06.07.13

US cybersecurity leaks damage credibility … not that it had much

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism, Made in China at 3:49 pm by George Smith

The massive leaks on the Obama administration’s cyber-spying and cyberwar initiatives to the Guardian come at an incredibly damaging time for the President.

In the run-up to this week’s talk with Chinese premier Xi Jinping in California the US government carefully laid the stage with selective news leaking on rampant Chinese cyber-spying. The cyber-spying operation, it was claimed, was aimed at everything, from priceless corporate intellectual property to the Department of Defense’s most expensive weapons systems.

There was the creation of a stealth corporate national security lobbying agency called the Intellectual Property Commission, its aim to recommend how the nation could protect its business stuff and ideas from Chinese predation. Millions of jobs had been lost, it claimed, billions of dollar in profit made gone.

It has all been a carefully wrought publicity operation, a deliberate and studied massage of the media to get out a message, one to shame and embarrass China’s rulers.

That was never going to work.

And this week, someone — in cahoots with the Guardian, has leaked explosive material on the US government’s cyberspying and cyberwar activities. Turns out, it’s not particularly surprising the National Security Agency (NSA) has been into everyone’s stuff domestically, all in the name of the war on terror.

Moreover, it appears this release has been strategically timed to come just at a delicate time for the Obama administration. News would have filled with just more of the same on Chinese cyberespionage.

Now the news is filled with information on NSA snooping.

Truth be told, the US has been in terrible position to lecture people on proper conduct in cyberspace since releasing the Stuxnet virus into Iranian networks in an effort to physically damage its nuclear program.

It set off an escalating cyber-arms race. This, in turn, triggered retaliations against US networks and greased the black market for the hoarding and clandestine sale of security vulnerabilities.

And for what? What has the exceptional nation, the one that can say do what we recommend but we reserve the right to do as we please, achieved?

What has the scooping up of all this private data accomplished?

Terrorism just isnít that common in the US. The use of the biggest digital vacuuming operation in the world hasn’t accomplished much, looking at the black box from the outside.

For example, technically, the government would seem to have been able to sweep up all the on-line and credit card purchases of castor seeds as they happened or shortly after and, therefore, have had a database with the three latest perps in it.

But the FBI still went the wrong way a couple times, had to seize computers and finds the information within hours after descending on places. James Everett Dutschke, who bought on-line, was only identified after Paul Kevin Curtisí lawyer fingered him. And it was Shannon Richardson who summoned the FBI to New Boston, not credit card purchases of castor seeds.

Anyway, a couple years back Tim Weinerís history of the FBI, “Enemies,” mentioned the agency getting access to national e-mail through a program called Stellar Wind. It probably used the NSA as the technical collection means. This is more of the same. Only the names, data-mining software applications and corporate security contractors change.

More broadly, this is another issue where, if the national security megaplex can do something that means more for itself, it will do it.

The American people were never asked if they wanted everything about themselves in cyberspace and on the telephone shoved into a massive database, for the sake of safety during the war on terror. No one you know was consulted or asked for permission. It was just done.

And when you read the shock in some places on the net now, in this country anyway, you’re reading the opinions and feelings of the shoeshine upper middle class types who haven’t been sloughed off the US economy yet. They are so put out.

If you asked the people I see in the supermarket in Pasadena every evening about it (and I’ll be walking out to it in a few minutes), they wouldn’t know what’s being discussed. FISC? PRISM?

What’s NSA stand for?

They haven’t had the time or luxury to know. Their snooped-on smartphones are their connection to cyberspace and there’s not anything in this great mass of people that poses an existential national security threat.

So what does Keith Alexander make per year as the 4-star who’s head of the National Security Agency? He’s famously claimed that Chinese cyber-spying is resulting in the “greatest transfer of wealth in history.”

Who’s wealth, precisely?

It is fair game to discuss his compensation in relationship to these issues because nobody involved in this game is in the bottom three-quarters of the economic scorecard. The people implementing the mechanics of this kind of massive digital spying are all from the top, or employed in the national security servant class.

Alexander’s salary: somewhere between 230,000 and 290,000/year.

I don’t know anyone who makes that kind of money.

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