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Belmont Club

The Attack of the Lawyers

May 19th, 2014 - 6:32 pm

And Caesar’s spirit, raging for revenge,
With Ate by his side come hot from hell,
Shall in these confines with a monarch’s voice
Cry “Havoc!” and let slip the lawyers of war

Ok, that’s not exactly what Shakespeare said in Act 3 of Julius Caesar, but that’s what Obama said to Holder. The president has unleashed the Justice Department on Beijing’s cyber-attackers.

Barely a month after the two countries agreed to work together on cybersecurity, China suspended cooperation with the U.S. on Monday after the Justice Department charged five Chinese military hackers with cyberespionage.

The “deliberately fabricated” charges put U.S.-Chinese relations in jeopardy, the Foreign Ministry said in a blisteringly worded statement that accuses the U.S. of its own “large-scale and organized cyber theft” in violation of international law.

In retaliation, it said, “China has decided to suspend activities of the China-US Cyber Working Group” — the high-level diplomatic initiative both countries agreed to in April to stop their war of words over allegations of government-sponsored hacking.

But even as both countries agreed to stop the public acrimony, the Justice Department was actually putting the finishing touches on “a multi-year investigation that began in Pennsylvania and reached all the way to Datong Road in Shanghai”. The accusations allege China stole “emails, technical documents and financial spreadsheets, Justice Department officials say. The alleged corporate victims include some straight from the U.S. heartland, several of them blue chip symbols of American industry, such as Alcoa, U.S. Steel and Westinghouse Electric.”

More pointedly, though, the indictments exposed the tip of what many U.S. officials consider to be the cyber-war iceberg. The Republican and Democratic leaders of the House Intelligence Committee charged Monday that “thousands of People’s Liberation Army (are) hackers working every day, at the behest of the Chinese government, to steal American trade secrets.”

The Chinese threat to counter-expose US efforts may involve Edward Snowden, whose last post was in Hong Kong. It is conjectured Snowden’s target, or at least the unit he worked with, was China. Now that Snowden is on the other side, he may have a tale or two to tell.  Moreover, the Daily Caller notes that Obama gratuitously took credit for deploying the Stuxnet worm when he wanted to appear gung-ho against Iran, itself a confession of offensive cyber-operations.

As many writers and politicians, Republican and Democrat, have noted, the Obama administration’s decision to take credit for Stuxnet will have serious and long-lasting effects on our national security. By publicly acknowledging the use of this program, the U.S. has given ammunition to adversaries who wish to use this technology against us. We’ve also let the enemy know what to expect and what we’re capable of. The moral high ground and plausible deniability are not petty things. Now that we’ve admitted to using a cyber weapon against Iran, what will we say to China or Russia when they use one against us? The line in the sand on government cyber warfare has been crossed, and there is no turning back.

For those who don’t find my argument convincing, I pose a simple question: What possible advantage was there to releasing this information? If, as the Obama administration claims, this information was already public knowledge, what did we gain by publicly confirming it?

What did he gain? Obama gained was polling points;  a bump in the news cycle.  China is more formidable than Iran, however and it may escalate  lawfare into cyberwarfare an area of struggle where the Pentagon’s legacy infrastructure and systems may prove vulnerable. Breaking Defense’s Colin Clark describes what is known about American weaknesses:

“We are certainly behind right now. We are chasing our adversary, for sure,” one of the Air Force’s top cyber warriors, Col. Dean Hullings, told an audience of about 350 here at the National Space Symposium‘s one-day cyber event.

Hullings, chief of Air Force Space Command’s cyber superiority division, said the US is behind countries he declined to name when I asked him later (OK, we all know it’s China and Russia and Israel and…) both in defense and in offense. This may be part of the reason recently retired Gen. Keith Alexander, former head of the National Security Agency and Cyber Command, poured so much money and passion into offensive cyber capabilities.

American institutions with their huge inventory of legacy systems may not be able to play the defensive game very well with their creaky architecture and politicized contracts. Think How do you defend that?

So military planners have opted to go on the offense. Tom Gjelten at the World Affairs Board has been tracking the offensive cyber-warfare trend. “Much of the cyber talk around the Pentagon these days is about offensive operations.”  The idea is US defense circles is that defense is a losing game. Only having superior attack capabilities can the US marshal its strengths.

The US Air Force was also signaling its readiness to go into cyber attack mode, announcing in August that it was looking for ideas on how “to destroy, deny, degrade, disrupt, deceive, corrupt, or usurp the adversaries [sic] ability to use the cyberspace domain for his advantage.”…

The growing interest in offensive operations is bringing changes in the cybersecurity industry. Expertise in patching security flaws in one’s own computer network is out; expertise in finding those flaws in the other guy’s network is in. Among the “hot jobs” listed on the career page at the National Security Agency are openings for computer scientists who specialize in “vulnerability discovery.” Demand is growing in both government and industry circles for technologists with the skills to develop ever more sophisticated cyber tools, including malicious software—malware—with such destructive potential as to qualify as cyberweapons when implanted in an enemy’s network. “Offense is the biggest growth sector in the cyber industry right now,” says Jeffrey Carr, a cybersecurity analyst and author of Inside Cyber Warfare.

But offense in principle bothers the left, who say America should concentrate on cyber-protection instead of preparing for an informational “first strike”.  The NSA comes in for the worst denunciation.

Not surprisingly, the National Security Agency—buying through defense contractors—may well be the biggest customer in the vulnerability market, largely because it pays handsomely. The US military’s dominant presence in the market means that other possible purchasers cannot match the military’s price. “Instead of telling Google or Mozilla about a flaw and getting a bounty for two thousand dollars, researchers will sell it to a defense contractor like Raytheon or SAIC and get a hundred thousand for it,” says Soghoian, now the principal technologist in the Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at the American Civil Liberties Union and a prominent critic of the zero-day market. “Those companies will then turn around and sell the vulnerability upstream to the NSA or another defense agency. They will outbid Google every time.”

The ACLU has accused the NSA of preparing for offensive cyber-war and creating a “national security state”, singling out Keith Alexander for particular opprobrium:

Americans tend to gravitate toward personal explanations. James Bamford, the author of several important books and articles on the NSA, recently published a piece in Wired focusing on General Keith Alexander and the growth of a US capacity for offensive cyberwar. Of Alexander Bamford writes,

Never before has anyone in America’s intelligence sphere come close to his degree of power, the number of people under his command, the expanse of his rule, the length of his reign, or the depth of his secrecy. A four-star Army general, his authority extends across three domains: He is director of the world’s largest intelligence service, the National Security Agency; chief of the Central Security Service; and commander of the US Cyber Command. As such, he has his own secret military, presiding over the Navy’s 10th Fleet, the 24th Air Force, and the Second Army.

Rebounding off the NSA scandal, Podesta and Sunstein are at the tip of a burgeoning movement to regulate data security. The EU with its divisions of intellectuals and lawyers also want to put the crimp on “our bad guys”. Podesta in particular is seeking sweeping new powers to regulate data and data access. In his White House blog Podesta describes his plans:

In January, President Obama asked me to lead a wide-ranging review of “big data” and privacy—to explore how these technologies are changing our economy, our government, and our society, and to consider their implications for our personal privacy. Together with Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, the President’s Science Advisor John Holdren, the President’s Economic Advisor Jeff Zients, and other senior officials, our review sought to understand what is genuinely new and different about big data and to consider how best to encourage the potential of these technologies while minimizing risks to privacy and core American values. …

One significant finding of our review was the potential for big data analytics to lead to discriminatory outcomes and to circumvent longstanding civil rights protections in housing, employment, credit, and the consumer marketplace. … To that end, we make six actionable policy recommendations in our report to the President … Pass National Data Breach Legislation … Expand Technical Expertise to Stop Discrimination … We also identify several broader areas ripe for further study, debate, and public engagement that, collectively, we hope will spark a national conversation about how to harness big data for the public good.

Quite a cast of characters, that review team. And they’ve come up a framework with built in masks to stop inconvenient data from emerging.  It’s a blueprint for a permanent Democratic majority. No one who reads Podesta’s blog can avoid thinking that while Holder may be charging the Chinese, it is only as preparation for charging Americans.

However Beijing is unlikely to be intimidated by Holder’s lawyers and is likely to answer with increased cyberwar. America must at this juncture think clearly about the cyber-security issue. It must grapple with hard issues because the public is clearly in a squeeze play. On the one hand it is important to protect America against foreign cyber-attack. But on the other hand, every little bit of power that is given to the watchdogs creates another kind of danger.

To what extent will lawfare make everyone safer? To what degree will it hold back the Russians, who seemed to care not a whit for laws in Ukraine? Now that Obama has fired his legal broadsie at Beijing,  we can only await their response.  That response is unlikely to come in the registered mail.

No plan survives contact with the foe. Surely it is fair to ask Obama: if you’re fighting China, what’s the plan? And more important, who’s the enemy?

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Top Rated Comments   
There is nothing left that can be taken at face value. If the regime does it, it can be assumed to have "wheels-within-wheels rolling merrily along a Möbius strip" aspects to it. We know that the regime is essentially anti-American. We know Democrats are tied to the Chinese government [who financed Bill Clinton's campaign, remember Charlie Trie, Johnny Chung, John Huang, and James Riady amongst others funneling Chinese money into his re-election? Followed by sales of US missile technology to China.] We have long known that the Chinese have armies of hackers attacking us. For that matter, we know that the NSA has armies of hackers attacking us to the exclusion of any more traditional foreign threats to the country.

If we have been forced to think and live like inhabitants of more openly totalitarian countries; a certain paranoia is not unfitting.

Dezhinformatzia and Maskirova are integral to all government operations in that world. If the Chinese PLA is being cast as a dangerous opponent, it behooves us to wonder if in fact they are not working closely with the regime.

Let us ponder what would be the benefit of a deniable but obviously Chinese cyber attack on the US. At what point would it justify declaring a state of emergency under any of the hundreds of emergency powers that can be called out? These have existed since the Cold War. Things like the McCarran Internal Security Act of 1950 all the way to the powers Homeland Security can claim. Or a simple hacking of American electoral software that might make an election "just impossible" so they would be postponed until conditions allow.

Such is the Brave New World we have been forced to live in. One where the formerly impossible must be considered as a possibility, if not weighed as a serious probability.

Thank you TWANLOC. Your kindnesses will not go unrewarded.

Subotai Bahadur
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
We could could pay China to employ the PJM Webhosting service, and bring their entire cyberstructure to a halt.
40 weeks ago
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“In retaliation, it said, “China has decided to suspend activities of the China-US Cyber Working Group” “

Great now how is Obama going to give away US Cyber War secrets? Well, it shouldn't be too hard fortunately, US defense and high tech companies are big on credentials and are chocked full of Chinese, Pakastani, Indian, and Iranian nationals.

I once talked to some people who worked for a division of Hughes who made IR cameras and optics. They sold the division to a Japanese company and the new management was running copiers into the night bagging up the all of the IP before the ink had dried. China is probably the biggest producer of routers and related equipment and have the advantage of architecting the chips, growing their own silicon, and making their own ICs as well as the firmware to operate it. But it is OK. We are a service industry now so either you are in government, education, medicine, hospitality, a lawyer or a pizza delivery man.

Speaking of lawyers, I work at a small subsidiary of a large corporation. While participating in a forum that discusses some of the fine points of ASME standards one of the participants turned out to work for a division of the company I am with and we have some open work orders for them doing some machine design. I back channeled with the guy and he was going to share some documentation standards that he'd been working on.

One last detail, he asked his legal department if it was OK. Well guess what? It wasn't. The lawyer was worried that the information that we exchanged might might contain “proprietary" information of the standards organization. That's OK though, I understood his real job is to keep standard best practices from being shared in the US while they are shared freely around the world.

You see, these standards are like a language and are like agreeing what the word “is” means. Manufacturers, suppliers and end users all benefit from a common language but it was easier for the lawyer to stop inter-company cooperation than it was to say yes.

“The accusations allege China stole “emails, technical documents and financial spreadsheets, Justice Department officials say. “

But don't worry, the NSA only spies on the American people for purposes of Homeland Security I can imagine them saying. The whole 'foreign counter-intelligence' thing is just a sham.

I remember a briefing sometime after the “end” of the cold war. It said something to the effect, “now that we are all friends, everything is migrating over to industrial espionage, so business as usual”. And even a fool could see how that was going to work out. China and Russia are populated with nationalists and the US is populated with diversity-ists. Our cyber warfare opponents do not allow foreign nationals the keys to the kingdom and here in the US they do thinking they can turn them and be heroes for doing so. The US is addicted to foreign labor just not always the best and brightest nor the most loyal.

So fix our vulnerabilities the FCC under the direction of the NSA is creating choke points in the WWW so that it will be easier to surveil and easier to defend like the closely parked aircraft of Hickam Field. And just like trashing the old economy so that a new greener one might emerge we are dumping our control of the WWW so that we fight the inequality of too much strength. Obama takes every other persons self interest as an affront to his own narcissism and the end result of that we be a two front war. The government against its citizenry and its back against everyone else.

Sorry for the longish post.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (72)
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In California's Central Valley, VDH notices all the illegals around him getting free Healthcare in the hospital, while veterans around the country are left to die at home.

Steyn likes John McCain's idea:

A Veterans Healthcare Card which would be valid at any hospital.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
VDH Watch:
The Unforgiving Moment
Life is turned upside down in a nanosecond.
This weekend I missed my first posting at PJ Media since beginning in 2006.

Why? Let me briefly explain the lapse — if I can be forgiven for comparing a bike accident with what I have seen on the farm the last 50 years (sliced off fingers, crushed legs, herbicide poisonings, manifold burns, etc.).
In nearly ten years of rides, I have had some scrapes but only two bad spills (a homeless person once jumped out from the bushes on a Santa Rosa bike path; I swerved to miss him and ended up going over the handlebars: slight concussion; broken shoulder, three ribs, and collar bone. I was also attacked and knocked flat once by a pack of dogs with no licenses, shots, or English-speaking owners). So we must be doing something carefully, for our sixtyish group of three or four to usually avoid problems.

I lead a yearly tour on May 17th, so usually quit riding one week ahead, just in case. Friday morning was to be last ride until I came back on May 30.

About four-fifths of the way home, suddenly the front wheel locked and I woke up about 15 seconds later with my face on the pavement. Four hours later at the emergency room I discovered that I had four ruined teeth (three shaved off, one split down the middle into the root), a concussion, a broken nose, 65 stitches for facial and gum lacerations, and a sliced-apart lower lip (with broken teeth shards sticking into my upper lip).

What happened? Apparently a hairline fissure around the carbon bike fork failed, and the fork bent and locked up the front wheel without warning. (Yes, I know I should inspect the bike thoroughly each time I get on, but the crack was invisible.)

Seven days after falling, I am leaving for Europe and the tour this week, a bit dizzy, fearful that my ogre-like appearance will turn off audiences. I’ve been getting out of bed to rush off to various doctors to extract a split abscessing tooth, do a bone graft, grind off jagged teeth points that have lacerated my tongue, have stitches removed, etc. — and feel both foolish and very lucky. I had a jammed neck and was a bit disorientated, suggesting to the ER staff a fracture and perhaps serious neck problems. But the CT scan came back normal. After sitting under bags of ice and gobs of Neosporin ointment the last five days, I have reflected on the unforgiving moment that changes everything.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
40 weeks ago
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A neighbor once visited me in the hospital and remarked how lucky I was.
(He had driven a CAT for decades)
I thought he was nuts.

It took years for me to admit what he knew:
If the snapped steel hook had gone through my face one half inch nearer to my brain, I would have joined my bretheren in one of the two afterlives.

Farm Injury Statistics:
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hey my last comment disappeared - it was adjacent to one of those stupid ads.

Oh look, it just reappeared. Nevermind.

PJMedia having trouble syncing multiple servers?
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Having a little meltdown in Libya now, are we? Lawyers running like rats?
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Is it possible to claim Moral Authority if one doesn't have any morals? The cast of "No Character" characters Richard lists are all self obsessed power mongers. Will 'Mong' for power. Low rent grifters, bullies who own suits. And all too often, law degrees. What has worked in the past, Sue! Expose dirt, under the rubric of 'the Right' to Know! Shall heretofore and henceforth always work for Us. Not The US. Us. We, the special peoples.

Hard men play for power around the world. They don't play to tie. They don't always play nice. Law is a tool to them. Stalin and his Nomenklatura were all about the Law. And Death. Lots of Death. Chi comms? Subtle variations. But Death. Our cast of Characters? Death. Sort of. Of the Republic, for starters.

Whatever MacGuffin they come up with, for the day, because the Narrative is a hungry Mistress, is the important thing. Fighting Discriminations! wherever, whenever they see it.

Obama wants a distraction, a deal of some sorts, with the Chinese. At the expense of our America. I am sure the Top Men are working on the Drone Strike!! plan of the Chinese Five to back up his awesomenesses. Top Men.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Speaking of lawfare against domestic targets:

Once again, this administration is circumventing both Congress and the will of the people to have their way.

Buy your guns now folks, even if you're in a 2nd Amendment state like I am. My neighbors voted in Terry McCauliffe as our new dict . . . err . . . governor, and he's taking his "governing" cues from Obama himself.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
I don't recall any enormously costly efforts to attract Chinese manufacturers to the US mainland to build (easily infiltrated) factories for cars, or electronics or aircraft parts.

I don't recall seeing new aircraft or weapons roll-outs in America where the Chinese thought the "product" being displayed looked alarmingly familiar.

I don't recall news stories about Chinese military weapons and aircraft being updated or repaired with bogus/knockoff circuitry or parts from the US.

We have been set up for at least 30 years with democrat campaign contributions paid back with industrial and military espionage access.

I do recall a time when Washington read Tom Clancy and enjoyed his work, while at the same time running the traps on his strategies and tactics. And he worked with and greatly respected the military. (Though no one considered that the conclusion of "Debt of Honor" could be played out by Middle Eastern Muslims instead of Japanese Shintos.)

I have read the latest Tom Clancy (co-written) books with amusement and horror as they are played out in near-real time. Chinese cyber-war is but one battle tactic in the books that was happening as the writing was happening.

As Washington and the military has turned more Left in the last couple of decades, no one there reads Clancy anymore.
40 weeks ago
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0h look...A cybersquirrel!
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well we all know that it is better to be a service economy instead of an economy that produces things of value.

With the threat of cyber warfare it is a good thing that the latest dog in heat is "cloud computing". You see, it is better to store your data through the wires of your ISP's and bounce through few dozen routers on a system that there is a war going on. I mean look at the alternative, store your data and applications on your own computer so you have access even if you're off the grid? No way. You got to be on the grid. How can you trust yourself with your own computer, your own software, and your own data? /s
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
I trust Google more than I trust my "self."
(Consult the Cloud for details)
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Get your head outta the clouds...
40 weeks ago
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"American institutions with their huge inventory of legacy systems may not be able to play the defensive game very well with their creaky architecture and politicized contracts. Think How do you defend that?"

My only question is, "WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO??"
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
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