‘Counterstrike’ details U.S. intelligence agencies’ cyberwar efforts in Iraq

On August 19th, 2011, the San Jose Mercury News reviewed a new book which detailed how the U.S. military has both hacked and temporarily disabled Iraqi insurgent and terrorist-based websites.  The book, titled  "Counterstrike: The Untold Story of America's Secret Campaign Against Al-Qaeda," explores the US government's seldomly discussed offensive cyber capabilities.  The book's disclosures contrast with the Pentagon's publicly described strategy of improving defenses instead of threatening retaliation.

The Pentagon recently released its "Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace," which outlines five "strategic initiatives."  The authors write that the strategy was silent on the capability to review and approve selective U.S. attacks.  The authors go on to say that proposals for attacks are reviewed by a "powerful board of governors assigned to oversee counterstrikes on the Internet," under a "three-way agreement" among the Pentagon, intelligence agencies and the Justice Department "for considering timely attacks on terrorist websites, with the president making the final decision on whether to proceed."

The article goes on to explain how U.S. intelligence officers "webspoofed" jihadists by infiltraing networks to post their own materials; the agencies forged al-Qaida "web watermarks" that made the messages posted to the jihadist sites seem official.  Further, the U.S. military has the ability to hack into jihadist cell phones and "text message guys telling them another guy is cheating you out of money."  US officials also devised a method to jam insurgent radion networks and send "counterprogram" coalition messages in their stead.

 

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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.

Ryan D. White

Ryan D. WhiteRyan is currently a third year law student at Syracuse University College of Law, and is also pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree from Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Ryan spent time with Homeland Security Investigations while pursuing his undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University, and spent his first summer of law school as clerk for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of New York. He is a member of Syracuse Law Review, the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and participates in the Veteran’s Legal Clinic. Full biography

Shelby E. Mann

Ryan D. WhiteShelby is a second year law student at the Syracuse University College of Law. During her final year at the University of Missouri, she served as a full-time news producer for ABC 17 News. Shelby spent her first summer of law school at the Shelby County District Attorney General's Office in Memphis, Tenn., in the Public Corruption and Economic Crimes Unit. She is a member of Syracuse Law Review, the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and the senior editor for the Syrian Accountability Project. Full biography

Christopher w. FolkChristopher W. Folk

is a 2017 graduate of SU College of Law. A non-traditional student, Christopher returned to academia after spending nearly twenty years in the high tech industry. Christopher served in the Marine Corps, graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. In Applied Economics and Business Management, attended Northeastern University’s High-Tech MBA Program and received a M.S. In Computer Information Systems. Christopher previously worked in Software Engineering. Christopher is currently serving his second term as Town Justice for the Town of Waterloo. Christopher externed with a Cybersecurity firm in the Washington, D.C. area between his first and second year at SU College of Law. Full biography

Anna Maria Castillo

Anna Maria Castillois 2016 graduate of Syracuse College of Law. She also holds a Master of Arts in International Relations from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She has interned at a London-based think-tank that specializes in transnational terrorism and global security and at the legal department of a defense contractor. She served as an executive editor in the Syracuse Law Review. Full biography

Jennifer A. CamilloJennifer A. Camillo

is a 2015 graduate of Syracuse College of Law and is a prosecutor. 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 was a member of the Syracuse National Trial Team and was 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 wrote for this blog when a student. She is now a member of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps.

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

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