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TUCoPS :: Wetware Hacking :: Others :: mindhack.txt

Mind hacking - possibly paranoid article on military application


Mr. Timothy L. Thomas 

Foreign Military Studies Office, Fort Leavenworth, KS. 

"It is completely clear that the state which is first to create such
weapons will achieve incomparable superiority." -- Major I. Chernishev,
Russian army[1] 

The human body, much like a computer, contains myriad data processors.
They include, but are not limited to, the chemical-electrical activity
of the brain, heart, and peripheral nervous system, the signals sent
from the cortex region of the brain to other parts of our body, the tiny
hair cells in the inner ear that process auditory signals, and the
light-sensitive retina and cornea of the eye that process visual
activity.[2] We are on the threshold of an era in which these data
processors of the human body may be manipulated or debilitated. Examples
of unplanned attacks on the body's data-processing capability are
well-documented. Strobe lights have been known to cause epileptic
seizures. Not long ago in Japan, children watching television cartoons
were subjected to pulsating lights that caused seizures in some and made
others very sick. 

Defending friendly and targeting adversary data-processing capabilities
of the body appears to be an area of weakness in the US approach to
information warfare theory, a theory oriented heavily toward systems
data-processing and designed to attain information dominance on the
battlefield. Or so it would appear from information in the open,
unclassified press. This US shortcoming may be a serious one, since the
capabilities to alter the data- processing systems of the body already
exist. A recent edition of U.S. News and World Report highlighted
several of these "wonder weapons" (acoustics, microwaves, lasers) and
noted that scientists are "searching the electromagnetic and sonic
spectrums for wavelengths that can affect human behavior."[3] A recent
Russian military article offered a slightly different slant to the
problem, declaring that "humanity stands on the brink of a psychotronic
war" with the mind and body as the focus. That article discussed Russian
and international attempts to control the psycho-physical condition of
man and his decisionmaking processes by the use of VHF-generators,
"noiseless cassettes," and other technologies.

An entirely new arsenal of weapons, based on devices designed to
introduce subliminal messages or to alter the body's psychological and
data-processing capabilities, might be used to incapacitate individuals.
These weapons aim to control or alter the psyche, or to attack the
various sensory and data-processing systems of the human organism. In
both cases, the goal is to confuse or destroy the signals that normally
keep the body in equilibrium. 

This article examines energy-based weapons, psychotronic weapons, and
other developments designed to alter the ability of the human body to
process stimuli. One consequence of this assessment is that the way we
commonly use the term "information warfare" falls short when the
individual soldier, not his equipment, becomes the target of attack. 

Information Warfare Theory and the Data-Processing Element of Humans 

In the United States the common conception of information warfare
focuses primarily on the capabilities of hardware systems such as
computers, satellites, and military equipment which process data in its
various forms. According to Department of Defense Directive S-3600.1 of
9 December 1996, information warfare is defined as "an information
operation conducted during time of crisis or conflict to achieve or
promote specific objectives over a specific adversary or adversaries."
An information operation is defined in the same directive as "actions
taken to affect adversary information and information systems while
defending one's own information and information systems." These
"information systems" lie at the heart of the modernization effort of
the US armed forces and other countries, and manifest themselves as
hardware, software, communications capabilities, and highly trained
individuals. Recently, the US Army conducted a mock battle that tested
these systems under simulated combat co nditions.

US Army Field Manual 101-5-1, Operational Terms and Graphics (released
30 September 1997), defines information warfare as "actions taken to
achieve information superiority by affecting a hostile's information,
information based-processes, and information systems, while defending
one's own information, information processes, and information systems."
The same manual defines information operations as a "continuous military
operation within the military information environment that enables,
enhances, and protects friendly forces' ability to collect, process, and
act on information to achieve an advantage across the full range of
military operations. [Information operations include] interacting with
the Global Information Environment . . . and exploiting or denying an
adversary's information and decision capabilities."[4] 

This "systems" approach to the study of information warfare emphasizes
the use of data, referred to as information, to penetrate an adversary's
physical defenses that protect data (information) in order to obtain
operational or strategic advantage. It has tended to ignore the role of
the human body as an information- or data-processor in this quest for
dominance except in those cases where an individual's logic or rational
thought may be upset via disinformation or deception. As a consequence
little attention is directed toward protecting the mind and body with a
firewall as we have done with hardware systems. Nor have any techniques
for doing so been prescribed. Yet the body is capable not only of being
deceived, manipulated, or misinformed but also shut down or
destroyed--just as any other data-processing system. The "data" the body
receives from external sources--such as electromagnetic, vortex, or
acoustic energy waves--or creates through its own electrical or chemical
stimuli can be manipulated or changed just as the data (information) in
any hardware system can be altered.

The only body-related information warfare element considered by the
United States is psychological operations (PSYOP). In Joint Publication
3-13.1, for example, PSYOP is listed as one of the elements of command
and control warfare. The publication notes that "the ultimate target of
[information warfare] is the information dependent process, whether
human or automated . . . . Command and control warfare (C2W) is an
application of information warfare in military operations. . . . C2W is
the integrated use of PSYOP, military deception, operations security,
electronic warfare and physical destruction."[5] 

One source defines information as a "nonaccidental signal used as an
input to a computer or communications system."[6] The human body is a
complex communication system constantly receiving nonaccidental and
accidental signal inputs, both external and internal. If the ultimate
target of information warfare is the information-dependent process,
"whether human or automated," then the definition in the joint
publication implies that human data-processing of internal and external
signals can clearly be considered an aspect of information warfare.
Foreign researchers have noted the link between humans as data
processors and the conduct of information warfare. While some study only
the PSYOP link, others go beyond it. As an example of the former, one
recent Russian article described offensive information warfare as
designed to "use the Internet channels for the purpose of organizing
PSYOP as well as for `early political warning' of threats to American
interests."[7] The author's assertion was based on the fact that "all
mass media are used for PSYOP . . . [and] today this must include the
Internet." The author asserted that the Pentagon wanted to use the
Internet to "reinforce psychological influences" during special
operations conducted outside of US borders to enlist sympathizers, who
would accomplish many of the tasks previously entrusted to special units
of the US armed forces.

Others, however, look beyond simple PSYOP ties to consider other aspects
of the body's data-processing capability. One of the principal open
source researchers on the relationship of information warfare to the
body's data-processing capability is Russian Dr. Victor Solntsev of the
Baumann Technical Institute in Moscow. Solntsev is a young,
well-intentioned researcher striving to point out to the world the
potential dangers of the computer operator interface. Supported by a
network of institutes and academies, Solntsev has produced some
interesting concepts.[8] He insists that man must be viewed as an open
system instead of simply as an organism or closed system. As an open
system, man communicates with his environment through information flows
and communications media. One's physical environment, whether through
electromagnetic, gravitational, acoustic, or other effects, can cause a
change in the psycho-physiological condition of an organism, in
Solntsev's opinion. Change of this sort could directly affect the mental
state and consciousness of a computer operator. This would not be
electronic war or information warfare in the traditional sense, but
rather in a nontraditional and non-US sense. It might encompass, for
example, a computer modified to become a weapon by using its energy
output to emit acoustics that debilitate the operator. It also might
encompass, as indicated below, futuristic weapons aimed against man's
"open system."

Solntsev also examined the problem of "information noise," which creates
a dense shield between a person and external reality. This noise may
manifest itself in the form of signals, messages, images, or other items
of information. The main target of this noise would be the consciousness
of a person or a group of people. Behavior modification could be one
objective of information noise; another could be to upset an
individual's mental capacity to such an extent as to prevent reaction to
any stimulus. Solntsev concludes that all levels of a person's psyche
(subconscious, conscious, and "superconscious") are potential targets
for destabilization. 

According to Solntsev, one computer virus capable of affecting a
person's psyche is Russian Virus 666. It manifests itself in every 25th
frame of a visual display, where it produces a combination of colors
that allegedly put computer operators into a trance. The subconscious
perception of the new pattern eventually results in arrhythmia of the
heart. Other Russian computer specialists, not just Solntsev, talk
openly about this "25th frame effect" and its ability to subtly manage a
computer user's perceptions. The purpose of this technique is to inject
a thought into the viewer's subconscious. It may remind some of the
subliminal advertising controversy in the United States in the late

US Views on "Wonder Weapons": Altering the Data-Processing Ability of
the Body 

What technologies have been examined by the United States that possess
the potential to disrupt the data-processing capabilities of the human
organism? The 7 July 1997 issue of U.S. News and World Report described
several of them designed, among other things, to vibrate the insides of
humans, stun or nauseate them, put them to sleep, heat them up, or knock
them down with a shock wave.[9] The technologies include dazzling lasers
that can force the pupils to close; acoustic or sonic frequencies that
cause the hair cells in the inner ear to vibrate and cause motion
sickness, vertigo, and nausea, or frequencies that resonate the internal
organs causing pain and spasms; and shock waves with the potential to
knock down humans or airplanes and which can be mixed with pepper spray
or chemicals.[10] 

With modification, these technological applications can have many uses.
Acoustic weapons, for example, could be adapted for use as acoustic
rifles or as acoustic fields that, once established, might protect
facilities, assist in hostage rescues, control riots, or clear paths for
convoys. These waves, which can penetrate buildings, offer a host of
opportunities for military and law enforcement officials. Microwave
weapons, by stimulating the peripheral nervous system, can heat up the
body, induce epileptic-like seizures, or cause cardiac arrest.
Low-frequency radiation affects the electrical activity of the brain and
can cause flu-like symptoms and nausea. Other projects sought to induce
or prevent sleep, or to affect the signal from the motor cortex portion
of the brain, overriding voluntary muscle movements. The latter are
referred to as pulse wave weapons, and the Russian government has
reportedly bought over 100,000 copies of the "Black Widow" version of

However, this view of "wonder weapons" was contested by someone who
should understand them. Brigadier General Larry Dodgen, Deputy Assistant
to the Secretary of Defense for Policy and Missions, wrote a letter to
the editor about the "numerous inaccuracies" in the U.S. News and World
Report article that "misrepresent the Department of Defense's
views."[12] Dodgen's primary complaint seemed to have been that the
magazine misrepresented the use of these technologies and their value to
the armed forces. He also underscored the US intent to work within the
scope of any international treaty concerning their application, as well
as plans to abandon (or at least redesign) any weapon for which
countermeasures are known. One is left with the feeling, however, that
research in this area is intense. A concern not mentioned by Dodgen is
that other countries or non-state actors may not be bound by the same
constraints. It is hard to imagine someone with a greater desire than
terrorists to get their hands on these technologies. "Psycho-terrorism"
could be the next buzzword.

Russian Views on "Psychotronic War" 

The term "psycho-terrorism" was coined by Russian writer N. Anisimov of
the Moscow Anti-Psychotronic Center. According to Anisimov, psychotronic
weapons are those that act to "take away a part of the information which
is stored in a man's brain. It is sent to a computer, which reworks it
to the level needed for those who need to control the man, and the
modified information is then reinserted into the brain." These weapons
are used against the mind to induce hallucinations, sickness, mutations
in human cells, "zombification," or even death. Included in the arsenal
are VHF generators, X-rays, ultrasound, and radio waves. Russian army
Major I. Chernishev, writing in the military journal Orienteer in
February 1997, asserted that "psy" weapons are under development all
over the globe. Specific types of weapons noted by Chernishev (not all
of which have prototypes) were: 

A psychotronic generator, which produces a powerful electromagnetic
emanation capable of being sent through telephone lines, TV, radio
networks, supply pipes, and incandescent lamps. An autonomous generator,
a device that operates in the 10-150 Hertz band, which at the 10-20
Hertz band forms an infrasonic oscillation that is destructive to all
living creatures. A nervous system generator, designed to paralyze the
central nervous systems of insects, which could have the same
applicability to humans. Ultrasound emanations, which one institute
claims to have developed. Devices using ultrasound emanations are
supposedly capable of carrying out bloodless internal operations without
leaving a mark on the skin. They can also, according to Chernishev, be
used to kill. Noiseless cassettes. Chernishev claims that the Japanese
have developed the ability to place infra-low frequency voice patterns
over music, patterns that are detected by the subconscious. Russians
claim to be using similar "bomba rdments" with computer programming to
treat alcoholism or smoking. The 25th-frame effect, alluded to above, a
technique wherein each 25th frame of a movie reel or film footage
contains a message that is picked up by the subconscious. This
technique, if it works, could possibly be used to curb smoking and
alcoholism, but it has wider, more sinister applications if used on a TV
audience or a computer operator. Psychotropics, defined as medical
preparations used to induce a trance, euphoria, or depression. Referred
to as "slow-acting mines," they could be slipped into the food of a
politician or into the water supply of an entire city. Symptoms include
headaches, noises, voices or commands in the brain, dizziness, pain in
the abdominal cavities, cardiac arrhythmia, or even the destruction of
the cardiovascular system. There is confirmation from US researchers
that this type of study is going on. Dr. Janet Morris, coauthor of The
Warrior's Edge, reportedly went to the Moscow Institute of P
sychocorrelations in 1991. There she was shown a technique pioneered by
the Russian Department of Psycho-Correction at Moscow Medical Academy in
which researchers electronically analyze the human mind in order to
influence it. They input subliminal command messages, using key words
transmitted in "white noise" or music. Using an infra-sound, very low
frequency transmission, the acoustic psycho-correction message is
transmitted via bone conduction.[13]

In summary, Chernishev noted that some of the militarily significant
aspects of the "psy" weaponry deserve closer research, including the
following nontraditional methods for disrupting the psyche of an

ESP research: determining the properties and condition of objects
without ever making contact with them and "reading" peoples' thoughts
Clairvoyance research: observing objects that are located just beyond
the world of the visible--used for intelligence purposes Telepathy
research: transmitting thoughts over a distance--used for covert
operations Telekinesis research: actions involving the manipulation of
physical objects using thought power, causing them to move or break
apart--used against command and control systems, or to disrupt the
functioning of weapons of mass destruction Psychokinesis research:
interfering with the thoughts of individuals, on either the strategic or
tactical level While many US scientists undoubtedly question this
research, it receives strong support in Moscow. The point to underscore
is that individuals in Russia (and other countries as well) believe
these means can be used to attack or steal from the data-processing unit
of the human body. 

Solntsev's research, mentioned above, differs slightly from that of
Chernishev. For example, Solntsev is more interested in hardware
capabilities, specifically the study of the information-energy source
associated with the computer-operator interface. He stresses that if
these energy sources can be captured and integrated into the modern
computer, the result will be a network worth more than "a simple sum of
its components." Other researchers are studying high-frequency
generators (those designed to stun the psyche with high frequency waves
such as electromagnetic, acoustic, and gravitational); the manipulation
or reconstruction of someone's thinking through planned measures such as
reflexive control processes; the use of psychotronics, parapsychology,
bioenergy, bio fields, and psychoenergy;[14] and unspecified "special
operations" or anti-ESP training. 

The last item is of particular interest. According to a Russian TV
broadcast, the strategic rocket forces have begun anti-ESP training to
ensure that no outside force can take over command and control functions
of the force. That is, they are trying to construct a firewall around
the heads of the operators. 


At the end of July 1997, planners for Joint Warrior Interoperability
Demonstration '97 "focused on technologies that enhance real-time
collaborative planning in a multinational task force of the type used in
Bosnia and in Operation Desert Storm. The JWID '97 network, called the
Coalition Wide-Area Network (CWAN), is the first military network that
allows allied nations to participate as full and equal partners."[15]
The demonstration in effect was a trade fair for private companies to
demonstrate their goods; defense ministries got to decide where and how
to spend their money wiser, in many cases without incurring the cost of
prototypes. It is a good example of doing business better with less.
Technologies demonstrated included:[16] 

Soldiers using laptop computers to drag cross-hairs over maps to call in
airstrikes Soldiers carrying beepers and mobile phones rather than guns
Generals tracking movements of every unit, counting the precise number
of shells fired around the globe, and inspecting real-time damage
inflicted on an enemy, all with multicolored graphics[17] Every account
of this exercise emphasized the ability of systems to process data and
provide information feedback via the power invested in their
microprocessors. The ability to affect or defend the data-processing
capability of the human operators of these systems was never mentioned
during the exercise; it has received only slight attention during
countless exercises over the past several years. The time has come to
ask why we appear to be ignoring the operators of our systems. Clearly
the information operator, exposed before a vast array of potentially
immobilizing weapons, is the weak spot in any nation's military assets.
There are few internationa l agreements protecting the individual
soldier, and these rely on the good will of the combatants. Some
nations, and terrorists of every stripe, don't care about such

This article has used the term data-processing to demonstrate its
importance to ascertaining what so-called information warfare and
information operations are all about. Data-processing is the action this
nation and others need to protect. Information is nothing more than the
output of this activity. As a result, the emphasis on
information-related warfare terminology ("information dominance,"
"information carousel") that has proliferated for a decade does not seem
to fit the situation before us. In some cases the battle to affect or
protect data-processing elements pits one mechanical system against
another. In other cases, mechanical systems may be confronted by the
human organism, or vice versa, since humans can usually shut down any
mechanical system with the flip of a switch. In reality, the game is
about protecting or affecting signals, waves, and impulses that can
influence the data-processing elements of systems, computers, or people.
We are potentially the biggest victims of i nformation warfare, because
we have neglected to protect ourselves.

Our obsession with a "system of systems," "information dominance," and
other such terminology is most likely a leading cause of our neglect of
the human factor in our theories of information warfare. It is time to
change our terminology and our conceptual paradigm. Our terminology is
confusing us and sending us in directions that deal primarily with the
hardware, software, and communications components of the data-processing
spectrum. We need to spend more time researching how to protect the
humans in our data management structures. Nothing in those structures
can be sustained if our operators have been debilitated by potential
adversaries or terrorists who--right now--may be designing the means to
disrupt the human component of our carefully constructed notion of a
system of systems. 



1. I. Chernishev, "Can Rulers Make `Zombies' and Control the World?"
Orienteer, February 1997, pp. 58-62. 

2. Douglas Pasternak, "Wonder Weapons," U.S. News and World Report, 7
July 1997, pp. 38-46. 

3. Ibid., p. 38. 

4. FM 101-5-1, Operational Terms and Graphics, 30 September 1997, p.

5. Joint Pub 3-13.1, Joint Doctrine for Command and Control Warfare
(C2W), 7 February 1996, p. v. 

6. The American Heritage Dictionary (2d College Ed.; Boston: Houghton
Mifflin, 1982), p. 660, definition 4. 

7. Denis Snezhnyy, "Cybernetic Battlefield & National Security,"
Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye, No. 10, 15-21 March 1997, p. 2. 

8. Victor I. Solntsev, "Information War and Some Aspects of a Computer
Operator's Defense," talk given at an Infowar Conference in Washington,
D.C., September 1996, sponsored by the National Computer Security
Association. Information in this section is based on notes from Dr.
Solntsev's talk. 

9. Pasternak, p. 40. 

10. Ibid., pp. 40-46. 

11. Ibid. 

12. Larry Dodgen, "Nonlethal Weapons," U.S. News and World Report, 4
August 1997, p. 5. 

13. "Background on the Aviary," Nexus Magazine, downloaded from the
Internet on 13 July 1997 from, p.7. 

14. Aleksandr Cherkasov, "The Front Where Shots Aren't Fired,"
Orienteer, May 1995, p. 45. This article was based on information in the
foreign and Russian press, according to the author, making it impossible
to pinpoint what his source was for this reference. 

15. Bob Brewin, "DOD looks for IT `golden nuggets,'" Federal Computer
Week, 28 July 1997, p. 31, as taken from the Earlybird Supplement, 4
August 1997, p. B 17. 

16. Oliver August, "Zap! Hard day at the office for NATO's laptop
warriors," The Times, 28 July 1997, as taken from the Earlybird
Supplement, 4 August 1997, p. B 16. 

17. Ibid. 

Lieutenant Colonel Timothy L. Thomas (USA Ret.) is an analyst at the
Foreign Military Studies Office, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Recently he
has written extensively on the Russian view of information operations
and on current Russian military-political issues. During his military
career he served in the 82d Airborne Division and was the Department
Head of Soviet Military-Political Affairs at the US Army's Russian
Institute in Garmisch, Germany. 

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