Fletcher in the News

When is a Cyberattack an Act of War? Prof. Michael Glennon Weighs In

The Washington Post

Michael Glennon is a Professor of International Law at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University.

On the night of Oct. 11, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta stood inside the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, housed in a former aircraft carrier moored at a New York City pier, and let an audience of business executives in on one of the most important conversations inside the U.S. government.

He warned of a “cyber Pearl Harbor,” evoking one of the most tragic moments in American history, when Japanese bombers unleashed a devastating surprise attack on a U.S. naval base in Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941, killing 2,402 Americans and wounding 1,282 more. President Franklin D. Roosevelt called it “a date which will live in infamy” as he asked Congress for a declaration of war. …

… Welcome to the new world of “drip, drip cyber attacks,” in the words of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy’s professor Michael J. Glennon. The nature of cyberspace, he says, creates the potential for “a mysterious airliner accident here, a strange power blackout there, incidents extending over months or years,” generally “with no traceable sponsorship.”

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