American Elephants


The National Security Scandal by The Elephant's Child

ChineseNavy

I indulged in a little schadenfreude in the piece below, but Chinese computer-based attacks are a serious matter. Over the past year, the Defense Department and private cyber-security experts have stepped up accusations that the Chinese government is directly involved in cyber espionage against the U.S.

In February, a U.S. based cyber-security firm issued a report accusing a secret Chinese military unit in Shanghai of years of cyber-attacks against more than 140 companies, most of them American. They are using their cyber capabilities to collect intelligence against U.S. diplomatic, economic and defense programs, and the report warned that the skills needed for such espionage are similar to those needed to conduct cyber-warfare.

The report said China is modernizing its short-range ballistic missile force and acquiring greater numbers of medium-range missiles to increase the range at which it can conduct precision strikes against land targets and naval ships, including aircraft carriers directly from China’s shores. More plainly they are stealing classified data about our most sensitive weapons systems. The systems designs and technologies compromised by cyber-exploitation — the B-22 Osprey helicopter, the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, The Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile System, the Global Hawk drone, the Littoral Combat Ship, and the list goes on — and on.

Our response has been finger-wagging and mutual verbal warnings from Obama’s national security team that China had better stop this or we might do something.  We have, in the meantime invited the Chinese to join our 2014 Rim of the Pacific naval exercises, so they can get a closer look at our capabilities, I guess. A formal disinvitation should have been the immediate response to the Defense Science Board’s hacking report, as well as some firm talk.

The Obama administration doesn’t seem to have any strategy on how to deal with China, geo-politically, economically or militarily. Obama’s Pacific Pivot seems to be more of a smoke screen for drawing down our forces and abandoning our commitments in the Middle East. Obama wants the funds involved available to spend at home.



Awkward Conversations: Please Stop Stealing Our Secrets! by The Elephant's Child

There are some quotations that come quickly to mind, when observing politics: This one is from Sir Walter Scott’s Marmion  about the battle of Flodden Field in Northumberland in 1513 — border wars with Scotland. I heard a lot of Marmion at the dinner table when I was young. I think my father had to memorize vast quantities in prep school.

“Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”

Just when President Obama was going to have an important meeting with President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China, and perhaps have a little conversation about, um, cyber-hacking, and then it turned out to be right in the middle of the revelations of Obama’s cyber-hacking of Americans with the Prism program and cyber-hacking the nation’s telephone calls through Verizon.  Makes it a little awkward.

AP White House correspondent Julie Pace:

Thank you, Mr. President. How damaging has Chinese cyber-hacking been to the U.S.? And did you warn your counterpart about any specific consequences if those actions continue? And also, while there are obviously differences between China’s alleged actions and your government’s surveillance programs, do you think that the new NSA revelations undermine your position on these issues at all during these talks?

And President Xi, did you acknowledge in your talks with President Obama that China has been launching cyber attacks against the U.S.? Do you also believe that the U.S. is launching similar attacks against China? And if so, can you tell us what any of the targets may have been?

President Obama:

What both President Xi and I recognize is that because of these incredible advances in technology, that the issue of cybersecurity and the need for rules and common approaches to cybersecurity are going to be increasingly important as part of bilateral relationships and multilateral relationships. …

But I think it’s important, Julie, to get to the second part of your question, to distinguish between the deep concerns we have as a government around theft of intellectual property or hacking into systems that might disrupt those systems — whether it’s our financial systems, our critical infrastructure and so forth — versus some of the issues that have been raised around NSA programs.

Oh, schadenfreude of course. I just find it  — amusing.




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