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Secret US cyber actions exposed by Snowden leaks demand much larger debate

In April 2009, Gen. Keith Alexander, director of the National Security

Agency, took the stage at the annual RSA Conference in San Francisco for a
keynote address. He told the crowd of thousands: “The NSA does not want to
run cyber security for the

Instead, he said, the job of protecting U.S. infrastructure is a shared
responsibility, falling into hands of government agencies such as the
Department of Homeland Security, as well as private sector companies and
colleges and universities. “The government is here to protect the country
from adversaries,” Alexander explained. “The NSA can offer technology
assistance to team members. That’s our role.”

Alexander wasn’t lying, but he wasn’t exactly telling the truth either, as
leaks from former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden have
revealed. The NSA never wanted to be in the cyber defense game, but it very
much was gearing up, as we now know, for offensive digital missions.

Two months after that RSA address, the U.S. Cyber Command was
described as a new armed collaborative for protecting Department of Defense
Networks. Not long after, Alexander was tapped to head up the command,
while still leading the NSA. Fast forward to this past January, and the DoD
announced plans to grow the command, which is closely tied with the NSA, nearly
fivefold over the next few
from around 900 to about 4,000 military and civilian personnel.

Snowden leaked documents to the U.S. version of *The Guardian* newspaper
that revealed that President Obama has ordered senior security and
intelligence officials
‘draw up a list of potential overseas targets for U.S. cyber attacks’
that ‘can offer unique and unconventional capabilities to advance U.S.
national objectives around the world with little or no warning to the
adversary or target and with potential effects ranging from subtle to
severely damaging.’

… And here’s the part that relates to China

“But in an interview last week with Hong Kong’s *South China Morning Post*,
Snowden presented much more damning evidence of the extent of these targets
and attacks. The 29-year-old told the paper that the United States already
has conducted at least 61,000 hacking operations
including against hundreds of targets in Hong Kong and mainland China,
among them private businesses and a university that routes internet traffic
for hong Kong.

According to the paper, Snowden wanted to showcase ‘the hypocrisy of the
U.S. government when it claims that it does not target civilian
infrastructure, unlike its adversaries.'”

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