As if this should surprise us, the London Times reported this past
weekend that Russian computer hackers had stolen enough U.S. weapon
systems data to make China’s nuclear weapons theft seem like honest
That’s a pretty remarkable feat, to say the least, but it also proves
what critics of this administration’s pitiful security record have
repeatedly said — that there is no security for the nation’s
most advanced weapons and computer systems.
The Times reported that U.S. officials have uncovered a Moscow-based
intelligence operation known as “Moonlight Maze,” a continual
cyberattack “so sophisticated and well coordinated that security experts
trying to build ramparts against further incursions believe America may
be losing the first ‘cyber war.'” The computer systems of U.S.
corporations and think tanks have also been ‘attacked’ and have had
large amounts of data stolen.
By now if I were a congressman or senator, I’d be asking myself who
doesn’t have U.S. weapons secrets? Several months ago, when
American intelligence agencies became convinced that other nations were
“hacking” their way into this country’s vital databanks, Congress was
told and did next to nothing. At best, Congress didn’t give this issue
the priority it deserves.
Because issues dealing with phony tax cuts, expanded federal
wiretapping, “saving” Social Security and a host of others took
precedence there is almost nothing of value left to steal at U.S.
military and intelligence centers. For Congress, the term “gross
negligence” comes to mind. Ditto for the Clinton administration, which
seems to have done everything it could to facilitate the transfer of
information not yet stolen.
Already some in Congress and the White House are trying their best to
pass the blame to someone else. Some insist, “Hey — the business of
the country has to continue, doesn’t it?”
Well, that depends upon the kind of “business.” Left to our own
designs, we Americans do pretty well when the bureaucrats leave us
And I don’t doubt that millions of Americans are interested in, say,
the current congressional debates over how much, if any at all, taxes
should be cut. But arguing about a measly three-percent tax cut over
the next decade while potential enemies rob us blind of our most capable
offensive and defensive military technologies reminds me of Nero
fiddling while Rome burns.
Gee whiz, if we don’t figure out how to stop these cyber-thefts, our
weapons technology will eventually be used against us and then there
won’t be anyone left to give a tax cut to. Nothing — not government or
private industry secrets — will be immune from hacking nor safe from
cyberattack. Cyberattacks can also be used to disrupt information
systems or destroy them, as well as extract information from them.
And in America’s computer-reliant society, just imagine for a second
the momentous upheaval we’d experience if our computers were destroyed
Don’t sit there and think it can’t happen; it’s already
happening. And so far — because so little attention has been paid to
this problem — there is nothing we can do to stop it. That’s
scary, considering we’re supposed to be the world’s “last remaining
Congress should assume that countries — or individuals — other than
Russia and China now have some of the same information they have stolen.
Congress should probably also assume that some of the most precious and
potentially damaging information — how to detonate a nuclear device,
for example — is now in the hands of Osama bin Laden-types or, worse,
crackpots and despots like Kim Jong Il and Saddam Hussein. Maybe that’s
one of the reasons why the FBI “indefinitely” shut down their main
building to tours last week.
Finally, while Congress should consider the obvious national security
risks posed by the theft of our nuclear secrets, lawmakers ought to
realize that information stolen thus far has more practical applications
— and added risks to our country.
Russia, among other thefts, has allegedly gotten ahold of “weapons
guidance systems information and naval intelligence codes.” Either of
these data have direct implications for American forces deployed
anywhere in the world. “Enemies” that have had the information passed
onto them could feasibly exploit American defensive weaknesses in any
number of ways. And many of our defenses are computer-based.
Worse, the Times reported, the Russian-based cyberattacks continue to
this day. In one case, the Times said, “a technician trying to track a
computer intruder watched in amazement as a secret document from a naval
facility was ‘hijacked’ to Moscow from under his nose.”
And yet, the Clinton administration — reportedly so “worried” about
all of this — continues to support financial aid to Russia,
“constructive engagement” (read appeasement) policies with China,
and foreign policies that are alienating our allies.
All of this, and Y2K too.
Americans, I ask you to take a break from baseball or your vacation,
from auto racing or MTV, from “mourning” the loss of JFK, Jr. or
worrying about the Woodstock ’99 disaster to call your elected
representatives now. You need to know what is being done to
remedy this attack on our nation’s computer infrastructure. If
nothing’s being done, you need to insist that something get done
Our country’s most vital secrets are being stolen from us.