2005 Archive

Boalt Professor Suggests Taking a Page from Hackers in Terror Fight

Despite heated debate over U.S. tactics in the war on terrorism, the strategy is winning the struggle against al Qaeda and should be bolstered by imaginative new steps including some that borrow from the maverick world of computer hackers, argued Professor John Yoo in a speech this week before the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. In his June 6 talk "Fighting the New Terrorism," Yoo put forward one novel idea from the world of computer networks to further disrupt al Qaeda, the group behind the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington.

During a question-and-answer session following his speech, he referred to hacker-generated denial-of-service attacks that overload Web sites or networks with high volumes of junk messages. Similar real-world tactics, he said, could help the U.S. infiltrate al Qaeda and diminish its effectiveness. "In al Qaeda's case, we could try to overload it with recruits and make them worry about how many of them are genuine believers and how many are agents," said Yoo. That would create issues of trust within the terror network and degrade its performance, he said.