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Leaks include documents which raise serious questions about China's cyber-aggression

On Sunday the U.S. Congress and White House's reasons for backing Google so heartily in its conflict with the Chinese government over cyber-attacks and internet freedoms became much clearer.

A leaked U.S. diplomatic cable states:

A global computer hacking effort: China’s Politburo directed the intrusion into Google’s computer systems in that country, a Chinese contact told the American Embassy in Beijing in January, one cable reported. The Google hacking was part of a coordinated campaign of computer sabotage carried out by government operatives, private security experts and Internet outlaws recruited by the Chinese government. They have broken into American government computers and those of Western allies, the Dalai Lama and American businesses since 2002, cables said.

Silence Under Fire:  Why Didn't the U.S. Publicly Air its Suspicions?

If the information in the cable is to be believed, the central controlling body of China's government perpetrated what was perhaps the most serious online attack on a U.S. corporation in our nation's history.   The Politburo of the Communist Party of China, commonly referred to as the Politburo, is a 24-member council that controls China's most important decisions.

The cyber-attacks in question were dubbed "Operation Aurora" in the security community and occurred from mid-2009 through December 2009.  Their highest profile target was Google, who had its "secret recipe" -- its search engine source code -- stolen.  Other victims of the assault included Adobe Systems, Juniper Networks, Rackspace, Yahoo, Symantec, Northrop Grumman and Dow Chemical.

But if the U.S. government had strong evidence to believe that the Politburo masterminded the attack, why not just come out and say it, or take action?  

The answer is likely a combination of a complex set of factors.  First, China owns much of the U.S. government's debt obligations and is one of the largest trading partners of the U.S. commercial sector.  Economic action against the nation would be virtually infeasible.  Also, the U.S. is desperately seeking China's cooperation on a number of geopolitical issues including Korean stability, terrorism in the Middle East, and global warming.

The leaked cable is somewhat embarrassing to the U.S. government, regardless, given its relative inaction.  It will doubtless increase the East-West tension that exists between the two global superpowers.

And perhaps that's precisely what the perpetrators of this leak were hoping for.

Leaks: Preventing Wrongdoing, or Espionage?

It's little secret that 
Wikileaks, masterminded by convicted cyber-criminal Julian Assange, is no fan of the U.S. government.  Mr. Assange has accused the U.S. military of "murdering" innocent Afghani and Iraqi citizens.

Over 90 percent the documents aired since 2006 by 
Wikileaks targeted the U.S. or its Middle Eastern allies.  That percentage ballooned further on Sunday with the release of 251,287 leaked U.S. documents, of which the Google-related cables were part of.

A key topic of debate is whether this new leak was truly geared at preventing wrongdoing or represented an cyber-espionage attack against the U.S. 

The newly leaked documents indeed largely deal with the Middle East, which could lend some support to 
Wikileaks' claims.  On the other hand, documents like this one, while certainly fascinating for the light they cast on the inside of U.S. foreign policy, seem to have little effect on preventing military wrongdoing and are more likely to hurt the U.S. financially and diplomatically.

Mr. Assange in his early days in the hacking community was a vocal proponent of anarchy -- the philosophy that the world would be better off if its largest governments -- including the U.S. government -- collapsed.  The recent leaks, while damaging to the U.S. gov't and its diplomatic relationships, aren't likely damaging enough to achieve such a goal.  However, they are arguably Mr. Assange's most successful attack on the stability U.S. government yet.  And unlike past damage he inflicted on the U.S. government's credibility, this one seems to have a great deal of meat that has little to do with the war on terrorism.

Adrian Lamo -- the convicted ex-hacker who turned in Bradley Manning, the young soldier who leaked these documents -- condemned 
Wikileaks actions and called for the U.S. government to be more vigorous in pursuing charges against the leaks' masterminds, including Mr. Assange.

He writes in a press release:

Known co-conspirators reside in districts competent to arrest, prosecute, and punish these people for their involvement in one of the greatest breaches of trust in the history of our intelligence community.  [I]t would be irresponsible in the extreme for us to not use all the tools available to us in bringing them to justice.

Mr. Assange resides in Iceland, which has offered him protection from foreign charges.  He is currently wanted on an outstanding arrest warrant for unrelated sex crimes charges in Sweden.  

Wikileaks Taken Down

Wikleaks was coincidentally the target of a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack over the weekend.  While it's tempting to suspect that China or the U.S. governments were responsible for this effort, that ultimately seems less likely.  As 
Wikileaks aptly pointed out, it had already passed the cables to news efforts, so attempts to take down the site would not prevent their release.

As of 10 a.m. EST on Monday the site appeared to be up and responding normally to requests. 
Wikileaks is hosted by a worldwide collection of servers and is blocked in some nations, including China.



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This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: I'm certain many will die...
By Skywalker123 on 12/3/2010 2:01:20 AM , Rating: 1
Where to start? Ok here

"My point is that life doesn't matter as much till it's your butt that's on the line."

My point is that foreigners innocent lives don't matter, they're just "collateral damage".

There's nothing wrong with my sense of history,and it is skewed from the traditional American line. The "allegations" are inflammatory, yet true, and not disputed by anyone but American apologists. You deny we overthrew Mossadegh and installed the Shah? You deny we encouraged Saddam to attack Iran? You deny we shot down an Iranian airliner?
The U.S is actively trying to destabilize the Iranian govt and has since the Ayatollah came to power, and they don't give a crap about any democratic government, we already overthrew an elected Iranian govt in '56.
Crazy Ahmadinejad has never invaded another country, and he is not the power in Iran, he is more or less a figurehead, the Mullahs are the power in Iran.


RE: I'm certain many will die...
By ekv on 12/3/2010 3:17:40 PM , Rating: 3
Look, even if you are Shiite, I still probably wouldn't believe you. I can see you'd be afraid of admitting something. Maybe it's personal. I don't know. No, I wouldn't believe you because the Koran says it's ok to lie to infidels. The Bible is the antithesis of such.

My point is that your cynicism is just grotesque. In your mind foreign lives don't matter to US.

Your focus is on "the glass is half empty", and by this I mean that you see the US as the Great Satan. The US is the source of all evil in your eyes, but especially, "it is BUSH's fault". You can't get your little mind off the US long enough to realize Iran is spending over a hundred million on terrorist activities in the region. Do you think other Middle Eastern countries are not aware of this? Do you think sponsoring terror makes Iran popular?
quote:
Crazy Ahmadinejad has never invaded another country, and he is not the power in Iran, he is more or less a figurehead, the Mullahs are the power in Iran.
Pfft. You've said nothing. I can say the same thing about Obama. But you can't even stand up for democracy in Iran. There is a fine line tween being afraid and outright cowardice.

And we've strayed very, very far from the OP. I'll give you the last word.


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