In February 2003, President George W. Bush announced plans to develop national-level guidance to assess when and how the U.S. would launch computer network attacks against an adversary’s computer systems, because such attacks could cause considerable retaliation.
A controversial issue for the U.S. Congress has been that any cyber attack response by the U.S. military could be viewed by other nations as an unprovoked first strike against a targeted terrorist group. Moreover, the use of cyber weapons by the U.S. could also be argued to exceed the customary rules of military conflict, known as the International Laws of War. Also, the effects of offensive cyber weapons could be difficult to limit; for there is, after all, the possibility that malicious code aimed against terrorist groups could accidentally infect large numbers of systems on the Internet. Thus, such a move could have the unintended effect of shutting down the critical infrastructure systems of countries friendly to the United States.
Wilson, C. CRS Report for Congress: Computer Attack and Cyberterrorism: Vulnerabilities and Policy Issues for Congress. [Online, October 17, 2003.] CRS Report Website. http://www.fas.org/irp/crs/RL32114.pdf.