Get Scared and Submit!

Recently, the US held a cyber warfrare-style wargame. I was very interested in watching this happen, largely to see if the simulated elected officials were as unprepared as I had thought they were. I did wonder, however, why they were choosing to make public the results of this wargame. They were even live-broadcasting it. Was this an example of the openness of the new administration? What fun!

But after reading the results, I’m no longer amused at the prospect of an unprepared, over-encumbered government unable to keep up with the times – I’m in shock at how “with the times” they are, just in an entirely oblique aspect.

The scary parts of the article I linked are here:

Half an hour into an emergency meeting of a mock National Security Council, the attorney general declared: “We don’t have the authority in this nation as a government to quarantine people’s cellphones.”

The White House cyber coordinator was “shocked” and asserted: “If we don’t have the authority, the attorney general ought to find it.”


Former senior officials from Republican and Democratic administrations participated in the war game, as did one former senator. Jamie S. Gorelick, a deputy attorney general under President Bill Clinton, pressed the issue of individual privacy. In a crisis, she said, “Americans need to know that they should not expect to have their cellphone and other communications to be private — not if the government is going to have to take aggressive action to tamp down the threat.”


“People have trouble understanding warnings,” said John McLaughlin, who served as acting CIA director in 2004 and who played the director of national intelligence. “It was only after Sept. 11 that people could visualize what was possible. The usefulness of the simulation is it will help people visualize [the threat].”

Yes, and we all know how safe the precautions taken after 9/11 have made everyone, and how much they’ve enriched everyone’s lives.

It’s pretty clear – you don’t even have to read between the lines. This wasn’t a public example of the United States’ actual response to a credible cyber-threat, it was Security Theatre, but a dangerous new definition thereof: A sham bit of theatre about security, intended to cow the audience into submitting to brand new invasions of privacy.

Still not convinced? Let me leave you with one more quote:

Lockhart said that people would be scared by the simulation but that “that’s a good thing.” Only then, he said, would Congress act.

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