Mic Check: Electronic Pearl Habor meme-ing for the plutocracy

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Cyberterrorism at 2:21 pm by George Smith

“U.S. national security endangered by China’s army of hackers,” reads the subhed in an opinion piece a couple days ago at the WaTimes.

From old man author William Triplett III:

In November 1997, Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism that “we’re facing the possibility of an electronic Pearl Harbor. … There is going to be an electronic attack on this country some time in the future.??? Two years later, he told a secret session of the House Armed Services Committee, “We are at war – right now. We are in cyberwar.??? Fast-forward more than a decade, to 2011. President Obama’s choice for secretary of defense, Leon Panetta, tells the Senate Armed Services Committee at his confirmation hearing that the United States faces a possible “electronic Pearl Harbor.??? Mr. Panetta had been the CIA director for the previous two years – so he would have known.

Two extreme, nearly identical warnings 12 years apart should have brought home the magnitude of the electronic threat facing the country.

From way back in November 1999, William Triplett III, pimping a book on the Red Chinese menace, in the pages of the Washington Times, taken from the old Crypt Newsletter archive on “electronic Pearl Harbor:”

The Washington Times is what Congressmen, particularly Republicans, read regularly before work. As such, material in it is influential in decision-making.

This particular piece continues the current Zeitgeist thread in which mainland China is painted as a threat.

“It is essential to have an all-conquering offensive technology and to develop software and technology for Net offensives so as to be able to launch attacks and countermeasures on the Net, including information-paralyzing software, information-blocking software, and information-deception software,” Gertz quoted a Chinese military publication as stating. He neglects to mention that US Department of Defense print similar tripe fairly regularly — and have done so for most of the decade.

Pentagon “anonymoids” show up on schedule: “A senior Pentagon official said he was notified about the article, which has raised concerns among defense officials who see China’s information warfare capabilities as a potential threat to U.S. civilian infrastructures . . .”

An “expert,” “William Triplett, co-author of a new book on the PLA,” said: “All of this offensive-warfare talk, when China is not threatened by anyone, shows that the dragon is at the point where it doesn’t have to hide its claws.”

Then the scary hypothetical scenario of catastrophe is produced.

According to Triplett, by way of the Washington Times, “China could launch a devastating computer-run sabotage operation by attacking U.S. oil refineries, many of which are grouped closely together in areas of Texas, New Jersey and California.”

“A [Chinese] computer attacker could penetrate the electronic ‘gate’ that controls refinery operations and cause fires or toxic chemical spills . . . “

China has what appears to be a vigorous offensive/defensive hacking operation for the purposes of intelligence gathering. So does the United States.

What makes the “electronic Pearl Harbor” meme different now — although still risible — is its use in justifying defense-spending for those parts of the plutocracy many of us find most detestable.

Wall Street, high finance and, as targets mentioned by the WaTimes opinion piece: “DuPont, Johnson & Johnson, General Electric, RSA, Epsilon, NASDAQ and at least a dozen other firms.”

“Alan Paller, a security expert at the SAND [sic] Institute, observed, ‘The depth of the penetration is more than anybody is admitting,” it reads.

Actually, it’s the SANS Institute. Although SAND as in “to sandbag” is accidentally danger close.

File under durable meme, used solely for enrichment of a section from the 1 percent.


  1. stevelaudig said,

    November 17, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    we have an idea what the non-electronic pearl harbor looked liked but how would an electronic pearl harbor look any different than a typical day on wall street.

  2. DD said,

    November 17, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    Yeah — exactly. We’ve been Pearl Harbor’d daily for a long time.

  3. Mikey said,

    November 18, 2011 at 8:20 am

    Neologism! Now adding “anonymoid” to my vocabulary; much better in polite company that the previous universal contraction for “a senior official” which became ASO’L. Add the rest of the consonants to complete. Would you like to buy a vowel? ;-)

  4. George Smith said,

    November 18, 2011 at 8:22 am

    Hah. Good one.