Talk:Help for the unemployed till they pass the bill

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Constitutional Law and Cyber Warfare

The original 1878 Posse Comitatus Act was crafted and passed with the primary intent of forbidding the Army from use in domestic law enforcement. Posse comitatus is a Latin term that means “the power of the country,” that many say refers to the sworn power of the appointed sheriff and further thought to refer specifically to the sheriff’s ability to form a posse of townsmen to temporarily increase local law enforcement capabilities in time of need to maintain order. Congress became concerned about the use of the military during political events such as posting the uniformed military at political events and polling places under the cloak of maintaining domestic order. The concern was that the military was becoming politicized. If so this was a critical deviation from its primary mission of national defense. The Posse Comitatus Act was crafted and passed to remove the Army from civilian law enforcement and to return it to its role of defending the borders of the United States. The act applies to the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marines, and includes their Reserve components. It is not applicable to the Coast Guard or to the National Guard.


The act specifically prohibits the use of the military to “execute the laws” of our nation. So now we enter the era of cyber attacks against our government, military and our critical infrastructure. The problem is that 85 percent of our critical infrastructure is privately owned and operated, so this muddies the water. The government really has a tough time controlling privately owned assets. So there are some sticky issue there, but the waters are about to get muddier!
The challenge I am thinking of is a BotNet. A BotNet is a collection of compromised computers that are remotely controlled by a covert source. Once compromised these computers can be commanded to continuously send traffic to a specifically targeted web server. This type of attack is called a distributed denial of service attack commonly called DDoS. The largest known BotNet is thought to be controlled by the Russian Business Network (RBN). It is estimated that the RBN BotNet consists of between 150 and 180 million computers. This year the number of Bot controlled computers in China may grow to over 200 million given an estimated 70 percent of all computers in China are compromised and part of one or more BotNets.

The Estonia and Georgia attacks were both DDoS attacks and carried out by one or more BotNets. Many people do not know that some of the distributed denial of service traffic that hit both Estonia and Georgia came from computers in the United States. While exact figures are difficult to pin down, the numbers most frequently quoted are 32 percent of the DDoS traffic hitting Estonia and 35 percent of DDoS traffic hitting Georgia came from and was generated by compromised computers within the United States. Now that raised a few questions. What if the United States experienced a cyber attack and the same held true. The DDoS traffic taking down the critical systems in the United States partially came from and was generated by compromised computers within the United States. Could the U.S. military’s cyber command and offensive cyber capabilities be used against those domestic computers (owned by citizens and private industry) or is that in conflict with the Posse Comitatus Act? This is just one of the many questions that need to be answered when examining the new and ever changing cyber threat environment. The time for this analysis is now, not when a major attack occurs!


Kevin G. Coleman, Senior Fellow and Cyber Warfare Strategist at the Technolytics Institute.

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