Cyber Command Lawyer Praises Stuxnet, Disses Chinese Cyber Stance: Aol Defense.

On March 12th, 2012, Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. wrote for Aol Defense on Stuxnet.  The article presented the views of USAF Col. Gary Brown, CyberCommand's top lawyer.  Col. Brown was not speaking in an official capacity, but his thoughts on Stuxnet were still very illuminating.

First, Col. Brown said that Stuxnet represented a responsible cyber-attack.  In this sense, Stuxnet was carefully designed to limit collateral damage and "was set to expire" by erasing itself.  According to the Col., Stuxnet's careful design and adherence to the international law of armed conflict suggests that lawyers were somehow involved. 

The Aol Defense article goes on to cite Col. Brown's thoughts on whether Stuxnet constituted a cyber-attack under international law.  Specifically, the Col. found that the destruction of "a thousand pieces of pretty sophisticated equipment . . . something that most people who study international law would say rises to a 'use of force.'"  However, the Col. thought that Stuxnet might nonetheless be justified under principles of self-defense. 

Second, Col. Brown argued that China's stance of cyberspace is dangerous.  According to the article, China finds that the international law of armed conflict doesn't apply in cyberspace.  That stance, in contrast with the tightly drawn Stuxnet, "opens the door for indiscriminate online actions" so that the Chinese might avoid the obligation to limit collateral damage. 

There's more to the Aol Defense source article, I recommend checking it out here.


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Professor William Snyder

Professor William C. Snyderis a member of the faculty of the Institute for National Security and Counter-terrorism at Syracuse University after fifteen years with the United States Department of Justice.

Jennifer A. CamilloJennifer A. Camillo

is a third year student at Syracuse College of Law. She has served as a law clerk in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York and the Cayuga County District Attorney’s Office and as an extern in the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office. She is a member of the Syracuse National Trial Team and was recently awarded the Tiffany Cup by the New York Bar Association for her trial advocacy achievements.

Tara J. PistoreseTara J. Pistorese

holds Juris Doctor and Masters of Public Administration degrees from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and its College of Law. She has served as a law clerk in the United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of New York and the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia and as an extern in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington. Full biography

Benjamin Zaiser

is both a scholar and a Federal Agent of the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany. (Opinions expressed here are his own and not any part of official duty.) Full biography