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By staff writer Amir Blumenfeld
May 25, 2005

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CIA Overseeing 3-Day War Game on Internet

WASHINGTON – The CIA is conducting a war game this week to simulate an unprecedented, Sept. 11-like electronic assault against the United States. The three-day exercise, known as “Silent Horizon,” is meant to test the ability of government and industry to respond to escalating Internet disruptions over many months, according to

And if we fail at THAT game, the CIA will just conduct a game of four square. Whatever gives us a W.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because the CIA asked them not to disclose details of the sensitive exercise taking place in Charlottesville, Va., about two hours southwest of Washington.

You mean details like when and where this game is taking place? Good job, CIA. 0/1 so far.

The simulated attacks were carried out five years in the future by a fictional new alliance of anti-American organizations that included anti-globalization hackers. The most serious damage was expected to be inflicted in the closing hours of the war game Thursday.

Hmm…I'll be sure to let my family and loved ones know…. At least the ones that live in the fictional game world.

The national security simulation was significant because its premise – a devastating cyberattack that affects government and parts of the economy on the scale of the 2001 suicide hijackings – contradicts assurances by U.S. counterterrorism experts that such effects from a cyberattack are highly unlikely.

God…if Al-Qaeda ever fills my inbox with spam, that day will truly rival September 11, 2003 as a slightly sad day in American history.

“You hear less and less about the digital Pearl Harbor,” said Dennis McGrath, who has helped run three similar exercises for the Institute for Security Technology Studies at Dartmouth College. “What people call cyberterrorism, it's just not at the top of the list.”

“Did I say Digital Pearl Harbor? I meant Pearl Harbor on DVD. You hardly hear anything about that movie anymore! Goddammit!”

The CIA's little-known Information Operations Center, which evaluates threats to U.S. computer systems from foreign governments, criminal organizations and hackers, was running the war game. About 75 people, mostly from the CIA, along with other current and former U.S. officials, gathered in conference rooms and pretended to react to signs of mock computer attacks.

Pretended to react to signs of mock computer attacks. I'm glad our nation's central intelligence agency is busy with improv games. Next week, somebody is going to throw out a place and an occupation and the 75 agents will pretend to act like they have that job. It'll be glorious!

The government remains most concerned about terrorists using explosions, radiation and biological threats. FBI Director Robert Mueller warned earlier this year that terrorists increasingly are recruiting computer scientists but said most hackers “do not have the resources or motivation to attack the U.S. critical information infrastructures.”

“Though we do have some strong evidence that shows a Comcast representative visiting a cave in Tora Bora, installing a wireless router. Though judging by Comcast's shotty worksmanship, those terrorists will still be dialing up by nights end! HAA HAHA.”

“One of the things the intelligence community was accused of was a lack of imagination,” said Dorothy Denning of the Naval Postgraduate School.

“I mean, just look at these paintings. I asked them to just draw a tiger, but let their minds wander. And check it out, each one of these portraits are of a plain orange tiger. I know what you're thinking ‘They probably only had orange and black paint!' But they didn't! We gave them blues and greens and pinks and reds! They just opted not to use them, is the thing.”

“You want to think about not just what you think may affect you but about scenarios that might seem unlikely.”

Which is why next week the CIA will be partaking in a game in which penguins attack Antarctica with carrots. BABY carrots! Just kidding. Normal carrots.