PARIAH comes true! Send it to your friends!
US national computer security apparatchiks hit a new low
When you want to distract the media from Edward Snowden’s documents, restore the image of the NSA and relaunch cyberwar hype for the benefit of defense contractors, you do a show trial indictment of the Chinese.
You make sure it has no real weight and accuse five Chinese generals in a building in Shanghai of cyberspying and stealing corporate secrets from big US companies, and suggest they be handed over for a trial. Much for our amusement and greater merriment.
“The Justice Department said that the men were indicted on May 1 by a federal grand jury in Pennsylvania,” reads the New York Times.
Go Pennsylvania! Show the Chinese!
Now all us Americans who either have crap jobs or no jobs and are needing food stamps will know where to point the finger of blame: The Chinese army that is stealing our corporate secrets.
“[The government indictment and demands], however, were largely symbolic as the Chinese government, which said on Monday that the facts behind the charges were made up, is unlikely to turn them over,” continued the Times.
Later in the day, an analysis at the Times gets to the heart of the US dilemma (or hypocrisy, depending on your POV):
[The] Chinese have already rejected both the facts and the argument, and they used the revelations last year by the former National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden to press their response that the distinction between spying for commerce and spying for national security is a tiny one, and distinctly American.
Documents released by Mr. Snowden have revealed that the American government pried deep into the servers of Huawei, one of China’s most successful Internet and communications companies. The documents made clear that the N.S.A. was seeking to learn whether the company was a front for the People’s Liberation Army and whether it was interested in spying on American firms. But there was a second purpose: to get inside Huawei’s systems, and to use them as a conduit to spy on countries that buy its equipment around the world.
Huawei officials said they failed to understand how that differed in any meaningful way from what the United States has accused the Chinese of doing.
Naturally, US national security apparatchiks/very-important-people won’t have it.
However, when in their own company presumably some of the gang realize the problem they have created for themselves and that today’s action is unlikely to solve it in any meaningful way.
It also raises the prospect of tit-for-tat.
Indicting PLA generals on computer crimes puts pressure on other countries which may have agreements in place to detain foreign nationals accused of such crimes by the US when they pass through their territory.
These countries, and many others, may be partially or even entirely unenthusiastic about cooperating in such matters considering the damage done to the American reputation by the Snowden affair.
Knowing this, the Chinese, or any other country, might choose to indict an American general, such as the head of the NSA or the chief of Cyber Command, for actions revealed in the Snowden materials, for the development and dissemination of malware like Stuxnet, or any other intrusion it detects on the networks that its experts think or insist points to US operations.
In this way, the show trial held today could backfire in interesting ways in the next couple of years.
The US government has not come close to making a compelling case that Chinese stealing of American secrets has hurt the US economy. If the theft has, no economists of note have discerned it or even chosen to comment on the matter in their daily publishings on the state and progress of the national economy.
The statistics, or raw numbers of hacking intrusions and documents accessed in corporate America no matter how large, as reported by the media or selectively distributed for-special-eyes-only reports, do not make the case.
Paradoxically, it all comes down to matters of trust. How much trust is to be put into agencies which have worked to damage trusted networks?
Sherlock Holmes: Don’t you trust your own Secret Service?
Mycroft Holmes: Naturally not. They all spy on people for money.
— Sherlock, A Scandal in Belgravia
To keep things in perspective, from Krugman today:
By any normal standard, economic policy since the onset of the financial crisis has been a dismal failure.
Much of Mr. Geithner’s book is devoted to a defense of the U.S. financial bailout, which he sees as a huge success story — which it was, if financial confidence is viewed as an end in itself. Credit markets, which seized up after Lehman fell, mostly returned to normal during Mr. Geithner’s first year in office. Stock indexes rebounded, and have hit new records. Even subprime-backed securities — the infamous “toxic waste” that was poisoning the financial system — eventually regained a significant part of their value … [Tim Geithner] was, if you like, all for bailing out banks but against bailing out families.
And refusing to help families in debt, it turns out, wasn’t just unfair; it was bad economics. Wall Street is back, but America isn’t, and the double standard is the main reason.