The United States has fought many wars, and has won most of them. During those times, the traditional model was that we would take the fight to the battleground, and wage war from there. This is best exemplified by World War II, the Vietnam War, the Korean War, and the two Gulf Wars that were launched by both Bush elder and senior.
However, that all changed when 9/11 occurred, and the new War on Terrorism was brought to our front doorsteps in both DC and New York City.
This was a new kind of war, as the enemy (al-Qaeda) network was all over the world, and conducting very covert planning in order to launch further attacks on the United States. Most of them were operating out of the rugged terrain in Afghanistan, and thus were difficult to find.
But when captured by US forces, they were either brought to Gitmo or other holding facilities that were located in Afghanistan.
But, when the terror suspects were brought to Gitmo, this opened an entire new legal spectrum. For instance, one of the primary reasons why they were brought to this location was that technically, they are not on US soil. Thus, they cannot be afforded the same Constitutional rights as we have them.
At the time, the Bush Administration wanted to try them legally using the military tribunal approach, but of course, this move and many other actions brought along a huge heat wave of criticism of human rights groups all over the world.
One of the biggest points of contention was that these terror suspects were (and are) still considered to be prisoners of war. Thus, they are at least guaranteed some sort of rights by the Geneva Convention. There are actually four separate treaties that relate to this, and in fact, its originations go back all the way to August of 1864.
Loosely put, the Geneva Convention defines “. . . the basis on which rest the rules of international law for the protection of the victims of armed conflicts.” (SOURCE: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Geneva_Convention).
But today, fast forward 17 years later after 9/11, the battleground has yet once again shifted drastically. We are now fighting an enemy that cannot be seen physically, and exists only in the virtual world. This is the Cyber attacker of today. What makes this even more difficult, is that this new brand of criminal can either be homegrown, or exist even in the remotest in Siberia.
Also, their tools of launching attacks have become extremely sophisticated, and becomes even more so on a daily basis, which it makes even more difficult to keep up with. If the Cyber attacker is apprehended on US soil, of course, they will their due rights to a fair legal process.
But what if they are caught overseas? Can we bring them back here and start another Gitmo just for Cyber terrorists? The latter would be a much more difficult proposition, as there would be worldwide opposition even greater than after 9/11.
So, in these instances, the only choice the US has legally, is to either extradite the Cyber terrorists here, or try them in their country where they were apprehended. Either way, the issue of how the Geneva Convention should be applied is being raised yet once again . . . by Democrats, who claim that this new Cyber war is an international war now.
The Deputy Leader of the Democrats, Jo Swinson, has been the major voice behind this: “Recent cyber-attacks on businesses and civil infrastructure traced to Russia show that cyber defense must be considered the new civil defense . . . that is why Liberal Democrats are determined to take forward radical new ideas, including a new ‘Geneva Convention’ for modern warfare.” (SOURCE: https://www.computerweekly.com/news/252448732/Lib-Dems-want-Geneva-Convention-for-use-of-tech-in-modern-warfare).
But apart from affording some rights to those Cyber terrorists, that are caught, Swinson has also called for new provisions under the Geneva Convention when it comes to using new technology such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and the use of drones.
Now, there is not too much hesitancy to use these various technologies to fight the Cyber terrorist, but there is strong apprehension and fear if they are misused to keep tabs on innocent citizens, such as how the Patriot Act was criticized in this regard as well, especially when it came to the use of wiretapping.
Her other fears resonated in this quote as well: “. . . it could embody the worst of human thinking as it learns from people.” (SOURCE: https://www.computerweekly.com/news/252448732/Lib-Dems-want-Geneva-Convention-for-use-of-tech-in-modern-warfare).
My thoughts on this?
First of all, this new war on the Cyber attacker is still not yet an officially declared one, as it has been with the War on Terrorism has it had been with George W. Bush Administration. No elected official from anywhere around the world has even declared it as fight to be won yet. Therefore, there are no substantial laws which are in existence yet to try a Cyber terrorist, and bring him or her to justice.
This is the case here in the United States. Yes, the legal system has tried and convicted accused Cyber criminals, but the basis for these verdicts has been on the precedence on cases that are non-Cyber related. In other words, there is no specific legal precedence for cases that deal with Cybercrimes, which makes the trials last longer and the verdicts that much more difficult to reach.
The legal system simply cannot keep up with the ever-changing Cyber threat landscape. It is clearly, at least at the present time, impossible to do this.
Second, although there is the fear that there could be misuse amongst the technologies just described. Me personally, I am all for using these technologies to hunt down the Cyber terrorist. Their potential misuse is a just small price to pay when compared to the destruction that the Cyber attacker can reign in, both from a physical and financial perspective.
Although I do not know the exact amount of monetary damage, I would say it probably has exceeded trillions of US Dollars in recent times.
Third, yes, I do support the tenets of the Geneva Convention and I think that they should be applied to the Cyber terrorist after they have been apprehended are being tried in court of law. After all, although they may be individuals with no morals and ethics as the destruction that they create, they still have certain legal rights as the innocent citizens around the world do.