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Open Source Enables Terrorist States 744

chill writes "Where to begin? OpenBSD Journal has a couple of update articles on the business of DARPA cancelling POSSE and OpenBSD's grant. And here is a message from Theo de Raadt, the OpenBSD big cheese, with a quote from a military spokesman. How does '...due to world events and the evolving threat posed by increasingly capable nation-states...' grab you? Does open source and freely available security support terrorism by its very nature?"
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Open Source Enables Terrorist States

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  • by ErMaC ( 131019 ) <ermac@BOHRermacs ... minus physicist> on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @03:59AM (#5787650) Homepage
    The beauty of real, open source, free software is that it empowers EVERYONE. Be they good, bad, or ugly, everyone is given access to the same kind of benefits. On the one hand, of course this empowers terrorists. But then again so does encryption research. Should we ban encryption? I'm sure the MPAA would have things to say about that.
    Open Source gives everyone an equal stake. Just because the enemy gets the same benefits doesn't mean we should stop. We're already "more powerful" than them - how will this uneven the playing field any more than it already is?
    • If the worry is that those evil terrorists will see the source of your secure applications, the BSD license allows you to hide the altered source, doesn't it?

      So even if you accept the idea that security through obscurity is a necessity for such applications (a very questionable assumption at best) you can go ahead and obscure them. Where's the ache?

    • by Ella the Cat ( 133841 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @04:14AM (#5787715) Homepage Journal

      Stomping on scientific research, technical innovation and in this case open source, all in the name of fighting terrorism is deeply unhealthy. Well duh, you might say, but my point is it's unhealthy not only for people being stomped on, but those doing the stomping, simply because the competition, whether military, political or economic, will be happily beavering away doing said research, innovating, using said open source, and so on. Why don't those in charge understand that it isn't in _their_ long term interests? I can hazard a guess, but I'd divert the thread. To prevent a couple of spurious objections, I'm not in favour of declassifying the usual military secrets, but I think things are being taken too far at the moment.

      • "Why don't those in charge understand that it isn't in _their_ long term interests?"

        They never have and are unlikely to start now. As to why couldn't say, but I would hazard a guess that those who make the decisions have they're information fed to them through a chain of people/underlings - the info gets diluted/changed as it progresses up the chain. Result the decisions that are made are loosely related to the original information.
        • Well, you could take that view, or you could just assume that everyone in power is EVIL.
        • by Tony-A ( 29931 )
          Result the decisions that are made are loosely related to the original information.

          There is the old game of "gossip" telephone game [snurse-l.org]
          Probably everyone reading this has played the telephone game at one time or another.
          Loved by nursery school teachers everywhere, it usually goes like this: participants stand in a circle. The teacher whispers a sentence, word, or phrase into the ear of the first person in the circle. The first person whispers what they hear to the second person, the second person whispers wha
          • by Cyberdyne ( 104305 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @08:47AM (#5788623) Journal
            Result the decisions that are made are loosely related to the original information.

            There is the old game of "gossip" telephone game

            Probably everyone reading this has played the telephone game at one time or another.

            Loved by nursery school teachers everywhere, it usually goes like this: participants stand in a circle. The teacher whispers a sentence, word, or phrase into the ear of the first person in the circle. The first person whispers what they hear to the second person, the second person whispers what they hear to the third person and so on until everyone has had a turn and the last person announces what they heard. The phrase which started out "The mashed potatoes are dry" has morphed into "Last Thanksgiving, my grandmother put ex-lax in the sweet potato pie."

            That is WITHOUT hidden agenda and biases.

            In this case, I suspect something similar happened. Theo's quote refers to a "DARPA review"; as I understand DARPA's rules, their grant money must be spent within the US. UPenn were accepting that money within the US, then transferring it to Theo's team in Canada - which looks to me as if it violates DARPA's rules. I suspect someone in DARPA took a look at how their grant money was being spent, and told UPenn "you can't use the money that way, stop it!". The various stages of communication (this quote came via a reporter FFS!) then mangled this into some sort of terrorist theory...

            Whatever the reasoning, the US government really isn't supposed to "export" work this way. We've seen enough outcry on Slashdot lately over outsourcing by private companies: if I were a US taxpayer, I'd be glad that at least the government has rules against doing this! Of course, Theo and co could probably have avoided the whole problem by being employed in the US by UPenn...

            • Whatever the reasoning, the US government really isn't supposed to "export" work this way. We've seen enough outcry on Slashdot lately over outsourcing by private companies: if I were a US taxpayer, I'd be glad that at least the government has rules against doing this! Of course, Theo and co could probably have avoided the whole problem by being employed in the US by UPenn...

              Except for the fact that they are worried about US law on the issues of encryption research.

              Seriously, good point, but the US is

        • by Kenneth ( 43287 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @09:56AM (#5789077) Homepage
          They never have and are unlikely to start now.

          This should suprise no one. Every large organization is like that. Note the following old, well worn fable.

          In the beginning was the plan,
          and then the specification;
          And the plan was without form,
          and the specification was void.

          And darkness
          was on the faces of the implementors thereof;
          And they spake unto their leader,
          saying:
          "It is a crock of shit,
          and smells as of a sewer."

          And the leader took pity on them,
          and spoke to the project leader:
          "It is a crock of excrement,
          and none may abide the odor thereof."

          And the project leader
          spake unto his section head, saying:
          "It is a container of excrement,
          and it is very strong, such that none may abide it."

          The section head then hurried to his department manager,
          and informed him thus:
          "It is a vessel of fertilizer,
          and none may abide its strength."

          The department manager carried these words
          to his general manager,
          and spoke unto him
          saying:
          "It containeth that which aideth the growth of plants,
          and it is very strong."

          And so it was that the general manager rejoiced
          and delivered the good news unto the Vice President.
          "It promoteth growth,
          and it is very powerful."

          The Vice President rushed to the President's side,
          and joyously exclaimed:
          "This powerful new software product
          will promote the growth of the company!"

          And the President looked upon the product,
          and saw that it was very good.

          After the subsequent disaster, the suits protect themselves
          by saying "I was misinformed!", and the implementors are
          demoted or fired.

          It doesn't matter what you're building, whether software, hardware, ariplanes, buildings, or cheezey poof poofing machines.
      • Stomping on scientific research, technical innovation and in this case open source, all in the name of fighting terrorism is deeply unhealthy.

        I think that is an understatement. What makes great societies great is that they have had a relatively open culture about innovative technologies-- look at the great cultures of Greece, Rome, Moorish Spain, as well as modern-day Europe, the US, and Canada.

        Also, what makes the US a world superpower is not the size of our...er... military but the strength of our eco
    • Absolutely. I am 100% in agreement with ErMaC. The problem is, it doesn't seem that the US government is interested in a level playing field. They, as far as I have seen, would rather subjectively choose who the bad guys are, and take away everyone's rights to catch them.
    • by Tyreth ( 523822 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @04:27AM (#5787770)
      It's not like these terrorist states couldn't pirate commercial software.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @04:42AM (#5787831)
      The telephone, planes, cars all empower terrorists. We should ban these technologies too. Come to think of it words empower terrorists. Ban 'em.
    • by rf0 ( 159958 )
      IF anything I would feel that with regard to possible use to terrorism and such like Open Source is better than closed source. With closed source if an exploit that could be used is found then its down to the company to supply the fix.

      With open source you at least have multiple people looking at the srouce code and reviewing it. Now I'm not saying that the "bad people" might tell the authors but I would think there would be more chance of the exploit being picked up.

      Just my $0.02

      Rus
    • by femto ( 459605 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @05:25AM (#5787974) Homepage
      And empowerment of all will begin to attack the real roots of terrorism: Ignorance, poverty, extremisim, ...
      • Exactly! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Jason Mark ( 623951 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @07:51AM (#5788330)
        Exactly! You can't fight lack of education and desperation with guns and bombs, unless you plan on committing genocide. Try education, understanding, communication. Those are the "weapons" in a ware against terrorism. What scares me the most is my WHOLE LIFE I'll be dealing with backlash from the current administration, and my children will be suffering the damage done to education and world relations.
      • by mpe ( 36238 )
        And empowerment of all will begin to attack the real roots of terrorism: Ignorance, poverty, extremisim, ...

        In many cases the actual root might be a powerful government, even corporation, wanting to keep a people ignorant, poor and shooting each other. That way it's easier to make off with their natural resources.
      • How about foreign policy? A foreign policy based on force -- like any initiation of force -- is guaranteed to create resentment. Does any of us actually believe that the family members, friends, and neighbors of those slaughtered by the US government are thinking to themselves, "you know, even though my brother was murdered by the US government, I still support what the US government is doing to our country"? Do you think these innocent victims buy into the lie of "collateral damage" that we're all supposed
        • by rppp01 ( 236599 )
          Unfortunately, terrorism is a more basic issue. I called Bush a moron when he announced a 'war on terrorism'. Terrorism has been around since the first time a bully began to push around his/her neighbors- and that goes waaaaaaay back. Before government, before foreign policy, before natural resource needs, etc.

          I think the best ways of combating (used loosely here, not preemptively) terrorism, is to loosen the constraints of the peoples out there. This allows bullys to bully, but also for the bullied to fig
      • by anomaly ( 15035 ) <tom@cooper3.gmail@com> on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @08:42AM (#5788586)
        With all due respect, I strongly disagree with your utopian view.

        Increasing the education of the general populous and raising their standard of living will have little effect on stopping terrorism.

        Some of the best educated people in the world have been the most terrible. Eugenics does not come from dunderheads. Chemical weapons are not created by morons.

        Providing wealth is no panacea, either. John D. Rockefeller was asked once "How much is enough?" Reportedly his response was "Just a little bit more." It is the nature of man to compare himself with others, and sadly comparison is the root of discontentment.

        Education and money are not problem solvers on their own.

        With respect to your "extremism must be eliminated" type of approach: That view in itself is an extreme view.

        The real roots of conflict within mankind are directly related to man's relationship with truth.

        Absolute truth does exist, and when man's worldview and life choices contradict that, it leads to conflict within himself and with other people.

        Even if a man is in sync with absolute truth in his worldview and life choices, he will be in conflict with those who reject the truth.

        Conflict is inevitable in the world. The question is this: "Is your side of the conflict in sync with what is objectively true, or is it merely your opinion that you're fighting for?"

        Respectfully,
        Anomaly
    • by skinfitz ( 564041 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @05:26AM (#5787976) Journal
      On the one hand, of course this empowers terrorists.

      Yes but then shoes also empower terrorists.

      Seriously though - what are they saying? That those naughty terrorists dont copy commercial software?

      What's more likely - that terrorists are all l33t hax0rs and OSS coders or they emply more easy-to-use platforms like Windows & MacOS?

      In that case, shouldn't the case be that easy to use software be blamed for terrorism thus strengthening the argument for a move to *NIX based OS's?
    • But if you REALLY loved America, you would use Windows.

      Its hard to get more Pro-American and even Pro-Bush than I am. But this is totally stupid. This has nothing to do with enabling terrorists. This is like outlawing guns for everyone so bad guys won't have then. Not only does it NOT work, but it only hurts legitimate people. This is not only misguided, but demonstrates that many people in the government are out of touch, which really should not be a shocker. This is the same institutions that cove
    • Governments in the west sell weapons to rogue nations. So why do we fear software? Where did Iraq get all its weapons from? The west of course. Who funded bin Laden and built him into a power? The west again.

      Western governments display quite incredible hypocrisy. The nerve we have to tell other countries how to run their affairs!!
  • redmond and the military - who do you want to manipulate today?
    • Re:misinformation (Score:3, Insightful)

      by billn ( 5184 )
      Sure, let's talk about misinformation and obfuscation of reality.

      Living in the September 12th era, we're now faced with security absurdities, such not being able to take toenail clippers on planes. We have government frowning on community projects because they're open sourced and 'potentially harmful.' We have governments bombing countries because they think the people in charge fund terrorists (My answer to this is STOP BUYING THEIR OIL.)

      The problem with any scenario of this stripe is that it's all knee
  • PGP (Score:5, Funny)

    by inaeldi ( 623679 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @04:04AM (#5787661)
    But don't worry, freeware PGP is safe from terrorism because the EULA specifically says that it can not be used in contries that the US doesn't like.
  • by TerraFrost ( 611855 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @04:04AM (#5787663)
    if we begin to associate terrorism with freebsd, then freebsd's popularity may begin to rub off on terrorism. to explain... as the geek population becomes more aware of this strange thing called terrorism, thanks to its new association with something geeky (ie. freebsd), the geek population will no doubt starting thinking that terrorism, like freebsd, is cool!

    i'm sorry, DARPA... that's not the message you want to be putting out!

  • by miketang16 ( 585602 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @04:04AM (#5787664) Journal
    I run Linux.
  • For gods sake... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by supz ( 77173 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @04:05AM (#5787666) Homepage
    By nature, terrorists obviously aren't going to obey any laws... much less SOFTWARE LICENSES. This makes Windows a FREE OS.

    And with Microsoft's latest effort to try to make their OS's as "secure" as possible, shouldn't all these people picking on opensource be targeting Microsoft as well, since they are now SECURE?

    All this post-9/11 paranoia is getting really ridiculous, and I can't wait till someone in power finally realizes how stupid we are being.
    • by mackstann ( 586043 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @04:15AM (#5787720) Homepage

      By nature, terrorists obviously aren't going to obey any laws... much less SOFTWARE LICENSES. This makes Windows a FREE OS.

      It's not about use - obviously no one can stop that, it's about them having free information available to them. Source code is handy stuff!

      And with Microsoft's latest effort to try to make their OS's as "secure" as possible, shouldn't all these people picking on opensource be targeting Microsoft as well, since they are now SECURE?

      You definitely missed the point.

      All this post-9/11 paranoia is getting really ridiculous, and I can't wait till someone in power finally realizes how stupid we are being.

      I couldn't agree more, except for the fact that in america, the masses are in power. You may disagree, and you would be right - but it's only because they have waived their power. No one votes, no one gives a shit. The few people that are left tend to be weirdos or worse alot of the time.

      For example, my high school foods teacher. She wasn't all that great of a teacher, in fact she was pretty dumb. Not a bright lady. Not all that nice either - although not a complete bitch. Well, a couple years later I see that she ran for state representative and won. WTF? Nothing short of amazing.

      • For example, my high school foods teacher. She wasn't all that great of a teacher, in fact she was pretty dumb. Not a bright lady. Not all that nice either - although not a complete bitch. Well, a couple years later I see that she ran for state representative and won. WTF? Nothing short of amazing.

        I think it's about time I run for Senator.

      • by skillet-thief ( 622320 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @05:02AM (#5787910) Homepage Journal
        I couldn't agree more, except for the fact that in america, the masses are in power.

        The masses are being manipulated by the power. Our beloved U.S. government has been keeping the fear of terr'rism alive in order to manipulate the masses by cowing them into the position of "standing behind the commander in chief".

        Days after the end of the Iraq War, the terr'rism alert level was dropped. As if... As if Saddam Hussein had anything to do with Al Quaida, as if the war hadn't sparked more anti-American resentment in the Arab world, resentment that could obviously lead to more terr'rism...

        Total, cynical manipulation of the deep fears of the masses. And now other people, ie. advocates of proprietary software, are trying to see for how much they can milk fear of terr'rism for their own interests. Just like the oil companies use the issues to convince us that they need to drill in the Arctic Wilderness. Pretty soon we will hear that imposing mileage restrictions on SUVs would encourage terr'rism.

        This is all sickening.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      > All this post-9/11 paranoia is getting really
      > ridiculous, and I can't wait till someone in
      > power finally realizes how stupid we are being.

      I think you're missing the point. The "people in power" know exactly how stupid they are being (or more to the point, how little their justifications have to do with their actions). The whole post-9/11 paranoia thing is just a convenient way for lots of people to do what they want, when they want, and how they want. In this case, it was probably just that
    • by mkro ( 644055 )

      Microsoft can be forced to include a backdoor [amug.org] in Windows, and no-one will know/be able do anything about it, as the need of "getting those Evil Freedom-Hating Wife-Beating (etc) terrorists" is > *. Open source software is a bit harder to control, therefore it must die.

      Oh, and didn't Georgieboy W. B. explain the tax cuts for the rich with "What is good for American corporations is good for the American economy"? If open source is a competitior to American corporations, open source is bad for the American

    • by SgtChaireBourne ( 457691 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @05:22AM (#5787967) Homepage
      By nature, terrorists obviously aren't going to obey any laws... much less SOFTWARE LICENSES. This makes Windows a FREE OS.

      Oops hit submit too early. Let's try that again.

      Timothy is chipping in with his 2 cents for the Microsoft marketing drive starting tomorrow, Thursday. I really wish there were a way to block both the ads and the shills/astroturfers.

      The high level of security potentially available from using OpenBSD has been named as a worry. A number of posts have mentioned the nebulus terrorist threat [wsu.edu] and touched on the effects of lobbying. When you take into account lobbying from software companies, then the other real targets are nation states like Germany.

      If Germany goes with Linux, BSD, or one of the other Free or Open Source operating systems, then they remain beholden to neither Microsoft nor the White House.

      • *BSD / GPL licenses ensure freedom in how the systems are used and deployed
      • Security + source code audits ensure that data and systems are less vulnerable to foreign control / monitoring.
      • Development money spent on F/OSS drives the local economy.

      If, on the other hand, F/OSS is blocked [infoworld.com] then they suffer not only financial punishment for the recent UN Security Council issues but also stay on a short leash:

      • WPA ensures that MS/Bush can pull the plug
      • DRM + EUCD + proprietary file formats keeps them on the leash
      • Weak security and possible backdoors ensures that any resistance can be countered/monitored electronically.
  • Why Bother? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ChrisTower ( 122297 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @04:05AM (#5787667) Homepage
    Wouldn't terrorist organizations by their vary nature ignore the laws which would prevent them from pirating closed source software? And while a BSD variant will generally be more secure, i'm sure that security doesn't pose much of a threat to the intelligence gather organizations of the US.
  • Capable eh? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    So the .mil is concerned that OpenBSD (And I assume by extension, OpenSSH) gives nation states the ability to use high grade encryption, and that would make their job of spying on these states difficult. In this day and age, you can't be all that surprised. Good encryption is almost as important as good weapons, and I doubt that DARPA would fund the development and distribution of blueprints for laser guided mortar rockets or armor piercing assult rifles.

    Its still seems to be a bit of a knee jerk reacti
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @04:07AM (#5787674)
    Honestly this is starting to get out of hand. I really don't mean this in a 'bashing' way, but the United States really needs to take a step back and look at what the hell it is doing to itself.

    This 'Homeland Security' and ferocious anti-terrorism behaviour is getting seriously out of hand.. its an enormous overreaction and its starting to make the USA look very very silly.

    I totally appreciate that the threat of terrorism is real, and I believe that we must take measures to protect ourselves.. but offending and mistreating people of other countries & backgrounds is not the way to do it.
    • You are a bit behind the rest of the world...

      Everybody already thinks like this.
    • > This 'Homeland Security' and ferocious anti-terrorism behavior is getting seriously out of hand.. its an enormous overreaction and its starting to make the USA look very very silly.

      HS is just another government agency doing nothing but to help corporate, in this case, security companies and what not (and of course, defense contractors in one way or another). The comment is silly; absolutely silly. Terrorism has nothing to do with free software or not even computers probably.

      While we realize that th
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The US now has a huge disconnect, both in terms of what it thinks of itself and what it feeds its own population. The longer this goes on, the more they will scare you into accepting their patriot acts. Meanwhile across the world, it has become hated and no doubt people will remember and gang up against the US whenever they can.

      Propaganda, simple associative logic, and little or no reason has pervaded the public debate for a while. Meanwhile thinkers, people a society should respect, are getting branded le
    • by Ian Bicking ( 980 ) <ianb@@@colorstudy...com> on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @05:33AM (#5787988) Homepage
      Don't confuse the United States with the right wing and criminal clique that have taken power. But I don't mean to excuse the US in this way, and I certainly don't want that to make you feel more calm about what's going on...
      This 'Homeland Security' and ferocious anti-terrorism behaviour is getting seriously out of hand.. its an enormous overreaction and its starting to make the USA look very very silly.
      Silly? Oh, they'd like you to think that. They hide behind what seems like absurdity, when in fact it's just their disingenuous justifications that are absurd -- their actual actions are calculated and devious, their intentions sinister.

      Things make much more sense when you realize that their intention is not to ensure security. Their intention is to dominate the world.

      Free Software is antithetical to domination, so of course they would reject it.

  • When you're downloading OpenBSD, you're downloading Communism!
  • blaming a hammer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drfrog ( 145882 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @04:09AM (#5787689) Homepage
    yes a hammer can
    build a terrorist building
    it can build a church
    or a hospital too

    are we to stop selling hammers
    to weed out terrorism?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I think we should stop building churches!

      Religion is the opium of the masses
  • Incredulous!

    This is comparable to our brand-spanking new Department of Homeland Security calling Wireless Networks a "terrorist technology".

    Personally, I'd rather have open source software running on all important computers - that way we can check to make sure that things are done right, rather than have to trust in proprietary source code churned out by the monkeys at MS. I feel more threatened by the unknown than by the free.

    I subscribe to a belief expressed best by Benjamin Franklin:
    "They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security".

  • by cassidyc ( 167044 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @04:11AM (#5787696)
    Horse

    Cart

    If nation-states are planing terrorist activities, it has already been shown that they do not need free operating systems or software to execute its plans.

    A terrorist group will perform it's act regardless of OS.

    CJC
  • by HanzoSan ( 251665 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @04:12AM (#5787701) Homepage Journal
    What else? Everything, bombs, and fists!
  • News Flash (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Citizen of Earth ( 569446 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @04:16AM (#5787724)
    Bad people use technology to do bad things.
  • by shr3k ( 451065 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @04:17AM (#5787727) Homepage
    "Does open source and freely available security support terrorism by its very nature?"

    So, you mean to tell me that we can trust closed source companies whose primary motivation is the almighty dollar?

    I know that most companies are not *that* evil, but how about the case where a company insider shares *important information* with a terrorist resource? Or the case of a sale of software and a license for "shared source" to a company that could be a front for a terrorist organization?

    And will the government be willing to put in the necessary oversight to make sure that these companies don't spill the wrong beans? And, given how politics and lobbying go, can a company influence the government the wrong way (intentionally or unintentionally) to avoid this oversight?

    I don't know if open source is inherently supportive of terrorism. I couldn't really tell you. But there are too many questions involved when you argue that closed source should be the only way when it comes to security.

    This sounds like another effort to promote "security through obscurity" as the only way to go. I guess they could sue if someone breaks that method of security.
  • Terrorism? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by borgdows ( 599861 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @04:18AM (#5787731)
    Do the word 'terrorism' apply killing thousands of innocent people under bombs in Iraq or does this apply only when killing thousands of innocent people under planes in USA ??
    • Re:Terrorism? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by smallpaul ( 65919 )

      Terrorism only applies to the latter because in the former the goal is NOT to scare the people but rather to attack the military. Whereas George Bush says: "Iraqis, we are not out to get you. We want Saddam.", Osama Bin Laden says: "We will kill you all indiscriminately to frighten you into doing what we want." i.e. TO CAUSE WIDESPREAD FEAR.

      I am against the war, but I'm not willing to put aside my logic or common sense in arguing against it. War is not terrorism any more than apples are oranges or anthras

      • Re:Terrorism? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by borgdows ( 599861 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @05:13AM (#5787946)
        Terrorism only applies to the latter because in the former the goal is NOT to scare the people but rather to attack the military.

        If you were in Baghdad, do you think you wouldn't be scared?

        (shock and awe)

        Whereas George Bush says: "Iraqis, we are not out to get you. We want Saddam."

        Is George Bush trustworthy?

        (shock and awe)
      • Terrorists in suits (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jdfox ( 74524 )
        ...are still terrorists.

        Whereas George Bush says: "Iraqis, we are not out to get you. We want Saddam.", Osama Bin Laden says: "We will kill you all indiscriminately to frighten you into doing what we want." i.e. TO CAUSE WIDESPREAD FEAR.

        Bin Laden never said that. He's not out to "kill us all". He has defined several political goals, and has expressed a willingness to export death and violence to achieve them, in what he sees as defense of his community.

        But then, so has Bush [counterpunch.org]. "We will export death and
        • by MrHanky ( 141717 )
          But then, so has Bush. "We will export death and violence to the four corners of the earth in defense of this great nation.", quoth he. This, from a man who considers himself a devout Christian.

          This, from a man most of the rest of the world considers a religious fundamentalist.
  • by jkrise ( 535370 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @04:18AM (#5787733) Journal
    I guess Open Source and free security can be deemed to support terrorism, if we change the meaning of the word a bit. Terrorism should mean "any challenge, perceived, real, imaginary or fictitious to the well-being of Corporate America, with retrospective effect from 1992, or thereabouts!" There... anything can be labelled terrorism, and anyone a potential terrorist.

    Except Corporate American citizens. Probably explains why IBM is in the Trustworthy Group and why the Liberty Alliance was formed. Support to Open Source and Free Software is risky business.

    Some new words can be added as well:
    1. Perceived Terrorism (Competition).
    2. Organised potential terrrorism (LUGs)
    3. Internet-enabled terrorism (e-mails, downloads)
    4. Potential Terrorism (Open Source)
    5. Intellectual Terrorism (Reverse Engineering)

    The battle is not won till Corporate America isn't Terrified... now, all's clear.
  • by lfourrier ( 209630 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @04:20AM (#5787739)
    ...foreign concurence is terrorism
  • These government types with microsoft in their ear have always hated open source software. How can no-one own it?

    Have they run out of countries to bomb?

    Next they will be looking at:
    • air
    • water
    • freedom (without it what would terroists have to envy about the western world)
  • by goldenfield ( 64924 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @04:21AM (#5787744) Journal
    This might be the stupidest thing I've heard all week...

    How about guns? Terrorists use guns...is our military going to stop using guns too?

    How about toilet paper? Do any terrorists use toilet paper? If so, will our GIs start receiving the Sears catalog instead?
    • Do any terrorists use toilet paper?

      Probably most of the US funded ones do (IRA, contras etc.) but the Muslim ones no doubt carry small watering cans into the toilet to wipe their bums with. And get it (the water) all over the floor. Argh!

  • by BurritoWarrior ( 90481 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @04:21AM (#5787745)
    With Open Source software "they" can not put in back doors, sinffers, etc. because *everyone* has access to the code. At least, that's what I think is driving things behind the scenes. /me polishes tinfoil hat.
  • ... due to world events and the evolving threat posed by increasingly capable military empires, the University on April 22 advised the Government to suspend work on the "command and conquer" portion of its foriegn policy.
  • by mikeophile ( 647318 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @04:27AM (#5787776)
    If it can not be controlled, it must be destroyed.
  • Disrespect, cultural differances and violent dominance fosters terrorism. Once the seed of frustration has been planted, it will find a method disregardless of how hard people try to stop providing them. Please try to focus on the reasons for terrorism like the Israeli-Palestinian comflict and economic and political powerplay in sovereign countries by western forces in stead of going for an inevitable failure in suppressing the methods. I think Bin Laden c.s. have sufficiently proven they are creative enoug
  • by Dr. Cfire ( 571214 ) <{potkinsa} {at} {telus.net}> on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @04:31AM (#5787793)
    Its time to stop cowering in the corner from the terrorist "boogey man". Every week there is a new hot button item that promotes terrorism. The general media and governement in the united states seams to want the people to be afraid of everything. Why is it that your governmet has the money to produce this very vague early wrning system but no money for health care. What exactly is a orange alert. Your leaders come on televison and say that you should be scared because somewhere, sometime, something bad is going to happen, stop living in fear and start living your lives. Get out there live your lives, enjoy them and go watch bolwing of columbine it will change they way you think.
  • by edhall ( 10025 ) <slashdot@weirdnoise.com> on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @04:34AM (#5787807) Homepage

    It's an uncomfortable truth that complete suppression of terrorism requires complete suppression of freedom. If we want to maintain our freedom, we'll have to combat the fear of terrorism every bit as strongly as we fight terrorism itself. We'll have to risk that our promotion of freedom will at some points allow terrorism to operate. In a word, we need courage. But if we depend entirely upon our government and military to be courageous for us, we're already far along the road to losing our liberty.

    -Ed
  • Right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cxreg ( 44671 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @04:58AM (#5787891) Homepage Journal
    and Microsoft giving the source code to Windows to the Chinese government is a bake sale
  • by mseeger ( 40923 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @05:35AM (#5787993)
    Hi,

    if you want to catch terrorists, there are two ways:

    • You hunt down an existing terrorist: This is a very tedious way. Those guys tend to be cunning, hide in holes and avoid cell phones.
    • You pick someone you already have or can easily lay your hands on. Than you declare what he's doing to be a terrorist (or supporting) activity (e.g. encrypting, breaking copy protection, concealing ip addresses, writing open source software).

    The second method may have one disadvantage: You may find a terrorist where none has been before looking. This is like a self fullfilling prophecy. By declaring people to be terrorists you can make them to be.

    Serious: I'm more scared by the changes to the political systems than by the Al-Quaida. The "war on terror" has become a convenient handle (also in europe) to push for changes that have unacceptable before. The result may be the destruction of our ideals (a free society) in the name to defending them.

    Yours, Martin

    P.S. My definition of terrorist is "someone who is using violence against civilians with the goal to use the resulting scare/horror to force them into an action they wouldn't do by free will". This definition has become very unpopular after WWII because it included too many winners.

  • History (Score:5, Insightful)

    by praksys ( 246544 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @05:47AM (#5788013)
    I think that a few people here could benefit from some history lessons. Not necessarily because it would prove their views wrong, but because it might make their views a little more plausible.

    There is nothing particularly new about this sort of policy. The US has for a long time done its best to suppress certain types of research, keep certain research results secret, and keep certain types of technology out of the hands of hostile powers. All three of these policies have been *very* effective in maintaining the military superiority of the US, and in slowing the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. With respect to all three of these weapon types, and a host of other fields of technology with military applications, other nations are still struggling to replicate research that the US carried out 50 years ago.

    So, when people say that "this kind of policy never works", the military guys are going to say "BS, its been working for 50 years." When people say that "it just harms research in the US", the military guys are going to say "well sometimes it is more important to stay ahead of the other guy, than to just get ahead". When people say that "research will just progress faster in other countries" the military guys will just point to 50 years of the US successfully staying ahead of everyone else.

    Objecting that such policies are *in general* a bad idea is not going to impress anyone who actually has a clue. At the very least you need to show that there is something special about software technology that will prevent these policies from working. You will have a hard time of course because these policies have already been applied to software for decades.

    Now the problem with open source is that there is no way to control it, so there is no way to implement the kind of policy outlined above, except to kill it (or discourage it), and have everyone use closed source, which can be controlled to a significant degree. If you want to persuade the Feds not to do this then you will need to come up with some sort of argument for why open source is worthwhile, even though it can't be controlled. The arguments mentioned above are not going to cut it, so someone had better think of better arguments before the Feds decide to give M$ a free hand in implementing trusted (read controllable) computing.
  • Nice try! (Score:3, Funny)

    by jsse ( 254124 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @05:52AM (#5788029) Homepage Journal
    open development of technologies leads to the bad guys getting a leg up on the good guys

    Windows suddenly sounds less evil when then told me Open Source assists terrorists.

    Someone told me Open Source rapes pregnant women and molests children in the street too. We've got closed-source proprietary software wrong all these years.

    God saves us
  • by NZheretic ( 23872 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @05:57AM (#5788040) Homepage Journal
    Last May, under oath at the antitrust hearing [eweek.com] Jim Allchin, group vice president for platforms at Microsoft, stated that because the Windows operating system was so flawed, disclosing the Windows operating system source code could damage national security and even threaten the U.S. war effort.

    However, in February, Microsoft signed a pact with Chinese officials [com.com] to reveal the Windows operating system source code. Bill Gates even hinted that China will be privy to all, not just part, of the source code its government wished to inspect.

    Given the evidence suppporting [tombom.co.uk] Jim Allchin's testimony, the Microsoft corporation is behaving traitorously, by exposing national security issues to untrusted foreign governments.

    • Yup. This has been pointed out on Slashdot before, and is just as true now as it was then. Either Microsoft is guilty of terrorism, treason, and espionage, or Jim Allchin is guilty of perjury. Of course, no charges will ever be filed. Hitting a student who made the mistake of putting a few hundred MP3s on an SMB share with a $96 billion lawsuit is a much better use of the Justice Department's time and effort.

  • Read the statement (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mlyle ( 148697 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @06:10AM (#5788073)
    Here it is, it's short and out of context, but it's also the entire quote provided by Theo:

    I wanted to update you on the situation with the Univ of Penn. project. As a result of the DARPA review of the project, and due to world events and the evolving threat posed by increasingly capable nation-states, the Government on April 21 advised the University to suspend work on the "security fest" portion of the project.

    Now where does it say in that "open source is bad"? Could it be that the government has decided other threats are more immediate to address with DARPA's limited budget? I mean, we know Theo has never stirred up shit for the fun of it. </SARCASM>
    • Finally a voice of freaking reason on this subject!
      For those of you who haven't been in charge of a DARPA contract, there are very specific rules on how money can be spent. There is some speculation that Theo's hack-a-thon violated these rules, so the 'Work Stop Order' came down as a response. It most likely has nothing to do with terrorists, open source, anti-war statements, or beer.
      Good god, people! All of this attention is NOT going to benefit these kinds of projects in the future!
  • by Daniel Quinlan ( 153105 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @07:32AM (#5788277) Homepage
    His post included this (now third-hand) quote from a DAPRA spokesperson:
    I wanted to update you on the situation with the Univ of Penn. project. As a result of the DARPA review of the project, and due to world events and the evolving threat posed by increasingly capable nation-states, the Government on April 21 advised the University to suspend work on the "security fest" portion of the project.

    While this explanation is somewhat lacking and terse, it does not say "Open Source Enables Terrorist States". I didn't know what the "security fest" portion was, so I did some googling, but didn't find anything obvious. Just the same, there's a very tangible difference between deciding to not fund an open-source-related security-related project and deciding that open source is terrorism. Maybe we could get a little more information before going hog wild with the paranoid fears?

    To be sure, it does sound pretty darn paranoid, but I'm dealing with third-party information that seems designed to be inflammatory. And inflame it did.

    Also, while I don't believe in security through obscurity as a general principle (which is implied here), there are still a number of people, even some Slashdot readers, who follow the principle in some respects. For example, the large number of people who get upset when some releases an exploit without contacting the vendor first.

    I also wouldn't be surprised if there wasn't some other reasons why the grant was pulled (or not given?), but again, I'm lacking information.

    But, by all means, go crazy with what little information you do have!

    • by The Tyro ( 247333 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @07:59AM (#5788353)

      This may or may not have anything to do with it... but Theo apparently has made a bunch of anti-war comments to the media, to the tune that he hoped his grant was taking funding away from the US-led war effort in Iraq. here a link... [tbo.com] and here's another [globeinvestor.com]

      Now, I'm not here to say that Theo's not entitled to his opinions; he unquestionably IS entitled to them. I would point out, however, that it's not a good idea to publicly bite the hand that's feeding you. By injecting a political viewpoint into this grant, Theo put the DARPA folks in a quandry, and while it may have had nothing to do with the grant cancellation, it certainly did NOT help matters.

      Focus on coding and doing what you love (if it's all about the software). I'm not saying high-profile people can't have opinions... they just need to be careful about where they voice them, and be prepared to deal with the consequences if they use their position to advocate a viewpoint (ask Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins about that). It's not wrong to speak up... you've just got to be ready to deal with the fallout.

  • by vidarh ( 309115 ) <vidar@hokstad.com> on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @07:50AM (#5788328) Homepage Journal
    If you want to stamp out terrorism, you have three ways of doing it:
    • Make society so totalitarian that any knowledge that can potentially be used for terrorism and any means of speech that is hard to restrict or monitor will be stopped. Downside: Totalitarian regimes breed rebel movements. Rebel movements often see terrorism as their only possible weapons.
    • Go to war, and hope you manage to kill or imprison all the terrorists without creating new ones by antagonising people. Downside: You will likely antagonise people to the point where new terrorist groups pop up.
    • Solve the underlying issues. Downside: You will need to make painful concessions.

    I don't know of ANY conflict where terorrist groups have been involved where the terror has stopped or been significantly limited through the first two options. Even in cases where an entire terrorist organization have been obliterated, as long as the underlying issues are still there new people take their places. It may take time, but it's happened over and over again.

    Not only in third world countries - Britain tried to crush the IRA for decades. It was first through peaceful negotiation that the IRA got enough pressure from Irish republicans to stop it's violence, leaving only fringe groups with minimal popular support to deal with.

    If the US keeps on down it's slippery slope towards totalitarianism, you won't need terrorists to feel unsafe - the government will be more than enough.

  • Reality time (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mattr ( 78516 ) <mattr@telebo[ ]com ['dy.' in gap]> on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @07:57AM (#5788348) Homepage Journal
    Obviously highly secure systems, like cryptography, are relatively immune to software/network based attacks. This is why it was illegal for so long. But it is too late, the crypto cat has jumped out of the bag.

    Now, the battle is not for keys but for control of the OS so that spying can take place before things get encrypted. The government seems to be saying their infowar capabilities depend on buffer overflows and script-kiddie-like activities in commonly used software which scares me! It makes me think the government has suddenly discovered that keeping the least common denominator very insecure and well identifiable (i.e. porous networks, weakened keys, GUIDs, 0wned operating systems, closed source security) will make it easier for them to catch enemy agents.

    This means there is a danger that the U.S. government will also find it is in its best interests to subvert as much software as possible. Still feel safe with those RPMs? How about that up2date agent there? Is the Microsoft software update agent meant to keep users safe, or to enable surveillance?

    The government seems to feel it is not in its interest to promote secure practices, lest it lock itself outside of the henhouse. I don't see how anyone can help but suspect duplicity to some degree when using commercial closed operating systems (MS Windows) given the government's current stated intent of removing all potential weapons and sharp corners from circulation.

    The answer is that anyone can use open source software, not just terrorists, and the availability of high quality secure software is more important for maintaining freedom from persecution than is the need to protect against terrorists. There are constitutional problems with the current attempts by the U.S. to turn back the clock.

  • by master_p ( 608214 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @08:27AM (#5788477)
    I don't think palestinians have computers, let alone use open source software. And even if they did, they are entitled to, since software is neither good nor bad by itself. And even if they use open source, how can they harm us ? I don't see the connection. What they would do to harm us ? any code contribution filled with back doors will be caught in the blink of an eye. It is silly to claim that the use of open source software by terrorist groups makes the software bad.

    On the other hand, we have rogue nations. But the analogy is the same as with terrorist groups. Even if these nations use OSS to power their research or to drive their missiles, I still can't understand how that makes OSS bad. They can use illegal copies of Microsoft Windows...would that make Windows bad software (TM) ?

    Maybe the gentleman that said so has connections with a big non-OSS company(*cough* MS *cough*). It's not unusual to find ties between businessmen and high-ranking military personnel. After all, the bussiness deals of the Pentagon are worth millions, and software is involved in most of these projects(gone are the days of simple mechanical devices, everything is software-driven).

    Another possible explanation is that some important people don't want poor countries to be developed, and OSS surely helps towards that direction. Poor countries means cheap labour, exploitation of natural resources and low prices, big profit for them.

    What else shall we hear about open source, I wonder...some people can't stomach the fact that something so valuable is given for free...damn you Linus!!! :-)

  • by jridley ( 9305 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @08:35AM (#5788534)
    Hell, totalitarian regimes benefit from the easy availability of light pickup trucks that can be used as assault vehicles. Better stop making them.

    I bet Craftsman tools are sometimes used in making pipe bombs. Better stop making wrenches, and for that matter, pipe. It's enabling technology.

    This is just another step by technophobes to try to slow down stuff they don't understand. It's really starting to bug me.
  • by Andrewkov ( 140579 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @08:37AM (#5788548)
    Well after reading the recent stories on Cisco adding back doors to allow law enforment agencies to snoop on network traffic, it really seems that the US government doesn't want anyone to be able to communicate without their being able to snoop. It really makes me wonder if snooping functionality is already in Windows? I'm sure the government has already asked for it. How else could you explain the anti-trust lawsuite going away so easily? If Windows already has government snooping capabilities built in, then it's in the governments best interest to keep Microsoft dominent on the desktop. ... Or have I seen one too many episodes of the X Files?
  • Answer: It's Ready (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 4of12 ( 97621 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @09:29AM (#5788909) Homepage Journal

    Does open source and freely available security support terrorism by its very nature?

    Yes, it supports terrorism just like other things that terrorists use to live and do their jobs. Things like clothing, telephones, buses, automobiles, closed source software, money, knives, guns, school classrooms, etc.

    Any intelligent person will recognize that free and open source software is only one of many tools that a terrorist might use; it is not some critical key or linchpin in their nefarious schemes.

    Few people are really willing to think clearly about what the real roots of terrorism are and how best to address those causes.

    However, on a bright note, it certainly is some kind of vote of confidence in free and open source software that authorities in the U.S. government think it will be too useful to terrorists. That fear, even though it is exaggerated, is still an answer to the question:

    "Is free and open source software ready for the enterprise?"
    Next thing you know some radical will be claiming that free and open source software will be useful to businesses, governments and individuals, too.

    What will come of society if that happens.

  • by MidKnight ( 19766 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @10:22AM (#5789262)
    Here's the way it works: anything that the terrorists can use to aid in their attack is hereby no longer supported by the US Government. Take plants, for example.

    You see, plants possess the ability to produce oxygen, which terrorists use to breathe. As they are breathing, they have a tendency to attack the United States. Therefore, plants are obviously a threat to national security. This explains why the US refuses to sign the Kyoto treaty. They've also begun to burn every national forest, and are paying lesser nations (through devious trade agreements) to destroy all the rain forests in the world.

    Down with plants! They are the tools of the enemy!!

    --Mid
  • by Rai ( 524476 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @11:07AM (#5789664) Homepage
    For those who still are not clear on america's (the gov't, the media, corporations, and anyone else wanted to sway the popular opinion of Joe "I hates them 'ragheads' what done blowed up our tow'rs" Public.) current favorite propaganda tool, it works like this.

    1. Target subject
    2. Relate subject to terrorism, no matter how irrevelant or ridiculous or completely unfounded the relation may be.
    3. Watch majority of public fall in line (while small intelligent yet insignificant portion realizes your smear campaign is complete bullshit.)
  • by dvk ( 118711 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @01:09PM (#5791019) Homepage
    > Does open source and freely available security support terrorism by its very nature?

    1) Software is a tool, like any tool it supports whatever goal (freedom or terrorism) the user of the tool supports.

    2) HOWEVER, open source *community*, unfortunately, supports terrorism by nature. No this is not a troll, so please don't moderate as such even if you disagree with my political views. Hear me out and if you disagree, tell me why my logic is at fault.
    Why is it so? Because (as most comments in this thread - or on /. in general - indicate), proponents of open source are in their vast majority on the far left of the political spectrum. And in the recent century, ESPECIALLY recent 20 years, left wing has been a lot more supportive of terrorism - on all levels - than right wing. Please note that i'm not saying that every individual open souce developer supports terrorism. Just that as a mass, their combined views help terorists, whether the people hlding them intend to or not.

    - Financial support. Yes, I know that CIA financed Mujaheddin. But socialist countries (openly admired by many on the left) have supported/created almost every other terrorist organization out there, and i'm not even mentioning that most of those organizations are officially "marxist", or "socialist", or otherwise left-wing.

    - Political support. Whether or not you are pro-Israel or anti-Israel, ONLY those on the left wing have ever issued any statements other than condemning murder of innocent civilians without any attempt to justify them. Those one the left range from "we will condemn them only after they stop occupation" to "it is a valid weapon in the fight against stronger foe".
    The same exact pattern repeated itself after 9/11 towards US. Those on the left often view terrorism as an excusable method of doing things.

    - Opposition to anti-terrorism. Ranging from general "anti-US-ianism", to opposing any forceful method to stop terrorists because you don't condone forceful methods. Willingness to believe every word Saddam's Information Ministry said over what US press reported (no offense, but having lived in USSR - which was far freeer than Iraq - all I can say to those who think so is taht they are dumb morons with no clue as to reality of the world).

    If you don't believe what I just said on in the second point (about political support), or the third one, just read comments in this article carefully.

    -DVK
  • by Tazzy531 ( 456079 ) on Wednesday April 23, 2003 @03:18PM (#5792517) Homepage
    This is representative of the change in American outlook in the last 30 or so years and even more so under this current administration.

    Specifically, there are two main points that have changed dramatically from the ideals of the forefathers.

    America was founded on the principle that the little guy can beat the big guy and equality for all. The idea that the government should support rising individuals over the large groups. This is evident by the anti-monopoly acts and also the basic tenets of Democracy.

    As someone else had mentioned in, America is no longer a democracy, rather an Empire. We [as in the administration] often talks about supporting democracy worldwide, however, in actions, we support oppression and dictatorship over the choice of the people. Throughout the last 30 or so years, there are numerous examples of this. Even now, are we going to let the Iraqi people have a democracy? According to recent reports, the Iraqis want a Islamic government.

    Now you are wondering how this relates to the article. Because of this mentality, we [the administration] want to be able to have direct control of everything. This is contrary to the open source mentality. In open source development, no one person has direct control over the development. Even if there is, people can branch off and do there own thing.

    The American government likes the large corporations like the Microsofts of the world. If they want something done, there is a single point of communication. If they don't like something, there is a person/group that you can go to.



    I'm sorry, I was going to analyze this further, but don't have time right now..

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