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Information Warfare

Date: 10-09-11
Host: John B. Wells
Guests: Charles R. Smith

Guest host John B. Wells (email) was joined by specialist in cyber warfare and information security, Charles R. Smith, for a discussion on the current state of information warfare. He detailed the remarkable radar system called the Advanced Electronic Scanned Array (AESA), which has a myriad of nefarious capabilities. Rather than having one large dish, Smith explained, the AESA system consists of a numerous, extremely small and powerful radar emitters. One aspect of this design, he said, allows for the system to breach unshielded computer systems and "literally monitor what's going on as well as insert viruses and virus code."

Smith also warned about the emerging trend of "datafusion," where a single computer program collates visual and communication information as well as human intelligence. This process can allow the user to focus on an individual or "watch a large mass of individuals." He revealed that not only is this technology at work in America, it is also being sold overseas, notably to China, where it is being used to suppress dissidents. Smith acknowledged that it is unlikely that local police are using such advanced technology to monitor everyday citizens. However, he chillingly contended that "you can pretty much guarantee" that when a police cruiser passes you on the highway, "he's likely listening in on your cell phone conversation, because he has the equipment already on board to do so."

Ultimately, Smith mused that "the building blocks are there for a fascist electronic state." To that end, he observed that the classic concept of black helicopters buzzing troublesome individuals is "so passe and so obsolete as to be incredible." Noting that classified technology generally runs 30 years ahead of what is publicly known, he pointed to the stunningly detailed satellite images available via Google maps as a glimpse into the true capabilities of the intelligence community. That said, he contended that, by thinking creatively, "you can turn this and use it against the very same folks that are trying to monitor you, to the point where, eventually, they give up." For instance, he pointed to the government's use of mice to trigger alarm systems at Soviet military bases. This tactic led the frustrated Russians to shut the alarms off, which allowed US forces to then easily gather critical intelligence.

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