Iraqi Cyberwar: an Ageless Joke

Monday, 10 March 2003, 11:21 AM EST

A creepy enthusiasm for tales of weird weapons rises as war approaches. Denied substantive information by the Pentagon and grasping for eye-grabbing news, journalists and pundits speculate daily about what might be used in Iraq.

In this environment, where everyone charges full speed ahead for the hot scoop or astonishing apocrypha, even the oldest hoaxes can return for one more bow.

In a February piece for the Memphis Commercial Appeal, a retired air force man mused on the subject of information warfare and how it might be used to strike Iraq down. Dabbling in a little history, the author recounted how in Gulf War I the U.S. drew up plans to take down an Iraqi anti-aircraft system with "specially designed computer viruses [to] infect the system from within. Agents inserted the virus in a printer shipped to an Iraqi air defense site."

Special Forces men were also said to have infiltrated Iraq, where they dug up a fiber-optic cable and jammed a computer virus into it. "It remained dormant until the opening moments of the air war, when it went active..." wrote the columnist. Iraq's air defense system was vanquished.

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