April 18, 2009

On Censoring the Taliban

Looks like someone finally got the message that it might be in our best interest to take Taliban recruiters off the web. First comment: I'll believe it when I see it. Second comment: it's not nearly as difficult as the naysayers claim it is.

It is difficult for me to keep terrorists off the internet, but not nearly as big an order for a government that spends tens of thousands of dollars on a single bomb.

Since I've spent the past five years advocating this, it probably wouldn't surprise long time readers to know that I've already drawn up plans for exactly this sort of thing. In my mind you could get rid of 80% of the traffic terrorist websites see with less than a dozen full time tech savvy staff using off the shelf technology and all within a single week.

Hey Pentagon: call me.

For those that argue that the endeavor is a bit like whack-a-mole, you're right.

You know what is also a lot like whack-a-mole? Killing terrorists.

And it's actually a lot less like whack-a-mole than you imagine. When we pressure webhosts to take down terrorist websites, that's a lot like whack-a-mole.

But that's not what we're talking about here, is it? We're talking about an organized effort by people with power. Like, say, the power to come up with a seemingly harmless piece of data which might be planted in an SQL file? (Hint hint)

And a government that has the power to seize a drug dealer's Ferrari certainly shouldn't find it that difficult to seize domain names.

Also, it seems that some over at Huffpo have their panties all up in a wad at the *shock* *horror* idea that we might actually censor our enemies.

Which just goes to show how morally retarded many in our nation have become.

So, if I follow the premise, it's okay to kill a member of the Taliban, but it's not okay to censor him?

Only a moral idiot would value our enemy's speech more than they value his life.

If you want to argue that the effects will be negligible and therefore it's just a waste of our time, that's an argument I'm willing to consider. The average member of the Taliban isn't recruited over the internet.

I would point out, however, that thousands of foreigners have made their way to the "jihad fields" of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Chechnya, and Somalia. While internet radicalization is not the only factor affecting this decision, one of the common threads we find among foreign fighters from Europe and the Middle East is that they have spent considerable time on the internet watching Salafi jihadi propaganda and in extremist chat rooms.

It's time that we began to treat cyberspace in the same way we treat physical space. Let us give terrorists no quarter in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Let us also give them no quarter in cyberspace.

Again, this is not an argument for taking down all terror related websites. These websites sometimes are valuable intelligence tools used to find and kill our enemies.

If the choice is between censoring our enemies or killing them, I'm all for the latter over the former. But more often then not it's not an either/or kind of choice.

Note to Pentagon: Here are the Taliban's main websites. Have fun.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 05:11 PM | Comments |