China Flips Tables on Hacking, War Powers Questions Abound

(Reuters) – China made its first substantive comments on Monday to reports of U.S. surveillance of the Internet, demanding that Washington explain its monitoring programs to the international community.

Several nations, including U.S. allies, have reacted angrily to revelations by an ex-CIA employee over a week ago that U.S. authorities had tapped the servers of internet companies for personal data.

“We believe the United States should pay attention to the international community’s concerns and demands and give the international community the necessary explanation,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a daily briefing.

via China asks U.S. to explain Internet surveillance | Reuters.

China has been all over this things.  Snowden completely changed the conversation.  Where we had recently started to get data about China’s effort[1] in this regard…now the entire playing board has been upended.

Snowden has also crossed a line (for many) as he is now trying to curry favor with the Chinese government by revealing this information.

To try and get a sense of how big a deal this is…imagine if we had someone defect from China and reveal just exactly how the unit I mentioned previously functioned.  And if you think Snowden isn’t trying to defect…you aren’t paying attention.  

HONG KONG — Political pressure is growing here for the Hong Kong government to protect Edward Snowden, who has said he will remain in the city and allow the people here to “decide his fate.”

Yet Snowden is depending on a place that isn’t in control of even its own destiny.

Hong Kong has a separate legal system from mainland China and an avowed devotion to free speech, but the city ultimately answers to Chinese leaders in Beijing, who may be wary of a confrontation with the U.S. government.

 

“Even we cannot decide our own fate,” said Jerry Chan, 26, at a rally Saturday near the U.S. Consulate to support Snowden.

Unfortunately I don’t see a rational national conversation going on domestically about these programs.  Already we’ve seen the “IRS Scandal” debunked in hearings…and then the Chairman of those hearings refused to release the testimony.  There is *very little desire* to get to the bottom of these things, if there even is a bottom, and a *great deal of desire* to try and make political hay out of the situation.

Obama has already tried to begin the conversation on scaling back the war-time footing we’ve been on for over a decade.

Rather than have that conversation, Republicans would rather fault him for using the powers granted Obama, that Obama himself is trying to set aside.

President Obama drew sharp criticism from Republican senators Thursday for urging the repeal of the 2001 law that effectively authorized the war on terror.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., claimed the president was assuming Al Qaeda is “on the run,” calling that mindset “really incredible.”

The president addressed the law, known as the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), toward the end of an hour-long speech largely devoted to explaining and defending his administration’s lethal drone program. He even referenced the fact that America is at war in defending the legality of the drone strikes.

 

But Obama made clear that his ultimate goal is to update, and then repeal, the use of force law, saying he wants to fight terrorism without keeping the country on a “perpetual war-time footing.”

 

[1]

The building off Datong Road, surrounded by restaurants, massage parlors and a wine importer, is the headquarters of P.L.A. Unit 61398. A growing body of digital forensic evidence — confirmed by American intelligence officials who say they have tapped into the activity of the army unit for years — leaves little doubt that an overwhelming percentage of the attacks on American corporations, organizations and government agencies originate in and around the white tower.

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