IWS - The Information Warfare Site
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Module 9

The Lesson

Go back to intro. Go back to module 8. Go to module 10.

The module learning objective:

  • To examine recommendations for a national policy on Information Warfare.


Congress is being pulled in all directions by these groups:

  • Supreme Court
  • Industry
  • Individual citizens
  • Defense
  • Foreign interests
  • Law enforcement
  • Special interest groups

Although a political solution has not been identified, it does exist. The path toward the answer can be significantly narrowed. The historical evolution of our constitutional rights provides the reliable road map. Our country's Constitution, legislative enactment, executive orders, and Supreme Court rulings form the boundaries within which future policies.

Congressional leaders will be challenged to set upon the path to deriving legislation that secures our nation's critical infrastructures. In doing so our nation's leaders will have to pay close attention to the following influences. Otherwise, the legislative process will become bogged down in debate or litigation and much needed legislation will ultimately be delayed.

  • First, fourth and fourteenth amendments
  • Individual citizens
  • Special interest groups
  • Law enforcement
  • Defense
  • Lochner lesson
  • Industry
  • Foreign interests
  • Supreme Court rulings

Finding the Path

Finding the path consists of:

  1. Identifying the problem (threat) and opportunity.
  2. Determining a process (committee structure).
  3. Gathering information (who has interest and what are those interests?).
  4. Forming a strategy (review of draft legislation).
  5. Implementing the strategy.

The Next Step

The IW threat has been identified and the process of reporting such is on-going. The next step, Determining a Process, has been done by the formation of a presidential bipartisan committee (commission) on securing our Nation's critical infrastructures.

This committee will focus on protecting those infrastructures critical to national defense and preserving the American way of life; however, in doing so issues that resonate at the core of each American's individual right to freedom will have to be considered. Groups which support various positions during these debates will have to carefully formulate their strategy to insure that the needs of their constituents are addressed.

What is the Problem (an example in problem solving)?

This may sound elementary, but one of the most difficult aspects of problem solving is correctly identifying the problem, or determining what really needs to be fixed. Interestingly, the threat of an informational attack itself is not the central issue. Depending upon the specific target infrastructure the central issue may be one of several: knowing the event has occurred, motivations of the attackers, the loss of service, or the attacker's ultimate goal (which could be the second or third order effect).

The following example is offered as a mental exercise to help illustrate that identifying the central issue is not always easy and that often solutions are sought that do not solve the actual problem.

The Scenario

The setting is a college class room.

On the first day of a freshman engineering class thirty students have filled the room, confident that they have the ability to become world-class engineers. The instructor introduces himself and displays the following sign for the student's consideration:

The instructor asked two questions, with the first being What is the problem? After about twenty minutes, the students were ready to present their analysis. The students finally decided that the following was the problem: the bridge freezes before the road surface.

The second question was, What is the best solution? There was little consensus. The students devised clever solutions to the problem. Here are some of their creative solutions:

  • An automatic salt dispenser that operates during freezing conditions.
  • Keep bridges dry with an inexpensive covering.
  • Heat the bridge during the winter months.
The Result

So, two questions were asked: What is the problem? and What is the solution? Obviously, the students did not get either question correct. As the students continued to work on this assignment, the voice of a young lady emerged from the back of the room.

The sign is the solution, she said.

The instructor then asked, What is the problem?

She replied that the problem is not the bridge freezing. It is the fact that a driver who is not paying attention and traveling on a surface with good traction suddenly reaches an area where the road surface is icy. The problem is the unsuspecting driver, not the freezing bridge.

Therefore, the sign is the solution as it makes the driver aware of a potential hazard. She was right!

Example Summary

The example was given to illustrate how easy it is to arrive at a solution to the wrong problem and miss the issue. Look at the recent Indecency Law passed by Congress and struck down by a Philadelphia Court as unconstitutional. The law sought to stop the posting of pornographers from being accessed by minors via the Internet. Did the engineers of this legislation lose focus of the real problem? As a young person, did you ever see pornography? Is the material the problem, its mode of publication, or its manufacturer?

As our nation enters the age of information many different issues will come into play: privacy, free speech, law enforcement, etc. Our congressional leaders (more importantly their staff members performing the analyses) will have to remain constantly aware that it is easy to diverge from the core issue, which is the national security threat posed by IW. The IW threat will raise many issues for congressional review. Not all of these issues deal with national security. Congress and executive agencies must continue to keep the national debate focused upon securing America. Only then can our nation adequately deal with the more social aspects of the emerging information age.

Here is a recommended rule of thumb. If you are suggesting a solution ask yourself, Why would I want to do that? Continue asking yourself until you arrive at a basic, repeating conclusion. Considering our students in the example and their initial solutions. Would they have come to closure more quickly had they asked the simple question, why? Would Congress have passed the recent Indecency Law had they done the same?