New attack drones, 5th-generation stealth fighter jets, reconfigured cargo planes and Russian-built air defenses are making China’s Air Force even deadlier. In fact, all of these advances present a great concern to U.S. war planners. The size of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force is reported to include a total of 2,500 aircraft, making it the third-largest in the world, according to the Pentagon’s 2020 China Military Power report. U.S. threat assessors are not merely concerned about the size of the Chinese Air Force but the increasing technical sophistication and multi-mission tactics with which it operates. For instance, as part of its discussion of Chinese airpower, the report notes that China operates highly advanced, Russian-built S-400 and S-500 air defenses. These systems, among the best in the world, increasingly use networked digital processors, faster computer speeds and a wider range of frequencies to detect aircraft. Russian media reports have claimed that their air defenses can even track stealth aircraft, a claim that has yet to be formally verified. Yet another concern with China’s air power is its fast-increasing attack range. The Chinese Y-20 cargo plane, for instance, is likely being configured into a tanker aircraft to nearly double the attack range of Chinese fighter jets. Technically speaking, while the U.S. Air Force’s KC-46 tanker is certainly different from its C-130s, it would not be at all technically difficult to convert a large Y-20 into a tanker configuration. This not only better enables a potential attack on Taiwan but also massively expands the Chinese reach into more areas of the South China Sea from the mainland. While many of China’s fighters are within range of attacking Taiwan on a single sortie, expanded combat radius would not only increase surveillance options but also enable much longer “dwell time” for fighter planes searching for targets in the skies above Taiwan. Operating a large tanker of this kind might also greatly improve China’s aircraft carrier power-projection capabilities by virtue of creating possibilities for longer-range, more expansive combat missions from the ocean. Such a possibility is further strengthened by ongoing Chinese efforts to engineer a carrier-launched variant of Beijing’s J-31 stealth fighter for domestic use. Such a platform, described by Chinese newspapers as a J-31B, brings stealthy 5th-generation attack possibilities to maritime warfare, not unlike the U.S. F-35B and F-35C. These factors are quite likely just one of many reasons why the U.S. Air Force continues to seek accelerated modernization and large size increases. Many senior Air Force leaders express great concern that not only is the force aging and in need of revamped sustainment efforts but is also insufficient to meet the requested mission demands of combatant commanders forward-deployed around the globe. Air Force leaders are continuing to ask for the increase in size up to 386 squadrons first requested several years ago. While many believe current efforts are inadequate to meet the threat, there are a number of impactful sustainment activities underway with U.S. Air Force platforms. F-15 continue to be revamped with new weapons, radar and high-speed computer systems to ensure the 1980s aircraft can stay in front of the Chinese 4th-generation J-10. In addition, the Air Force recently completed software upgrades to F-22 weapons to enhance range, guidance and accuracy. Furthermore, the service is reconfiguring some of the “wing boxes” of its fleet of aging C-130s and a wide swath of upgrades has already made the well-known B-2 bomber much more advanced than it was during its inception. The B-2 is receiving new air-defense warning sensors, upgraded weapons and massively improved computer processing speed, among other things. None of this, however, Air Force weapons developers say, removes the need for new platforms and weapons as soon as possible.
Pompeo Expands Clean Network Initiative to Keep Americans’ Data Safe from China
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday announced the State Department is expanding its Clean Network initiative to keep Americans’ data safe from Chinese vendors looking to exploit the data. He said there are five new lines of effort. The first is “Clean Carrier” — working to ensure that untrusted Chinese telecom companies do not provide international telecommunications services between the United States and foreign destinations. “I join Attorney General Barr, [Defense] Secretary Esper, and Acting [Department of Homeland Security] Secretary Wolf in urging the [Federal Communications Commission] to revoke and terminate the authorizations of China Telecom and three other companies providing services to and from the United States,” he said. The second is “Clean Store” — removing untrusted Chinese apps from U.S. app stores. “President Trump has mentioned impending action on TikTok, and for good reason. With parent companies based in China, apps like TikTok, WeChat, and others are significant threats to the personal data of American citizens, not to mention tools for CCP content censorship,” Pompeo said. The third is “Clean Apps” — working to prevent Huawei and other untrusted vendors from pre-installing or making available for download the most popular U.S. apps. “We don’t want companies to be complicit in Huawei’s human rights abuses or the CCP’s surveillance apparatus,” he said. The fourth is “Clean Cloud” — protecting Americans’ most sensitive personal information and American businesses’ most valuable intellectual property — including COVID-19 vaccine research — from being accessed on cloud-based systems run by Chinese companies such as Alibaba, Baidu, China Mobile, China Telecom, and Tencent. “The State Department will work closely with Commerce and other agencies to limit the ability of Chinese cloud service providers to collect, to store, and to process vast amounts of data and sensitive information here in the United States,” he said. The fifth is “Clean Cable” — working to ensure that the CCP cannot compromise information carried by the undersea cables that connect the U.S. and others to the global internet. “Huawei Marine significantly underbids other companies on multiple procurements to connect Asia, the Pacific, Africa, and Europe using Chinese state-backed underseas technology,” he said. “We can’t allow that to continue. We call on all freedom-loving nations and companies to join the Clean Network,” he said.
Kudos to Sec. of State Mike Pompeo and the rest of the Trump Administration doing this for all of us. Excellent!! 🙂
Pompeo sanctions China over human rights abuses against the Uyghurs, calling it the ‘stain of the century’
The United States has increased its pressure on the Chinese government to stop the reported human rights abuses being committed against the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region of China by hitting them with more sanctions. “The Chinese Communist Party’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang, China against Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities rank as the stain of the century,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday. “The Trump Administration has led the world’s effort to impose tangible costs on the PRC’s continuous campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, intrusive surveillance, forced labor, forced population control, involuntary collection of biometric data, and genetic analyses targeted at these groups,” he added. The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) a paramilitary organization for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and an offender of human rights abuses. The Treasury Department also placed sanctions on Sun Jinlong, a former Political Commissar of the XPCC, and Peng Jiarui, the Deputy Party Secretary and Commander of the XPCC, for their involvement in the reported abuses. “As previously stated, the United States is committed to using the full breadth of its financial powers to hold human rights abusers accountable in Xinjiang and across the world,” Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said Friday. The U.S. has placed several sanctions of Chinese officials and entities amid reports of human rights abuses. On July 9, Chen Quanguo, the First Political Commissar of the XPCC, was placed under designation by the U.S. “Following his arrival in the region, Chen Quanguo began implementing a comprehensive surveillance, detention, and indoctrination program in Xinjiang, targeting Uyghurs and members of other ethnic minorities,” Pompeo said in a statement Friday. Several American government agencies warned companies against “reputational, economic, and legal risk” of working in the Xinjiang region because of the reports of forced labor. The Department of Commerce placed sanctions on nine Chinese entities with suspected relations to human rights abuses in Xinjiang. China has said that Pompeo’s hard stance against human rights abuses is nothing more than a distraction from the COVID-19 public health crisis unfolding in the U.S. during an election year. “Pompeo’s remarks are a patchwork of political lies against China that disregard facts and distort truth,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said during a press conference Friday. “However, they are doomed to fail because the world won’t buy what they are selling; peace-loving people won’t allow it; and the Chinese people won’t be intimidated,” Webin added without ever specifically mentioning the Uyghurs. The U.S. is not alone in condemning the actions being taken against the Uyghurs. The U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab accused China of “gross and egregious” acts earlier this month and parliament is expected to debate sanctions.
We’re happy to see this. The U.S. and its allies need to continue increasing pressure on the Chinese Communist Party (CPP) for it’s continued military aggression around the world, and for not accepting responsibility for the virus it unleashed on the world.
Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein Praises China, Claims It Is ‘Growing into a Respectable Nation’
Allowing citizens to sue China for damages caused by the novel coronavirus would backfire and open up the United States to the same level of scrutiny from other countries around the world, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said Thursday. Feinstein, whose remarks came during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, said, “We launch a series of unknown events that could be very, very dangerous. I think this is a huge mistake.” “Where I live… we hold China as a potential trading partner,” she said earlier. “As a country that has pulled tens of millions of people out of poverty in a short period of time. And as a country growing into a respectable nation among other nations. And I deeply believe that. I’ve been to China a number of times. I’ve studied the issues.” Feinstein claimed other countries, including China, may decide to use the new legal precedent against the U.S., setting off a chain reaction, resulting in global chaos. Her comments come three months after Missouri’s Attorney General Eric Schmitt, a Republican, provided a statement to Fox News about a lawsuit he filed against China on behalf of the state, saying that the impact of COVID-19 has led to thousands of Missourians being infected, killed and economically devastated. “In Missouri, the impact of the virus is very real — thousands have been infected and many have died, families have been separated from dying loved ones, small businesses are shuttering their doors, and those living paycheck to paycheck are struggling to put food on their table,” he wrote. After the lawsuit was filed, an article posted on the Global Times, which is a branch of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP’s) People’s Daily, said the nation is “extremely dissatisfied with the abuse of litigation” by U.S. leadership,” and is considering punitive countermeasures against U.S. individuals, entities and state officials, including Schmitt. As the partisan divide with respect to China continues to deepen, Democrats have refrained from condemning the CCP’s actions while Senate Republicans — along with members of the Trump administration — have chosen to take the Chinese government head-on. In addition to Schmitt’s efforts, GOP Sens. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Rich Scott, R-Fla., have been publically critical of the CCP, with Scott going so far as to introduce a Senate bill to shield vaccine research from Chinese spies and infiltrators. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also taken a hardline stance against China, warning state governors of China’s sophisticated practices with regard to U.S. infiltration and later claiming the CCP poses a real “risk” to the safety and security of America. In 2018, President Trump slammed Feinstein for having a Chinese spy on her staff serving as her driver. Feinstein was said to have been “mortified” when she learned the news, according to Politico. The FBI wasn’t able to charge the individual, but Feinstein “forced him to retire,” a source told the San Francisco Chronicle. Feinstein’s comments come as the results of a new Pew Research Center survey were released, showing that over three-quarters of American adults blame the Chinese government for the global spread of the coronavirus and over 60 percent of respondents said the country has done a poor job handling the aftermath of the outbreak. The survey, which polled 1,003 individuals and was conducted from June 16 to July 14, showed 73 percent of U.S. adults have an unfavorable view of China, which marks the most negative rating in the 15 years that Pew Research Center has been conducting polling on the subject.
Again, we see another high-profile Democrat lauding and kissing up to China, even while we’re all suffering in one way or another from the Wuhan virus. In the case of Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA)…she’s in her late 80s (currently 87), and is an old-school, liberal globalist. So, this totally makes sense for someone like her. She was also the former mayor of San Francisco, which is over 35% Asian. So, probably on some level, it’s ethnic pandering. But, her timing couldn’t be worse. She’s utterly clueless about the current paradigm, and how a solid majority of Americans feel about the Wuhan virus , and whom they rightfully blame; China. So, her comments here are at best ill considered, ill timed, and shows just how tone-deaf and out of touch with Americans she is. She is clearly more worried about China and appeasing them, then Americans. As a U.S. Senator, she should be far more worried about putting Americans FIRST.
Americans blame China for its role in the spread of coronavirus, survey finds
A new Pew Research Center survey found over three-quarters of American adults blame the Chinese government for the global spread of the coronavirus and over 60 percent of respondents said the country has done a poor job handling the aftermath of the outbreak. The survey, which polled 1,003 individuals and was conducted from June 16 to July 14, showed 73 percent of U.S. adults have an unfavorable view of China, which marks the most negative rating in the 15 years that Pew Research Center has been conducting polling on the subject, according to a press release. Negative sentiment has also increased by 7 percentage points over the last four months alone and has gone up 26 points since 2018. The survey claimed 83 percent of Republicans have an unfavorable view of China compared to 68 percent of Democrats. Republicans are also more likely to publicly say they have a very unfavorable view towards China at 54 percent, versus only 35 percent Democrats. Around 64 percent of those surveyed said China has done a poor job dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak and 78 percent place “a great deal or fair amount of blame for the global spread of the coronavirus on the Chinese government’s initial handling of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan.” By a more than two-to-one margin, 68 percent of Americans said the nation’s economic ties to China are bad, while a quarter said they are “very bad.” Half of Americans think the U.S. should hold China responsible for the role it played in the outbreak of the coronavirus, even if it means worsening economic and trade relations. When asked if the U.S. should sacrifice economic relations with China or promote human rights, 73 percent choose human rights. About 77 percent of respondents had “little or no confidence” in President Xi Jinping. News of the survey comes just one day after China garnered negative headlines following a House subcommittee hearing with America’s big tech CEOs. Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., criticized Google on Wednesday for its connections to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and said, “If Google wants to cozy up to Communist China, Sundar Pichai must answer for the atrocities committed by the Chinese Communist Party.” This news also comes one day after Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) called on NBA commissioner Adam Silver to testify before Congress about the league’s controversial relationship with the CCP. He said China’s presence within the sport is deepening as they continue to use the NBA as a platform to push their political agenda. “The league’s new policy suggests a newfound commitment to enhanced employee expression. But that free expression appears to stop at the edge of your corporate sponsors’ sensibilities,” Hawley wrote in a letter to the league. “And for woke capital today, profits from the Chinese market are more popular than patriotism… If I am right – if the NBA is more committed to promoting the CCP’s interests than to celebrating its home nation – your fans deserve to know that is your view. If not, prove me wrong.”
Agreed!! Well said, Senator Hawley! The way the NBA kisses up to China is nauseating. And, how about this poll?! Over 73% of Americans rightfully blame China for COVID…and that’s in spite of CNN, MSNBC and other liberal news outlets trying desperately to pin it all on Trump.
China plant seeds mystery solved? Police, officials think packages sent to US homes could be tied to scam reviews
The mysterious, unsolicited packages of seeds supposedly being sent from China to homes across America – prompting agriculture departments in at least 31 states to issue warnings against planting them – may be invasive species and could be tied to a fake product review scam, police and officials are saying. The packages, based on photographs and statements from officials, appeared to have been shipped by China’s state-owned postal company and contained Chinese lettering on the exterior, advertising products ranging from jewelry to toys. But, what’s actually inside seem to be random plant seeds. States from coast to coast have been urging residents to report the unexpected deliveries to their local agriculture departments over concerns that the seeds could be invasive or harmful species. The packages have garnered the attention of federal investigators — with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) working alongside the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection and other federal and state agencies. USDA officials have been asking anyone who received a suspicious seed package to contact their state plant regulator or their state’s APHIS plant health director. “Do not plant seeds from unknown origins,” the USDA urged in a statement. Officials in several states said there didn’t appear to be a clear pattern to the packages, which have been showing up at homes in the city, suburbs, and in rural areas. The number of packages being reported also varied. In Indiana, for instance, an official with the state attorney general’s office said it had received only a handful of reports, while in Ohio, officials have received roughly 150 calls about the packages over the past month. “We have done some researching and it does appear that these seeds are tied with an online scam called ‘brushing’,” the Whitehouse Police Department in Ohio – one of the states where the packages reportedly have been sent – posted on Facebook. “A brushing scam is an exploit by a vendor used to bolster product ratings and increase visibility online by shipping an inexpensive product to an unwitting receiver and then submitting positive reviews on the receiver’s behalf under the guise of a verified owner. “Although not directly dangerous, we would still prefer that people contact us to properly dispose of the seeds,” the department added. North Carolina’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services also reported the deliveries were “likely the product of an international Internet scam.” It’s not the first time this type of scam has surfaced. In 2018, a Massachusetts couple who kept receiving mystery packages from Amazon containing items ranging from USB-powered humidifiers to rechargeable dog collars feared they were being targeted. Here’s how the scam works: a seller trying to boost the ratings of their own merchandise sets up a fake email account to create an Amazon profile, then purchases the items with a gift card and ships them to the address of a random person. Once the package is delivered, the owner of the Amazon account is then listed as a “verified buyer” of the product and can write a positive review of it that gets higher placement on product pages because of their status, James Thomson, a former business consultant for Amazon told the Boston Globe at the time when asked about the couple’s deliveries. However, the deliveries of the plant seeds are more widespread and it’s not immediately clear which e-commerce website the fake reviews may be appearing on, if this is the motive behind the packages. On Monday, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services spokesperson Michael Wallace told the New York Times that the agency has received “over 900 emails and several hundred telephone calls” from people who claimed to have received the seeds. Officials in Florida say they have gotten 160 reports about the seeds. And in Louisiana, Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain told the New York Times that some of the packages sent to residents there appear to contain seeds for water lily plants. “Obviously they’re not jewelry,” Lori Culley, a resident from Tooele, Utah, said to Fox13 after receiving one of the packages. “At this time, we are not sure what the seeds are and therefore are urging everyone to be exceedingly vigilant,” Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black also said in a statement. “If you have received one of these packages in the mail, please use extreme caution by not touching the contents and securing the package in a plastic bag.”
Indeed.. We’ll keep an eye on this developing story, and the possible national security implications from China, who is becoming more and more of a threat to us.
U.S. Closes Chinese Consulate in Houston over Privacy, IP Theft Concerns
The Chinese government on Wednesday threatened retaliatory “countermeasures” after U.S. officials abruptly ordered the closure of Beijing’s consulate in Houston. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said the Trump administration ordered the closure in an “unprecedented escalation,” and promised to “react with firm countermeasures” if the move is not rescinded. The ministry called the closure a “political provocation unilaterally launched by the U.S. side, which seriously violates international law, basic norms governing international relations and the bilateral consular agreement between China and the U.S.” It also accused the Trump administration of stigmatizing and “unwarranted attacks” against China’s social system, “harassing” Chinese diplomatic and consular staff, “intimidating and interrogating” Chinese students and “confiscating their personal electrical devices, even detaining them without cause.” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus, traveling with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Denmark, said the closure was ordered “to protect American intellectual property and Americans’ private information.” “The United States will not tolerate [China’s] violations of our sovereignty and intimidation of our people, just as we have not tolerated the [its] unfair trade practices, theft of American jobs, and other egregious behavior,” she said. “President Trump insists on fairness and reciprocity in U.S.-China relations.” The move escalates tensions already somewhat strained by blame over the COVID-19 pandemic, trade disputes and Beijing’s military actions in the South China Sea. Possible countermeasures may include shutting down the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong, a Chinese academic told the Communist Party-run Global Times newspaper. “China strongly condemns such an outrageous and unjustified move which will sabotage China-U.S. relations,” the foreign ministry said in a statement posted to social media. “We urge the U.S. to immediately withdraw its erroneous decision, otherwise China will make legitimate and necessary reactions.” Tuesday night, authorities in Houston responded to a fire at the consulate, where witnesses saw papers being burned outside the facility. The closure came ahead of a Senate foreign relations committee hearing on Wednesday that will examine U.S.-China relations. The hearing will include testimony from Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) lauded the closure, tweeting: “#China’s Houston consulate is a massive spy center, forcing it to close is long overdue.”
Agreed, Senator. Agreed. Kudos to President Trump, Sec of State Mike Pompeo, and the rest of his team for making this happen. For more, click on the text above. Excellent!! 🙂
Houston Fire Department Responds as Chinese Consulate Burns Documents
The police and fire departments in Houston, Texas, responded on Tuesday night to reports of a blaze at the Consulate General of China. The fire turned out to be Chinese agents burning a massive trove of documents after the U.S. government ordered the consulate to be closed due to allegations of espionage. KHOU News in Houston reported that people living near the consulate made 911 calls at around 8:20 p.m. local time to report fires burning in the courtyard, but when firefighters arrived, they were denied permission to enter the premises. The Houston Fire Department explained “it would not enter the premises without consent unless there is a threat to health and safety, which officials said there was not.” The document fire was quite noticeable from outside the consulate grounds. Several fire and police vehicles arrived at the consulate building in response to the 911 calls. “You could just smell the paper burning, but all the firefighters were just surrounding the building. They couldn’t go inside,” an eyewitness told KPRC News. “It appears to be open burning in a container within the courtyard of the Chinese consulate facility. It does not appear to be an unconfined fire but we have not been allowed access. We are standing by and monitoring,” Houston fire chief Sam Pena said, as quoted by KTRK News. The Houston Police Department also said its officers responded to the 911 calls and were denied permission to enter the building. The fires were reportedly extinguished soon after the fire department arrived at the scene.
To see videos, and more, click on the text above.
UK Bans New Huawei 5G Equipment from 2021, Full Ban from 5G by 2027
Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden has confirmed the ban on the addition of new equipment from Huawei to UK 5G networks, and all Huawei components must be removed from Britain’s 5G by 2027. The move came after Five Eyes allies warned of the security risks of using the “effectively state-owned” Chinese tech firm. Mr Dowden made the announcement in the House of Commons on Tuesday, weeks after the U.S. imposed sanctions on Huawei, barring the sale of American components to the Chinese company over security concerns. It represents a significant reversal by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who agreed in January on a contract for Huawei to build 35 per cent of Britain’s 5G network. “This has not been an easy decision, but it is the right one for the UK telecoms networks, for our national security and our economy, both now and indeed in the long run,” the British digital secretary said, according to the BBC. The decision follows a ruling from the National Security Council that Huawei should not be used in any part of Britain’s 5G. The new restrictions also apply to Huawei’s broadband components. The judgment officially came as a result of a review conducted by the National Cyber Security Centre, a part of the signals intelligence services GCHQ, which ruled last week that the security of Huawei would be compromised if using any other components than the now-banned American ones. As the U.S. sanctions only affect future equipment, the government will not call for the removal of Huawei from 2G, 3G, or 4G. While a major step, others have warned that the government’s decision does not go far enough and that the Chinese equipment should be removed sooner and in its entirety. Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said on Tuesday: “This is a partial victory. ‘No’ to Huawei is great, but we cannot wait until 2027 for removal of the kit.” The Guardian reported on Monday that 60 Conservative MPs could rebel against the government over the long delay in the removal of Huawei, calling instead for the end of purchasing all Huawei equipment in the next 12 months — not just 5G — and removing it from all systems by 2026. However, BT has said that it could take as long as ten years to completely remove Huawei from Britain’s telecommunications infrastructure. The news comes as the chairman of Huawei UK has reportedly stepped down, according to claims by Sky News. Former BP boss Lord Browne of Madingley had told Reuters last week that there was “no diplomacy here” in the government’s dealings with Huawei. “The UK has had a very long relationship with China, and I hope it’s not one that they simply throw away,” Lord Browne complained. The UK stepping back from Huawei, however, represents a positive step towards redressing relationships with other democratic nations, particularly Five Eyes partner the United States, which have expressed concern of communist China becoming too close to the United Kingdom. Britain is said to be exploring an international partnership comprised of a combination of the Five Eyes, the G7, and India and South Korea to construct an alternative to Huawei. U.S. sources speaking to the Financial Times on Monday said that the UK’s hitherto reluctance to come to a firm decision on Huawei was holding up plans for the proposed Five Eyes-Plus or ‘D10’ union of ten democratic nations.
We agree with Nigel Farage, that while this is most definitely a step in the right direction, it doesn’t go nearly far, or fast, enough. Huawei is entirely owned and controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and their Army. And, it is a vehicle through which they spy on the U.S., UK, and our other allies in order to advance their agenda of global conquest, which of course is a threat to the U.S., the UK and other western deomcracies. The Brits historically are notorious for being suckers. Hello..Neville Chamberlain? To be clear, even a great guy like PM Boris Johnson wouldn’t have done this without some behind the scenes pressure from President Trump. Regardless, we’re glad they made this decision and hope they implement it quicker and more broadly. This the kind of pressure ALL of the so-called “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing partners (i.e. Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK, and the United States) need to be exerting on China now more than ever.
CIA conducted aggressive covert cyber operations against Iran, China, as Trump gave it more power
The Central Intelligence Agency, using new powers, carried out aggressive covert cyber operations against countries including Iran, North Korea, China and Russia, a new report says. The operations came after President Trump gave the CIA “sweeping authorization” in 2018 by signing a “presidential finding,” according to Yahoo News, citing U.S. officials with knowledge of the matter. With a presidential finding, the president authorizes covert action necessary to support “identifiable foreign policy objectives” that are deemed “important to the national security of the United States,” according to a U.S. government document. The authorization undoes “many restrictions that had been in place under prior administrations,” and gives the CIA more leeway in authorizing its own covert cyber operations, the Yahoo News report said. Countries mentioned as possible targets include Russia, China, Iran and North Korea. “The White House wanted a vehicle to strike back. And this was the way to do it,” the report added, quoting a former U.S. government official. The new powers gave the CIA more latitude to “damage adversaries’ critical infrastructure, such as petrochemical plants, and to engage in the kind of hack-and-dump operations that Russian hackers and WikiLeaks popularized,” the report explained. The hack-and-dump tactic involves leaking stolen documents or data to journalists or posting it on the Internet. Initially, the Obama administration considered retaliating against Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election by using hack-and-dump but, in the end, the CIA was told to “stand down,” the report stated. John Bolton’s appointment as the National Security Adviser in the Trump administration changed that, Yahoo News reported, citing a passage in Bolton’s memoir, “The Room Where It Happened.” In September 2018, the White House announced a new national cybersecurity strategy to bolster the government’s defenses against foreign adversaries. While cyber-defense was central to the strategy, Bolton also called for a better offense. “We’re going to do a lot of things offensively and I think our adversaries need to know that,” John Bolton told reporters at the time, according to Cyberscoop. “We will identify, counter, disrupt, degrade, and deter behavior in cyberspace that is destabilizing and contrary to national interests, while preserving the United States’ overmatch in and through cyberspace,” Bolton added. Another change that came with the presidential finding was the lowering of the bar for “evidentiary requirements,” thereby expanding the CIA’s ability to conduct covert cyber operations against “media organizations, charities, religious institutions or businesses believed to be working on behalf of adversaries’ foreign intelligence services,” the report added.
This is encouraging. With China, North Korea, and Iran acting the way they’ve been, we need to step up our offensive game. Giving the CIA and other members of the Intelligence Community (IC) (i.e. NSA, NGA, DIA, etc,) expanded powers to go after our adversaries like this is a good thing. After all, they’ve been doing it to us for years, even decades, and we’ve been sitting on our hands and taking it like suckers. Kudos to President Trump and his administration for not taking it anymore and being proactive in this area. Excellent!! 🙂