The Washington Post has just published a breaking story ....

U.S. to announce first criminal charges against China for cyberspying

Yes, you read correctly, the country who recently got caught with it's hands in the cookie jars of nearly every major country including friends and foes alike, and who specifically got busted hacking into China's Huawei not to mention purloining servers from Huawei's American competitor Cisco to insert spyware, now appears to be crying foul in an unprecedented move:

The Justice Department is charging members of the Chinese military with conducting economic cyber-espionage against American companies, U.S. officials familiar with the case said Monday, marking the first time that the United States is leveling such criminal charges against a foreign country.

Attorney General Eric Holder is expected to make the announcement at a news conference Monday morning.

The indictment against members of the People’s Liberation Army follows vows by senior administration officials to hold other nations to account for computer theft of intellectual property from American industry.

China is widely seen as the nation that has been most aggressive in waging cyber-espionage against the United States.

The Justice Department said the news conference is scheduled for 10 a.m. Eastern time “to announce a criminal indictment in a national security case.” It said that in addition to Holder, the participants would be John Carlin, assistant attorney general for national security; David Hickton, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania; and Robert Anderson, executive associate director of the FBI.

- snip -

The United States and China agreed last year to begin holding regular, high-level talks on cybersecurity and commercial espionage. But whenever U.S. officials raise the issue of economic spying, the Chinese are not receptive, administration officials said. Though Washington takes pains to distinguish between foreign intelligence gathering and spying to help a country’s own industries gain an economic advantage, officials say that is a distinction without a difference to the Chinese.

The leaks from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden beginning last June have only complicated the talks. Beijing has pointed to disclosures by Snowden of vast NSA surveillance activities — including spying on Chinese companies — to assert that the United States is the greater aggressor in the area.

Since details are sketchy as to the exact nature of the allegations and how the US would intend to prosecute another country for what it has spent the better part of the past year defending, I won't speculate, but coming as it does on the cusp of the anniversary of the Snowden leaks, one cannot help but wonder if the timing, at least, is intended to be a diversionary tactic. and if the real intent of this is to make a case for Spy vs. Spy

It's late here, but I may update as more information becomes available and edit to flesh this out with some links.

Edit:  Bink kicked-off an interesting line of thinking that may have some merit. Dkos is loading exceptionally slowly now so I will make a few link edits and then try to catch up on comments, press conference should be about now and maybe stories will appear to flesh this out.


The BBC has published a story that clearly suggests the cases will be related to alleged hacking into US Military contractors by hackers from the PLA.

US justice department charges Chinese with hacking

The US has charged five Chinese military members with hacking into private-sector companies, in the first cyber-espionage case of its kind.

Attorney General Eric Holder is to give details of the charges against the hackers accused of breaking into US companies to gain trade secrets.

The US and China have previously sparred over cyber attacks, with the US accusing China of attacking American companies and government targets.

China says it faces similar attacks.

- Snip -

The BBC story also contains an AP wire photo of FBI mugshots of the accused in a nice dramatic flourish. This is political theater that does not disappoint.

This is an interesting turn of events; the accusations, if true, would be good old fashioned espionage such as the US practices and stridently justifies as necessary.

Meanwhile, NYT (via Foreign Policy) has stories here and here that suggest evidence collected by NSA (by what means one can hardly imagine) figures prominently in the case.

Excuse me if I wonder what the purpose of this is and if this now opens the door for other countries to put US intelligence officials on their most-wanted lists.

But then, that might just be the point, no?

Update 2

WaPo Update: Chinese military unit charged with cyber-espionage against U.S. firms

ABC News/AP: US Charges Chinese Officials in Historic Cybercrime Case

US Justice Department Press Release

Chinese Foreign Ministry Press Release

The US Ambassador to China is Max Baccus. He is not fluent in Chinese, a graduate of Stanford University, and served in the Montana House of Representatives and as US Senator from Montana.

The Chinese Ambassador to the US is Cui Tiankai. He is fluent in English, a graduate of East China Normal University and Johns Hopkins University, and previously served at the UN, Chinese Foreign Ministry and as Ambassador to Japan.

I guess this will put them to the test.


OK, we got the answers, hit the links above. I'm out for the night.

Thanks everyone for the discussion and the debate.

I do request you all to think about where our world is heading and what common people like you and me have at stake in all this, which seems to me only points the world back toward militarism and Cold War.

That is not the world I want for my daughter. I did not raise her to be some General or President's toy. We may be from different countries but I do think we share some common dreams and it's not for this. My Idea: Don't let the spooks win.



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