Xi Jinping’s Visit Amidst a Rattling of Cyber Sabers

Photo by Matt McClain, The Washington Post/Getty Images
Soldier at the 9/11 Memorial at the Pentagon.
Photograph by Matt McClain, The Washington Post/Getty Images.
Image credit: National Geographic

Being a sequence of quotations from contemporary articles contextualizing the visit of the rising Vice President of China amidst a conspicuously timed introduction of unprecedented domestic cybersecurity legislation.

National Post Full Comment (Feb 14) – “From bitter gruel, Xi Jinping to ascend to China’s top job” by Peter Goodspeed
http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/02/14/xi-jinping/

He arrives in Washington Tuesday on the first stop of a week-long tour of the United States in one of the final diplomatic rituals he must undergo before becoming China’s next leader.

Now vice-premier, Mr. Xi is widely expected to replace President Hu Jintao as secretary-general of the Chinese Communist Party in October, when China will change 60% of the members of the party’s Central Committee and replace seven of the nine members on the ruling Standing Committee of the Politburo.

By spring 2013, he should replace Mr. Hu as president, then become chairman of the Central Military Commission.

Meanwhile…

Hillicon Valley (Feb 13) – “Senate cybersecurity bill would let firms appeal Homeland Security regulations” by Gautham Nagesh
http://thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valley/technology/210349-senate-cybersecurity-bill-would-let-firms-appeal-regulations

The legislation would task the Department of Homeland Security with determining which sectors of the economy would be covered by new cybersecurity regulations, after risk assessments in consultation with the private sector, the intelligence community and others.

But designated sectors would have the right to appeal whether the regulations apply to them. Several groups representing portions of the private sector considered part of the critical infrastructure have expressed concern about the impact of the regulations on both security and the bottom line.

“Passing the bill is crucial for national security, but not if the provisions on critical infrastructure regulation are watered down. This will be a real test for this Congress,” said James Lewis, senior fellow and director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

James A. Lewis is one of the star witnesses for the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s hearing this Thursday on what has been termed “comprehensive” cybersecurity legislation being unveiled by Majority Chair Joe Lieberman and co-sponsor Minority Chair Susan Collins. Senator John (Jay) Rockefeller IV is the other primary co-sponsor, and will be the first witness at Thursday’s hearing.

Examples of sectors considered likely to fall under the new regulations are utilities, water treatment plants and transportation providers. Some sectors, such as major financial institutions and telecom providers, may ask for exemptions based on a demonstrated ability to secure their systems.

After determining which firms are critical infrastructure, DHS would then, in consultation with the private sector, determine cybersecurity performance requirements for firms in the covered sectors.

“There would be a huge market incentive for designated sectors to meet the security standards. But if they don’t DHS and the AG would decide on penalties,” said the spokesman.

What about international cybersecurity standards and practices?

WSJ (Jan 27) – “China’s Cyber Thievery is National Policy—And Must Be Challenged” by former NSA Director Mike McConnell, former Secretary of DHS Michael Chertoff, and former Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203718504577178832338032176.html
This appears to be a copy liberated from between the lines of Rupert Murdoch’s curious digital divide:
http://defense-technologynews.blogspot.com/2012/02/dtn-news-defense-intelligence-news.html

The bottom line is this: China has a massive, inexpensive work force ravenous for economic growth. It is much more efficient for the Chinese to steal innovations and intellectual property—the source code of advanced economies—than to incur the cost and time of creating their own. They turn those stolen ideas directly into production, creating products faster and cheaper than the U.S. and others.

Cyberspace is an ideal medium for stealing intellectual capital. Hackers can easily penetrate systems that transfer large amounts of data, while corporations and governments have a very hard time identifying specific perpetrators.

Stewart A. Baker, another witness for Thursday’s hearing, on the metaphorical wall isolating domestic and foreign intelligence gathering: “I thought that the civil liberties dangers it was supposed to ward off were probably more theoretical than real.”
http://www.skatingonstilts.com/skating-on-stilts/tired-of-reading-chapters-backwards.html

Continuing with the perspectives expressed in the WSJ:

The report to Congress notes that the U.S. intelligence community has improved its collaboration to better address cyber espionage in the military and national-security areas. Yet today’s legislative framework severely restricts us from fully addressing domestic economic espionage. The intelligence community must gain a stronger role in collecting and analyzing this economic data and making it available to appropriate government and commercial entities.

Congress and the administration must also create the means to actively force more information-sharing. While organizations (both in government and in the private sector) claim to share information, the opposite is usually the case, and this must be actively fixed.

National Journal (Feb 13) – “Feinstein Introduces Information-Sharing Bill Ahead Of Senate Cybersecurity Debate” by Josh Smith
http://techdailydose.nationaljournal.com/2012/02/feinstein-introduces-informati.php

Feinstein’s proposal would require the government to designate an agency as a “cybersecurity exchange” to coordinate information sharing; allow the government to share classified cybersecurity information with certain private-sector organizations; and provide liability protection for companies that share information.

“Alongside terrorism, cybersecurity is perhaps the number one threat facing our nation today, but many obstacles exist that prevent the cooperation and coordination needed to deter this growing threat,” Feinstein said in a statement.

NextGov (Feb 13) – “DHS budget would double cyber spending to $769 million” by Aliya Sternstein
http://www.nextgov.com/nextgov/ng_20120213_7454.php

There is bipartisan support for improving computer network defenses, so the outlook may be positive for obtaining much of the proposed $769 million from Congress. The funding would go toward the National Cyber Security Division for protecting federal networks and coordinating with the private sector on safeguarding critical infrastructure systems such as utility grids.

For perspective:

U.S. Department of Defense (Feb 13) – “DOD Releases Military Intelligence Program Requested Top Line Budget for Fiscal 2013”
http://www.defense.gov/releases/release.aspx?releaseid=15058

The Department of Defense released today the military intelligence program (MIP) requested top line budget for fiscal 2013. The total request, which includes both the base budget and Overseas Contingency Operations appropriations, is $19.2 billion.

The department determined that releasing this top line figure does not jeopardize any classified activities within the MIP. No other MIP budget figures or program details will be released, as they remain classified for national security reasons.

What is the mood of the Senate, and the posture towards the private sector?

United States Senate Democrats (Feb 9) – ‘[Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid Outlines Process For Cybersecurity Legislation, Including “Fair and Open” Amendment Process [in letter to US Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue]’:
http://democrats.senate.gov/2012/02/09/reid-outlines-process-for-cybersecurity-legislation-including-%E2%80%9Cfair-and-open%E2%80%9D-amendment-process/

I was struck by the testimony of the leaders of our Intelligence Community at recent Intelligence Committee hearings. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper called cyber security “a profound threat to this country, to its future, its economy, and its very being.” And Robert Mueller, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), stated that, “stopping terrorist attacks with the FBI is the present number one priority, but down the road, the cyberthreat, which cuts across all programs, will be the number one threat to the country.” Think about that: in the years to come, malicious cyber activity will pose a threat to our country greater than terrorism. We simply cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of the past by failing to prepare for the leading threats of the future.

Yet, addressing cyber security is not simply a matter of staving off a future threat; it demands that we stop the hemorrhaging of national security secrets, intellectual property, and jobs already underway. In a recent letter to Senate Republican Leader McConnell and myself, eight former high-ranking national security officials led by Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and Secretary of Defense William Perry pointed out that, not only are critical infrastructure such as power plants and hospitals at risk; moreover, “foreign states are waging sustained campaigns to gather American intellectual property – the core assets of our innovation economy – through cyber-enabled espionage.” They counseled that the “constant barrage of cyber assaults has inflicted severe damage to our national and economic security, as well as to the privacy of individual citizens. The threat is only going to get worse. Inaction is not an acceptable option.”

At this point, all signs indicate informed consensus for this legislation to pass quickly through Committee into an opportunity for debate culminating in passage through the Senate.

In closing, witness Stewart A. Baker from his text Skating on Stilts: Why We Aren’t Stopping Tomorrow’s Terrorism, (Stanford, California: Hoover Institution Press, 2010), p. 5-6.
http://www.skatingonstilts.com/skating-on-stilts/tired-of-reading-chapters-backwards.html

In the 1990s, after a term as the National Security Agency’s top lawyer, I spoke out in favor of keeping a wall between spies and cops. The idea was simple enough. Agencies like the National Security Agency (NSA) gathered intelligence on a global scale, and they rarely observed the legal constraints that applied to domestic policemen. To protect the civil liberties of Americans, it only made sense to separate intelligence gathered in that way from evidence assembled in a criminal investigation. With a wall between the two, criminal investigators from agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) would be forced to observe the legal restrictions that went with criminal investigative tools. They wouldn’t be tempted to take the shortcut of using intelligence that had been gathered with less attention to civil liberties.

That was the theory, anyway. In practice, the wall crippled our last, best chance to catch the hijackers before September 11, 2001. In August of that year, the wall kept the FBI from launching a fullscale criminal search for the hijackers—even though all of our security agencies were expecting an imminent al Qaeda attack, and even though both the FBI and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) knew that two dangerous al Qaeda operatives had entered the United States. The failure to track those operatives down wasn’t a matter of incompetence or a failure to communicate, at least not in the last weeks. FBI criminal investigators spent the last part of August begging for a chance to track the terrorists. They were shut down cold—by lawyers who told them the wall simply could not be breached.

I wasn’t the most enthusiastic proponent of the wall. I thought that the civil liberties dangers it was supposed to ward off were probably more theoretical than real. But I saw no harm in building in an extra margin of protection for civil liberties. If nothing else, the wall would reassure privacy advocates in the courts, in the newspapers, and on Capitol Hill that intelligence would not be misused. It was insurance, not just for civil liberties, but for the intelligence agencies themselves. For both reasons, I thought, it was best to keep the wall high.

It made eminent sense inside the Beltway.

Until the world outside the Beltway broke through, just a few yards from where I’m standing.

Will the world outside the Beltway be heard in the composition of these new laws and during the creation of these new authorities? Are the new cyber sabers already rattling?

BART’s Protest Position Does Not Withstand Legal Scrutiny

BART Protest (Civic Center Station, San Francisco, California: August 15, 2011)
BART Protest (Civic Center Station, San Francisco, California: August 15, 2011)
Image credit: The Examiner - Transit agency head defends cell service shutoff

Guest post by Jay Leiderman of Leiderman Devine LLP [ @LeidermanDevine ]. Also available on Paste2.

On Tuesday, 16 August 2011, BART [ @SFBART ] spokesperson Linton Johnson [ @BARTChiefSpokes ] held a press conference to address the need to disrupt communications in advance of a lawful, peaceable assembly. He spoke of a US Supreme Court case from 1969 that he said supported BART’s right to do so. Indeed, there could be no other case that Mr. Johnson was referring to besides Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969) 395 U.S. 444 [ Wikipedia ], the 1969 case that said that prior restraints upon seditious speech were valid in such narrow circumstances that the government must prove that the seditious speech was going to cause an “imminent lawless action” before a restraint on speech could stand. No case following Brandenburg has ever held speech to constitute an “imminent lawless action.” BART, as judge, jury and executioner of free speech, is the sole body to reach that conclusion. Note that Brandenburg involved a criminal statute, and BART simply was an administrative decision. However, as they rely solely upon Brandenburg, I must answer that alone.

Johnson assures us that a conservative lawyer, Sherwood Wakeman, pained over this decision and that it was for safety, yet he fails to identify any way in which the protest would make anyone unsafe. Moreover, he fails to establish that this would be an “imminent lawless action” – – or would break any law at all.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMgsLXSMYEg

Johnson incorrectly centers his analysis upon what he deems an “imminent lawless action.” “Imminent lawless action” is the successor to Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes “Clear and Present Danger Test.” Holmes famously drew the line at free speech by declaring that one could not shout “fire” in a crowded theater. Brandenburg replaced that test with that of an “imminent lawless action” test. I don’t think we even get that far in this analysis. The speech in and of itself has to be seditious in the first place. Standing on a train platform in a Guy Fawkes mask holding a placard cannot, by definition, be seditious.

18 USC section 2384 defines “Seditious conspiracy.”

If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.

Let’s contrast the BART protest to the protected speech in Brandenburg. Brandenburg, a leader in the Ohio KKK, was going to march on Washington, possibly with a well-armed militia, to advocate that blacks be returned to Africa and Jews to Israel, and suggested that if Congress, the President and the SCOTUS continued to suppress the white man, that “revengance” might be taken. Note that a unanimous SCOTUS found that exercise of first amendment privilege neither seditious nor an imminent lawless action.

“[W]e are here confronted with a statute which, by its own words and as applied, purports to punish mere advocacy and to forbid, on pain of criminal punishment, assembly with others merely to advocate the described type of action. Such a statute falls within the condemnation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.”

See also note 4 of Brandenburg:

“Statutes affecting the right of assembly, like those touching on freedom of speech, must observe the established distinctions between mere advocacy and incitement to imminent lawless action, for, as Chief Justice Hughes wrote in De Jonge v. Oregon, supra, at 364: “The right of peaceable assembly is a right cognate to those of free speech and free press, and is equally fundamental.”” (395 US 444 n4.)

By travelling down the Brandenburg path, BART, via Linton Johnson has accused the lawful protestors of actions that were imminently going to be lawless. Yet he fails to provide any support for this position. Most saliently, the facts of the BART protest do not come close to those raised in Brandenburg. Would he argue that the KKK, guns in hand, can advocate marching on Washington to take back their country for the white man is permissible, but standing on a platform in a Guy Fawkes mask with a protest sign is seditious and certain to create “imminent lawless action?” Such an argument is not well taken. Brandenburg did not keep the Nazi’s from marching in Skokie, Illinois. It clearly cannot be used to disrupt communications in advance of a peaceful protest.

Still, Johnson assures us that the BART protests fit within that narrow margin. Justice Douglas’s concurrence points out how rare and unworkable the exception to the Rule in Brandenburg is.

“When one reads the opinions closely and sees when and how the “clear and present danger” test has been applied, great misgivings are aroused. First, the threats were often loud, but always puny, and made serious only by judges so wedded to the status quo that critical analysis made them nervous. Second, the test was so twisted and perverted in Dennis as to make the trial of those teachers of Marxism an all-out political trial which was part and parcel of the cold war that has eroded substantial parts of the First Amendment.”

“Action is often a method of expression, and within the protection of the First Amendment.” (395 US at 455)

BART’s legal analysis fails.

Perhaps most troubling in all of this is the now persistent KKK connection. We have now seen that PayPal will process donations for the KKK but not for Wikileaks. This has been eloquently pointed out by many in the Anonymous movement and I will not add to that here. I will simply state that once is an accident. But seeing the KKK with greater protections than those afforded to modern dissident speech twice? This cannot stand. Shame on you, BART, Linton Johnson and Sherwood Wakeman.

Next: #BART Special Board Meeting re: Cellphone Shutdown & Protests
Earlier: BART cellphone shutdown option introduced to board of directors in closed session; or, 3 Questions For #BART