A prominent military analyst believes the US government should recruit elite computer hackers instead of prosecuting them.
According to Professor John Arquillao of the Naval Postgraduate School, the hackers can be leveraged by the military the same way German rocket scientists were enlisted after the second world war.
"Let's just say that in some places you find guys with body piercings and non-regulation haircuts," Arquillao told the UK-based Guardian.
"But most of these sorts of guys can't be vetted in the traditional way. We need a new institutional culture that allows us to reach out to them."
Arquilla also criticized stringent anti-hacking laws, saying it "poisoned" relations between both sides.
"It's very, very troubling... [Frankly], I think it's ridiculous. They're trying to use deterrences that won't work," he explained.
"[Yet], This is huge human capital. They are the rangers of the cyber sphere. Most of them are drawn to it for its beauty and complexity [but] most of the hackers I have known would love to destroy al-Qaida."
Arquilla, who advised General Norman Schwarzkopf during the first Gulf War and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld during the second, estimates there are approximately 100 master hackers in the wild, with most hailing from Asia and Russia.
"Militaries often take time to adapt. Think world war one and generals using Waterloo tactics... We must create a new Bletchley Park. Detect, track, disrupt, that's the key. Back-hack so they don't know how we're doing it. And even if we can't do certain things, make them think we can. If we take the war to them we can win the network war," he added.