back to article US military debated hacking Libyan air defenses

The Obama administration intensely debated whether to hack the computer networks that run Libya's air-defense system in the days leading up to the US-led strikes against Qaddafi forces, The New York Times reports. Administration officials and some military officers ultimately rejected the idea, citing the precedent it might set …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Paul McClure

    A little late, why not 6 months ago when they were shooting at us. Clue.

    The news is saying the loyalist are down to one neighborhood and key family members have been collected. This show is over. Now for the real messy part of getting many tribes to behave as one government. That will be entertaining thought probably not for the residents. Who knows they might even get a government before the Egyptians.

    1. Notas Badoff


      Go back and please _read_ the article. See the word 'March'? See the words "intensely debated", as in prior to "March"? So actually 7 months plus ago this was happening.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @ notus

        the US government will now target you for being in possession of cluetonium. Such a powerful weapon is deemed unfit to be in the hands of civilians.

        1. laird cummings
          Big Brother

          @AC 00:02 GMT

          Mostly, so they can seize said cluetonium; being utterly bereft, themselves.

  2. Ken Hagan Gold badge


    It is easier to say "We could, but we decided not to." than to actually do it.

    1. Pete 2 Silver badge

      Alternative alternative

      ... or to say "we thought about it but decided not to" after trying, but failing.

      1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart


        You mean they couldn't hack the systems they sold ka-daffy-duck all those years ago????

        Now that's a fail!!

        1. Pete 2 Silver badge

          Re: Failing?

          > You mean they couldn't hack the systems they sold ka-daffy-duck all those years ago????

          Maybe those sneaky Libyans went and changed the root password - who'd a'thought?

  3. DragonKin37

    Waste of time?

    If the goverment lauched a Cyber attack against a another nation (and get caught) it would piss not only the Anons out there but pretty much the Chinese and Russians. So much that they might return the favor in kind. I do belive there is a cyber cold war, Libya is not the theater to set it off though.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      LOL, Anons would be pissed?

      "Ohh nooo, the government has realized that they too can use computers to hack"....

      Moving on...

  4. amanfromearth


    It's all wind and piss.

    These are the same lot who took months to get the keylogger virus off their drone fleet.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Don't think so

      You should know better Mr Mars. Ever heard of Compartmentalization ? The intel people who know how to hack things don't fly drones. The ordinary soldier in Rommel's army are didn't know about cryptologic exploits, which made this general so successful. (google for

      And all the jokes regarding military intelligence should be taken with a mighty pinch of salt - the commercial sector is fsking up their brains with all the rah-rah and all the money talk, so my bet is with the government here. Even if they have some problems of their own.

  5. SkippyBing

    Interesting Definition of American Led

    I don't really recall many US aircraft flying over Libya to drop bombs. I'm not saying there weren't US aircraft there but the actual pointy end flying over enemy territory dropping explosives bit was mostly a UK/FR/IT thing. And I seem to remember the US virtually forcing Europe to take the lead in dealing with the Mad Colonel for their own reasons.

    As a side note, I'd like to see them hack a self contained SAM site in the middle of the desert that can't even spell IP, seriously you put it on fully automatic and it doesn't even care where it is never mind what Steven Fry is tweeting about.

    1. Naughtyhorse


      You clearly have failed to learn the lessons of merkin foreign policy from this century!

      ya shows up half way through the fight, then takes all the credit for the win.


      1. Paul_Murphy

        Umm, and the last century.

        Even fights that they start they aren't necessarily successful at, unless you are talking about certain people who aim to make a profit from the US war machine, in which case all their wars are pretty successful.


    2. laird cummings
      Big Brother


      Whilst 'American-led' is a pretty weak claim in this particular little war, Obama and crew were prime chearleaders for getting in on it. Initially, most of the AAA defences were taken out by US aircraft - Plus some other participants were having a hard time getting it off the ground.

      Once the skies were relatively safe and the other players had sorted out their party favors, the US backed waaay off (mostly due to a lot of real heat aimed at the "Peace Prize President" for getting in on yet ANOTHER war).

  6. Oninoshiko


    They where concerned about if they had to notify congress, but weren't concerned with the idea that launching missles from drones wasn't a "hostile" act because it was from drones?

    I have not the words...

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Big Brother

      It depends on what the word "launch" is...

      Reasoning was that since there were no humans involved, no-one was put in harms way, so it wasn't a war, just a "kinetic action" and "kinetic actions" can be ordered as side dishes by the Obamaführer.

      Any problems?

      1. Arctic fox


        Of the "VG Tips*" persuasion are we?

        *Explanation for our US compadres: they are a well known brand of tea-bag in the UK.

      2. Naughtyhorse

        merkin neo-nazi godwins himself for all to see on the godless intartubes!

        film at 11

  7. Mage Silver badge
    Black Helicopters


    This is what they want their enemies to believe ...

  8. MD Rackham

    Why not hack the Libyan air defenses not only to keep pilots safer but also to send penis pill offers?

    With all this talk of military budget cutbacks, the Pentagon needs to be creative in making some money.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      I thought the word by our professional political wankers (motto: "whatever sticks") was that Gaffi was handing the pills out for free to keep his men going during long rape sessions.

      Can't make money in that case.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So I guess Libya won't be going to a gold based currency like they planned then...

    That makes the central bankers very upset when you don't want to trade your oil for debt based paper. You wouldn't like them when they're upset. They make bombs drop on you.

    At least we didn't hack them. Phew! That was close.

    Freedom! -or something...

  10. Microphage

    Who typed this CyberBS ..

    "While the exact techniques under consideration remain classified, the goal would have been to break through the firewalls of the Libyan government’s computer networks to sever military communications links and prevent the early-warning radars from gathering information and relaying it to missile batteries aiming at NATO warplanes".

    Believe you/me, this is total Cyber B******T, I just wonder why they see the need to post it just right now ...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Libyan surface-to-air missiles and radars are/were mostly 1960s-vintage Soviet kit - not nearly technologically advanced enough to be susceptible to "cyberwarfare" techniques!

  11. DSGiTechGuy


    I always thought Gaddafi began with a g not a q?

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      You say Qaddafi, I say Gaddafi

      Both are in common use. I think it depends on how you choose to transcribe from Arabic. That, in turn, probably depends on your Arabic accent.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        yes in Italy its Ghedaffi in France its Kadhafi, but it was laid to rest by NPR (US equivalent of BBC Radio Four)

        who revealed some school kids in Minnesota got a nice letter back from the old goat in '86 which he signed Gadhafi, (and my OS/browser already wants to change that back to gaddafi...)

    2. John 62


      Gadafi, Gadaffi, Gaddafi, Gaddaffi, Gadhafi, Gadhaffi, Ghadafi, Ghadaffi, Ghaddafi, Ghaddaffi, Ghadhafi, Ghadhaffi, Kadafi, Kadaffi, Kaddafi, Kadhafi, Khadafi, Khaddafi, Khaddaffi, Khadhafi, Khadhaffi, Qadafi, Qadaffi, Qaddafi, Qaddaffi, Qadhafi, Qadhaffi, Qadhdhafi, Qathafi...

    3. SkippyBing

      Don't get me started

      Having had to fill out 50 visa applications for native Arabic speakers to travel to the USA I can confirm that not only is there no agreed standard for translating the spelling to English but that frequently the person involved will change their mind between documents. Obviously the State Department loves this.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rumour has it they did contemplate a penis pills mailshot for the Libyans but ultimately decided take-up would be higher if they focused those efforts at home.

    1. Paul Landon
      Paris Hilton

      God forbid that that the Canadians might supply the pills.

  13. Tom 7 Silver badge

    People in glass houses

    shouldn’t reveal how vulnerable they might be to the same stones.

  14. Unknown Error

    The U.S. has also seriously considered nuking Libya

    It would be news if the U.S. DID NOT plan to hack Libya.

    The US has planned to nuke Libya nad it has not taken this off the table. Now, THIS is fact and this IS news. It's a few months old, but still interesting.

    Here are the latest FACTS from Libya: (this one is very good, regularly updated)

  15. John Jennings Silver badge


    They wouldnt use cyber war when they can use kinetic weapons. Period.

    less than 5% of the bombs dropped were émpowering the no fly zone - air defences were crippled in the first 2 days.

    Gadaffi was in the poohouse when he signed his agreement for oil to the chineese, and threatened to refuse to trade oli for debt.

    First the 'Arab Spring' and that info - cyberwarfare - now people are being murdered in the street in Ejypt... Just lat week...

    Note how they tried to embroil syria - that failed - this time....

    Now its a probe on Iran with that assination attempt crap.

    Its all info/cyber warfare - and its all launched by us.

    At least the USSR and China are blocking further madness for the time being @ the UN

    Nothing less that our (western) imperialism - makes be sick in my throat.

  16. Spoddyhalfwit

    Qaddafi or Gaddafi

    "Both are in common use. I think it depends on how you choose to transcribe from Arabic. That, in turn, probably depends on your Arabic accent."

    His name is spelled with a "qaaf" in Arabic which is a q sound in Modern Standard Arabic. The "g" pronunciation of it is a regional one.

  17. James Micallef Silver badge

    congressional approval

    "were also unsure if the president had the authority to approve a hack attack without informing Congress"

    That's a bit rich, considering that Obama had no congressional approval to go to war with Libya at all. Just saying it was 'to protect Libya's people' is a fig-leaf (even though it's true). Firing missiles at military targets is an act of war that was carried out without the proper congressional authority.

    Having said that, getting rid of Qaddafi was the right thing to do, and I even understand why Obama did not seek congressional approval (The current crop of fundamentalist Republicans would vote against anything Obama proposes just because it's him, even though they've happily gone to war with much minor pretexts)

  18. Petrea Mitchell

    Bad car metaphor alert

    “These cybercapabilities are still like the Ferrari that you keep in the garage and only take out for the big race and not just for a run around town, unless nothing else can get you there,” one Obama administration official told the NYT.

    I was under the impression that the reason most people with Ferrari racecars don't drive them around town is most of them aren't street-legal. So I think they're saying these capabilities are being kept under wraps because they can't handle real-world conditions.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022