US weighed cyber attack in Libya war: officials

October 19, 2011

The United States weighed launching a cyber-attack to disrupt Libyan air defenses before the start of an air campaign against Moamer Kadhafi's forces, officials said Tuesday.

The assault would have hacked into the Kadhafi regime's computer networks to cut links between early-warning radar and surface-to-air missiles threatening NATO aircraft, two defense said, confirming an account first published by The New York Times.

"A broad range of operations were considered," a senior defense official told AFP.

But a cyber offensive was eventually ruled out and at no point was the administration "close to pulling the trigger," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

US officials and some military officers argued against a cyber assault out of concern it could set a dangerous precedent that could open the door to similar moves by other countries, including Russia or China, the Times reported.

also had doubts whether the cyber offensive could be organized quickly enough and whether President had the legal authority to approve a digital attack without notifying Congress, said the Times, citing unnamed officials.

The Washington Post reported that the debate on a potential never reached the White House and that officials concluded bombing air defense sites would be more effective.

The NATO-led air campaign began on March 19 and is still underway, though allied governments say they are close to wrapping up the operation now that Kadhafi is in hiding and his forces chased out of the capital Tripoli.

Military officers have declined to openly discuss the tools and methods at the disposal of a newly created US Cyber Command, which is assigned the task of waging digital warfare.

Explore further: Pentagon spends $100 million to fix cyber attacks

Related Stories

Pentagon spends $100 million to fix cyber attacks

April 7, 2009

(AP) -- The Pentagon spent more than $100 million in the last six months responding to and repairing damage from cyber attacks and other computer network problems, military leaders said Tuesday.

Tweets tip off NATO on potential Libya air raids

June 10, 2011

Twitter as a weapon of war? NATO has scrambled warplanes against Moamer Kadhafi's forces after Libyans tweeted troop movements on the micro-blogging website, alliance officials said.

US, Australia to take up cyber war in treaty

September 15, 2011

The United States and Australia will announce cooperation on cyber warfare as the close allies mark 60 years of a defense treaty by tackling 21st-century threats, officials said Wednesday.

Recommended for you

Internet giants race to faster mobile news apps

October 4, 2015

US tech giants are turning to the news in their competition for mobile users, developing new, faster ways to deliver content, but the benefits for struggling media outlets remain unclear.

Radio frequency 'harvesting' tech unveiled in UK

September 30, 2015

An energy harvesting technology that its developers say will be able to turn ambient radio frequency waves into usable electricity to charge low power devices was unveiled in London on Wednesday.

Professors say US has fallen behind on offshore wind power

September 29, 2015

University of Delaware faculty from the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE), the College of Engineering and the Alfred Lerner School of Business and Economics say that the U.S. has fallen behind in offshore wind ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.