"We don't need privateers."He was of course referring to the "private CIA" of Duane R. Clarridge, a man who left the CIA over twenty years ago to form his own private network of spies. I may appear schizophrenic here, but I almost agree with Mr. Allen. Almost. If he defines "privateer" as someone who skulks around on enemy territory in a black hat, essentially committing treason on foreign soil, then I agree with him. In my October 20th blog on privateer analytics, I pointed out that the body count (a 78% capture rate) was pretty daunting. There are two reasons I don't recommend putting actual bodies in harm's way:
- Getting foreign nationals (or even expats) to commit treason on foreign soil is just plain wrong. If you're a citizen of a country you'd better be a law-abiding citizen. "Give unto Caesar…" is the rule of the day.
- For an individual entity to put lives in jeopardy by having them sneak around in the dark is inconsistent with doing things in an open and above-board fashion. This is why I put "unambiguous notification" and the "right of parley" into my draft of The Cyber Privateer Code. This is a code of honor and of accountability, a code of integrity and justice.
Now, let me be schizophrenic. If Mr. Allen meant that all privateering is abhorrent, including cyber privateering, then I must profoundly disagree. Cyber privateering is a way to make cyber security profitable to the government, by allowing a controlled but nevertheless disproportionate response to incursions on US government and business sovereignty. Cyber privateering is electronic warfare at the very highest ethical standard. It requires legal justification (hence, a Monroe-like doctrine I call The Morgan Doctrine), letters of Marque and Reprisal issued by Congress, and oversight by a financially responsible bonding authority.
Kudos to the New York Times for researching this story on Mr. Clarridge's private CIA. This is journalism at its best. Almost on a par with the Guardian in the UK and their December 10th enumeration of world reaction to WikiLeaks, which I think still stands alone in complete journalistic treatment of that story.
My last word and reaction to Mr. Allen's "we-don't-need-no-stinking-privateers" attitude is, sir, we really do need CYBER privateers.