According to TPM Giuliani has unveiled a new campaign platform: more war. In particular, cyberwar. According to the The New York Sun:
Specifically, Mr. Giuliani will call for a new military surge in Afghanistan, a change in the way America's spies are promoted so that officers are rewarded for finding actionable intelligence and not just the number of agents they recruit, and a new war on Al Qaeda's intricate network of Web sites, sites used both to communicate with its agents in the field and to recruit new jihadis.
Does this make sense?
The Internet is certainly used by terrorist groups just as it is also used by opposition groups that Western governments would like to encourage. Terrorists use the Internet in three main ways:
1) Distributing propaganda
3) Perpetrating attacks
Blocking propaganda is a fools errand as a number of Israeli hackers discovered after they targeted pro-Hamas sites on the Web. Pro-Hamas, Fatah and Hezbollah hackers retaliated against Israeli Web sites. The result was far short of a stalemate however. Propaganda distribution through the Internet is not vulnerable to a denial of service attack: supporters will find alternative outlets. But an Internet business is highly vulnerable; no service means no business. Within a very short time the Israeli atackers had run out of targets while their opponents worked their way through the .il zone in alphabetical order. today the original Israeli hackers are expensive consultants to companies being attacked in the cyberwar they provoked.
So the prospects for blocking propaganda? Very poor. Improvements in technology favor defense.
The prospects for blocking fundraising are considerably better. Blocking the flow of funds is by far the most reliable means of bringing a terrorist campaign to an end. The Bader-Meinhof gang spent far more time robbing banks than thinking about politics. The Provisional IRA was able to sustain its campaign for far longer than any other European terrorist group and kill more people because its source of funds from the US was far more reliable than those available to Bader-Meinhof, Action Direkt or even Eta. When the NORAID fund line was finally severed in the aftermath of 9/11 the IRA quickly agreed to a permanent end to hostilities.
Blocking fundraising means proofing the banking infrastructure against the profitable forms of Internet crime. It is an important task that I lay a detailed plan for in The dotCrime Manifesto which became available today.
But nobody should suggest that blocking Internet Crime is going to seriously affect the fundraising capabilities of Al Qaeda which grew rich off the profits from the Afghanistan opium trade. so prospects for blocking Al Qaeda using this approach? Very poor.
That only leaves the use of the Internet to perpetrate attacks. Use of the Internet to intercept and disrupt Al Qaeda communication capabilities is certainly feasible and has been taking place since before 9/11. Giuliani is presenting his ideas as a departure from existing policy. If this is something new rather than a cynical repackaging of existing practice it must mean perpetrating cyber-attacks on Al Qaeda.
Again the there is an asymmetry: the US presents far more targets for the cyber-terrorist than the cyber-terrorist presents to the US. Cyber-defense should be considered a vital national priority. But anyone who imagines that the US can use this as a weapon against Al Qaeda has a profound lack of understanding of the field. We might as well try to use submarine warfare to eliminate Al Qaeda's non-existent fleet than use cyberwarfare against their non-existent Internet infrastructure.
Unless Al Qaeda establishes an infrastructure worth attack the prosepects for this type of cyber-warfare against them is again very poor.
In short, this new speach does not make sense unless either Giuliani does not understand what he is talking about or is trying to work out how to drum up new business for Giuliani Partners when he returns.