Monday, January 24, 2011

Former DHS's Allen: "We don't need privateers."

In a remarkably interesting New York Times story Saturday about the "private CIA" of Duane Clarridge, former top intelligence official for the Department of Homeland Security Charles E. Allen said,
"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:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.

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Implementation suggestions for THE MORGAN DOCTRINE are most welcome. What are the "Got'chas!"? What questions would some future Cyber Privateering Czar have to answer about this in a Senate confirmation hearing?