Capote notes that the Trump cybernetic strategy overturns a directive issued by Barack Obama in 2013, which was emitted following the release of archives dealing with U.S. espionage programs by the ex-NSA analyst Edward Snowden. Reacting to the revelations contained in those archives, the Obama directive required intelligence agencies and the Pentagon to obtain the approval of other governmental departments before launching a cyberattack. The Trump strategy not only eliminates these checks, but also legalizes offensive cyberattacks against other nations.
Capote explains Bolton’s justification for the new strategy: offensive cyberattacks are necessary in response to hostile cyberattacks that have been perpetuated and that are being planned against the United States, and offensive cyberattacks by the USA will deter future attacks by demonstrating to U.S. adversaries that the cost of cyberattacking is too high. A document emitted by the NSA specifically named Iran, Russia, China, and the Democratic Popular Republic of Korea, among others, as having used cyberspace as a means of aggression against the United States.
Capote notes that other U.S. entities are making claims similar to those of Bolton and the NSA. The Associated Press reports that Russian hackers have obtained U.S. military secrets. And the U.S. Office of Personnel Administration has communicated that hackers have carried out various attacks against important web pages of the United States, including the informational network of the Pentagon; and that pirates have robbed the access data of millions of functionaries of the United Sates, including employees of the Department of Defense.
Capote emphases that Moscow refutes accusations of cyberattacks against the United States. The Russian government has said repeatedly that such accusations are absurd, and they are intended to detract attention from U.S. domestic issues and from U.S. cyberattacks against companies, military units, and public services in Russia, Iran, the Democratic Popular Republic of Korea, and China. The Russian foreign minister has called for a Russian-USA work commission of specialists to examine the issue of cybersecurity.
In articles published in the USA, denials by governments of such U.S. accusations of cyberattacking, if they are mentioned at all, have a dismissive tone. Capote, however, takes the Russian denial and counteraccusation of U.S. cyberattacks seriously. In fact, he buttresses Russian denials with the observation that the U.S. government, through its intelligence service and companies tied to the military-industrial complex, has carried out for a decade an offensive against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Capote cites the example of a U.S. cyberattack carried out against an Iranian electronuclear plant, with the intention of sabotaging the Iranian nuclear program.
Capote asserts, in addition, that FireEye, a cybernetic security company with numerous contracts with the CIA, has been named as possibly responsible for the fabrication of false attacks, with the objective of pointing to Russia and Iran as cyber-delinquent countries. Both the USA and the UK accused Russia in 2017 of a cyberattack that caused millions of dollars of damage in Europe, Asia, and America, but Russia maintains that the source of the virus in that attack was the intelligence services of the United States. Capote notes that Microsoft has confirmed that the event occurred was caused by a virus produced by the National Security Agency that wound up in the hands of pirates.
With accusations and counter-accusations among various nations, what are citizens to believe? My orientation is to view the contrasting claims and counterclaims in a broader context. The United States is accusing four nations that it has been trying to demonize in recent years. False accusations of cyberattacks is fully consistent with U.S. efforts to distort reality in order to demonize nations that it cannot control through economic or military force or through cooptation (see “Freedom of the press and socialism” 10/15/2018). In addition, such false accusations are fully consistent with the history of fabrication of pretexts to justify the U.S. interventionism and interference in the affairs of nations, as U.S. imperialist policy unfolded during the course of the twentieth century (see various posts in the category U.S. imperialism). This history tendency has increased since 1980, as economic, military, and ideological aggression toward other nations increasingly has defined the U.S. approach to foreign affairs.
In contrast to the U.S. legacy of distortions, interventions, and interferences, the four accused nations in recent decades have been trying to improve their economic and political status by seeking cooperation and mutually beneficial trade with other nations of the world. They are accused of actions that are inconsistent with the approach that they have been taking with respect to foreign affairs (see various posts in the categories Third World, Latin American unity and integration, and South-South cooperation).
The U.S. accusations lack credibility, for anyone who understands the essentially imperialist character of U.S. foreign policy and its legacy of generating misinformation in pursuit of its objectives, and who is informed about the actual foreign policies of the accused four nations. Incredulity was indeed the response of Capote, who concludes his article by asking what more could be expected from those who are experts in fabricating pretexts, and by expressing concern that these incredulous accusations may have the goal of attaining some dark purpose.
The people of the United States are not well informed about the foreign policies of other nations, and as a result, the U.S. accusations of cybernetic attacks by foreign governments may have credibility among the people. Therefore, they could effectively function to attain popular support for any kind of aggressive measure, economic or military, against nations that supposedly are carrying out cyberattacks against the United States. In the face of this danger, the people of the United States and the peoples of the world have the right to demand a comprehensive, open, and scientifically informed international commission on cybernetic security.