Recently, national media outlets have featured the revelation of a massive theft of federal employees’ personal information, along with the accusation that the theft might have been perpetrated by China. The scale of the online theft has shocked many and once again raises serious issues about internet security. However we must look more closely at the facts of the case and the context in which this information was revealed.
Upon examination, it becomes fairly clear that by leaking this information to the mainstream press the U.S. government is seeking to obfuscate the debate around National Security Agency spying and to further demonize China.
These are issues of great importance as Asia increasingly becomes the center of gravity of the world economy and thus the central theater of many imperial intrigues and quite possibly a future military conflict between the U.S. and its various satrapy regimes on the one side and China on the other.
What we know
What we know is that roughly four million individuals who currently or formerly worked for the federal government had their private personal data compromised. The Office of Personnel Management was, inexplicably, holding this information in databases that were in no way encrypted. That is just about all we know. What exactly was stolen is a matter of dispute. It appears however, per government employee unions, that it is a wealth of personal data including Social Security Numbers.
It is worth knowing that we do not know who stole the information.
The government has pointed the finger at China. While the spymasters at the CIA and the NSA (or the National Security Council or whomever the administration empowered to leak) have simply “strongly suggested” that it was China, some of the more rabidly imperialist members of Congress are spreading this information as certain. The Washington Post and other major national newspapers have, playing their role, used their headlines to point to China, while burying the conditionality of that claim deep in their articles.
Perhaps the government provided some proof of this secretly to journalists, however with no evidence to actually back to this claim up there should be a healthy skepticism. Given the entirely unencrypted nature of the information and the clear monetary value such information would have there is no reason not to assume it isn’t any number of other players.
But why would they lie?
It isn’t so much that it is far-fetched that any particular state actor might carry out such an operation; but a U.S. government leak about it being China is massively self-interested. As we noted in a previous article, China’s ambitions—as many honest bourgeois commentators have pointed out– are mainly regional and that they have no desire to become the replacement of the United States.
If this is the case, it does not square with the U.S. attempts to isolate China and overthrow the Chinese Communist Party. The United States is shifting the vast majority of its military force to Asia to contain China. Pentagon publications often refer to the need to “stay ahead” of China in military technology. The U.S. has encouraged the return of the warlike section of the Japanese ruling class as well as constructing a major trade agreement entirely designed to pressure China to accept the Western “rules of the game” in global economic flows. China-hawks like Senator Chuck Schumer (D-Wall Street) have attempted to target the Chinese economy through currency “manipulation” amendments to various bills. America bucked even its closest ally—the United Kingdom—in an attempt to sabotage the Chinese initiated development bank. The White House and U.S. press have portrayed the building of an airstrip on a tiny Chinese island as the most aggressive move in world history since Hitler seized the Sudetenland.
Why? Simple: The U.S. refuses to give up its global imperial hegemon status and fears that China’s rise will promote a multi-polar world. So they must be contained at worst and changed into a vassal at best.
However to justify this to the populace, China must appear to pose an existential threat. Thus the government has leaked information accusing China of being behind several major data breaches. All of these accusations of course are no more than conjecture based on “background information” from the CIA and NSA–organizations which have been shown to be completely lawless, going so far as to lie to and spy on Congress.
If China is out to steal the personal information of tens of millions of Americans and as the Daily Beast—the hipster friendly CIA mouthpiece—create “mayhem,” then it follows that China “must” be countered.
Further, by portraying China as the world’s biggest cybersecurity threat, the U.S. distracts from its own record. The United States has constructed a network to spy on every single electronic communication on the entire planet earth, launched cyberattacks on sovereign nations, hacked into private companies and has attempted to undermine the entire architecture of the internet by placing backdoors in common software.
By any measure the United States is the one million pound gorilla in the world of cyberspying with capabilities far surpassing any other nation that
they use on a regular basis.
The real question with cyberwar, as with physical war, is why anyone would target the United States. Clearly the worldwide drive to dominate the entire globe and enforce neoliberal economic policies that devastate the lives of billions has created many enemies. We don’t need to contain China, we need to contain the empire makers whose pursuit of profit endangers the world.