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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tom Clancy For National Security Advisor

“How could a readiness for war in time of peace be safely prohibited, unless we could prohibit, in like manner, the preparations and establishments of every hostile nation?” — James Madison, Federalist No. 41 — 1788”

In his comments regarding national defense in Federalist 41 Madison was not advocating a hostile posture towards other nations, but he was not so naïve to belief that mere words could prevent malevolent intentions of other nations towards the United States. His complete statement in Federalist 41 states:

”How could a readiness for war in time of peace be safely prohibited, unless we could prohibit, in like manner, the preparations and establishments of every hostile nation? The means of security can only be regulated by the means and the danger of attack. They will, in fact, be ever determined by these rules, and by no others. It is in vain to oppose constitutional barriers to the impulse of self-preservation. It is worse than in vain; because it plants in the Constitution itself necessary usurpations of power, every precedent of which is a germ of unnecessary and multiplied repetitions. If one nation maintains constantly a disciplined army, ready for the service of ambition or revenge, it obliges the most pacific nations who may be within the reach of its enterprises to take corresponding precautions.”

While Madison was in no way advocating a large standing army that would pose a threat to other nations and the Constitution itself he did, however, realize that we should take precautions and actions that would safeguard our newly formed republic. It was Madison who, in 1812, requested Congress for a declaration of war against Britain for their trade restrictions brought about by Britain's ongoing war with France, the impressment of American merchant sailors into the Royal Navy, British support of American Indian tribes against American expansion, and outrage over insults to national honor after humiliations on the high seas.

Today we are under attack by the People’s Republic of China. Their attack is not an overt military action such as the bombing of Pearl Harbor or the terrorist attacks of 9/11. This war is an attack on our commercial enterprises and our national security and the chief weapon is the computer and their soldiers are experienced and competent computer hackers. The PRC is attempting to damage our ability to be a leader in technology through their cyberattacks. This is not too much different than one of Madison’s reasons for requesting the declaration of war against Britain for their trade restrictions.

A group linked to the Chinese military has stolen massive amounts of data from over 100 different targets, most of which are based in the U.S., a security firm said in a report released Tuesday.

The Wall Street Journal reports Internet security company Mandiant says in the report it traced 141 major hacking attempts to a People's Liberation Army building in Shanghai, 115 of which targeted U.S. companies or organizations.

Mandiant didn't name specific targets of the attacks but said they included information technology firms and telecommunications to aerospace and energy companies.

The stolen information allegedly includes blueprints, details on proprietary processes, pricing documents and contact lists.

Mandiant also cites a memo from a Chinese telecommunications provider supplying communications links to the building where the hacking allegedly occurs, saying it would "smoothly accomplish this task for the military based on the principle that national defense construction is important."

The Mandiant report comes a week after President Obama issued a long-awaited executive order aimed at getting the private owners of power plants and other critical infrastructure to share data on attacks with officials and to begin to follow consensus best practices on security.

Mandiant Corp. said in a 74-page report released on its website that a group attached to China's People's Liberation Army has since at least 2006 stolen data from 141 companies, 115 of which were in the U.S. Mandiant didn't name specific targets of the attacks but said they spanned industries ranging from information technology and telecommunications to aerospace and energy. Mandiant's accusations were reported earlier by the New York Times.

The report comes as China's potential role in hacker attacks has come under increasing scrutiny. In recent weeks, a number of news organizations, including The Wall Street Journal, have said they were infiltrated by Chinese hackers believed to have government links. People familiar with an earlier investigation by U.S. intelligences agencies into Chinese hacker groups infiltrating U.S. networks have said most are linked to the Chinese military. Previous targets of Chinese hackers have included the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Nortel Networks Ltd.

In an October speech, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said China was "rapidly growing" its cyber capabilities.

"In my visit to Beijing, I underscored the need to increase communication and transparency with each other so that we could avoid a misunderstanding or miscalculation in cyberspace," he said, while also calling for greater information sharing about cybersecurity between private enterprise and the government.

Akamai Technologies, which provides services to help websites speed up connections and monitors large amounts of web traffic, said in the third quarter of 2012 China was the world's No. 1 source of observed attack traffic. China was the origin of 33% of the traffic, Akamai said, more than doubling from 16% in the second quarter. The U.S. was second, rising to 13% from 12%, and Russia was third, falling to 4.7% from 6.3%.

Mandiant said it believes the group behind the hacking is Unit 61398, within a wing of the People's Liberation Army. It said it has observed hacking attempts against nearly 150 victims over seven years. Hundreds of terabytes of data were involved, it said.

It pinpointed the group's location in facilities in Shanghai's Pudong district. It also reprinted a memo from a Chinese telecommunications provider supplying communications links to the facility that said it would "smoothly accomplish this task for the military based on the principle that national defense construction is important."

The Executive Summary to the Mandiant Report states:

“Since 2004, Mandiant has investigated computer security breaches at hundreds of organizations around the world. The majority of these security breaches are attributed to advanced threat actors referred to as the “Advanced Persistent Threat” (APT). We first published details about the APT in our January 2010 M-Trends report. As we stated in the report, our position was that “The Chinese government may authorize this activity, but there’s no way to determine the extent of its involvement.” Now, three years later, we have the evidence required to change our assessment. The details we have analyzed during hundreds of investigations convince us that the groups conducting these activities are based primarily in China and that the Chinese Government is aware of them

Mandiant continues to track dozens of APT groups around the world; however, this report is focused on the most prolific of these groups. We refer to this group as “APT1” and it is one of more than 20 APT groups with origins in China. APT1 is a single organization of operators that has conducted a cyber espionage campaign against a broad range of victims since at least 2006. From our observations, it is one of the most prolific cyber espionage groups in terms of the sheer quantity of information stolen. The scale and impact of APT1’s operations compelled us to write this report.

The activity we have directly observed likely represents only a small fraction of the cyber espionage that APT1 has conducted. Though our visibility of APT1’s activities is incomplete, we have analyzed the group’s intrusions against nearly 150 victims over seven years. From our unique vantage point responding to victims, we tracked APT1 back to four large networks in Shanghai, two of which are allocated directly to the Pudong New Area. We uncovered a substantial amount of APT1’s attack infrastructure, command and control, and modus operandi (tools, tactics, and procedures). In an effort to underscore there are actual individuals behind the keyboard, Mandiant is revealing three personas we have attributed to APT1. These operators, like soldiers, may merely be following orders given to them by others.

Our analysis has led us to conclude that APT1 is likely government-sponsored and one of the most persistent of China’s cyber threat actors. We believe that APT1 is able to wage such a long-running and extensive cyber espionage campaign in large part because it receives direct government support. In seeking to identify the organization behind this activity, our research found that People’s Liberation Army (PLA’s) Unit 61398 is similar to APT1 in its mission, capabilities, and resources. PLA Unit 61398 is also located in precisely the same area from which APT1 activity appears to originate.”

While we are fighting a shooting war in Afghanistan against the Taliban and other terrorist groups the Chinese are busy infiltrating and attacking our commercial and national defense infrastructure using bits and bytes.

This brings me to the title of this blog —Tom Clancy for National Security Advisor. I have been a reader and a fan of Tom Clancy’s techno-thrillers for years. It began with his best seller “The Hunt for Red October” where he provided us with an incredible amount of information on the Soviet Union’s nuclear submarine threat and our defense to these “boomers”.

In “Red Storm Rising” he detailed the Soviet threat to Europe and how NATO – led by U.S. forces would counter such an attack. He wrote quite a bit about the logistics problems in supplying the forces of NATO. Problems that became demonstrably evident in the NATO attack on Libya.

In “Sum of all Fears” Clancy warned of a possible nuclear attack on the United States from Middle Eastern terrorists using home-made nuclear weapons. And in “Clear and Present Danger” he warned of the growing power of the Columbian drug cartels — cartels that have now moved to Mexico.

In “Debt of Honor” Clancy portrayed a 747 loaded with fuel crashing into to Capital Building and decapitating our government six years before 9/11. In his sequel to Debt of Honor Executive Orders” he addressed the potential of bio-warfare against the United States and how we might combat it.

In “Rainbow 6” Clancy wrote about an elite anti-terrorist group that could go anywhere to clandestinely take out terrorists before the general public ever heard of SEAL Team 6. He also exposed the tyranny of the environmentalist and their desire to let people die to save trees, bugs, and bunnies.

In his latest novel “Threat Vector” Chinese cyberwarfare experts have launched a devastating attack on American infrastructure. It's a new combat arena, but it’s every bit as deadly as any that has gone before. It’s as though Clancy predated the Mandiant report as he has been in front of the curve on many other national security issues. Either Clancy is clairvoyant or he has a multitude of contacts within the national security establishment.

Clancy will claim he is “just” and author of fiction. His modesty is overwhelming. As “just” an author of fictional novels he has the ability toP612300 RED take bits and pieces of data and assemble them into a cogent analysis of the threats facing us. His ability to think out of the box far surpasses the political appointees to our national security bureaucracy including the Directors of National Intelligence, the CIA, and the Defense Department with their embedded political agendas and party loyalties. Party loyalties as George Washington stated: “This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human Mind. It exists under different shapes in all Governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form it is seen in its greatest rankness and is truly their worst enemy.”

It amused me to no end to find this quote by the Former U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell, who mentioned, “A lot of what I know about warfare I learnt from reading Tom [Clancy].” Even Ronald Reagan was a fan as documented by his wife, Nancy Reagan: “Ronnie especially enjoyed history, biography and the novels of Tom Clancy.” In a way former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave Clancy a left-handed compliment when she stated not everyone is a fan. In an interview, Rice showed her disapproval of Clancy’s work and fictitious US military warfare by saying, “No-one [but Clancy] could have imagined [terrorists] taking a plane, slamming it into the Pentagon [or] into the World Trade Center, using planes as a missile”.

It for the reasons stated above that I nominate Tom Clancy for the post of either the National Security Advisor, the Director of the CIA, the National Intelligence Director, or the Secretary of Defense. I am sure Clancy would not have allowed those four Americans to perish at the hands of terrorist in Benghazi. Oh, and you can add Brad Thor and Vince Flynn to my short list. They are cut from the same mold as Clancy with Thor’s latest offering “Black List” a novel based on the premise that a group of powerful, well-financed people in cahoots with a foreign power are attempting to take over the United States through cyberwarfare and data mining.

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