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Pentagon Says Improper Image Morphing is War Crime 185

mwdib writes "Here's a story in Federal Computing Week in which the Pentagon decides that certain forms of computer morphing could be war crimes." It was hard not to file this under "humor," but Federal Computer Week is a serious publication that almost always gets its stories straight. So loonie as this may seem, it's not a joke.
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Pentagon Says Improper Image Morphing is War Crime

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  • Murder is, by definiton, unjustified and unauthorized killing. War is, in most cases, again by definition, authorized. Semantics aside, your point stands valid.
  • I return! Zzhoin me at Otto's Nightclub for die battle dat will bring about die triumphant Fourth Reich!

  • I guess Trey Parker and Matt Stone (creators of South Park) must be running like mad right now. Surely depicting Sadam Hussein as an overly active homosexual playing around with a fake penis is a war crime under this act?

    (Note: I did read the article, I'm just joking here)

    - Shaheen
  • It seems rather silly, given that there is a whole school of war that says misinformation is a valuable weapon. It's not like we didn't intercept, decode and rebroadcast encrypted enemy signals during WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, and Iraq.

    What is the difference between the falsehoods "Our troups will be a coordinants X" and "Your leader has raised the white flag?" I don't belive the rules of engagement say anything about being honest with the enemy.

    I have battle damage assesment photographs, on film and digitaly rendered, from the gulf war. If we had not bombed the piss out of the road to Basra, but instead mocked up some images showing the total distruction of the highway, leaked them to the enemy, and it served to divert Iraqi troops elsewhere, would I be a war criminal?

  • Shouldn't it be CGI? morhping just reshapes one image into another. What they mean is generating a realistic image, or video, impersonating a real person doing or saying something they wouldn't. Think Josef Virek generating Tally Isham in count zero overdrive (?).

    Morphing is more snoop doggy dog.

    Someone should also post a link to voice fonts (or at least that's what they were called at the time) that IBM were playing with. I ran accross the term in an article in wired couple of years ago (back when it was still readable) talking about a guy who was trying to work his way up the VC hill. He was telling wired about a presentation he made where one guy was constantly heckling him -- in Jimmy Stewart's voice. The heckler had distilled down the particulars of that voice to a voice font, and was able to apply it to whatever input he wanted. The interviewee noted that IBM bought the rights. This is of course useful, as you want your leader to speak to the troops too.

  • Women and children first... (why?)

    it's actually pretty simple. take a population of say, 50. half of the 50 are men, and half are women.

    kill 20 of the men, leaving you with a population of 5 men and 25 women. the war is over, and it's time to repopulate. not a problem. but if it's the other way around, and you're left with 5 women and 25 men, you're s.o.l.

    by the very nature of human reproduction, women become far more valuable to the population as a whole after a massive conflict that ends up depopulating an area. likewise, children have a longer breedling life in front of them than older humans.

    we're not as removed from the chimps as we'd like to think we are...
  • Of course the reason that you agree not to mark all of your soldiers as medics is that you hope that your medics get special consideration. In otherwords that the other side won't deliberatly shoot a medic since they are unarmed and suppost to be protected. If every soldier started dressing up as a medic then the enemy would have no choise but to shoot every medic they see, which would prevent your medics form dealing with your wounded men, so it would be definatly counter productive to break that rule of war. Most of the rules of war are like that, they are simply the codified best interests of both sides.
  • I concur. If it were possible to fabricate a cease-fire and have both parties held to it, then that seems to be the way to go.

    OTOH, how plausible is that?

    War is bad, war is evil, yadda, yadda. As long as there are humans on this rock and as long as they are self-aware, there will be war.

    I've always thought that there should be an uninhabited area where wars should be fought. No civilians, no property to rebuild, no scorched-earth policies. Kinda like an arena. Both sides square off. Whoever is left standing wins. Quick, less bloody, and televised as an event along with the Super Bowl (ok, now I'm getting twisted ;-)
  • The US has good technology for targeted, time-limited and otherwise very smart mines (able to distinguish between a tank and a nonmilitary vehicle, able to make themselves inert after a given period of time, able to shut themselves down by remote (encrypted, I'm certain) control, etc etc. These aren't those evil devices that do so much damage to civilian populations years after the fact.

    So why should they be banned?
  • War is utterly pointless
    Hardly. Was WWII pointless? Can you think of a better way to have gotten old Adolf out of power? war is a nasty bloody mess, full of pain and suffering. It is one of the worst things to befall a people. OTOH, sometimes a peace can be worse than a war. Is it better to be slaves in peace or freemen in war?
    War is...beyond reason or law.
    That's the kind of thinking that creates atrocities. `War is beyond reason, therefore reason may be cast out the window.' `War is beyond law, therefore war is lawless.' The whole point of the Law of War is to constrain war; all's not fair in love and war. Back when that was true, prisoners were slaughtered and women raped. Nowadays we try our best to be a little bit more civilised. If we are driven by necessity to wage war, we try to salvage as much human dignity as we can from what is essentially animal slaughter.
    Murder, which is generally considered the worst crime in society, is *legal* in a war.
    That is the irony, isn't it? It is no little matter to take life. That is why there are rules and regulations surrounding the act. We must constrain war or it will overpower is. Killing is fun; how many of us love to play Quake? I know I do. But it is also about as wrong as you can get. If war were not regulated, it would very quickly get even more out of hand than it already is. Brutality would reign supreme and all would be sacrificed on the altar of Death.

    Not for me, thank you.

  • Since this is another article about the rules of war, it's still a teeny bit on-topic.
    What's with the big peacenik/dove stance here at Slashdot, yet the vast appreciation for Doom, Quake, HalfLife, etc? Strikes me as a bit hypocritical. War is a nasty, ugly, messy, terrible thing, but sometimes it's needed. WWII, for instance. Or any number of "we're not your colony anymore" wars in Africa, South America, etc. I don't mean that every war is good, or that there is really such a thing as a good war, just that sometimes, when someone gets a little oppresive and power hungry, the only resort is violence. Sure, pacifistic resistance can work, but not in every case. Ditto diplomacy. I think that's something that we as a species need to come to grips with, esp. if we play at war (again, Quake, Doom, Starcraft, etc). Sure, we can have the idealized solution - put the world leaders in a [insert idealized solution here, like footrace/boxing ring/Q3DM] and whoever wins, wins. But what if they cheat? That's all.

    itachi, who thinks that a little gibbing is a lot better than a real war any day.

    flame on
  • This reminds me of the book by Philip K. Dick The Penultimate Truth []
    World War III is raging - or so the millions of people crammed in their underground tanks believe. For fiteen years, subterranean humanity has been fed on daily broadcasts of a never-ending nuclear destruction, sustained by a belief in the all powerful Protector.

    But up on Earth's surface, a different kind of reality reigns. East and West are at peace. Across the planet, an elite corps of expert hoaxers live invast private demesnes - repayment for their services in preserving the great lie.Until, one day, a tanker emerges and discovers the path to the most sinister truth of all...

  • Propaganda is a strictly regulated affair in war. For example, I do not believe that a country's leadership may be made to appear as though they have surrendered; this is really just an application of existing law onto novel media.

    It is also creative warfare to salt the enemy's land, sterilise the women and shoot the men. Hardly legal, though.

  • extra extra credit:

    Which party to this whole turnip affair is named Baldrick?

  • Billy has given up, huh ? About time!
  • Soon they will realise that killing in war should be a crime since it also inhumane & immoral.

    Hence, they will decide confilcts with server benchmarks. ;-)

    In a utopian world: M$ products are classed as biological weapons and their use deemed a war crime.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    This whole issue comes down to one of propaganda: The real "crime" that military, political, and law enforcement agencies fear is trespassing: The Internet gives small groups with low budgets access to high quality mass-market advertising tools formerly reserved to governments and large corporations.

    Control of mass media has been the key to political and military power since World War Two. The Internet threatens to level the playing field, giving the "have-nots" the ability to put their stories in front of millions of viewers who are not supposed to see anything but press releases composed by prosecutors' offices, military "information officers," and a handful of giant media corporations. Small wonder, then, that regulations and infrastructure specifications needed to implement Internet censorship are being promoted under the banner of "anti-terrorism, anti kiddie-porn, anti-drug." Now they are dragging the words "war crime" into the mix.

    Fortunately, the people who actually run the Internet know what censorship is, and what to do about it.

  • Jane Fonda.

    She denounced the US in the Vietnam War.
    She went to Hanoi (Vietnam) to do it.

  • History is written by the victors. War crimes are defined and enforced by the victors too.

    There's certainly nothing new about disinformation, deceptive transmissions and decoy messages. All sides did this sort of thing during WWII. The difference is the media.

  • Reguarding the isolationist thing, remember what 'ol George Washington had to say? He wanted to keep this country seperate from the rest of the world. He wanted foreign policy to consist of `We have no foreign policy'. I agree with your thoughts; we are gradually becoming more isolationist. And I for one, think that's a Good Thing.
  • An oxymoron or does it just sound stupid?
  • So would I be tried if I "obtained" a picture of Bill Gates signing an aggrement with the DOJ? HAHA... I think it would be interesting to be stormed y the MS SS and interrogated for my "terrorist act".
  • you find that this is really old news.

    We all know how easy it is to edit a graphic.

    We all know that graphic edited to misinform and presented as "truth" or "news" could cause great harm.

    It is the "great harm" that could be the war crime, not the graphic.
  • Besides, even DATA couldn't quite "get the hair right". Of course this is possible, any movie since T2 will show that it's possible, it's just not at all easy to get away with, highly disputable. Although if you only have to fool a few people for a short time (The men with their fingers on the buttons), it could get ugly.

    When they outlaw video toasters, then only outlaws will have video toasters.
  • in other words: if you are lying to the enemy you are a war criminal and all around bad guy! but if you just kill them instead of lying to them its ok?
  • So does this mean that if I make a small animation of Clinton's head turning into the devil's likeness, can I be arrested on the grounds of treason? This can't be...
    Scott Jones
    Newscast Director / ABC19 WKPT
    Game Show Fan / C64 Coder
  • From what I understood of the article, it was merely saying that the use of falsely generated images during war in order to confuse the enemy is against international law.

    There is no mention of normal computer morphing technology being illegal; merely the use of it against enemies during times of war by the army itself is against international law.
  • Silly boy, it is a context-free rant generator. It's hard to be specific without a context. It cracks me up to see people respond point-by-point to an automated complainer program.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 14, 1999 @08:47PM (#1533648)
    Hello--this is Bill Gates. I would like to address all of my loyal windows troops tonight and let you know that the war against unix is over.
  • I don't think we as individuals nned to worry about it too much.

    But the implications for works of fiction are interesting. One can have martial law imposed in a municipal area due to riots or other "acts of belligerence". Those "enemies" are engaging in image modification and get caught. Can you say "trial by courtmartial", even though they are civilians?
  • Even in the WWII examply there were a lot of rules that were followed: nobody used battle gases, nobody infected enemy cities with diseases.

    Well, nearly. If you are interested, and have a strong stomach, you might want to check out the history of the Japanese invasion of China.

  • If that is so, then Kai's Goo-program would be a weapon. And then you would need a license to use it. And it wouldn't be allowed to use in a cafe on a laptop. Now that'd be werd.

  • by sinator ( 7980 ) on Sunday November 14, 1999 @08:47PM (#1533652)
    I don't think this is loony at all. After reading the article (remember that? The chips and Dips crew did :). It is already a War Crime to impersonate a leader calling off the troops or falsifying information about treaties and ceasefires -- as the article hints, it violates perfidity -- why should an electronic version be any different?

    There have ben no cases I know of of actors being arrested for war crimes by impersonating presidents, just as I predict there will be no cases of digital artists arrested for war crimes by morphing world leaders. It's not the technology, it's not even the application, it's the intent. I think you're playing with fire when you broadcast ANY image (technologically created or otherwise) of a world leader calling off troops during a time of war...

  • by phrawzty ( 94423 ) on Sunday November 14, 1999 @09:45PM (#1533654) Journal
    "Rules of Engagement" are as old as conflict itself, and as silly as it might sound, they're better than nothing at all.

    In regards to this particular gem, i'm not entirely sure how this is a "new" revelation - impersonating enemy leaders has always been "illegal", in any form - whether it be cardboard cutouts or professional actors.
    Digital imaging is just another form of said impersonation. Why, exactly, did we need a study to show this to be true? Ah, the tax money hard at work.

    This is a little off topic, but there's always room for informational links on the Laws of War, so i say :).

    What are the rules of Engagement? [] -

    Y! - The Rules of War []

    Rules of Warfare - Arms Control []

    The Geneva Convention(s) [] - Modern "Laws of War".

    .------------ - - -
    | big bad mr. frosty
    `------------ - - -
  • Another example is wanton slaughter of innocent civilians, especially children.

    I know this is gonna be a controversial question-- but why is it worse to slaughter a civilian vs. a soldier? An adult vs. a child?

    I mean, assuming all human lives are equally valuable, which admittedly not everyone will agree to, I don't get why people think it's more tragic for a baby to die than say, a 70 year old man or a soldier.

    Women and children first... (why?)

  • Ditto diplomacy.
    `Diplomacy is war carried out by other means'


    After all, what is the carrot of diplomacy without the stick of war? Sometimes one must resort to force. The pity is that those who fight the wars generally don't care all that much about what they are fighting for. It's the old men in power who send the young men to die.

    We need to go back to the old system of the rulers leading the fight, or at least being on the battlefield somewhere. At least they might then exercise some judgement.

  • The problem is that when you engage in war,
    you pretty much lose all dignity you might have.
    There's no way any set of rules of engagement
    can make slaughter less of a bad thing. In war,
    brutality already reigns supreme. A set of rules
    for it is silly and pointless.
  • by TheDullBlade ( 28998 ) on Sunday November 14, 1999 @09:49PM (#1533659)
    Personally, I think the idea of laws of war are silly.

    For everything that is forbidden, there are dozens that are far more terrible.

    Expanding bullets are forbidden, but shrapnel is okay. It would be horribly wrong for the American soldiers to use bullets that explode (or even mushroom out to double width) when they hit an enemy body, but they are now planning to replace their M-16s with weapons that use sophisticated laser rangefinders and electronic fuses to fire bullets which explode as close as possible to an enemy soldier (in addition to firing conventional steel-jacketed bullets similar to those used in the M-16). However, I'm sure the targets will appreciate the distinction.

    The Japanese were not playing fair because of the way they treated prisoners, but it was okay for the US to nuke cities, slaughtering the civilian populations and effectively torturing thousands to death.

    The Vietnamese were wrong to treat POW's as they would treat anyone else who ran around "their country" shooting people, but it was fine for the Americans to try to counter guerilla tactics by mass defoliation of the land (with dangerous long-lasting poisons) and air-dumping countless mines that are still killing civilians.

    I'm not trying to defend the USA's enemies, just point out the irrationality of the laws of war.
  • yeah really old too, like someone figured this out way back in China...

    "Every war is based upon deception."
    Sun Tzu, The Art of War

  • If I thought that the U.S. were involved in a
    war I didn't approve of, I'd be proud to use
    morphing or any other means neccesary to end,
    cripple, or otherwise harm U.S. military interests
    in the affair.
  • I don't know, isn't this just another form of PsyOps, where we carpet bomb the enemy with leaflets telling them to go home, the war is over?

    I wish I had a nickel for every time someone said "Information wants to be free".
  • " is the firmly established policy of the United States that U.S. forces will fight in full compliance with the law of war."

    This is, IMHO, a fscking crock. Just last year, the United States broke several International Treaties (and ignored a vote by the Congress) to engage in an illegal war on Yugoslavia. Sidestepping the fact that Milosovic is an *elected* leader, we violated international borders. We used *illegal* cluster bombs. We poisoned the earth with "depleted" uranium bombs. We inserted Special Op forces. Journalists were manipulated with false "atrocity" stories. Anyone who believes this pious "full compliance" crap is either naive or in the pay of the American warlords.

  • would you rather have the exploding projectile fly PAST the enemy bunker, and into the village they're defending?

    This device is designed to change the grenade accuracy from something like 1 in 10 being an effective hit, to 1 in 2. As a civillian, I'd rather not be a potential target of the other 9 grenades that missed. It also changes the yeild of the grenade from 40mm to 20mm - because a closer hit means less explosives are needed to damage the target, which means much less collateral damage.

    Yes, the laws of war are irrational, because when it comes down to it, they can only be enforced on the loser. There is only ONE law that does not need to be enforced - and that's the law of the jungle; the fittest survive. So eventually, any loser will forget the other laws, and do what it takes to survive, and win, and defend themselves. God help them if they lose anyway. But since not all wars are wars of extermination, it's not always a matter of survival. And sometimes, war is a necessary evil - so it's nice to have laws governing their prosecution, because it makes a terrible thing, a bit less terrible. We will still have wars, with or without laws. The argument against the laws seems to be that - nobody's going to follow them anyway, and especially, if we make war too pleasant, then we'll have more of them. Well, war's going to happen anyway, people will eventually resort to force when other means to achieve their goals do not work. People break laws in civillian life too, but I think we're all better off that murder and theft are illegal in civillian life. Those things happen a lot less often than they would otherwise.

    I wish I had a nickel for every time someone said "Information wants to be free".
  • If that's the case, why don't they make a commitment to only using these "safer" mines, as a weaker form of the land mine ban?

    If the US military is only using "smart" mines, they could easily make that idea clear, even in a 15 second sound bite. My guess is that our armed forces would like to have the option of using "dumb" mines, since they must be cheaper and certianly make a psycological impression on the civilians.

    There is a big jump between the ability to make a "smart" mine and a committment to use it exclusively. Moreover, just because we can avoid civilian targets and deactivate mines after the war, dosen't mean that we will ... it doesn't mean that we won't either ... any treaty making exceptions for "smart" mines would have to spell out those terms.

    Anyway, if you know of any committment to only using "smart" mines by the US armed forces, or know of any proposals for a land mine treaty revision that makes allowances for smart mines, I'd be interested in hearing about it.

    btw ... i never said that they ought to be banned, personally i'd prefer that all weapons be banned, but that ain't gonna happen anytime soon.

    the whole concept of geneva conventions is kinda lost on me, in the revolutionary war, we're taught that the patriots were clever to adopt geurilla warfare against the antiquated, redcoats. our current M.O. is to bomb the living sh*t out of everything in our path (civillians and all) and then we complain that terrorism is unfair. like some little country is gonna out-bomb us or invade. i don't like terrorism, land mines or any other kind of warfare any more or less than any others, i pretty much dislike them all equally (well except for nukes and biological weapons, which can affect the entire population)
  • Great point. Somebody moderate this up, please...

  • Laws don't make much difference to desperate people. If they were willing to fight a war for some reason, I doubt this will mean much to them. Next to killing thousands of people, what's a little impersonation? If the governments of the world really wanted to stop the killing and collateral damage, they'd just put one guy from each side into a giant robot and let them duke it out on a remote island somewhere. Winner take all. :)(yes that was a joke)

  • Wow, cool. Where can i get one?
  • Quake is a current example. My point is that, as humans, we lay at war. A lot. Chess. I agree about most sports. I'm just saying we should recognize it for what it is.

  • I do agree with you that at times, war is somewhat unavoidable. WWII is definitely a good example of that--somebody had to stop that jerk. The depressing truth is that sometimes, the horror of war is the only way to stop a much worse violation of human rights.

    But I must say, I fail to see how pacifism and enjoyment of Half-Life and Q3Test cannot coexist, or how enjoying a game of TFC requires me to come to grips with war. These are games. They have nothing to do with real killing, real violence, or real war. It seems to me this is the same logic that links Quake to school shootings, and I think that's total crap. I just like blowing up a bunch of polygons--what's so wrong with that?

    Oh dear... even more off topic.

  • The U.S. is right to watch out for civilians during wartime. WWI was about 10 soldiers killed for every 1 civilian. WWII was about at parity: 1 soldier for 1 civilian. Wars after that have been 10 civilians or more killed for every 1 soldier. War is a messy business, and it's getting messier.

    I have to say though that most of what you object to is NOT illegal, so calling them war crimes makes you look silly. The civilain people killed by mines in Vietnam were not specifically targeted, so the mines were not illegal. War is messy, what can you do about that except not fight wars?

  • Chivalry? I suppose that the answer to your first question is that the soldier is doing their job, the civilians are minding their own business. But then, at least on one side, some of the civilians tried to start the war (in most cases). But I agree completely, there's not much of a difference, dead is dead.

  • It's all pretty simple, IMHO, if the military could do it, they would do it, no question about it.

    Compare to WW2 where both sides used false radio broadcasts to eachothers populations. Lord Haw-Haw (part of the German propaganda machine) is widely known, his British, Russian and American counterparts aren't, and they broadcast the same type of information. The point being that German propagandists were treated as War Criminals while nothing happened to their Allied conterparts. Just see any recounting of the Inteligence War of WW2 if you're interested.

    The same thing goes for the Gulf War. Saddam was denounced as a war criminal for getting his prisoners to talk about how good it was in Iraq and how bad the USA were for declaring war on Iraq. Bush, on the other hand, was not even condemned for bearing false witness as to the Iraqi treatment of the Kuwaitian (sic?) population. Even the most famous case, where Bush and an employee of the Kuwait Embassy fabricated a tale of how Iraqi troops had entered Kuwaiti hostpitals and killed infants in the incubators so they could bring the incubators back to Iraq, brough brough only cursory examination from the western press. But Bush was on the winning side.

    It can be argued that this is not the same thing as sending pictures/sound of enemy commanders to their troops, but the way I figure it is only that the target of the deception is the civilian population (often of both countries). (And sending false orders to the enemy is, and will always be, an integral part of war, it's only a question of if it succeeds, and is kept secret, or not.) What I think happened is that members of the DoD got scared at the thought of what could happend if some foregin power got access to their information distribution and acted accordingly. IMHO it is another example of officials saying 'oh, how bad' and secretly planing on doing it to the other fellow anyhow.

    But that's what war is all about.
  • ...such images[morphed images], "if false, would also be a war crime." and ...morphing and other video manipulation techniques can be seen everyday in TV commercials.

    Now, we all know that adds can often be false or misleading, and (as the article states), they often use morphing. Does that make those adds war crimes?

  • Can anybody come up with a way of using morphing to prevent a war? And if they did would that be a war crime? And if using morphing to end a war saved lives, would that be a crime too? What is a crime, in fact? - I always thought it was killing that was wrong; I seem to have got my values mixed up somewhere.
  • I've read all the comments, and at least a few people have hit it right on the button. They are doing this because of the possibilities if someone were to interupt a tv signal with say, an address from the president of the US. If this person were to insert a high quality thing of say, the president being assasinated, then immediately put up some sort of Technical Difficulties screen, imagine the chaos that could follow it. Especially if this were in some situation like.. the Cuban Missile Crisis.

    That all said, SNL could be in some trouble if they improve the quality of their opening sketches. I know at least one went something like this:

    Bill Clinton on screen..
    (talks a bit, leading to) so, these United States of America are now at war. (looks solemn, cracks up) Hah! I really had you going for a minute there, din't I? I bet my approval ratings just shot through the roof! (puts hand on chin, thinks about that for a second.. Has special address from the president interrupted by special address from Bill Gates who says.. well, nothing.).

  • There's a difference between propaganda and outright lies. Propaganda usually is a little more creative . What the pentagon is concerned about is violating the Geneva Convention - for example, lies that do that would be marking every soldier as a medic, even though they're carrying (concealed, presumably) weapons. The rules of war say it's Not Okay to lie. Demoralize, kill, bomb, wound, scare, mock - all that is okay. If you think about it, it really does make sense. If side A tells everyone on side B that side B's boss wants them to surrender, then they kill them while they're surrendering, that's just not very moral. If they all fight it out, and some of them die, well, that's not as wrong. At least they were honest about it. I suppose I'm sounding a little screwed up. I think this stuff is a little screwed up, though.

  • Impersonating a religious leader is blasphemy, not war crime. :-P
  • But the point that I see in the article is the simple presentation of the Internet as a medium where "war crimes" can be committed. This, of course, is absurd...

    Hardly. If that Nazi newspaper publisher (forget his name; Streicher perh; I believe the paper was The Storm or something similar) could be hung for war crimes, so can someone who commits a war crime over the Internet, which is just one more communications medium. It is not at all absurd to say that the Internet can be a medium for war crimes; no more than to say that it can be a medium for ordinary crime, or for storing the works of Shakespeare.

    A medium is neutral and, like almost all neutral things, can be put to good or bad uses.

  • I used to wonder about why there should be rules of engagement until I was issued this book during Officer Training. War is horrible, but as we have demonstrated time and again, we will continue to wage it. In order to extricate our sorry asses from it, we need to be able to trust each just enough to render an end to such a conflict.

    From US ARMY (field manual) FM-27-10.

    Ruses of war are legitimate so long as they do not involve treachery or perfidy on the part of the belligerent resorting to them. They are, however, forbidden if they contravene any generally accepted rule.

    The line of demarcation between legitimate ruses and forbidden acts of perfidy is sometimes indistinct, but the following examples indicate the correct principles. It would be an improper practice to secure an advantage of the enemy by deliberate lying or misleading conduct which involves a breach of faith, or when there is a moral obligation to speak the truth. For example, it is improper to feign surrender so as to secure an advantage over the opposing belligerent thereby. So similarly, to broadcast to the enemy that an armistice had been agreed upon when such is not the case would be treacherous. On the other hand, it is a perfectly proper ruse to summon a force to surrender on the ground that it is surrounded and thereby induce such surrender with a small force.

    Treacherous or perfidious conduct in war is forbidden because it destroys the basis for a restoration of peace short of the complete annihilation of one belligerent by the other.

    Checkout: il/cgi-bin/atdl.dll/fm/27-10/toc.htm [] il/cgi-bin/atdl.dll/fm/27-10/Ch2.htm []
  • I strongly disagreed with the actions of the US in regards to Serbia. I happen to think that our war was an international crime and I hope that at some point in time those responsible are brought to justice for it (not bloody likely, though). I'm not very nationalistic; I'm not terribly fond of my country.

    OTOH, I would probably enlist, and would definitely serve if drafted, should we become involved in a serious war, not because I particularly want to, but because it is my duty. If I were an Iraqi, I would probably do the same (Hussein is a bastard, but he is really no worse than 3 thousand years of caliphs, sheiks, emperors and kings have been). I don't know what I would have done as a German; to fight for Germany would have meant to support the evil Nazis, while to betray the Nazis would be to betray my country and my people. I would probably have attempted to leave the country long before war.

    And I would never, ever, ever perform an action which would lead to the deaths of soldiers of the United States. Treason is rightfully a capital offense. A man who betrays his country is a serpent which should be destroyed. If one will betray his country, why not his friends or his family? He is untrustworthy; his very existence is an insult to honest men. I count a fruit fly's life of greater value than his.

  • "Playing at" war and waging war are two different things. So are fantasy and reality. That should be perfectly clear to any well-adjusted human being. I don't know anyone who appreciates a good action movie / video game / television program who thinks war and violence are good things. Appreciating a fiction doesn't make a person a hypocrite to the facts.

  • Iraqi's might be stupid but then again perhaps we should look back a couple of thousand years and see which places where the Birth Places of Civilisation.

    The real moron here - IS YOU the INDOCTRINATED little shit heel of the NEW WORLD ORDER.

    Of course you can feel safe in the knowledge that you protect the innocent from awful gas attacks.

    Can anybody say WACO!
  • So the germans who betrayed their country were
    serpents who should've been destroyed?
    Sure, I'd betray my country, friends, or
    family if I felt what they were doing is wrong.
  • The soldier is the chosen pawn of his government. In most modern countries, he is a soldier by choice. Even if he is unwilling, he is at the least the designated target for violence. A civilian is a non-combatant and thus not a suitable target for violence.

    Killing is wrong regardless. But when it has become necessary to do wrong, it has also become necessary to set limits on that wrong. We as a society have decided that civilians should nto be shot or raped, nerve toxins or biological agents should not be released and that enemy leaders should not be impersonated in time of war. Pretty good decisions those.

  • All they are saying is that *IF* computers are used to impersonate a video broadcast (or similar thing) to enemy troops/countrymen, during a time of war, in order to mislead them (ie: We have surrendered.), that this action could be considered a war crime.
    And, they mention that 'morphing' would be the likely way of doing this. Ie:
    Actor gives speech, computer morphs them intoa likeness of some other countries leader/that leaders voice.
    They aren't claiming that morphing software is illegal. They aren't claiming it's a weapon. They aren't really saying much of anything. They aren't even saying that this is US law.. they are only saying that under current international war-crime laws, that impersonating the enemy's leader *could* be considered a war crime, and they mention copmuters can do this these days.

    Wow. That's amazing news. Really profound.

  • Besides, even DATA couldn't quite "get the hair right".

    Are you talking about STTNG:Reunification Part 2? :)

    Or sdo i just watch too much star trek..?
  • The fact that one of the world's most powerful military forces is thinking COMPASSIONATELY rather than strategically should make you all sleep easier.

    Hear hear! You would think that these people would be glad that our military care about decency in war.

    I'm a United States Marine. I've been trained as to how disobeying the law of war makes the likelyhood of my dying on the field of battle greater, and likely more painful.
    Good point: if we act brutally our enemies are more likely to do so. We would respond in kind and warfare would devolve into an ever more-dehumanising experience, worse than it already is. International law seeks to prevent this.
    Winning is good. When fighting monsters, however, you must be careful not to become one yourself.
    I could not have put it better myself.

    By the way, it's good to see a Marine on Slashdot. I've a brother at the Academy who hopes to be a Marine pilot and an uncle who died on Iwo Jima. My father was a Naval officer and his father was a sailor in WWII. It's good to see someone else pointing out that the military are not evil.


  • I agree with you in your conclusions about the absurdity of the 'Laws of War', but look at where they're comming from.

    First off the whole issue of FMJs being the only allowed ammunition. This fits nicely into the concept of 'Wounding one man takes three out of the battle'. Dum-dums, JHP and similar cause large, gapping, ugly wounds that kill, more or less, outright. Thus it is much nicer to talk about how it's 'inhuman' to use anything but FMJs, than to talk about how much more effective it is to use FMJs.

    The same thing goes for every rule of war there is, even the so-called humane ones. They're all practicalities. No rule of war that is impractical was ever followed. Heck, take treatement of prisoners of war. That was followed with the hope that the other party would follow it to, thus enabling the myth of 'our boys will be home some day', a great morale booster for the home front.

    As for illogical rules of war they're a dime a dozen. Take the one about having saw-edged bayonettes in WW1. People (read troops) were so taken in with the concept that a saw-edged (and we're talking about the reverse edge) bayonettes would cause horrible wounds (more horrible than a 'normal' foot-and-a-half of steel in the belly would) that they'd kill any enemy having a saw-edge outright. This was later picked up by commanders and politicians and a new rule of war was instilled; 'No saw edged bayonettes'. This is about as logical as calling the Brady Bill an effective way of keeping guns of the streets.

    As for the whole Japanese prisoners vs. US bombings issue, look at the 'Only winners aren't prossecuted' post further down.
  • Number two, isn't all fair in love and war?

    The laws of war has always had a PS:
    None of the above really matters - if you win.

    You may decide to take the chance and use "illegal" weapons. The laws just make the stakes higher.

  • Does that make those adds war crimes?

    For which war would that be? The war against spammers?

    -- Abigail

  • I think that Clauswitz is not rolling over in his grave quite yet. Considering the huge potential military value in electronic deception, and that the US has by far the most ability to perform such acts: I suggest that the Pentagon is claiming that this would be a 'war crime' so that any prospective opponents will not prepare against such attack. Cheers, all! Bobzibub.
  • And if there's any justice in this world you would be shot as a traitor. Harming military interests means harming the boys who are on the ground fighting for their lives. It's not their but rather the government's.

    It's one thing to work within the system to replace a government with which you disagree. It's another thing entirely to jeapordise the lives of your fellow countrymen. Leave that sort of thing to unprintables like Hanoi Jane.

  • As I've been told, during the Gulf War, a group of Iraqi tanks in Kuwait signalled "we surrender", but when approaching allied troops came within firing distance, the Iraqis instead turned their guns at them. According to the story, there was little left of the Iraqi tanks afterwards. After all, if they had decided to surrender for real the next time, how would they have communicated that statement to the allies?

    But then again, it's only a rumor I heard. Could be part of the desinformation as well.

  • And if using morphing to end a war saved lives, would that be a crime too?

    I'm sure that if you during the next war against Saddam morph an image such that the war ends quickly with Saddam being the "winner" - with only 50,000 US soldiers killed, instead of the expected 200,000 dead Iraqis and a US victory, Uncle Sam won't be pleased with you - even if you "saved" 150,000 lives.

    Remember, everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others.

    -- Abigail

  • Well, if you look at any FPS, you get of notice that there might be a hint of violence in the premise of the game. Yes, it's just a game, it doesn't make you violent, it wont send you ona shooting spree, but it is playing at war. I don't think there's anything wrong with that - like I said, I enjoy a good gibbing session. I just think we need to be unashamed about it and say "I'm playing at war". The same goes for war: when we reach the point where diplomacy fails, we need to say "no more games, we're really killing". People have always fought, it's just how that changes. I don't think that that will ever change, no matter how much we'd like it to. It's the same as anything else humans do that isn't so nice - lying, stealing, being wise-asses, adultery (well, it's nice, but it's not nice) and so forth. Really what I've been thinking about throughout this whole thread is why we try to convince ourselves that we aren't a violent species. I'd say that we're downright gruesome, and for the last century or three, we've at least tried to appear nice about it.

  • i read the article, i think that it's a good thing. limiting the weapons of war, in any capacity, i believe to be a good thing.

    as far as using cgi to spread propaganda is of concern to not just the military but to many in the private sector as well. for example, there is some concern in the jewish community that with the advent of better and better computer imaging, history itself is not safe, that there is a possibility of someone just "finding" a lost film reel that proves that the nazis did not, in fact, have death camps and that millions were not killed. in retrospect, maybe the laws of war should apply to such deception as well. jokes on SNL are one thing -- we all know that it's a joke. what if someone pulled the wool over our eyes with malicious intent?
  • War is utterly pointless Hardly. Was WWII pointless? Can you think of a better way to have gotten old Adolf out of power?

    And never you mind Stalin and Churchill pushing pieces of paper around discussing how to split up Europe.

    Of course you may argue that it's a matter of choosing the lesser evil. Much better to imprison a populace for their place of origin (or parents, or grandparents, or...) than to imprison...wait a moment!

    I think you'll find that all comparisons are made between one side pushed to an extreme, and another fairly at ease by comparison.

    Constrain war. Hah! War defines it's own rules. And I dont like Quake. Makes me queasy. C&C I do have a taste for.
  • Playing at war and/or violence is a thing of all ages, not just the computer-age. Do you seriously think that quake et al. were the first games based on war, siege or violence? think again. Most ball-sports are based either on a siege (baseball, cricket) where one party must defend the 'castle' and the other party tries to invade. Or it's based on 2 parties in a war (football, rugby, am. football, and even tennis). It's nothing new, and probably not going to change any time soon. but is it really bad? players don't usually try to kill eachother in the game, just like most people who play quake don't try to kill their neighbours. playing war and actually engaging in it are 2 very different things.

  • I'd revise this to say, read the story it was based on, as the movie is an atrocity of bad acting, bad writing, and otherwise generally a travesty. ;)

    In general, though, this theme is well covered by PKD - also read "The Three Stigmatas of Palmer Eldrich" for further discussion.
  • Ofcourse, with a trick like that the Iraqis in question didn't leave their opponents any choice but to reduce them to really really small pieces. For sure SOMEBODY was going to be obliterated, and this time I think the americans (or whoever else it was) were absolutely right. Not that they had a choice..

  • when I grow up a want a large turnip in the country..

  • I think you are mixing up a few things

    First depleted uranium shells are not bombs, uranium is used because it is very dense and can puncture other metal, it never explodes.

    Second,everything about maniputation of the press in Yugoslavia is just hearsay. I know a journalist that was in Yugoslavia, and he personally saw many of the horrors, mostly commited on the Albainians, but not exclusivly. The vast majority of false "atrocity" were by Milosovics government, who were sending bus's over target bridges continuosly, they know the best way to fight the US is through the American media.
    I do not know anything about the *illegal* cluster bombs, however i would like to know who declared them *illegal*, and if the United States signed the treaty

    It seems that so many people here are so concentrated on american bashing that they can ignore the actual facts and only look at conspericy theories. I guess it is just a case of the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, but if the United States really used its special forces extensivly for illegal operations, I have a feeling Sadam Hussian would have been assainated a long time ago.

    If you take time and look at these events from a unbiased viewpoint you would look back at yourself and see someone who is very "naive", however so would someone who believes everything the government or CNN say. If you do, you will see that most of the people who say other are sheep, really are themselves sheep. I really wish that would forget their biases and look at everything objectivly, but i can't see it happening soon.

    Oh well, i don't even think any of this should bother me, i'm Canadian
  • by THB ( 61664 )
    I personally believe that mines should be banned, and a perfectly good treatly was passed by many of the worlds countries, unforutinatly, the US did not sign it.
    At first this would seem like a stupid, irrational move on the part of the American. However, the Americans were perfectly willing to sign, grated one exemption until around 2005 for landmines planted around the demilliterized zone at the korean boarder.
    These landmies protect the 20,000+ american soldiers still stationed in South Korea, after a cease fire ended UN involement there. North Korea is very unstable, with a much larger army then the Americans stationed their.
    Unforutunatly, because several of the people involved in this treaty were in line for a Nobel prize, they decided not to grant any exemptions, and the US did not sign the treaty.
  • No but you can use this one. []
  • A turnip shaped like a thingy?
  • Certainly... Gen. Evil Criminal sends a an encrypted message carved into a turnip to his trusted Lieutenant ordering the killing of all held prisoners of war.

    Too far fetched. Serving turnips to POWs, and calling it food is a crime.

    -- Abigail

  • Actually, it's war that is silly. Laws are quite serious...

    We cannot reason ourselves out of our basic irrationality. All we can do is learn the art of being irrational in a reasonable way.
  • The States get once again their nerves on Jugoslavia. And this time they do ti! They start to systematically throwing down Jugoslav Internet connections. In one server a small link to a site located in Russia sends the whole mess into Russian territory. Immediately all Russian Internet goes in flames. Russian hackers start to counter attack US sites. US hackers reply. Europe gets in the middle. In one point tries to throw back the attacks and contempt a flurry of "collateral damage". In the end nerves break out. They start to attack US and Russia.
    In the mean time Asian hackers decide that to be out of te mess is too boring. And they start to shoot everywhere and everyone. Some of these shoots get into Australia, South America and Africa. They also start replying.

    In the mean time in the US, in a big computer center, a small engineer comes to the conclusion that he is not paid for such mess. "Enough is enough". He picks a shotgun and drops the whole stuff at a nearby box...

  • by TheDullBlade ( 28998 ) on Sunday November 14, 1999 @08:47PM (#1533739)
    Using a computer to impersonate a head of state to relay false messages could be a war crime. So what?

    This is simply recognition of a potential use of computer image manipulation. They aren't saying in any way that "morphing" in general is a war crime.

    You could probably commit a war crime with turnips, too.
  • Read the article, people. It clearly states that computer morphing can be a form of war crime, but only if it is used in a warlike manner! They are very specific to give an example of fooling a populus about decisions made by their "leader", who is actually a computer generated figure. This article doesn't say anything about computer morphing when used in a manner that does not interfere with national defense. Sticking your friend's head on a different body and stuff like that isn't going to result in the Navy Seals knocking down your door. Heck, espionage can be a war crime, but that doesn't mean that tapping your roommate's phone will result in a UN tribunal.
  • The article makes a valid point in mentioning that it would be rather mean to broadcast a fake message of the surrender of the enemy's leader to the enemy's troops. However, I would think that a study would not need to be conducted in order to figure this out. The article also states that, due to the nature of computer crime, the perpetrator(s) is(are) not likely to be caught. It seems rather pointless to make up a law that is almost impossible to be enforced.

    One more thing:
    The long-distance and anonymous nature of computer network attacks may make detection and prosecution unlikely, but it is the firmly established policy of the United States that U.S. forces will fight in full compliance with the law of war," the study concluded.
    Number one, since when did war have or need laws?
    Number two, isn't all fair in love and war?

  • I think what they're on about is someone doing images of Clinton and Saddam Hussein signing a peace accord when in fact nothing of the sort was going in, and then broadcasting that on some channel that our troops could see it on. That'd be a reasonably clever and sneaky way to fight dirty and it is a rather logical end-result of applying digital technology to propiganda.
  • I was going to broadcast an image of Hitler saying, "I return! Join me at Otto's nightclub for the battle that will bring about the triumphant Fourth Reich," then machine-gun all the skinheads who came rushing in.

    Not in MY club you won't, ya commie bastard! :)

  • by David E. Smith ( 4570 ) on Sunday November 14, 1999 @09:03PM (#1533770)
    If you read the article, it refers to using digital morphing in a fairly specific manner, and one that is truly war-like.

    The old saying, "All's fair in love and war," isn't quite true. The Geneva Convention makes certain types of war effectively illegal (at least insofar as nobody's really in a position to enforce it), and it's there for a good reason.

    This refers to using digital morphing techniques in a clearly deceptive manner - say, to "announce" a cessation of hostilities, so $VILLAIN can launch a sneak attack on $GOODGUYS, catching them unprepared and making it an easy slaughter.

    War, like software development, is an imprecise art. But there are rules, and most of them are there for good reasons.

  • The whole point here I think, is that if some country does this, and gets another's troops to surrender, thinking that a treaty, ceasefire, or armistice has been signed, then in the future, such proclamations, when true, will not be believed, and it will be difficult to stop wars.

    By the way, if a future war on the scale of the Gulf War were carried out, in a modern internet connected country, I think it would immediately isolate it's networks, 1) To prevent information leakage and 2) To control information given to the populace as well as 3) To prevent cracking attacks.
  • by Roundeye ( 16278 ) on Sunday November 14, 1999 @09:07PM (#1533776) Homepage
    You could probably commit a war crime with turnips, too.

    Certainly... Gen. Evil Criminal sends a an encrypted message carved into a turnip to his trusted Lieutenant ordering the killing of all held prisoners of war.

    bonus question: if Gen. Evil Criminal mails the turnip from Washington, D.C. to his Lieutenant in Libya is he in violation of the munitions regulations controlling the export of strong cryptography (assume the turnip contains a 3DES encrypted message)?

  • by Q*bert ( 2134 ) on Sunday November 14, 1999 @09:10PM (#1533777)
    So much for my brilliant secret plot! I was going to broadcast an image of Hitler saying, "I return! Join me at Otto's nightclub for the battle that will bring about the triumphant Fourth Reich," then machine-gun all the skinheads who came rushing in. Oh, well, now I'll just have to think of something even more insidious.

    Vovida, OS VoIP
    Beer recipe: free! #Source
    Cold pints: $2 #Product

  • The crime would then be impersonation of a head of state. Not computer morphing. Computer morphing /itself/ cannot be a war crime (or actual any crime of any sort...I should be able to play around with any picture so long as I'm not trying to impersonate, or hurt anything)
  • by Roundeye ( 16278 ) on Sunday November 14, 1999 @09:12PM (#1533789) Homepage
    extra credit:
    (a) if the turnip uses RSA instead of 3DES how many U.S. laws has the general broken (assume he is considered a visiting diplomat).
    (b) for which of these crimes may he claim "diplomatic immunity"?
    (c) if the Lieutenant eats the turnip is this destruction of evidence?
    (d) ... and if the turnip contains cyanide is the Lieutenant's death murder, homicide, an act of war...?

    (f)Have I had too many beers?

  • The US military is very, very interested in information warfare. They would love not only to block enemy communications, but issue false orders. The ultimate "cyberwar" trick would be to take control of the head of state's communications channels and send false orders to the troops (or better yet, manipulate public opinion to bring a hostile country to a grinding halt or prevent a dangerous leader from being elected). I'm sure they're really bummed out that they're not allowed to do so.

    Basically, I think they got together a group of experts in international law and asked them "How much can we get away with?" After all, they need to know what they can admit to in public...

Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.