Article:
  Soldiers Renege on Hackers
Subject:   Attention to detail
Date:   2003-04-21 11:08:00
From:   anonymous2
Hail:


Mr. Darwin's piece is an opinion article and therefore perhaps less subject to the rigors of sticking to the truth. The article starts off with a story of way back in the sixties and there in lies a problem.


I will quote from the opening of the article:


"Long before there was an agency called DARPA, there was a US Military with attitude. One day in the 1960's, a five-star general happened to be making a surprise inspection of computer systems deep under Cheyenne Mountain near Colorado Springs, CO. . . ."


The author implies that US DoD funding was cut to OpenBSD project because of statements in "The Globe and Mail" made by Theo de Raadt the OpenBSD leader.


In my opinion Mr. Darwin's piece highlights a problem common to most current writing about the military, sloppy understanding of the basics. In current [incorrect] parlance every warship becomes a battleship, members of the Marine Corps become solders, third class petty officers become naval officers, the crews manning ships become solders, all generals have five star rank and apparently every member of the military (current and former) is engaged in a plot or cover up.


When I see this kind of sloppy usage it causes me to suspect the other points an author is trying to make. If they can't get the easy stuff right why should I believe their conclusions about the hard stuff?


Oh in case you are wondering the last person to be appointed to Five Star rank in the US Military was General of the Army Bradley in 1950. By the 1960's the US five star Flag Officers were not active and it is highly unlikely that they would have been "making a surprise inspection of computer systems" anywhere.


As to Mr. Darwin's apparent point it is unlikely that a military officer made the decision to cut funding to the OpenBSD project, more likely is was some civilian in the US DoD looking for ways to stay on budget. Was that decision short sighted, probably; was it stupid, possibly; was it based on malicious intent to get even with Mr. de Raadt, unlikely (maybe highly unlikely).

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  • Ian F. Darwin photo Attention to detail
    2003-04-22 08:34:26  Ian F. Darwin | O'Reilly Author [View]

    The n-star general is an example of a common literary device known as hyperbole.

    As for whether the unkind cut was malice or budget, maybe the truth will out someday someday, or maybe not.