Does Obama Need Congress to Declare Cyber War on China?

Eric Blair
Activist Post

The whole world is a battlefield for the U.S. war machine and the Internet is its new favorite weapon.

Anonymous officials in the U.S. government leaked today that it is set to go on the offensive in the cyberwar against China in retaliation for alleged state-run cyberattacks against U.S. interests.

The Associated Press reports that the US is ready to strike back against China:

As public evidence mounts that the Chinese military is responsible for stealing massive amounts of U.S. government data and corporate trade secrets, the Obama administration is eyeing fines and other trade actions it may take against Beijing or any other country guilty of cyberespionage. 

According to officials familiar with the plans, the White House will lay out a new report Wednesday that suggests initial, more-aggressive steps the U.S. would take in response to what top authorities say has been an unrelenting campaign of cyberstealing linked to the Chinese government. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the threatened action.

Even if we are to assume what the anonymous officials are saying is true, where’s the proof?

The supposed paper of record the New York Times broke the story yesterday that cyber attacks appearing to originate in China came from a building occupied by China’s People’s Liberation Army’s Unit 61398.

NYT writes:

A growing body of digital forensic evidence — confirmed by American intelligence officials who say they have tapped into the activity of the army unit for years — leaves little doubt that an overwhelming percentage of the attacks on American corporations, organizations and government agencies originate in and around the white tower.

As warlike tensions mount with China, it can’t be ignored that the very same paper of record ran false “weapons of mass destruction” stories to push for war in Iraq. Those, too, were famously planted by anonymous officials and experts close to the “evidence”.

This latest evidence inciting a more-aggressive response from the U.S. comes from a report put together by the computer security firm Mandiant.  Mandiant has been called “The Go-To Security Firm” for cyber attacks. Their $100 million in revenue is up 76% from last year and they count 30 percent of the Fortune 100 as clients — conveniently including The New York Times who sought their help during its supposed hacking by China.

Mandiant’s report on China concludes; “Either Unit 61398 is responsible for the persistent attacks or they are being done by a secret organization of Chinese speakers with direct access to the Shanghai telecommunications infrastructure who are engaged in a multi-year espionage campaign being run right outside the military unit’s gates.”

Some are saying it’s an attack bigger than September 11th. “I call it cyberterrorism that makes 9/11 pale in comparison,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich), told NBC News. But what evidence and damages can be proven that can compare with the devastation and death on 9/11?

In an effort to provide compelling evidence Mandiant produces a video that shows, as a private security company, their creepy ability to completely shadow Internet users:

This all appears very damning for China and these alleged hackers, but it begs the questions, how is Mandiant allowed to spy on Internet users so thoroughly?  Do they have the authority to do that to Americans?  Who gave them this authority and with what oversight?

And, as a final observation, this video can be easily staged with another compliant actor instead of a genuine hacker threat.  It really proves nothing, just like Scooter Libby’s fake Yellow-Cake-from-Niger document proved nothing when NYT’s Judith Miller printed it, but it still led to war.

This new threat is clearly being used for several purposes. First, it serves to justify Obama’s urgency in bypassing Congress by signing his cybsecurity executive order. Second, it comes right when the privacy-killing cybersecurity legislation CISPA is headed to the Senate for another contentious vote after having failed in two previous attempts. Third, it warrants expanding cyber surveillance contracts to Mandiant and others, and increases in U.S. Cyber Command personnel.

For some advantageous lawmakers like Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif) it requires global governance for the Internet to police these threats. Feinstein told the AP that “the report reinforces the need for international agreements that prohibit cybercrimes and have a workable enforcement mechanism.”

Clearly there is an agenda of controlling the Internet working in the background of these threats. And given the government’s history of lying to get us into wars that only benefit the military-industrial complex, I remain skeptical of the severity of the cyber threat.

However, the establishment is taking this quite seriously and it may lead to a cyberwar if not outright war.

So it seems Americans should be asking the most obvious question: What is Congress’ role in overseeing cyberwars?

If Obama is set to take “more-aggressive steps” in an escalating cyberwar with China including offensive action, then it seems that the War Powers Clause of the U.S. Constitution which vests in the Congress the power to declare war comes into play.

Perhaps I’m just speaking into the wilderness since the executive branch has been ignoring this clause for decades. However, it would be nice to know whether the people’s representatives (sic) have any say in who we declare cyberwar on because any type of war can quickly lead to bullets and bombs.

Read other articles by Eric Blair Here

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