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Get Cyber-Mercenaries Suggests Ex NSA, CIA Director 135

Posted by samzenpus
from the watch-out-for-the-black-ice dept.
siliconbits writes "One of the architects of US foreign policy under George W. Bush, General Michael Hayden, suggested that the US Government should consider creating a "Digital Blackwater" during a conversation at an event called the Aspen Security Forum. Blackwater was the US private military group founded in 1997 and which has been renamed as Xe Services LLC, a move possibly linked with a number of controversies that arose after the company expanded its security-related operations into Iraq and Afghanistan. Recruiting mercenaries, Hayden suggested 'might be one of those big new ideas in terms of how we have to conduct ourselves in this new cyber domain.'"

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Get Cyber-Mercenaries Suggests Ex NSA, CIA Director

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  • Do like the Romans (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OnionFighter (1569855) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @01:26PM (#36974618)

    Because mercenaries worked so well for them.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Because mercenaries worked so well for them.

      Well mercenaries worked out pretty well for the Pope, saved his ass at least once in the middle ages.

      In contrast official government forces, praetorian guards - elite legionaries, did not work out so well for many roman emperors.

      YMMV.

      • by mbkennel (97636)

        "In contrast official government forces, praetorian guards - elite legionaries, did not work out so well for many roman emperors."

        This doesn't necessarily mean that things didn't work out well for Romans (minus one emperor).

      • by Nadaka (224565)

        It may work on the occasional need, but they are expensive, and relying on them regularly costs a crap ton of money. Same as black water.

        • by mcvos (645701)

          And more importantly, when you don't hire them, they look for employment elsewhere.

          I thought the use of mercenaries was universally considered unacceptable in the civilized world. How come the US likes them so much? Isn't it better for a country to have soldiers fight out of loyalty instead of greed? Isn't it better to have some serious accountability for the people you send out to kill or harm others?

          I thought there were very good reasons why nowadays only African warlords rely on mercenaries. So why is th

          • by Nadaka (224565)

            The US likes them because they are profitable, and as private organizations they are exempt from oversight.

            • by mcvos (645701)

              There are plenty of profitable things a government could do that are wrong. Why pick this one?

              • by Nadaka (224565)

                Let me put on my conspiracy theorist hat.

                Cheney like having access to killers who don't answer to the chain of command.

    • by CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @01:45PM (#36974850)

      This is more like a digital Taliban: giving resources to people whose goals might allign with your now (and a long as the money keeps coming) but who in the end likely have a morality that's 180 degrees opposite to yours. Of course we all know how well supporting the Taliban worked out for the US in the end.

      • by corbettw (214229)

        We never supported the Taliban. Read up on where they came from and how they took power before you go spouting nonsense like this.

        Hint: when we supported Afghanistan, all of what would become the Taliban were kids.

        • OK, good point. And where did all those weapons and that training wind up?

          With their kids.

          Maybe the better takeaway is not to go fucking around where we ain't got no business fucking around.

          Which is all of the world outside our own borders.

          • Sure. We have no external enemies. Nobody has the guts to hack the good ole USA. Nah.

            OTOH, this is a general that blew lots of calls, and is essentially clueless regarding modern threats. Blackwater is a Grand Caymans organization now; why use them when we have lots of great hackers in the US? Better still, let's organize them into their own military branch that might have better logistics to suit the medium of battle.

            • The proper question here is why does Blackwater, or any other company, feel a need to be a foreign corp? Why does Google, or any other company, expend the resources to funnel its money offshore? The US loses far more from creating an environment that drives such machinations than it gains in some pissy little effort for more control and more tax revenue.
              • They need the $$, and current law allows them to sequester profits offshore, when they ought to be under US tax jurisdiction. It's a legal tax dodge, as in corporate welfare.

          • We haven't given any weapons or training to the Taliban as far as I know of. Are you referring to the stinger missiles that we gave the Afghan Mujahideen back in the early to mid 80's? I'm sure we gave them a bunch of AK's and other assorted weapons too. The Stingers were the best because they could take down those big nasty MI-24 (Hind) helicopters. If so then we are talking about a war that ended with the Soviet withdrawal back in 1985. I agree with your takeaway though. Unfortunately our government seems
        • It's pretty uncontroversial.

          Wikipedia on US support for Jihad [wikipedia.org] in Afghanistan :

          "U.S. government financial support for the Afghan Islamic militants was substantial. Aid to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, an Afghan mujahideen leader. and founder and leader of the Hezb-e Islami radical Islamic militant faction, alone amounted "by the most conservative estimates" to $600 million. Hekmatyar "worked closely" with bin Laden in the early 1990s.[71] In addition to hundreds of millions of dollars of American aid, Hekmatyar also

          • by brit74 (831798)
            Just so you know: the statement that the US supported Islamic militants and the statement that the US supported the Taliban are different claims. Yes, they're related (especially since the Taliban was drawn from the groups of Islamic militants), but they are different things. We might also take a minute to point out that the US (and the other Allies) supported evil communist USSR during World War 2. Was that a good or bad decision? I just like to throw that out there for everyone who likes to complain a
            • by castle (6163) *

              Distinction without difference, or at least too little difference to matter.

              We all have the British Foreign Office to thank for most of this anyway.

            • I think the USSR-US alliance during WW2 worked out pretty well for the western world and the eastern block alike. If it had carried over into the post-war period maybe we would've had some perestroika and glasnost much sooner after Stalin kicked the bucket. But they're very different things, real alliances instead of power brokering and base manipulation through the funneling of funds to factions.

              Here's some more on the money funneled to the Taliban (from "How Washington Funded the Taliban" [cato.org]) :

              "Yet the Bush

        • by mbone (558574)

          We never supported the Taliban.

          No, certainly not. They post-date the Russian occupation. However, we did (under Reagan and Bush I) support extreme islamic guerillas preferentially over the democratic Afghan resistance, which I could not understand at the time at all.

          Saying (as they did) that the ISI recommended this course of action does not excuse it to anyone who has the slightest familiarity with the ISI.

        • mass murderers, rapist, torturers, and regional warlords.

          you know. the good guys.

      • We're looking for people who don't have morality. The only problem would be if someone with morality that's 180 degree opposite to ours had more money to pay them. Besides, Roman mercenaries were at least better than Roman slaves...
        • They will need to be paid indefinitely then ? That's the problem with mercenaries, they don't quit when you do they just switch sides or go into business for themselves. At least with traditional mercenaries they were the problem of the peasants of whatever far flung region they were in when you stopped paying them, hackers can strike anywhere. Also last I heard the US was suffering a little cash-flow problem already, why throw money away on BS like this ?

      • Of course we all know how well supporting the Taliban worked out for the US in the end.

        In the 'end'? What 'end'? When you're in the war business, I would say it's working out pretty well. With no end in sight, it can only mean more profit.

    • The Roman Empire hasn't gone anywhere. Like Blackwater, they just 'reorganized'. And it really makes no difference whether your hired assassins wear a corporate logo or a national flag on their sleeves

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Government entities are more accountable.

        Blackwater is for cowards who want to hide behind accounting practices and corporate 'privacy'.

        • How's that? It's the government that pays for Blackwater's services. And if we want to discuss 'cowardly', let's talk about the drone pilots who risk nothing at all except a possible reprimand. They work for the government with even greater secrecy. Accountability means nothing when nobody holds them up to it. We have precisely the same power over Blackwater as we do the government

          • by thrich81 (1357561)
            You can shut up about the drone pilots. As a former military pilot myself, we wanted every standoff weapon there was -- air-to-air missiles with longer ranges; air launched cruise missiles with longer ranges, precision guided bombs with longer ranges. We weren't hanging our butts over the combat zone to rack up style points, we had a job to do and minimizing risk to ourselves was part of that -- if for nothing else, to save the expense of training replacements. Before air launched weapons, everyone wante
    • by Larryish (1215510)

      More insightful commentary from General Michael Hayden is available at the following url:

      http://www.thisisthedumbestshitever.com/ignoramus/ [thisisthed...itever.com]

    • Et tu, Blackwater?
    • Because mercenaries worked so well for them.

      This is a very different situation. If one of my clients hired a group of 'cyber-mercenaries' (calling something cyber-anything make me want to puke) my client could absolve themselves of liability and culpability of any wrongdoings by said mercenaries (just like the US government washes their hands of Blackwater's problems). In fact, if these mercenaries also have government contracts their actions probably would never be properly investigated at all.

      I'm not in favor of this idea, but it certainly has sh

      • by mcvos (645701)

        And that's exactly the problem with mercenaries. You create a shadowy area with a serious lack of accountability. Where soldiers would get court-martialled, Blacwater just gets a slap on the wrist.

        If it were up to me, whenever mercenaries misbehave, the person who hired them needs to be held fully accountable for every single thing the mercenaries did. That should stop people from dodging their responsibilities like that.

    • by bberens (965711)
      Why don't we fix the real problem and allow the government agencies responsible for these things to pay market wages for the best talent on the planet?
    • That was the exact thought I had when I saw the second plane hit the towers: 'We are the Romans'.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    If one is familar with US history, in the 1800s, the meanest people around were not private armies or police. It was the hired guys like the Pinkertons who would come in and smash heads for the big businessmen.

    These guys even had judges under them, where people could be arrested, tried, and hanged all done privately.

    Do we want national security again in the hands of private business that is accountable to nothing but the bottom dollar?

    • by Jawnn (445279)

      If one is familar with US history, in the 1800s, the meanest people around were not private armies or police. It was the hired guys like the Pinkertons who would come in and smash heads for the big businessmen.

      These guys even had judges under them, where people could be arrested, tried, and hanged all done privately.

      Do we want national security again in the hands of private business that is accountable to nothing but the bottom dollar?

      What are you, some kind of socialist? Corporations are citizens too, you know. If they want to get together and pass laws and get "their" people elected or appointed to public office, they have a perfect right to do so.
      [/sarcasm]

    • Pshaw. Pinkertons aint got nothin' on the Continental Op. [wikipedia.org]

      The Continental Op cursed as he crouched in the shadows of the basement; fourteen Slashdot posts, all modded troll...
  • by Anonymous Coward

    By the time somebody in the government says it is a good idea, somebody in the clandestine operations has already set it up to be done.

    They aren't as dumb as they're made out to be. People might notice their failures. The goal is for the successes to never even merit a whiff of attention.

    But let's hope they don't go for a Teeth of the Tiger approach. Tom Clancy's fetishes are not pleasant.

  • They seem to be doing a good job in taking down sites and pushing agendas. Maybe they can earn money while doing taking down China and the likes...

  • It's seems a common trend: a clear indicative of the end of and empire is that it starts to depend on mercenaries for its protection.

    • by timeOday (582209)
      It is the summary, not the story, that inserted the word "mercenary" into the discussion. A discussion revolving around that word won't be very useful unless we at least define it.

      I don't think Blackwater (Xe) counts as a mercenary force, because, although they fight for profit, they do not remain neutral politically and simply fight for whatever side pays the best. (Please correct me if there are solid examples to the contrary). Mainly, the move towards contractors such as Xe boils down to an end-run

      • by mcvos (645701)

        It is the summary, not the story, that inserted the word "mercenary" into the discussion. A discussion revolving around that word won't be very useful unless we at least define it.

        I don't think Blackwater (Xe) counts as a mercenary force, because, although they fight for profit, they do not remain neutral politically and simply fight for whatever side pays the best.

        They do fight for the side that pays best. What do you think will happen when that side will stop paying. Will Blackwater cease their operations, or will they look for a new customer? Roman mercenaries also fought just for the Romans, and not for anybody else. Until the time came to change allegiance. The Middle Ages also saw many mercenaries who almost always fought for the same lords. They're still mercenaries.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Clear trend? no. One correlation.

  • Maybe I'm wrong here but when looking at what's available on the "open market" right now it seems you've got security researchers, old-school hackers who tend to not really trust the government and actual criminals (in the sense that they're in it for the money and have few if any scruples).

    Not really a good pool to hire mercenaries from, it'd be like hiring regular mercenaries from a pool filled with a bunch of guys who have the skills but are more interested in defensive measures (security researchers), r

  • So, the idea is to put together a bunch of criminal genius types who operate on the worlds computer networks with impunity. What could possibly go wrong?

    • No the idea is to hire people without the government pay scale getting in the way. Think of them as a group like Lulz or Anonymous except they have the ability to make a real contributions instead of just annoying people and harassing companies that produce computer games. Stuxnet was a better solution than bombing the ever living shit out of the Iranian nuclear material production facilities and all the consequences that would have arisen had someone done so. And all those other private security companies
      • by mcvos (645701)

        If the government pay scale is a problem, then change it. Don't use it as an excuse to circumvent accountability.

        • You could never change the government pay scale enough to entice the caliber of people required for these types of jobs. The people with the skills needed for this type of work would end up taking a substantial pay cut. Private sector developers pull down bigger salaries than the President or Congressman so the government would have to make some rather serious adjustments in their compensation guidelines and what is the chance of that ever happening? While in office the Presidents finances are held in a bli
    • by Grygus (1143095)

      It's not like those guys aren't already online. Keep your enemies closer, and all that.

  • by Thud457 (234763) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @01:33PM (#36974716) Homepage Journal
    "In 2002, a 'l33t haxx0r unit was sent to prison by a MPAA court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from a minimum security basement to the San Francisco underground. Today, still wanted by the RIAA they survive as hackers for hire. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them....maybe you can hire The lambda."
    • In 2002, a 'l33t haxx0r unit was sent to prison by a MPAA court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from a minimum security basement to the San Francisco underground. Today, still wanted by the RIAA they survive as hackers for hire. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them....maybe you can hire The lambda team."

      That's what I get for trying to go for the cheap joke.

  • by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @01:33PM (#36974720) Homepage Journal

    Anyone that has ever read Machiavelli's the Prince knows that mercenaries are bound to bite you in the ass sooner or later. And while the US has made light use of mercenary troops, we've already seen BlackWater have to change it's name to "Xe Services" after it's outrageous actions caused such a shit storm around the world.

    You take a maverick group like Blackwater, give them greyhats with a black lining and put them in charge of cyberwarfare, it's only a matter of time till they abuse it to such an extent that they create more problems than they are worth or worse, are ordered to spy on or act against US citizens on US soil in an overt attempt to circumvent US laws regarding the actions of the US gov't.

    • by jovius (974690)

      Cyber warfare ultimately and logically leads to blowing up servers or other physical acts along the route.

      It's also problematic and not in the lightest sense that the people who make privatization and outsourcing recommendations are often themselves working as consultans for possible future contractors.

    • by elrous0 (869638) *

      That's the thing about a mercenary army. They'll work right up until the moment they realize they can just overthrow you and take ALL your money instead of just some of it.

    • even within the Pentagon, most folks think The Prince is either a Pixar movie or a reference to Will Smith.
  • ...is just the right combination of bullshit and immorality the world has been waiting for!

    • This is why William Gibson started writing novels that take place in the present. The world caught up with his dystopian ideas.

  • and take US Taxpayer money and put it in their offshore bank accounts. No more for-profit mercenaries like blackwater or Xe or whatever they are called this week.
  • The whole Blackwater thing was a cash-grab by Cheney and Halliburton (which owned Blackwater), abusing the "sole-source" rules for contract awards. It's one of the reasons PNAC started the war.

    And the Blackwater teams weren't good guys, or even bad guys turned good. They were crooks, spoiling for a fight. Their fuckups cost as much as their original contract, and crippled diplomacy, causing even more cost.

    Moral: don't use mercs. If you want them to fight for you, conscript them and teach them you mean

    • by geekoid (135745)

      ha, that woudl be funny.

      The US enact the draft only for 'previously trained eligible people', then draft all the blackwater employees....and for good measure make them service personnel.

  • Yet another excuse to outsource. That is all.

  • by mbone (558574) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @01:41PM (#36974806)

    One of the architects of US foreign policy under George W. Bush.

    Any person with that in their resume should be banned from any contact with public service or public policy whatsoever.

    • by elrous0 (869638) *

      Are you kidding? That's one of the geniuses that came up with the idea of faith-based war and faith-based foreign policy. As in:

      1) Invade country and blow the fuck out of everything
      2) Faith
      3) Profit!

  • 1. Deni-ability. No, we did not tell them to cross over into Cambodia.

    2. Cheaper. Real soldiers tend to cost more - because we pay for their training, long term support, etc.

    3. Lost lives are civilians, not military. Who cares if a merc dies, but congressman have to care about American soldiers.

    Of those three reasons, only Deniability applies to cyber soldiers. Civilian firms tend to be more expensive not less and cyber soldiers don't die, they just get 'schooled'.

    There is one possible extra ben

    • by Bookworm09 (1321243) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @02:50PM (#36975560)

      2. Cheaper. Real soldiers tend to cost more - because we pay for their training, long term support, etc.

      Not true. We do pay for their training: almost without exception, the guys who work for companies like Blackwater/Xe and Triple Canopy are veterans of elite military units. So their business model is essentially this: 1. Let the US government spend the time and money training special operations personnel and (just as important) getting them experience in real-world operations. 2. Entice them to leave the military (if they already hadn't on their own) with the promise of lots of money and less "bullshit" (rules), 3. Sell their services back to the military at ridiculously high rates. 4. Profit. If companies like Blackwater/Xe had to train their own personnel from scratch, their business models would fall apart. They're another example of "the free market" relying on the government to provide them the resources that they exploit to enrich themselves. And the vast majority of them seethe about "government waste, fraud, and abuse" the whole time they do it. I have first-hand experience with PMC's; I used to work for a competitor of Blackwater's. In fact, if the Obama (or any other) administrtion were to try to do this, it wouldn't surprise me a bit if they saw a bunch of "cyber operators" quit the NSA, Air Force, etc., and sign up.

      • Just to clarify: we pay for the training of the mercenaries hired by the likes of Blackwater/Xe, etc.
    • by brit74 (831798)
      2. Cheaper. Real soldiers tend to cost more - because we pay for their training, long term support, etc.
      I doubt that. In the book, "Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army", they point out that the mercenaries are quite a bit more expensive than traditional troops. The reason nations pay for them is because they can quickly get troops without the long training period, and because it can be difficult to get enough traditional troops into the field without a draft. As a result o
  • Instead of going through all this wasted effort, how about we just fix computer security and be done with it?

    Default permissive environments are the problem.

    Capability based security is the answer.

    No incursion on our few remaining liberties, no more virus scanners, worms, etc... no more DRM... what's not to like?

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Your view on computer security is.. myopic.

    • Fix computer security?

      hehe, that's a good one. Make it better, I can understand. Fix is asking the impossible.

    • Burglaries still occur. How about we just fix home security and be done with it?

      • by kbg (241421)
        How many times has the White House or the Pentagon been burgled? You can fix general security, it all depends on how much you want to spend on it.
    • Instead of going through all this wasted effort, how about we just fix computer security and be done with it?

      And while we're at it we might as well throw in world peace, a world-wide end to hunger and a couple ponies. Sadly all of these could be accomplished by killing everyone....Well, maybe not the ponies.

    • by ka9dgx (72702)

      Here we have what could be self fulfilling prophecy...If all programmers think it impossible to implement secure systems, thus nobody tries.

      Fortunately. a few brave souls have ventured into this area..

      In the Linux area, seccomp-nurse [chdir.org] is a sandboxing framework based on SECCOMP. It is designed to run applications in a kind of jail (enforced by the kernel). It does not use ptrace() at all.

      In the Windows area, Polaris [hp.com] (Principal Of Least Authority for Real Internet Security) is a package for Windows XP that dem

  • It's almost like they didn't learn anything from Blackwater. Either that, or they just seriously don't give a shit about the repercussions of hiring people you can't control.
  • Anybody ever in one of those organizations ever suggested the US to let go?

    They need to roll some joints and let go.

    The need to let go of trying to have an empire, USA can't have an empire, it doesn't have the wealth - production capacity, to have an empire. Empires are the last stage of a dying super-power, because that's the time that the government grew so much, it became the dominant industry, while all other industries are collapsing due to underproduction and resource mis-allocation towards the govern

    • by Grygus (1143095)

      The U.S. is free because of the government, not despite it; the people didn't spontaneously decide to let women vote or end slavery. I will just ignore the rest of your post except to say that the government was made this way by the people themselves; it's a strange position that when free people freely do what you don't approve of, they're somehow no longer free.

      • by roman_mir (125474)

        The USA WAS Free because the federal government was forced to abide by a Constitution created by a bunch of idealists, who had to ensure that separate States would ratify that Constitution and agree to be part of the federation. Your surprise to the fact that over time the federal government and Supreme court found ways to get around the law that was binding them is strange.

        This is equivalent to many companies that are started by people who are really interested in what they are doing, that become great co

    • by cdrguru (88047)

      The current thinking among most people in the US is that the government needs to provide jobs for the 30+ million people officially unemployed and probably the other 60+ million that are "underemployed" or stealthy unemployed. We are currently at around 46% of the people in the US being dependent on the government for their "alternative income" - this isn't government jobs but government handouts.

      All that is needed is to move this 46% to more like 60% and the country will be finally reshaped the way some p

      • by roman_mir (125474)

        Agree with your comment, but the USSR didn't just fall apart because people 'finally figured out' something. It fell apart because it was bankrupt and couldn't provide anything, any products to its people, even though it had 100% employment.

        That's where USA is heading if it is going to continue with this ideology that government must do all the thinking, central planning, hiring and money printing and all this spending. I was born in USSR and that's actually exactly how I remember it.

  • Every time one of these ex-XYZ or ex-Army or current ones open their mouth, it becomes abundantly clear how clueless they are about nature of the digital worlds and how hopeless it is to entrust the DoD/Government's digital security in their hands.
  • We already have cyber security mercenary groups. They go by the names of "Accenture" or "IBM" or "McKinsey"... but they prefer to be called "Consulting companies"... "Mercenary groups" is so... tacky.

  • It's my turn on the military-industrial complex's gravy train!

    • by rubycodez (864176)
      soon we'll be in one of a few groups:

      1. mega-corporation drone or soldier
      2. drone of government, owned by the mega-corporations
      3. on welfare
      4. in prison, maybe combined with #3


      You probably will not be in group #0, elite who control mega-corporations, high barrier to entry what with either needing billions in net worth or incredible political power and influence due to being bitch of one with billions in net worth.
  • oh, wait:

    "He is currently a principal at the Chertoff Group, a security consultancy co-founded by former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.[3] "

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Hayden_(general) [wikipedia.org]

    G

    • Translation:

      "Hire my consulting firm with a multi-year contract and it won't be a problem anymore"
    • by mbone (558574)

      "He is currently a principal at the Chertoff Group"

      The people who brought you the useless and expensive X-ray backscatter peep shows at you local airport.

  • by rbrausse (1319883) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @02:11PM (#36975154)

    interesting way to describe events like the Blackwater Baghdad shootings [wikipedia.org]...

    and I think the US has digital mercaneries working in a gray area - think of all the private IT security companies working for the government (anonymous/lulzsec targets are sufficient examples: ManTech, HBGary)

  • by gman003 (1693318) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @02:16PM (#36975228)

    If there can be online pirates, there can be online privateers. Say the US declares Cyber-war on China. Instead of needing to hire, outfit and finance a full Cyber-Army, just declare "any American who hacks China can a) do so legally and b) keep any valuable stuff they steal". Maybe even pay bounties - $10,000 to take down the People's Congress website for a day, $100,000 for each classified document stolen, etc. Private corporations might pay, too - I'm sure Apple would pay a decent amount for someone to damage whatever factory is currently producing iPod knock-offs. Or even just regular corporate espionage, just more publicly since it's legalized.

    Then all you really need to focus on is defense, and defense is a lot easier for the big slow guy. Since you get an instant army whenever you go on the attack, you can pretty much just play a slow, conservative defense game.

  • and the best way to do this is to use people who are subject to Status of Forces agreements, and under control of the civilian authority. Use Marines to guard embassies, Security Police to guard Airbases, &c.

    I wouldn't hire Blackwater, Xe, Chertoff Group &c. to pick up my trash.

  • by chill (34294) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @03:17PM (#36975824) Journal

    To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

    Reading the U.S. Constitution for a modern era. Bring on the digital Letters of Marque and Reprisal!

    Avast, matey! Batten down the routers and prepare to repel boarders!

    I'm in.

  • by DarthVain (724186) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @03:22PM (#36975872)

    Rather than "hire" a bunch of people and support staff, and buildings, and technology, just use capitalism!

    Start a website called US Digital Bounty Hunter Service. Post targets and corresponding bounty amounts.

    Sit back and enjoy the show!

    or

    1) Post Cyber Warfare Bounties
    2) ???
    3) PROFIT!!!

  • by LifesABeach (234436) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @03:54PM (#36976244)
    Retirement becomes this noble hero. I believe that the General's boss was a short sighted, self centered, twit. And this general followed him into battle. Maybe to the General outsourcing his Depends is acceptable, but I believe that there are more than enough good Americans that can handle this job, very well.

    Republican since 1971
  • by oneiros27 (46144) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @03:59PM (#36976308) Homepage

    Currently, almost all IT support in the US government is contracted out ... so in a way, they're already hiring mercenaries, but I won't get into that bat.

    All you need to do is to have a pool of talent within the government that under normal situations does pentests at the request of government agencies / divisions / whatever, and in a situation when something big happens, they can be pulled from those assignments to actively attack something.

    This way, they get practice, we harden our systems, but it's not just some random hacker being contracted to make an attack ... they'd be regular government employees (although, likely contractors), who have had the necessary background checks, etc.

  • by cjcela (1539859) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @04:18PM (#36976558)
    Putting mercenaries in the middle of critical IT infrastructure can only seem like a good idea to people who will profit out of that. Data can be copied. Good luck containing leaks once someone (or a corporation) who sells himself to whoever offers more puts his/her paws on it. Corporations and government do not mix well, as their goals are conflicting.
    • by Phrogman (80473)

      Luckily, government usually gives in to corporations, so most conflicts are avoided :(

  • hayden was in charge of NSA during the Trailblazer IT fiasco, which caused Congress to severly restrict NSAs spending ability.
    Trailblazers end products were, well, basically they mostly dont exist. it was abandoned.

    but SAIC and others made a lot of money off of it.

    now who will make money off of an IT blackwater? SAIC, probably. or at least, SAIC alumni.

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