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<nettime> Should Open SOurce Developers help the US prepare for War..???
. __ . on Thu, 27 Feb 2003 14:45:37 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Should Open SOurce Developers help the US prepare for War..???!

The idea is somehow absurd... but in the end it is open source, which
means that anybody should be allowed to use it... this is an important
regulative process for "official" power and helps keep the balance... even
if I can understand the problems with cryptographic software, like with
PGP, as pointed out in the article...

But in the end, if we abolish all the rights which are the fundament of
democracy, especially the privacy laws, then the terrorists would have won

What do you think?!





- By <http://roblimo.com>Robin 'Roblimo' Miller -

This article is based on an IRC interview with Anthony L. Awtrey, vice
president of <http://idealcorp.com/>I.D.E.A.L. Technology, who has worked
on some of the (Open Source-based) simulation software used to train
<http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/ac/uh-60.htm>Blackhawk helicopter
pilots, along with other projects that help the U.S. military prepare for
Iraq and <http://www.army.mil/vision/index.html>future combat missions.  
Some Linux and Free/Open Source developers
<http://www.student.wau.nl/~olivier/antiwar/>may not support current U.S.  
military goals in the Middle East, but Awtrey does -- and for very
personal reasons, as you'll see from his words, which NewsForge has edited
(very lightly) only for grammar and clarity, not for content.

Please note that Mr. Awtrey is speaking personally here rather than on
behalf of I.D.E.A.L. Technologies. For more about what he and others have
done with Open Source for the U.S. Department of Defense, please see this
link: <http://linuxworld.idealcorp.com/>LinuxWorld Conference & Expo

NewsForge: Some Free Software and GPL supporters (and many coders) are
virulently anti-war, and many are specifically against the U.S. invading
Iraq. One well-regarded project, <http://bluefish.openoffice.nl>Bluefish,
has a link on its site to an anti-war page. Could the use of popular GPL
and Free Software packages in what many people overseas view as the "U.S.  
War Machine" cause strife and dissension among Free Software developers?

Awtrey: I think the debate has caused strife and dissension in groups with
less cohesion than Free Software / Open Source groups have. The chance of
us avoiding some level of public debate on the issue seems unavoidable.

The war issue has an amazing ability to polarize opinion. There are people
with good hearts and good intentions on both sides. My wife was born in
Iraq and her family moved here to escape Saddam and the Baath party 30
years ago.

This makes the issue especially touchy around here.

She and her family hate Saddam. They have stories that would curl your
toes about him and his psychopathic offspring Uday. It is not uncommon for
people who make a quiet joke at a party on Friday to disappear with all
their family, including cousins, before the weekend is over. They have no
due process, they have no court to appeal to, the people are simply gone
and never come back.

NewsForge: I take it, then, that you and your wife have no problem with
the U.S. invading Iraq?

Awtrey: When people tell me that civilians will die in a war, I tell them
that Saddam has already spilled more Iraqi blood than any aggressor. He is
not a polite, reasonable man. He kills without thought. His son Uday rapes
little girls and chops off the heads of prostitutes on the street.

War or no war, this man needs killing like a rabid dog. And Iraq needs to
be free.

My wife, Hala, doesn't like George Bush Sr. or Jr. She remembers a time
when George Bush Sr. was at the CIA and paid Saddam during the war with
Iran. That war would be like a war between Florida and Georgia. Most of
the actual people of the countries are related in some way. Politics
aside, if there were a button she could push and kill just Saddam, she or
any member of her family would push it. It's a hard decision when you know
"the Iraqi people" as cousins, aunts, uncles, and have to risk them to
save the country in the long term. She doesn't want her family hurt any
more by anyone. Saddam is a little hurt every day, the war is a larger
hurt, but likely a shorter period of time. The devil you know? The devil
you don't?  It's a hard choice.

NewsForge:The problem -- to some -- with GPL-licensed software is the fact
that anyone can use it. How would you feel seeing some of your code used
by Saddam Hussein's people. Or Osama bin Laden's? Or by the Chinese
government to help prevent full Internet access?

Awtrey: No clear opinions yet.

I know there have been reports of them using PGP / GPG to encrypt
messages.  That has to give Phil Zimmermann the shivers sometimes. One of
the things life in America has taught me is that the words spoken by a
racist skinhead are just as important as the words I speak. It doesn't
mean I agree with them, it means that the right to speak is important, not
what is said. If Free Software is about Free Speech, then we have to suck
up the fact that people will use our code for things we don't agree with.
I don't agree with drug use, but that doesn't stop drug dealers from using
Apache or Mozilla or GPG. I can only state what I am for; peace, goodness,

I am with a crowd of people making statements. I hope that the sounds we
make together are mostly peace, goodness, truth when heard by others, but
all I can control is my own voice. 


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