Doing Business with the PRC

The People’s Republic of China is stepping up their corporate espionage.

Starting November 1, police officers will have the authority to physically inspect businesses and remotely access corporate networks to check for potential security loopholes, according to the regulations released Sunday by the Public Security Ministry. Police will also be authorized to copy information and inspect records that “may endanger national security, public safety, and social order,” the rules said.

And

The new regulations also reinforce requirements on censorship and surveillance laid out in the cybersecurity law.

And to steal company secrets and classified information, and to plant malware for future use.

“Some Feel It’s About Time for a US Retreat”

That’s the title of Friday’s Wall Street Journal Letters column.  One letter argues that point in particular.  The letter writer is mostly wrong, but his is right on one matter.

Who does he think will fill in behind us if we retreat?  It won’t be our friends; that should be clear.

On the other hand, he argued

The USSR no longer exists and China has emerged as our chief rival. The only thing that has remained constant is America’s footing the greater part of the bill for military defense, while nations we protect continue to grow rich at our expense.
The nations of the world that we are supposed to protect are going their own way, while we continue to spend and spend in the name of preserving an alliance that is no longer even necessary.

Democracy

The Progressive-Democratic Party and the Left in general no longer believe in democracy, whether republican or popular.  Here’s Robert Reich, Labor Secretary in the Clinton administration:

The title of his piece is the gist of the position: Don’t Impeach Trump, Annul His Presidency.  Read past the irrational hysteria in his first several paragraphs, hysteria like this:

Even if he loses in 2020, we’ll be fortunate if he concedes without being literally carried out of the Oval Office amid the stirrings of civil insurgency.
Oh, and let me remind you that even if he’s impeached, we’d still have his loathsome administration—Pence on down.

Security and Hacking

The USAF and software company Merlin Cryption have developed a “cybersecurity technology”—and encryption technique—that has yet to be hacked, having been tried by the likes of Louisiana-based Cyber Innovation Center and the University of Louisiana in extensive testing.

The problem I have, based on published reporting and my status as a non-expert in the security field, is this from Brandon Brown, Merlin Cyrption’s CEO.

It uses a random data generator that never repeats a pattern. This puts it in a good position to overcome AI and Quantum computing….

Distractions

Mark Warner (D, VA), Ranking Member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has objected to President Donald Trump’s revoking ex-CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance.

This might be a convenient way to distract attention, say from a damaging news story or two. But politicizing the way we guard our nation’s secrets just to punish the President’s critics is a dangerous precedent.

This is neither politicization nor punishment, but a safeguard of our nation’s secrets.  No one, regardless of rank, once they leave government service should have a security clearance.  They neither have a need to know nor a need for access, the two Critical Items—both of which must be present, not just one of them—for granting clearances.  Trump’s only error here is in not ordering the revocation for all persons who have left government service.

There’s Help, and There’s Help

Recall that Alphabet Inc, through its Google arm, has refused to help the US defend itself by refusing to work with DoD on the application of artificial intelligence to military projects.  After the resignations described at the link, Alphabet pulled its Google arm out of the project altogether, with effect in 2019 when its current contract expires.

On the other hand, Alphabet is enthusiastic about its Google working within the People’s Republic of China.  Mobvoi Inc, headquartered outside Beijing, makes smart watches and smart speakers for sale within—and outside—the surveillance state.

Its engineers build apps using TensorFlow, Google’s free set of development tools for artificial intelligence.

Some Thoughts on NATO

Stephen Walt, writing in Foreign Policy, had some, and as a result, so do I.

Walt’s first thought concerns the actual content of NATO’s Article V: it’s not a tripwire for war.  On this, he quoted the salient part of that Article [emphasis his]:

The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence … will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area….

“As Necessary”

Recall the kerfuffle over whether senior government officials—an ex-CIA Director, for instance—should have their security clearances continued when they leave government services.  As Sean Bigley put it in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed,

The idea was that senior administration officials should be allowed to retain their security clearances after leaving government so they could consult with successors as necessary.

Bigley suggested that this particular rationale even “makes sense for a brief, defined period.”

He’s overstating the case, though.  “As necessary” doesn’t justify an automatic continuance of a clearance that’s no longer automatically needed, nor does “as necessary” come close to representing a continued need to know that is a Critical Item in granting clearances.

Are Syrian Refugees Human?

Syrian MFWIC Bashar al-Assad wants Syrian refugees to come home.  The civil war is winding down, after all, and soon everything will be jake.

But obstacles the regime is throwing up to their return show that President Bashar al-Assad—mindful of the strain refugees are putting on neighboring countries—is willing to use the exiles as bargaining chips to secure foreign aid and sanctions relief, Western diplomats and analysts in Beirut say.

Al Assad still doesn’t see his own people (I’m using “his own” loosely) as human beings. To him, they’re not human at all, just chits to be cashed in for dollars and euros.

Progress?

Is northern Korea starting to fulfill the commitment Baby Kim supposedly made to begin denuclearizing?

An American research group [38 North website] on Monday claimed that North Korea has begun dismantling its main missile-engine test site [Sohae Satellite Launching Station], a possible sign that Pyongyang is fulfilling the promises North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made to President Trump at the summit in Singapore last month.

Or is it simply taking the site apart and moving it somewhere else?  A lot of engine tests, after all, can be done underground.  Only time will tell.