deterrent measures can be taken, and gathering information on
terrorist acts require a major U.S. intelligent effort.” (Wilcox, 1) In Tom
Clancy’s Clear and Present Danger, information is not correctly distributed to
U.S. agents causing underestimation of enemies. To rectify the drug problem
initiated by Columbia, both the United States and Columbia use physical
terrorism to contend one another. After Colombian drug lords murder a United
States ambassador, the United States retaliates by mounting a series of covert
operations including assassinations and interdiction of drug production and
smuggling. Does the Colombian drug lords murder of one man justify the reactions
of over exertion of force from the U.S.? Tom Clancy used small teams of covert
operatives to launch a counter attack on the Colombians. The U.S. currently
employs a strategy similar to this. “To respond promptly to terrorist
incidents abroad which require varied U.S. resources, we have developed a unique
fast reaction team. This team, led by an officer from S/CT, consists of experts
from DOD, CIA, FBI and other agencies, as needed. At the request of a foreign
government or an U.S. Ambassador abroad, this team can be dispatched within a
few hours on a specially dedicated aircraft provided by DOD to any place in the
world. The team's job is to provide support to the Ambassador and the host
government in resolving a terrorist crisis, and to advise on additional U.S.
assets that might be needed.”(Combating, 2) This response does not only embody
Clancy’s counteraction but surpasses it with the annexation of whatever force
is necessary. “Small, tailored teams can be launched, depending on the crisis,
and specialists from individual urgencies can be sent alone, as the situation
arises”(Wilcox, 2) If the product of physical terrorism is fear and death, how
can information terrorism render a greater threat? “Considering the presence
of computers in modern society, it is not surprising that terrorists have
occasionally targeted computers systems in the past.”(Devost, 2)
“Information terrorism is the nexus between criminal information system fraud
abuse, and the physical violence of terrorism”(Devost, 2) “Information
technology offers new opportunities to terrorists”(Devost, 1) “Information
warfare, loosely defined, is targeting the information and information systems
that comprise and support civilian and military infrastructures of an adversary.
Information warfare runs deeper than attacks on tanks and troops: an information
warfare campaign can target and disrupt the information and networks that
support crucial day-to-day workings of civilian, commercial, and military
systems, e.g., air traffic control, power grids, stock markets, international
financial transactions, logistics controls, etc. ”(Informational, 1)
“Information technology offers new opportunities to terrorists. “A terrorist
organization can reap low-risk, highly visible payoffs by attacking information
systems. In an effort to attract the attention of the public, political
terrorists perpetrate their acts with the media at the forefront of their
strategy: this strategy calculus is based on the assumption that access to the
communication structure is directly related to power.” (Informational, 1) In
short, informational terrorism can affect millions of people, thousands of miles
away, without leaving a trail for restitution. “Terrorism is a rapidly
evolving and responsive phenomenon.” (Devost, 1) “It is war in which there
are no front lines and in which terrorism practitioners have intentionally
blurred the distinction between combatants and noncombatants.”(Responding, 5)
Any type of terrorism is too destructive, whether it’s as small as a
kidnapping or as complex as state-sponsored terrorism between two conflicting
governments. “Terrorist violence represents a serious threat to U.S.
personnel, facilities, and interests around the world”(Responding, 4) “As
technology becomes more cost effective to terrorists – that is, its
availability and potential for disruptive effects rise wile its financial and
other costs go down.”(Devost, 2) “To combat this growing threat, many
members of Congress have recently proposed anti-terrorist
legislation.”(Terrorism, 1) In my opinion the response to terrorism is too
late. When presented with an act of violence the counter-action will involve
violence. After the operation has transpired the anti-terrorism is only
vengeance. The only true way to combat terrorism and terrorist activities is
prevention. “The war against terrorism will be a protracted conflict.”
(Responding, 5) “Terrorism for the foreseeable future will remain a weapon of
choice for government groups, and other parties to conflict.” (Responding, 4)
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