Cyber War: The Enemy is You

Bloomberg reports that “Wall Street’s biggest trade group has proposed a government-industry cyber war council,” led by a “senior White House official” and composed of representatives from the finance industry and no fewer than eight US federal agencies.

The aforementioned “trade group,” the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, has already brought in former National Security Agency director Keith Alexander and a firm headed by former Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff to “facilitate” the project.

The gang’s all here! The government, former government hangers-on, bankers … hey, wait, someone’s missing. Who could it be? Oh, yeah — you! But don’t worry. You do have a role to play. For starters, you get to pick up the check.

When Alexander discovered his security services (marketed through his “consulting” firm, IronNet Cybersecurity, Inc.) weren’t a hot seller at $1 million a month he dusted off the old “public-private partnership” scam … round up “customers” who aren’t willing to pay, then bring the state in to stick taxpayers with the bill.

Even garden variety “public-private partnerships” are bad ideas. Their “public” parts relate to payment of costs (that’s you). Their “private” parts relate to allocation of benefits (that’s them). The state and their “private” partners split the blame for failure — not by sharing it, but by tossing it back and forth until everyone gets worn out and forgets what happened and they can get back to picking your pocket.

And of course neither “public” nor “private” means what it sounds like. The “private” side consists of people like Alexander, Chertoff and their faceless banker friends — no longer or not yet technically in government employ but teeth clamped firmly on the teat. The “public” side consists of government bureaucrats eagerly anticipating similar future career paths. A revolving door connects the two sides. If it’s hard to see, that’s because it’s whirling so fast (listen for the sonic boom). You pay the freight, but you’re not really involved otherwise.

This particular “partnership,” though, is far from garden variety. How do I know? Simple: It’s got “war” in its description.

Wars have sides. Wars have enemies.

Don’t believe me? Ask Bounkham “Bou Bou” Phonesavanh, who’s home from the hospital after rampaging  (“public”) drug warriors threw a flash bang grenade into his playpen during a raid. You may have seen his story on the evening news, sandwiched in between “public service announcements” for the (“private”) Partnership for a Drug-Free America. This is your brain on the war on drugs.

The objective of this proposed “public-private” war effort is to repair the government fence long since erected (by the same “public” and “private” players asking for it) around banking, payment and financial services.

The enemy is unregulated markets and their customers (including you). Think Bitcoin. Think Uber and Lyft.

These markets operate — sometimes actually, always potentially — outside the web of state regulation set up to deliver such markets as monopolies to those with political pull. They’ve always been around (think barter; think community currencies; think “jitneys” and “gypsy cabs”), but these days they’re growing like Topsy. Powered by ubiquitous Internet access and the availability of strong encryption technology, they represent a growing danger not just to particular monopolists but to the system of state control that guarantees their monopolies.

The justifying propaganda rollout that will eventually culminate in “security standards” and “proactive/preemptive action” is already in progress. It’s probably not coincidence that media coverage of this proposal immediately follows coverage of an allegedly ISIS-linked blog post on using Bitcoin to “enable jihad on a large scale.” In fact I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to learn that the authors of that blog post and of the “cyber war council” press release share a cubicle in the Pentagon … or at least have each other on speed dial.

The bad news is there’s probably nothing you can do to prevent this “war council” or its planned war.

The good news is you can win that war. All you have to do is realize that you need the newer, better, unregulated markets more than you need the state-controlled markets — or, for that matter the state itself — and act accordingly.

Translations for this article:

Anarchy and Democracy
Fighting Fascism
Markets Not Capitalism
The Anatomy of Escape
Organization Theory