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Meet the four-star general behind America's secret cyber-armies

The Week's Editorial Staff

A new Wired feature profiles General Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency and the man behind the country's legion of military hackers

You probably haven't heard of Keith Alexander, a four-star general who "few even in Washington would likely recognize." It's probably time you learned who Alexander is.

In a sprawling new feature spotlighting the United States' fearsome cyber-military, Wired reports that "never before has anyone in America's intelligence sphere come close to his degree of power, the number of people under his command, the expanse of his rule, the length of his reign, or the depth of his secrecy." Alexander — who belonged to the same West Point class as David Petraeus and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey — is the director of the National Security Agency, chief of the Central Security Service, and Commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, which grants him control of his own "secret military." And now, according to Wired's James Bamford, the United States' secret cyber forces are ready "to unleash hell" on the nation's enemies.

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The military has for years been developing offensive capabilities, giving it the power not just to defend the US but to assail its foes. Using so-called cyber-kinetic attacks, Alexander and his forces now have the capability to physically destroy an adversary's equipment and infrastructure, and potentially even to kill. Alexander — who declined to be interviewed for this article — has concluded that such cyberweapons are as crucial to 21st-century warfare as nuclear arms were in the 20th.

And he and his cyberwarriors have already launched their first attack.

Read the entire story at Wired.

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