Revealed: Obama planned to launch cyberattacks against Syrian regime
Cyberattacks against the Syrian regime were eventually ruled out in 2011 due to concerns that Washington would face its own set of attacks in response (File Archive/Shutterstock)
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A report has revealed that President Obama had considered launching cyberattacks against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad to prevent airstrikes against civilians in the early days of the Syrian conflict.
According to the New York Times, White House insiders said a plan to target the Syrian military’s ability to launch airstrikes was considered in 2011 as a “low-cost, low-casualty” option.
The report noted that Obama’s security advisers conceded earlier this week that cyberattack was still one of the tools at its disposal.
But the option had been ruled out in 2011 partly due to concerns that the U.S. would face retaliatory strikes on its vital infrastructure.
Caitlin Hayden, the spokeswoman for the National Security Council, declined to reveal to the Times “the details of our interagency deliberations” about Syria to the newspaper, although she did discuss cyber protection.
“We have been clear that there are a range of tools we have at our disposal to protect our national security, including cyber,” she said, noting that in 2012 “the president signed a classified presidential directive relating to cyberoperations that establishes principles and processes so that cybertools are integrated with the full array of national security tools.”
Hayden also said the Syria problem would not be resolved without a political solution, adding: “We remain committed to trying to work to resolve this conflict, but in a way that doesn’t insert the United States back into a bloody conflict in the Middle East.”
A recent report published by the Brookings Institution said that while Obama had used a detailed speech to lay out a doctrine for use of drone warfare, “a similar speech on cyber weapons is still needed — and is likely sometime off.”
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