Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 13, 2013

Why Do They Report "Offense" As "Defense"?

How can any journalist or even any conscience writer mix up the "defense" "offense" vocabulary like in this piece?

Pentagon creating teams to launch cyberattacks as threat grows

The Pentagon’s Cyber Command will create 13 offensive teams by the fall of 2015 to help defend the nation against major computer attacks from abroad, Gen. Keith Alexander testified to Congress on Tuesday, a rare acknowledgment of the military’s ability to use cyberweapons.
"Offensive teams" are obviously created to attack a foes computersystems, not to "defend" ones own. To "defend" ones computersystems requires no offensive capability. It only requires to close off ones networks and to carefully scrutinize the hard- and software one is using. Then there is the attribution problem. In today's internet it is nearly impossible to find the source of a competent attack if the attacker is willing to hide its identity. Any "offensive team" is thereby by definition not to "defend" but, as its name says, to attack. Why is the reporter trying to obfuscate that?

And the writing gets even worse:

Alexander said the 13 teams would defend against destructive attacks. “I would like to be clear that this team . . . is an offensive team,” he said.
How can the reporter summarize what the General says as to "defend against attacks" when the General is quoted saying the very opposite in the very next sentence? Have the writer and the readers internalized newspeak so much that the glaring contradiction in that paragraph is acceptable as "truth"?
Twenty-seven other teams would support commands such as the Pacific Command and the Central Command as they plan offensive cyber capabilities.
General Alexander is clearly emphasizing the unilateral offensive side of his plans. But the reporter still subsumes it all under "defense". What kind of cool-aid do they serve in Washington to lower cerebral capabilities to such a level?

Posted by b on March 13, 2013 at 7:03 UTC | Permalink


Ministry of Peace

Posted by: ralphieboy | Mar 13 2013 9:02 utc | 1

They call the Department of War the Department of Defense, too. They changed the name to the National Military Establishment in 1947, and after settling on George Kennan's 'sage' advice, tried to hide the bulge of the NME's tumescent members under the 'Defense' moniker. So it's 8 squared years since the old switcheroo took place.

Hell, when I was a kid, I thought it was great that we were so well 'defended'. There're still probably 1 or 2 American kids who think so.

That's unfortunately wishful thinking on my part, I'm afraid. Off by about six orders of magnitude. And that's because the privatized state propaganda organs are dutifully spewing the stuff you point out here 24/7/365.

Posted by: john francis lee | Mar 13 2013 9:38 utc | 2

Oh well that's our Orwellian world. There is a plaque on the foundation stone on the Manila Hotel, laid by the US Secretary for War. Who is the current Secretary for War?

Posted by: DM | Mar 13 2013 9:43 utc | 3

the fukus thugs can now.........
kill any alleged terrarists anywhere in the world
take down the power grid of any country allegedly engaging in cyber war against fukus , prolly send nukes down their chimneys for good measure.
invade any country alleged by the *international community* of committing crimes against humanities

i'd be damned if these aint god's chosen people .....

just got *mod* out by the *paper of record*

Posted by: denk | Mar 13 2013 11:18 utc | 4

Like this recipe for disaster:

Preemptive warfare is the practice of attempting to avoid an enemy’s seemingly imminent attack by taking military action against them first. It is undertaken in self-defense. Preemptive war is often confused with preventive war, which is an attack launched to defeat a potential opponent and is an act of aggression. Preemptive war is thought to be justified and honorable, while preventive war violates international law. In the real world, the distinction between the two is highly contested.

Something in the use of words seems to have happened in 1946, in 1949, or finally in 1964.

Posted by: somebody | Mar 13 2013 12:19 utc | 5

our economics theories are just as convoluted. The best way to stimulate the economy would be to raise top marginal rates and to raise cap gains. This encourages capital intensive production over cap lite production (finance, professions, in short paper pushers) This is because those higher rates force firms to either pay taxes to the gov't, or convert their gross profits into other deductible avenues--really mean an oppressive avenues like, employee hiring, benefits, training, R&D, capital expansion/innovation/maintenance, even advertising. Far from causing firms to leave our shores, higher taxes will make them bring production home.

Higher cap gains also reward cap intensive production, by definition cap intensive producers use capital to make stuff. That capital ages or "depreciates" according to some schedule, 5-50years depending on the life expectancy of the capital involved. The higher the capital gains rate, the more lucrative the depreciation "tax credit"

The corollary is that low tax rates encourage executive profligacy, liquidation, speculation on commodities and anything else under the sun. These all result in higher "rents" or more expensive commodities, so not only gov't taxes the economy--oil should be 1/3 the price if supply and demand were solely determinative of price. Not only that, but lower cap gains makes liquidation (off shoring) of production more lucrative, and creates a perverse incentive for execs to liquidate factories, off shore production, and pay themselves a bonus for "finding" that extra revenue.

The low tax advocates are such frauds, they conflate net and gross profits, effective and nominal rates. In fact, only cap lite players would want effective and nominal rates to be the same. Real producers get to write off business expenses at the nominal rate while only paying at the effective rate. The greater the spread the greater the defacto incentive to reinvest. Imagine, a program whereby the gov't encourages reinvestment, expansion without telling how and what to do. This isn't socialism, isn't command economy, rather, it's firm directed investment in areas that are more productive than profit taking--that's why these activities are deductible after all.

Financiers, lobbyists, economists, lawyers have no experience with this, as their "business" model doesn't really allow access to the deductions. These people hire few others, don't use equipment, short of a computer, cell phone and a fancy car. They may not even have a physical office. These paper pushing cap lite producers have co-opted our political field and destroyed our economy. Their activities don't add a dime to GDP, as they tax the economy for their income, and all they do is to (hopefully) add efficiency to the economy. Well, only so much "efficiency" is efficient. When Reagan took office, top marginal rates in the US were 70% on income exceeding $200k/yr, cap gains were 25-35%, and finance was less than 15% of the economy. Today, top marginal rates are 39% in income exceeding $400k, and cap gains are 15% (so low that "depreciation" is an archaic word.) Finance today is 40% of the US economy.

I've taken this argument to many financial experts, and they can't refute it. Some dismiss it, but can't deny the logic so they deny and run away. I cannot think of a simpler change to make the economy more productive, help middle class incomes rise, bring manufacturing home. And, please remember, effective tax rates won't change much. The effective rates on cap intensive producers would fall, while professional services will see a bit of a higher rate. The top, top professionals will indeed be discouraged, and that frankly is a good thing. These are the top "eagles" who parlay their access into cash. This is also known as lobbying, or the revolving door.

My grandfather worked his whole life under the pre-Reagan tax rates. He ran a Fortune 100 firm. Though he never got more than a $1/4million/year. The guy that followed him, in the middle 80s got $1.3million/yr. My grandfather is mad about that to this day. I suggested the stockholders should be mad, he told me to love it (USA) or leave it. Now that illustrates his pettiness and how the execs have different interests than the stockholders, who are the real owners of the firms. If execs wanted to feather their nest, quite simply, they had to feather their employee's nests too. That's how high tax rates creates pensions, employee training programs and a more productive economy.

Posted by: scottindallas | Mar 13 2013 12:26 utc | 6

"The newly allotted ‘Ministry Of Transparency’ held its first meeting yesterday, behind closed doors..." - DR

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Mar 13 2013 15:28 utc | 7

Idiomatic. And sloppy, of course.

Posted by: Fred L | Mar 13 2013 16:01 utc | 8

I think it has to do with basic principles ~ buzzwords.

*What and Why* do "we" (the americans) do anything? -> To protect and serve. To bring freedom and democracy. To show leadership.

*How* do americans do that? -> Brutally, mindlessly, aggressively, recklessly, arrogantly.

So those lines a la "We defend ourselves by offense" makes perfect "sense" to american scum.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Mar 13 2013 17:15 utc | 9

You get these problems with Spel-Chek all the time. You have to have some idea of what a word means and how it should be spelled (even if you don't know the exact spelling) to use Spel-Chek effectively. That's pretty obviously what happened here. Hey, "offense", "defense", it's all good. I blame Internet comment sections, which allow all kinds of unqualified people to shoot their mouths off.

Posted by: Mooser | Mar 13 2013 17:19 utc | 10

US does appear to be under almost daily cyber attacks. Most large institutions (business ) are reporting what are primarily nuisance attacks causing loss of service. And the reality is you can't close the Internet because there is a lot of dependence on international communication. Not everyone may agree but given the reality it makes sense. I think pre-emptive war is a really bad idea and many other US policies are flawed and without knowing details it is hard to say where this cyber initiative falls but, sorry to disagree with most, to me it makes sense

Posted by: Khalid Shah | Mar 13 2013 18:00 utc | 11

This is Norman Pollack's view from today's Couterpunch

".....Cyberwarfare exemplifies the Obama approach to American greatness. Strike from a distance (just as armed drones are directed by “pilots” often 8,000 miles away), both to elevate the role of technology in more sanitized destruction, and inflict maximum damage on a cost-effective basis. Our own preemptive use of cyber attacks is legitimated by their aim, to bring democracy to the world. Iran’s use, vengeance pure and simple—not as retaliation for what we had done to them, but sheer Islamic malice toward US openness and freedom.

"Ditto China, or, if stealing intellectual property actually occurs, welcome to the universe of capitalistic practice—they are proving apt learners. By that, I do not mean that one should excuse China for its own cyber-stealing, but there is a difference between that illegal behavior and the use of cyberweapons for purposes of sabotage—the difference between thievery and military-imposed acts of destruction. Perhaps if the US abandoned the latter, China might abandon the former.

"In any event, the Obama administration has taken cyberwarfare to its heart, as part of the solid phalanx of advanced weaponry and accompanying strategy for what is euphemistically titled the “light footprint” in shaping world affairs to our liking.

[My New York Times Comment (Mar. 12). The militarization of US policy]:

"With Natanz in full view, once again US hypocrisy comes to the fore, a double standard which characterizes the Obama administration at every turn. Billions for cyberwarfare, actually now operational, yet No, no to others, along with the fatuous distinction between attacks on intellectual property and that involving national security. Donilon-Brennan-Obama, Team A in the militarization of US policy-making affecting all realms of national life, but converging–with the “pivot”–on China, its isolation and containment, signals a more aggressive global posture than that of previous administrations going back decades. And with Susan Rice joining the Team, we have a full-court press to keep America in the forefront of hegemonic moves to ensure unilateral world military and commercial dominance. It ain’t gonna work: this has become a multipolar global power structure, in which the US can no longer act with impunity in satisfying its definition of national interest, no matter how many armed drones for targeted assassination it sends out.

"We can’t kill everybody who questions our system, our values, our conduct. If we could, the earth would be a global desert."

Posted by: bevin | Mar 13 2013 18:04 utc | 12

The best offense is a good defense!

Posted by: ralphieboy | Mar 13 2013 19:02 utc | 13

The journalist of that WP article is just doing his job. The purpose of journalism is to express the things those who own the publications want expressed and reinforce what they want society to think of as "the truth". Journalism is essentially another form of advertising. It's reflective of our own indoctrination that we find journalistic lying to be "shocking" and disreputable, yet expect advertising to be dishonest and tolerate it as such as another thing we must "put up with" in modern society.

Posted by: вот так | Mar 13 2013 19:33 utc | 14


Do some individuals become really offensive when on defense or is that just my imagination? I love it when so-called 'liberals' and 'democrats' want to shut down 'demos.'

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Mar 14 2013 1:05 utc | 15

Homeland defense...

Of the nearly 9,000 delivered MaxxPro units to the military, the Department of Homeland Security is apparently taking delivery (apparently through the U.S. Army Forces Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico VA, via the manufacturer – Navistar Defense LLC) of an undetermined number of the recently retrofitted 2,717 ‘Mine Resistant Protected’ MaxxPro MRAP vehicles for service on the streets of the United States.

I feel so safe...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 14 2013 2:01 utc | 16

About my #12, I did not intend to condemn all journalism, though it looks so in the post. There are some independent journalists who do make an honest effort to inform, rather than misinform.

Daniel Rich

A high strung offense makes a good defense when what one wants to defend is not very savoury. This tactic gets the attention directed at the other guy, rather than one's own dubious views and actions.

Posted by: вот так | Mar 14 2013 2:15 utc | 17

As usual, what the USA claims others are doing, is what it itself has been doing - in great abundance. The "offensive teams" are an official expansion of this sort of cyberwar. And China wont be the only victim, everybody will be (except that powerless "American colony" in the ME).

China says US hacked nearly 2200 of its computer systems in 2 months

"...China's National Computer Network Emergency Response Coordination Center (CNCERT), the country’s top Internet security agency, described foreign-based hacking attempts against Chinese computer networks as “increasingly serious” on Sunday, Xinhua reported.

It further reiterated that over half of the attacks originated from the United States, which often accuses China for mounting destructive cyber attacks against its governmental and industrial network systems.

According to the report, during the first two months of this year 2,196 US-based control servers "controlled" 1.29 million host computers in China, making it "the top-ranking country," waging cyber intrusions into servers and host computers in China.

"A large amount of facts have proven that for many years, China has been one of the primary victims of cyber attacks," an unnamed official from China’s National Internet Information Office is cited as saying in the report.

Moreover, the Chinese Defense Ministry announced in February that two of its major military websites were targeted by nearly 144,000 hacking attacks per month in the previous year, some two-thirds of which originated from the United States..."


Israeli military establishes specialized department to bolster cyber defense operations

"...Last year, the IDF acknowledged that it engaged in the cyber- warfare, including executing attacks, a field which will receive an estimated budget of half a billion U.S. dollars in the coming years.

However, local media have since reported an acute shortage of suitable candidates to meet the army's growing demand for what it terms "cyber warriors."

Attesting to the growing distress, military headhunters have been dispatched to scout for young hackers among Jewish communities worldwide and persuade them to pass over lucrative positions in the private sector and to immigrate to Israel, the daily Yediot Aharonot revealed last November.

More recent initiatives have located and recruited manpower, including a workshop launched in January by the army's elite Unit 8200 which conducts both defensive and offensive cyber-ops to spot local talent from among dozens of gifted high school students, Ma' ariv reported.

Also in January, the Israeli government inaugurated a three- year proficiency program to train the teenagers from impoverished communities for cyber-warfare roles in the military and intelligence community..."

One can imagine what they are really up to.

Posted by: вот так | Mar 14 2013 3:04 utc | 18

like i say
classic *robber crying robbery*

Khalid Shah 10
*war on terror* was conducted by the world's no1 terrorist
*war on cyber terror* is launched by ....who else but the world's no 1 cyber terrorist !

that was 2002 mind u
we all know that murika never rest on its laurels when it comes to starting war , dont we ?

Posted by: denk | Mar 14 2013 10:52 utc | 19

Example of how China gets set up as the "big nasty cyber spy":

Israel cyber-spying on US with immunity: Jim W. Dean

"...“That file is then written to the Windows local machine’s temporary folder and executed to infect the computer with a persistent backdoor...The backdoor service is actually installed under a registry key called “RAT”, which is not very discreet, to say the least, and the backdoor connects to a C2 that is recognized by our service as suspicious hxxp:// It appears that is a web host that is located in China. Custom hosts on the site have been found to be involved in targeted attacks in the past (1 2); however, the specific host actually points to an IP address of 65.19.141.XXX located in Fremont, California, United States.”

Okay... installing back doors on people's computers so you can steal information is an old game in the cyberwar business. You can steal all you can right away, monitor the work done on the computer and take small bits at a time, or hide unnoticed until something very important happens and then go to work. The latter would be like for planting something in a power system network to use potentially at a future date or event.

And unless you are a dummy, if your back door code was found, you would want to lay a wild goose chase bread crumb trail to someone else's door. The best way to do this is to tie your operation into a host site in a country that has been getting a lot of bad publicity for cyber spying, like China.

The above Fremont, Ca. location is a big international web hosting data center. So the trail came back to the US computer address where the stolen data could be coming, only to be bounced around through ten other hosts before its final destination.

Would the Israelis want it actually going to Israel in a traceable way? Of course not. Why not have it go to a place where Israeli espionage is virtually never prosecuted, like the US, or Canada, or Australia? Computer dead drops can be set up to receive info, then closed and abandoned in an ongoing process.

Israeli IT security contractors and defense people actually work tours of duty in US Homeland Security where they can learn where the holes are in the system to exploit. We make it easy for them, so even more money has to be spent on cyber security..."

Posted by: вот так | Mar 14 2013 16:22 utc | 20

Serious attack, or another publicity stunt?

‘Erase Israel from the Internet’: Anonymous plots massive cyber-attack

"Hacktivist group Anonymous, along with numerous other hackers, is planning a massive cyber-attack on Israel, threatening to “erase” the country from Internet...."

Posted by: вот так | Mar 14 2013 17:08 utc | 21

Forgot the story link:

Posted by: вот так | Mar 14 2013 17:09 utc | 22

That's our completely fucked country.

I was just over at this site, supposedly very popular, there is a thread in which a US soldier is calling a kid an "asshole" and hoping he's "not okay" and bragging about "making sure no one throws rocks at us again" because this 11 year old follows him around and insults him.

You might think it would be full of people wondering why the hell a barefoot kid WOULDN'T be insulting (or worse, like throwing a grenade at) a body armored, air conditioned, xbox playing foreign occupying soldier preening around his neighborhood, but instead it is basically full of jokes about the kid "wanting to fuck" and similar disgusting stuff.

But that's a country poisoned with militarism and right wing ideology I guess. It comes right out of the same pipeline that could have a General announce 13 new offensive teams, and have it be reported that we will now be better defended.

This. Will. End. Badly.


Posted by: guest | Mar 15 2013 1:39 utc | 23

N. Korea’s Internet resources under attack from US – CKNA

"The Internet resources of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea have been under continual attacks from the United States and US allies, claims the Central Korean News Agency of North Korea...."

Posted by: вот так | Mar 15 2013 15:18 utc | 24

Speaking of defense and corruption; WASHINGTON — The United States will deploy additional ballistic missile interceptors along the Pacific Coast to increase the Pentagon’s ability to blunt a potential attack from North Korea, in a clear response to recent tests of nuclear weapons technology and long-range missiles by the North.
The new interceptors are scheduled to be deployed by 2017, at an estimated cost of just under $1 billion that have shown dubious capabilities in tests.
Ok, firstly, 2017, what happens 2013-16? Next, it does not work, it's flawed, and lastly what a pile of BS to give a contractor a gig, just pure political scamming of tax payers cash using the classic ‘fear’ probability factor.

Wait that's not what the 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition or the 2700 Light Armored Tanks that were purchased by the Department of Homeland Security recently. So much for reduction of spending...

Posted by: Kev | Mar 15 2013 21:15 utc | 25

Khalid Shah 11
to me it makes sense

i feel ur pain

banned by commondreams

Posted by: denk | Mar 16 2013 6:32 utc | 26

On my last; a US/Russian deal? The United Stated is abandoning a key part of its Eastern European missile defense plan due to development problems and funding, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has announced. The focus, he said, will be shifted to perceived threats from North Korea.

Posted by: Kev | Mar 16 2013 8:31 utc | 27

Secretary of offence Chuck Hagel
*. The focus will be shifted to perceived threats from North Korea*

u mean china, chuck ?

Posted by: denk | Mar 16 2013 16:20 utc | 28

hey chuck

do u have a secret deal with russia, in which case china is kaput eh ? :-(

whats up with all those secret meeting in nk ?

spare me those *mia* craps,
*one wonders why this would require such high level talks, such secrecy and why it would require the very expensive transport of U.S. bulldozers, nsc n............ pacom ?

some yrs back i read in the moa , some murikan high official openly boasting that *we've 1001 ways to make the chinese scream n we havent really started yet* [sic]

i bet they do, dont forget these guys are professional arsonists !
tibet, tam, xinjiang, labor unrest, civilian violence, sars, swine flu, south china sea, east china sea, korean peninsula, psyops, cyber warfare etc etc
but they havent really started yet ....what'll they think of next ?

do u've a secret pact with nk too, u've some nasty surprise lined up for the chinese chuck, u guys always do dont u ?

Posted by: denk | Mar 17 2013 4:04 utc | 29

Is it just me or is down? If it is down ... was it brought down as part of "cyberdefense" of the "Department of Defense" of the United States of America?

Posted by: john francis lee | Apr 1 2013 6:32 utc | 30 still down ... 'The server at is taking too long to respond.' ... straight up or by proxy ... can everyone else raise it?

Posted by: john francis lee | Apr 3 2013 11:02 utc | 31

The comments to this entry are closed.