A Stolen Laptop

Senator Jeff Merkley (D, OR), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Senate Appropriations committees, has reported that his laptop was stolen from his office, ostensibly by the rioters who assaulted the Capital Building last Wednesday afternoon. (Ostensibly: frankly, I have no reason to doubt the fact of the theft or which member(s) of which crowd did the theft. However, the deed as theft and who did it remain unproven at this early stage of the investigation.)

Merkley also said he’d left his office unlocked while he went to the Senate floor for the Electoral College vote counting and debates. The importance of that will become clear below.

American Energy

…independence today. Tomorrow, American energy dependence.

Bloomberg is reporting that the US didn’t import any oil at all from Saudi Arabia last week, the first time in 35 years. That’s part of a longer term trend in declining Saudi oil imports over the last six years, especially. See the graph just below.

This trend is a result of the US technology advance of fracking which both drove down the cost of getting the oil (and natural gas) out of the ground and drastically increasing our own oil and gas production—virtually eliminating our dependence on foreign oil and gas and making us net exporters of both.

Communications Security

Now it appears that DoJ also was compromised—at least a little bit—by the SolarWinds hack. DoJ says its classified systems weren’t affected, but some unclassified email systems were.

There’s this bit, though, that doesn’t appear to be getting sufficient attention.

Even unclassified email accounts, though, can contain sensitive information about investigations and potentially national security related issues, said Chris Painter, a former senior official at the Justice and State departments who worked on cybersecurity issues. “A lot of DOJ work happens on unclassified systems.”

Surrender?

Recall that the New York Stock Exchange, pursuant to an Executive Order regarding US investors and People’s Republic of China’s PLA-owned or -controlled companies, had begun the process of delisting China Telecom Corp Ltd, China Mobile Ltd, and China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd.

Now the NYSE has walked that back and decided not to proceed with the delisting. Exchange management have chosen to not provide any details or rationale for their, other than that their decision follows “further consultation” with federal regulators. The Exchange’s full statement can be read here; it’s carefully uninformative.

“Interfering” with Internal Affairs

The People’s Republic of China is objecting to the Taiwan Assurance Act of 2020 and the Tibetan Policy and Support Act of 2020, which President Donald Trump has signed into law.

The PRC Foreign Ministry’s Deputy Director, Information Department, Zhao Lijian said that the PRC was

“resolutely opposed” to both acts

and

The determination of the Chinese government to safeguard its national sovereignty, security, and development interests is unwavering[]

and that the acts were (OANN‘s paraphrase)

an interference in China’s internal affairs.

National Independence and Military Capability

Joe Biden (D) has strange ideas regarding this relationship, expressed most plainly in his plans for our nuclear weapons arsenal.

Mr Bidens campaign pledge to narrow the role that nuclear weapons play…stating that their “sole purpose” should be to deter or respond to a nuclear attack.

Biden is willing to have us forced to surrender after being beaten in a conventional or cyberwar, rather than have nuclear weapons available or usable to preserve our existence—and that of our friends—as independent, unconquered polities.

Mr Biden has said that he wants to extend the New START treaty with Russia….

Another Rude Question

This one relates to Congressman Eric Swalwell’s (D, CA) apparent compromise by the reputed People’s Republic of China spy Fang Fang (Christine Fang).

It seems that Fang hooked up with Swalwell early on, when he was a local politician, and she helped him rise into Congress: fundraising, staff selections, and the like. My question doesn’t relate, directly, to this particular tale.

Limits to Response

Massive Hack Blamed on Russia Tests Limits of US Response is the headline of a Wall Street Journal piece on the Russian hack of our government and some infrastructure facilities.

Despite its size, a sprawling computer hack blamed on Russia could leave President Trump and the incoming Biden administration struggling to find the right response, former US cybersecurity officials and experts said.

The Russian hack was an overt invasion of the United Space, just as much in cyber space as it would have been had it occurred in physical space. The only limits on our response—the only real limits—are our capacity to respond, and the mindsets of those with the authority to order the response.

Couple Rude Questions

These arise from the SolarWinds hack attack that some experts claim doesn’t rise to an act of war (but that I think might do so*).

Why wasn’t it spotted sooner? This applies to SolarWind as much as it does the IT MFWICs and their staffs at the various government agency and private business recipients. Who inspected SolarWind’s “updates,” how were they tested both before SolarWind disseminated them, and how were they tested before the receiving entities implemented them? Were the recipients actually, with straight faces, allowing a remote entity to enter their systems and install software that was uninspected/untested by those recipients?

The Biden Cabinet, So Far

In Biden’s own words, as summarized by Howard Kurtz:

  • the first-ever openly gay nominee to lead a Cabinet department.
  • the first ever black secretary of Defense
  • the first ever Latino head of the DHS
  • the first ever Latino head of HHS
  • the first woman…of South Asian American descent to lead OMB
  • the first woman and Asian-American to lead [as] the United States trade representative
  • the first black woman to chair the president’s Council of Economic Advisers
  • the first ever woman to hold Alexander Hamilton’s position as Treasury Secretary

And that’s just for starters.