FOX News Accuses China of Massive Cyber Attack on Pentagon Computers.
Reported by Marie Therese - September 5, 2007 -
On yesterday's Special Report with Brit Hume, FOX News Channel's glossy-lipped National Security correspondent Jennifer Griffith filed another report, this time about a large-scale cyber attack on the Pentagon's computers, allegedly perpetrated in June by "Chinese hackers linked to the Chinese government." Griffith, as usual, dutifully stuck to the script, offering up news that was nothing more than regurgitated White House press releases. In the lead-up to her, anchor Brit Hume admitted that this attack did no real damage to government computers. "It is believed no significant information was accessed," Hume noted. "But ... the attack - wherever it came from - delivered an important message." Cue the Dragnet theme! With video.
Never one to miss an opportunity to further increase the anxiety level among FOX viewers, Ms. Griffith began her report with a dire warning about an "electronic Pearl Harbor," defined as a "cyberspace attack that paralyzes the country's national security." As with most of the terror-inducing stories aired on FOX News, this one sounded like it had been written in the White House public relations department. It was long on speculation and short on facts.
"Military sources tell FOX that in June of this year Chinese hackers linked to the Chinese government broke into the Pentagon's computers, breaching the firewalls in place to protect Defense Department computers from hackers seeking classified or operational plans," Griffith said. "The breach in June was into unclassified computer email accounts in the Defense Secretary's policy office."
Let's analyze this statement.
First what proof did Griffith or the government give us that the hackers were sponsored by the China's leaders? A careful reading shows that she resorted to using the words "linked to" in order to claim that the Chinese government was involved in this attack. As the game "Six Degrees of Separation from Kevin Bacon" has shown, we are all a mere six or fewer steps away from being linked to virtually anyone on earth.
Griffith then conflated the words "classified" and "unclassified," implying that the Pentagon uses the same level of security for both types of information, when it's obvious from her own report that the unclassified communications were far less protected than the national security information.
Whoever hacked into the unclassified computers actually did the Pentagon a favor, forcing it to upgrade its own firewalls.
Naturally FOX dragged out another in its stable of conservative think tank analysts - Peter Brookes of the Heritage Foundation - to offer up an "expert" opinion on this topic. Brookes started off using the shop-worn, discredited phrase "some people say" to present unsubstantiated rumor as fact. "Some people say that China's developing an army of computer hackers," Brookes contended. "China certainly sees the United States - or its dependence upon computers - as its digital Achilles heel."
Griffith ended her report by suggesting that "one reason the Pentagon has refused to publicly point fingers at China may have to do with politics," i.e. President Bush is scheduled to meet with China and others at the APEC summit this week.
It would seem that the gang of incompetents in the White House - who couldn't hit the broad side of a barn from five feet away with a howitzer - has decided to play a game of cat-and-mouse with a country that owns 15% of our debt and has had thousands of years to perfect the art of nuanced diplomacy.