Ex-defense minister grilled over alleged political meddling

SEOUL, Feb. 27 (Yonhap) — Former Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin was questioned by prosecutors on Tuesday over allegations that he tried to undermine the ministry’s internal probe into suspected political interference by the military’s cyber command ahead of the 2012 presidential election.

Kim appeared at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office in the morning.

“I will explain myself to the prosecution,” he told reporters.

He is accused of pressuring his ministry’s officials into toning down and covering up an internal probe into a massive political maneuver carried out by the military’s cyber command aimed at influencing public opinion in favor of the then-ruling party presidential candidate, Park Geun-hye.

The former chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff headed the ministry from 2010-2014. Three of his officials have been arrested for allegedly following his orders to block the investigation.

Following its 2013-14 probe into the alleged political meddling by the cyberwarfare wing, the Criminal Investigation Command under the defense ministry concluded that no top officials were involved in the scheme that violated rules about maintaining political neutrality.

But in a recently reopened probe, a former military investigator has made statements indicating that had Kim issued direct orders regarding the internal probe into the command’s suspected political meddling.

Former Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin answers reporters' questions at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office on Feb. 27, 2018. (Yonhap) Former Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin answers reporters’ questions at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office on Feb. 27, 2018. (Yonhap)

elly@yna.co.kr

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South and North Korea agree: Washington should talk to Pyongyang

With the Winter Olympics at a close and as the clock ticks down toward the conclusion of the Winter Paralympics, when military tensions are expected to skyrocket, the Korean peninsula finds itself at the center of fast-moving diplomacy.

North-South Korean security dialogue took place at a Seoul hotel on Monday between the Vice Chairman of North Korea’s Central Party Committee, Kim Yong-chol, and Chung Eui-yong, the chief of South Korea’s National Security Office.

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While details of what passed between them are scant, a South Korean presidential statement suggested that the talks were wide-ranging.

“The two sides noted the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games have provided a meaningful opportunity to realize the Olympic spirit of peace and unity, as well as for peace on the Korean Peninsula and the restoration of the South-North Korean relationship, and agreed to continue working together even after the end of the Olympics to enable the establishment of lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula, sustainable development of the South-North relationship and cooperation with the international community,” the presidential Blue House said in a statement reported by Yonhap.

At the meeting, Kim repeated that North Korea was open to direct talks with Washington.

Moon urges US to accept North Korean offer

On Sunday, Kim attended the Olympiad closing ceremony. Before it, he indicated to South Korean President Moon Jae-in that North Korea is willing to enter direct negotiations with the United States – a meeting Moon has consistently called for.

“We will see if Pyongyang’s message today, that it is willing to hold talks, represents the first steps along the path to denuclearization,” the White House responded on Sunday. However, Pyongyang has previously stated that its nuclear weapons are non-negotiable.

On Monday, Moon, meeting in Seoul with visiting Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong, indicated he thought Washington should take up Pyongyang’s offer. “There is a need for the United States to lower the threshold for talks with North Korea, and North Korea should show it is willing to denuclearize,” Moon was quoted as saying in a Blue House statement. “It’s important the United States and North Korea sit down together quickly.”

US President Donald Trump has followed Moon’s lead on talks, even indicating he would be willing to enter direct negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. No previous US president has ever held talks with a North Korean leader. All the same, Washington, announced on Friday yet another raft of sanctions against North Korea, infuriating Pyongyang.

Commando general is serious player, but no PR plan

In Seoul, Kim Yong-chol is proving a more low-key visitor than Kim Yo-jong, the younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who visited South Korea for the Winter Olympiad opening ceremony. Kim, who is held to be central to her brother’s image management, passed on the latter’s invitation to Moon for a summit and generated swooning media coverage with her good looks and regal manner, although she did not appear to engage in more substantive diplomacy.

That behind-closed-doors role may fall to Kim Yong-chol. A central player in the regime, he is a badged general who formerly commanded the powerful and shadowy Reconnaissance General Bureau, which commands many of North Korea’s most potent asymmetrical assets, including espionage, special operations and cyber warfare units. He is also widely blamed in South Korean for two separate attacks in 2010 that killed 50 South Koreans.

While the general is not nearly as photogenic as the leader’s sister, nobody can accuse the South Koreans of not trying to stage-manage a meeting at the Olympic closing ceremony on Sunday evening.

Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Closing ceremony - Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium - Pyeongchang, South Korea - February 25, 2018 - Ivanka Trump, U.S. President Donald Trump's daughter and senior White House adviser, and Kim Yong Chol of the North Korea delegation attend the closing ceremony. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Ivanka Trump (left) was seated close by Kim Yong-chol at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympiad closing ceremony. Photo: Reuters / Lucy Nicholson

There, Kim – in dark coat and a Russian-style fur hat – was seated to the left and behind, but in close proximity to, the head of the visiting US delegation, Ivanka Trump. He was separated from a key player in her delegation – US Forces Korea Commander-in-Chief Vincent Brooks, who attended in full uniform – by a man who has been identified as Lee Jin-sung, president of South Korea’s Constitutional Court. Despite their proximity, however, no interaction between the two generals – or the two delegations – appeared to take place.

The Chung-Kim meeting on Monday took place in an unspecified Seoul hotel. That hotel could well have been the Sheraton Walker, which is situated on the eastern edge of the capital and therefore easy to secure against protesters, and has accommodated North Korean delegates in the past.

Whether delegates from the North are aware that the hotel is named after Walton Walker, a US general who died during the Korean War, or that the hotel complex started life as a recreation center for US troops stationed in Korea, is unknown.

Furious conservatives rally against Kim visit, Moon

Kim certainly did not appear in central Seoul, where thousands of conservatives, including the leader of the opposition Liberty Korea Party, rallied to protest his visit. Waving Korean and some American flags, the protesters – predominantly in their 50s and 60s, including a number dressed in military paraphernalia – waved placards reading “Kim Yong-chol visit: Moon Jae-in, friend of North Korea.”

One man held up a sign blaming Kim for the sinking of the corvette Cheonan, in which 46 South Korean sailors died, and for the artillery strike on Yeonpyeong Island, in which four South Koreans were killed. Kim has been accused by previous Seoul administrations of being a key figure behind the two deadly attacks, which both took place in 2010. “Kim Yong-chol is the main provocateur and criminal toward South Korea,” the placard read. “Devilish murderer visits South Korea, provoking South Korea fury.”

While there was no violence and the protests appeared well policed, emotions ran high, with some right-wingers apparently as angry with their own president as with North Korea. “Is Moon Jae-in a person? That bitch! He should die!” spat one protester.

WhatsApp Image 2018-02-26 at 16.55.46

Retired South Korean marines display a sign accusing President Moon Jae-in of being a friend of North Korea. Photo: Andrew Salmon

The liberal Moon has sought to use the Olympics as a breathing space and springboard for tension-reduction talks before combined South Korea-US military exercises take place in the spring. He is under pressure from Washington, and also outside parties including Japan, to resume these exercises and maintain “maximum pressure” on North Korea.

Thus far, Moon’s plan appears to be working. He has been rewarded with the re-opening of inter-Korean communication channels, the highest-level North Korean delegation ever to visit the South, and the current dialogue.

However, the time for a breakthrough is running out. Moon has not yet responded to Kim’s summit offer, but North and South Korean officials will meet on Tuesday to discuss the North’s participation at the Paralympics, which begin on March 9. Military exercises, and associated tensions, are expected soon after the Paralympics conclude on March 18.

Kim and his delegation are scheduled to return to North Korea on Tuesday.

Read: After the ‘Peace Olympics,’ time for the war games?

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A Look at the Weekend’s Biggest News

Last week, global stocks ended the week mostly mixed with the biggest gainer being the NASDAQ, which was up 1.58%. The biggest loser among the developed countries was UK’s FTSE which was down 1.7%. The major news of the week came from China, which announced that it would take control of Anbang, one of the largest insurance companies in the country. A report on Sunday’s Financial Times showed that the company’s fall would have been comparable in size with the fall of Lehman Brothers.

Another major news during the weekend came from Warren Buffet, the Oracle of Omaha. On Saturday, he released his annual letter to shareholders. In his financial report, his company, Berkshire Hathaway reported more than $29 billion in tax-related profits. In an interview with Bloomberg, Warren said he was looking forward to making a large acquisition. Remember, he has more than $129 billion in cash to invest. Last year, he failed to acquire Unilever which means this year, he could attempt to buy another similar company.

Over the weekend, South Korea reported that North Korea was prepared to have conversations with the United States. As you recall, last year, North Korea was one of the major source of tension. The country showed its advanced technology of developing weapons that could reach the United States. On Friday, Trump’s administration continued to put a lot of pressure on the country by imposing more harsh sanctions. At the same time, a report showed that North Korea was turning to cyberwarfare to raise cash for developing its weapons. A stable Korean peninsula is very essential for world peace but, it will be difficult for the country to give away its weapons.

Another major news came from China. Over the weekend, the communist party announced new plans to scrap the constitutional two year limit for the president. The news was reported by the national media, following a meeting of the party leadership. To investors, this is an important news because it shows that Xi Jinping plans to solidify his power for years to come. This will give him unrivaled control over decision making. It will also make him the most powerful Chinese leaders since Mao. In October, the party named him the greatest living theorist and gave him powers to rule with no likely successor.

In the United Kingdom, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labor Party stirred new controversies when it opposed the proposals made by the current conservative plans. The new proposals suggest that the country remain closely aligned to the European Union. The new statement by Corbyn expected on Monday could precipitate a new election. Corbyn is not alone. Over the weekend, 80 prominent Labour Party officials signed a letter asking the government to back staying in the EU’s single market.

In the United States, a battle between Republicans and Democrats is ensuing. Over the weekend, the Democrats released a redacted memo that strongly opposed the previous memo from the republicans. Over the weekend, WSJ reported that Trump’s lawyers were considering having him testify before the counsel. As the probe nears Trump himself, will it affect the US markets or the dollar?

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North Korea resumes cyber attacks in desperate search for foreign currency

TOKYO — The North Korean state-sponsored hacker group Lazarus appears to have resumed its efforts to steal desperately needed foreign currency for the rogue regime, according to recent evidence uncovered by the U.S. computer security software company McAfee.

McAfee said in mid-January it had detected the link to a suspicious file disguised as an employee recruitment document sent to financial institutions and cryptocurrency users in various countries. The document was embedded with a malicious file designed to activate when users open it.

Judging by the file’s characteristics, McAfee said it believed Lazarus was back in business.

The file, discovered in mid-January, shares many features with those used repeatedly by Lazarus in attacks on financial institutions and defense companies through October 2017. When an unsuspecting user opens the file, the computer is infected and data are stolen.

The U.S. government concluded Lazarus was responsible for simultaneous worldwide cyberattacks in May 2017 that made computer files inaccessible by means of malicious software, or “ransomware.”

With international sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs now tighter than ever, it is desperate for foreign funds. Despite the friendly diplomatic image it has been projecting at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea, behind the scenes its cyberattacks continue.

Lazarus belongs to Unit 180 of North Korea’s Reconnaissance General Bureau, the military intelligence body, according to Kim Heung-kwang, a North Korea defector who heads the nonprofit group North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity in the South. He is also a former computer science teacher at a North Korean university who still has contacts in the country.

Unit 180 is believed to have been established by Kim Jong Un in 2013. According to Kim Heung-kwang, its role is to obtain foreign currencies to pay for nuclear weapons and long-range missiles. It is believed have about 500 members.

South Korea’s intelligence agency suspects the unit is responsible for a recent theft of the cryptocurrency NEM from the Tokyo exchange operator Coincheck.

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North Korea’s state-sponsored hacker group Lazarus belongs to military intelligence’s Unit 180, believed to have been established by Kim Jong Un in 2013. © KCNA/Reuters

Pyongyang’s largest cyberwarfare body, Unit 121, was established in 1998 by Kim Jong Il, father of current leader and the country’s previous leader. It has a staff of several thousand, and its main missions include cyberattacks on communications, power and traffic infrastructure in targeted countries.

On the other hand, the threat posed by Unit 180 comes in two forms — hacking to accumulate money, and the installation of potentially malicious software through the software development business in Japan and China.

In Japan, it uses individuals and companies that appear to have no connection to North Korea, and who accept programming orders through a website. They solicit orders with low prices that do not reflect labor costs, and fulfill them quickly by mobilizing Unit 180 programmers in North Korea and China. Many of the programs they write are used in home appliances and industrial equipment.

According to Kim Heung-kwang, the programs written by Unit 180 for Japanese customers are “highly likely” to be embedded with “backdoors” — malicious codes that allow for the devices in which they are used to be controlled remotely. That creates the threat of North Korea playing havoc in Japan by manipulating such devices in the event of military conflict, for instance.

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NK official accused of masterminding 2010 naval attack visits S. Korea amid protest

SEOUL, Feb. 25 (Yonhap) — A top North Korean official accused of having orchestrated the North’s sinking of a South Korean warship in 2010 made a high-profile trip to the South on Sunday amid fierce opposition from conservatives here.

Kim Yong-chol, a ranking party official in charge of inter-Korean affairs, crossed the inter-Korean border for a three-day visit, leading North Korea’s high-level delegation to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics closing ceremony.

His trip comes during a period of Olympics-driven rapprochement between the two Koreas that follows years of tensions sparked by the North’s nuclear and missile programs.

But his visit has been stirring up a controversy here, as Kim, a top military general, is suspected of having masterminded the North’s sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan on March 26, 2010. The attack left 46 sailors dead.

The deadly sinking took place while Kim was the chief of North Korea’s reconnaissance bureau, which is tasked with overseas intelligence operations and cyberwarfare.

A Seoul-led international commission concluded it was torpedoed by a North Korean submarine, but the North has denied the claim.

This photo, taken Feb. 25, 2018, shows Kim Yong-chol (C), the head of North Korea's high-level delegation to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics' closing ceremony, arriving at an inter-Korean border checkpoint in South Korea. (pool photo) (Yonhap) This photo, taken Feb. 25, 2018, shows Kim Yong-chol (C), the head of North Korea’s high-level delegation to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics’ closing ceremony, arriving at an inter-Korean border checkpoint in South Korea. (pool photo) (Yonhap)

It is said that Kim was also behind other provocations against the South, including the 2010 shelling of Yeonpyeong Island and the planting of land mines across the inter-Korean border that severely injured two South Korean staff sergeants in August 2015.

With a grim face, Kim did not answer questions by pool reporters about his thoughts on the warship’s sinking when he arrived at a checkpoint in Paju, just south of the inter-Korean border.

Conservatives and families of the victims of the sinking have been strongly opposing Kim’s visit, lashing out at the government’s acceptance of his trip. Opposition lawmakers even called for Kim’s execution as a war criminal.

Lawmakers from the main opposition Liberty Korea Party and the victims’ relatives held a rally in Paju on Sunday to block his trip to the border checkpoint.

In the face of negative public sentiment, South Korea’s liberal government said that the North was blamed for the attack on the warship, but added that it is hard to pinpoint who was responsible for the incident.

North Korea appears to be trying to test South Korea’s resolve to improve inter-Korean ties and to drive a wedge among South Koreans by sending a controversial figure to the South, experts say.

The two Koreas held their first formal talks in more than two years last month and restored long-disconnected border hotlines after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un extended a rare olive branch to Seoul in his New Year’s message.

The 72-year-old Kim Yong-chol currently leads the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK)’s United Front Department, a unit in charge of relations with the South.

“The government seeks to focus on who could lead practical dialogue to improve inter-Korean relations and bring peace to the Korean Peninsula, rather than to concentrate on who did what in the past,” Seoul’s unification ministry said.

Kim’s trip comes just two weeks after Kim Yo-jong, the younger sister of Kim Jong-un, visited South Korea from Feb. 9-11 as a member to the high-level delegation to the Olympics’ opening ceremony.

On Feb. 10, she gave President Moon Jae-in a letter from her brother that included an invitation for the South’s leader to go to Pyongyang for a summit at an early date.

Experts said that Kim Yong-chol may deliver a surprising proposal to South Korea, such as the resumption of reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

In exchange for allowing the family reunions, North Korea currently demands that Seoul return 12 women who defected to the South en masse in 2016 after working at a restaurant in China.

The North’s leader gave “important” instructions to officials to come up with practical measures to improve inter-Korean ties, Pyongyang’s state media said on Feb. 13.

“The North’s delegation is likely to offer ways to implement an agreement reached at high-level talks in January. It may suggest the date for military talks or unveil details about family reunions and other exchanges,” said Cheong Seong-chang, a senior research fellow at the Sejong Institute.

This photo, taken Feb. 25, 2018, shows families of the 46 South Korean victims of North Korea's 2010 sinking of a warship holding a rally in Paju, just south of the inter-Korean border, to oppose a visit to the South by Kim Yong-chol, a top North Korean official accused of having masterminded the attack. (Yonhap) This photo, taken Feb. 25, 2018, shows families of the 46 South Korean victims of North Korea’s 2010 sinking of a warship holding a rally in Paju, just south of the inter-Korean border, to oppose a visit to the South by Kim Yong-chol, a top North Korean official accused of having masterminded the attack. (Yonhap)

sooyeon@yna.co.kr

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US preparing for cyber war: N. Korea

North Korea on Saturday accused the US of secretly making preparations to wage a large-scale cyber war on Pyongyang prior to a military attack.

The official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) and official daily Rodong Sinmun said the US magazine Foreign Policy has disclosed in its February 15 issue that Washington is ramping up its intelligence capabilities to focus on the Korean Peninsula, Xinhua news agency reported.

US agencies like the Central Intelligence Agency have been on standby for the attack for half a year with billions of US dollars invested in the plan and many experts trained for it, they said.

US media outlets like the NBC, Bloomberg News and the Washington Post have been reporting about “cyber terrorism” and “threats” from North Korea which means US war moves against Pyongyang have reached the phase of practical implementation, they said.

The US is sending a large number of cyber warfare experts to the war drills with South Korea, the KCNA said.

–IANS

pgh/

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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United States preparing for cyber war, claims North Korea

Pyongyang: North Korea on Saturday accused the US of secretly making preparations to wage a large-scale cyber war on Pyongyang prior to a military attack.

The official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) and official daily Rodong Sinmun said the US magazine Foreign Policy has disclosed in its February 15 issue that Washington is ramping up its intelligence capabilities to focus on the Korean Peninsula.

US agencies like the Central Intelligence Agency have been on standby for the attack for half a year with billions of US dollars invested in the plan and many experts trained for it, they said.

US media outlets like the NBC, Bloomberg News and the Washington Post have been reporting about “cyber terrorism” and “threats” from North Korea which means US war moves against Pyongyang have reached the phase of practical implementation, they said.

The US is sending a large number of cyber warfare experts to the war drills with South Korea.

Also read:At least 22 soldiers martyred as Taliban hits Afghan Army camp

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DPRK accuses US of preparing for massive cyberwar

PYONGYANG, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) — The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Saturday accused the United States of secretly making preparations to wage a large-scale cyberwar on Pyongyang prior to a real military attack.

The official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) and official daily Rodong Sinmun said the U.S. magazine Foreign Policy has disclosed in its Feb. 15 issue that Washington is ramping up its intelligence capabilities to focus on the Korean Peninsula.

U.S. agencies like the Central Intelligence Agency have been on standby for the attack for half a year with billions of U.S. dollars invested in the plan and many experts trained for it, they said.

U.S. media outlets like the NBC, Bloomberg News and the Washington Post have been reporting about “cyber terrorism” and “threats” from the DPRK, which means U.S. war moves against Pyongyang have reached the phase of practical implementation, they said.

The U.S. is sending a large number of cyber warfare experts to the war drills with South Korea, the KCNA said.

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Mueller’s Russia Indictments Show Scale of Putin’s Cyberwar

This article first appeared on the American Enterprise Institute site.

This column will posit a difficult task for the reader: Focus on the Kremlin, not the Trump White House.

While the president may or may not be guilty of the illusive term “collusion,” special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russian indictments pose much larger and possibly intractable challenges to U.S. national cybersecurity policy, not least in the rationales for and execution of appropriate retaliation.

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The fact that these actions came from the Mueller investigation and not from an independent intelligence agency’s surveillance effort only muddies the water with endless cable news shout downs over Trump’s guilt (or not) and the impact on the U.S. presidential election.

Here attention will center on the dimensions of the wide-ranging Russian cyberattack (cyberwarfare?) on the U.S. presidential election and the democratic process.

Mueller’s indictment caused me to go back and review the extensive coverage in this column of the unfolding epic of the past year. Here are some reflections.


GettyImages-170852553 Former FBI Director Robert Mueller testifies during a Capitol Hill hearing, on June 19, 2013. Mueller’s team was given access to four years of U.S. intelligence surveillance of Russian activities. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty

First, though to the general public Mueller’s wealth of details regarding the names and myriad of activities from Russian sources is mindboggling, in reality the U.S. had already charged the Russian government with interfering in the U.S. presidential election in a January 2017 report to President Obama by 17 combined intelligence agencies. That report stated unequivocally: “We assess that President Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 at the U.S. presidential election.”

At the time, it was noted that the report was big on accusations and light on supporting evidence. As Susan Hennessey of Lawfare was quoted: “This isn’t a remotely risk-taking document…. It’s clear that those with very conservative views about protecting sources prevailed…. The unclassified report is underwhelming at best.”

Flash-forward to the Mueller indictments. Here one finds the wealth of detail Susan Hennessey lamented was missing last year—but also bizarrely, no direct connection to Putin and Russian government sources. Robert Mueller’s team—which had little special expertise internally with intelligence sleuthing—clearly was given access to the results of at least four years of U.S. intelligence surveillance of the wide-ranging Russian activities, from cyber espionage to overt political activities to disrupt the election and ultimately denigrate Hillary Clinton.

So now we have the strange situation of a direct accusation against the Russian government without details, succeeded by an indictment of nongovernment Russians buttressed by copious details but no direct tie to Mr. Putin.

For the balance of this column, I want to describe (admittedly with less than adequate detail), two very different paths forward in dealing with the Russian cyber incursions.

My American Enterprise Institute (AEI) colleague John Bolton argues the comprehensive intelligence revelations underpinning Mueller’s indictment provide the opportunity for President Trump to “take tough action.” Specifically, Bolton writes:

What happened in the 2016 campaign was graver even than the “information warfare” alleged in [the] indictment. This is, pure and simple, war against the American idea itself…. We need to create structures of deterrence in cyberspace, as we did with nuclear weapons….

One way to do that is to engage in a retaliatory campaign against Russia. This should not be proportional to what we have experienced. It should be decidedly disproportionate. The lessons we want Russia (on anyone else) to learn is that the cost to them from future cyberattacks against the United States will be so high that they will simply consign all cyberwarfare plans to their computer memories to gather electronic dust.

Similarly, Andrew McCarthy of National Review challenges the use of the criminal justice system to deal with what he argues is an information war that necessitates a strong response:

We use counterintelligence rather than criminal investigation to thwart foreign adversaries because prosecution is a woefully inadequate response. The point of counterintelligence is to gather information so we can stop our enemies, through meaningful retaliation and discouragement.

Generally, that means diplomatic, economic, intelligence, and, in extreme cases, military means. It could mean deploying our own cyber capabilities…. This cannot be accomplished by a mere indictment.

Bolton and McCarthy present a strong case for ending the dithering by both Obama and Trump over the proper response to cyberattacks, which have just emboldened adversaries ranging from North Korea to China and Russia to test the limits of U.S. capabilities and resolve.

Against these calls for action, there is also a powerful cautionary note advanced by Harvard University’s Jack Goldsmith. Goldsmith, who by no stretch of the imagination can be called “soft” on Russia (or any other potential U.S. adversary), has argued for over a year that the U.S. explore the possibility of reaching some accommodation with the Russians.

He has doubled down on his arguments in light of recent events—and with the emergence last fall of a Russian proposal to the Trump administration for a noninterference pact regarding domestic politics. “Noninterference” remains to be spelled out, but it would have the U.S. cease its campaign for “internet freedom” and democracy promotion.

Briefly, Goldsmith bases his “contrarian” arguments on what he considers several stark realities. First, he does not believe the U.S. will be able to raise its defenses adequately to face future cyberattacks by the Russians or other adversaries:

The United States is not close to raising defenses adequately and likely will not in the foreseeable future. Offense has too great an advantage over defense. We have too many soft targets and are constantly surprised when new ones are attacked or exploited.

Second, Goldsmith argues the U.S. “cannot have its cake and eat it too.” By this he means that we cannot exploit our cyber capabilities to the fullest—including interfering in foreign elections and domestic politics—and expect others to desist in such activities. He writes:

My normative preferences, for what they are worth, are for the United States to exploit its offensive advantages in cyber to collect whatever information serves our national interests, to use this information in ways that serve our interests, and to promote those interests further by spreading the US conception of freedom of speech and thought to other nations.

The question is whether these are realistic goals. I think they are not, given the clear costs that the United States is suffering and will continue to suffer in the cyber realm.

I don’t think the United States can continue unabated with all of its aggressive cyber actions abroad—intelligence collection, cyber attacks, information operations, and especially operations that undermine control abroad—if it wants relief from the cyber operations that are proving to be so damaging to U.S. society.

Goldsmith concedes readily that the tradeoffs are huge, and knowledgeable critics have called the suggestion “politically infeasible [and] normatively undesirable because it surrenders U.S. human rights leadership in cyberspace.” Still, Goldsmith has raised challenging questions about future U.S. cybersecurity policies and the fraught dilemmas we face.

Whatever the political outcome of the Mueller probe, the debate over the proper response to future cyberattacks, forthrightly set out by Bolton and Goldsmith, should take top and urgent priority.

Claude Barfield is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

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