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On 24 April 2003, the PBS series "Frontline" will air an episode titled "Cyber War!" Vmyths predicts the episode will overflow with bogeyman hysteria.

Frontline's "Cyber War!" episode will feature Richard Clarke and John Hamre, two former high-ranking government officials. Both men are well-documented fearmongers (see below), but it appears Frontline will try to position Hamre as a moderate. The episode will also quote former FBI NIPC director Ron ****, whose agency has a well-documented history of virus hype.

Exposé on Richard Clarke:
Exposé on John Hamre:
Exposé on FBI NIPC (now known as DHS NIPC):

Another Frontline source, John Arquilla, fell for the 1991 hoax "Gulf War printer virus" in a column he wrote in 2003. Read for details of Arquilla's embarrassment.

It will not surprise Vmyths if the Frontline episode also highlights iDefense (a well-documented fearmonger), Michael Vatis (another well-documented fearmonger), James Adams (the founder of iDefense), and Dorothy Denning (a well-documented fearmonger who switch-hits when reporters want to quote a voice of reason). Consult for exposés on most of these people.

Since 1996, there have been countless Congressional investigations & testimonials, scholarly papers, magazine articles, newspaper exposés, and television specials -- all with the same alarmist tone as this upcoming PBS Frontline episode. Fearmongers screamed relentlessly about a digital armageddon until 9/11/01.

Indeed, Vmyths would argue that a recent lack of physical terrorism in the U.S. has led to a resurgence of hype about cyber-war and cyber-terrorism.

Clarke has moderated his tone since 9/11/01, going from "worst case scenarios" directly impacting the physical infrastructure to "complicating effects" of computer attacks during a physical attack. There's no way to model or predict such things, so someone like Clarke can hypothesize about them as much as he pleases. However, Vmyths believes Clarke & others will use the acronym "SCADA" to whip up fear about "remote-control physical terrorism" [our term]. Read for our take on SCADA.

The PBS Frontline episode quotes one source as saying "a very worst case could be loss of power for six months or more." Vmyths dismisses it as truly delusional rhetoric. It's easy to find anonymous sources who will utter the most absurd statements with a straight face. (A good journalist weeds these people out. Frontline did not.)

Contrary to what PBS Frontline claims in their press release, cyber-war and cyber-terrorism tied up the White House long before twin towers fell. Indeed, Clarke was the White House front man who predicted a "digital Pearl Harbor" from ca.1998 until well after 9/11/01. National Security Advisor Dr. Condoleezza Rice demoted Clarke one month after 9/11/01 for, among other things, (a) failing to perform his duties as her counterterrorism advisor and (b) tasking the Transnational Threats Office to search for cyber-terrorists. (General Wayne Downing came out of retirement to take over Clarke's job on the National Security Council.)

PBS Frontline will host an online forum immediately after the show airs. Among the panelists: at least one Symantec expert. Ironically, Symantec admits they armed China with cyber-war technology from ca.1998 until at least early 2001. More importantly, Symantec refused to supply that cyber-war technology to the U.S. during that period. Vmyths doubts this fact to come out in Frontline's "Cyber War!" episode. If you can ask a question in the online forum, we hope you'll ask "does Symantec still arm China for a cyber-war against the U.S.?"

Special news coverage: "The China Syndrome"

Clarke has repeatedly pointed out the threat of a U.S.-China cyber-war -- yet Clarke himself tacitly approved the transfer of cyber-war technology to China from January 2001 until he left the White House in early 2003. Vmyths does not expect this fact to come out in the Frontline episode.

U.S. gov't blindly trusts the antivirus industry:

Frontline viewers may recognize Michael Kirk as the writer/director/producer of last year's "The Man Who Knew" episode, which also featured Richard Clarke. Vmyths believes Clarke & his cronies used Kirk to rewrite the history of their failures.

Vmyths rejects any hysteria about "cyber-terrorism" or "cyber-war." If it really was as bad as the fearmongers claim, then those very same fearmongers would cry out to DISMANTLE THE INTERNET for national security reasons.

Stay calm. Stay reasoned. And stay tuned to Vmyths.

Rob Rosenberger, editor
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