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US military debated hacking Libyan air defenses

Obama urged to keep Ferrari in garage for time being

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The Obama administration intensely debated whether to hack the computer networks that run Libya's air-defense system in the days leading up to the US-led strikes against Qaddafi forces, The New York Times reports.

Administration officials and some military officers ultimately rejected the idea, citing the precedent it might set for other nations, including Russia and China, the paper says. They were also unsure if the president had the authority to approve a hack attack without informing Congress. Once the March raids on forces loyal to Qaddafi were unleashed in March, US forces used conventional aircraft, cruise missiles, and drones to strike Libya's air-defense missiles and radar.

“These cybercapabilities are still like the Ferrari that you keep in the garage and only take out for the big race and not just for a run around town, unless nothing else can get you there,” one Obama administration official told the NYT.

A senior Defense Department official said: “They were seriously considered because they could cripple Libya's air defense and lower the risk to pilots, but it just didn't pan out.”

The NYT article is here. ®

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