Several days ago I wrote an article
suggesting that perhaps the recent spate of U.S. Theater Ballistic
Missile test failures were the result of some espionage. The theory
goes that Chinese agents working at U.S. nuclear weapons facilities may
have uploaded viruses into the missiles, causing their failures.
I wrote, based on an interview with Ken Russell — who’s an expert in
the area of missile/aircraft guidance software — that it would be
arduous if not impossible to locate such viruses. Russell added that
even with sophisticated telemetry equipment attached to the test
rockets, it would be “extremely difficult” to determine where such
viruses were located among millions of lines of computer code.
In the earlier article, I also wrote, “Russell said the access the
Chinese had to all kinds of guidance software, including the specific
sequencing software for the warheads ‘is beyond staggering.’” Now, just
under two weeks later, here is this — sent to me by Russell — from
yesterday’s Washington Post:
- DOE Probe Finds External Security Ills
at Livermore Lab
The team — which included active and retired FBI, CIA, Secret
Service and military personnel — probed the Livermore lab’s response to
external security threats, such as attacks by terrorists or
computer hackers, and determined it was not prepared for them.
(Russell highlighted the important parts for me).
“This proves what I suspected is probably right,” he said in
his email message. Indeed it certainly seems that way or, at a minimum,
it certainly seems more plausible now.
After reading Bill Gertz’s new book, “Betrayed,” one could also get
the impression that based on China’s incredible access to our nuclear
weapons labs, and based on the Clinton administration’s criminal
handling of that access, there is no limit to what the Chinese could
have done to our defense systems. As Russell pointed out to me in that
earlier article, messing with computer codes — there are literally
millions of lines of code in missile launch and guidance software
– is a great way to sabotage. Not only that, he pointed out, but also
finding the virused software is difficult because such software
“glitches” all the time anyway. So who can tell the difference?
Furthermore, based on Gertz’s findings, I’m not sure we have a whole
lot of time to fool around here.
Just a few days ago another military website (the Army’s site) was
“hacked” by someone. Over the course of the past year alone, there have
been dozens of websites, computer systems, and other software centers
“hacked” by a number of people. Some of those hackers, I’m told, have
been from China.
Is that proof itself that China has damaged or sabotaged some of our
systems? Read on.
For some time now China experts and research analysts at the CIA,
DIA, NSA and other intelligence organizations have known that one of
China’s military strategies is something called “asymmetric warfare.”
That is a concept whereby a China that is weaker in conventional weapons
systems attacks critical computer, satellite and communications
infrastructures of “an enemy” in order to achieve relative parity on the
battlefield. Many of the systems China has targeted for this kind of
warfare are endemic only to the United States.
The Chinese strategy is simple. Take out the enemy’s ability to see
us, to communicate with their forces, and to launch and guide weapons
against us and we can make this an even fight. Only it won’t be an even
fight because China outnumbers us 6 to 1, and they have said things
like, “We’re prepared to lose a million men to reunite Taiwan with the
mainland.” Are we prepared to make and back up such pledges?
Now, these are much more than merely suppositions held by our Intel
guys. The concept of asymmetrical warfare has been openly discussed and
published in China for a couple of years now. And as Gertz revealed in
his book, China is taking this concept seriously, is pursuing the
technology for it, and is revamping their military research and
development apparatus to create these new weapons of mass technological
destruction. So it’s not a “conspiracy theory” and it isn’t something
that’s “five to ten years down the road.”
Russell, who has been involved in B-1 and B-2 bomber software
development, has held the belief for years that spies — especially
Chinese spies — have been screwing with our software programs designed
for our latest weapons systems. He became all but convinced when the
U.S. theater missile defense tests failed several times in a row. Now,
after the Washington Post story, he is more than convinced — he’s
And he ought to know because he knows what he is looking for. He
will admit that such software “glitches” all the time. But what he has
seen surpasses what he believes are simple “glitches.”
Is he right? Well, maybe the more pertinent question is, “Do we want
to take a chance thinking he’s wrong?”
It’s not possible anymore to merely dismiss these kinds of charges
out of hand. Congress isn’t — in fact Congress is preparing to look
into this aspect of Chinese espionage specifically this fall, according
to Al Santoli from Rep. Dana Roherbacher’s (R-Calif.) office. But the
reason the rest of us should take them seriously is because so many of
them have turned out to be true.
And with China especially, few still have a good grasp of all
the damage they may have done to our national security.
Russell is worried that American military and civilian leaders may
not know just how bad we’ve been sabotaged by Beijing’s spies until the
time comes when we need those systems to do battle — either against
China, Russia or a combination of the two.
Then, of course, it’s going to be far, far too late. God help us.