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US 'war czar' to attack internet safe havens

Log off, Abdul! War On Terror goes digital

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The White House has at last managed to find a general willing to become "war czar". The administration had been having difficulty filling its new post, formally titled "assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan policy and implementation."

At least three senior military officers have reportedly turned down the job. One of them, retired Marine full general Jack Sheehan, went public last month saying he hadn't fancied becoming war czar because he didn't think the Bush administration had any coherent regional policy.

Now, however, the President's men have managed to recruit lieutenant-general Douglas Lute, a relatively unknown Washington player.

As war czar he will have powers to coordinate the efforts of different US government departments and help obtain a good result for America in war-torn Southwest Asia.

And the good general has some interesting views - particularly on the technology front - as evidenced in this article.

"We can kill and capture the enemy and go after the camps," Lute said. "But the intangible parts of the network defy a conventional approach.

"They have a safe haven on the internet," he went on. "No one in the US military has been tasked with the mission of attacking these intangibles. Until we do they will operate with impunity.

"You need a network to defeat a network."

There isn't any doubt that Lute would like to go after al-Qaeda, the Taleban, Mehdi Army et al specifically on the internet. As war czar, he might well be able to get such ideas implemented.

"This war is more about will and perception than firepower," he said. "We have concluded that, in that sense, we are not equipped to attack the enemy. We must attack the intangible part of the network if we are going to win."

It'll be interesting to see how these ideas get implemented now that Lute has leapfrogged his superiors at the Joint Chiefs and speaks with the Commander-in-Chief's voice.

The internet may be about to become a more dangerous place. It's to be hoped that Lute can manage to avoid any cases of friendly fire as he launches his digital assault. ®

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