It’s looking more an more like the U.S. government may not take retaliatory actions against the state behind the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) breach. China, who the FBI believes was behind the attack, gained access to the security clearance documents (SF86) of past and present government employees, including military and intelligence officials. While knowledge the breach was made public on June 4, the scope and severity of the hack wasn’t disclosed until approximately one week later. Additionally, the initial number of 4 million people affected may become as high 32 million after family members and other contacts listed in the employees’ forms are taken into account. For better understanding of what is disclosed in these documents, see the conclusion of John Schindler’s entry.
The likelihood of the U.S. even pointing the finger at China is slim, says intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge. The Obama administration continues to bend over backwards for Iran in hopes of reaching a nuclear agreement by the June 30 deadline. To the dismay of our Middle East allies, the completion of a deal appears to be goal number one for the administration, regional stability be damned.
Further complicating potential retaliation for the OPM breach is China’s relations with Iran. If the Chinese are singled out publicly as being behind the breach, an Iran deal would be put further in jeopardy, as Chinese support of a deal is considered essential to its completion. Additionally, at a time when China is seeking to establish itself militarily and increase its influence around the globe, reputation is something the Chinese hold in very high regard. Public retaliation would therefore go a long way. A nuclear deal with Iran, on the other hand, would benefit one party and one party only, that being the Iranians, and the argument that Obama believes a deal would be in America’s best interest falls flat on its face.
With the above in mind, would it be unreasonable to expect an American president to act in his country’s best interest? The Obama administration continuously seeks to appease two countries that wish to do us harm. What about appeasing the higher-level intelligence and military officers whose life histories are now in the hands of the Chinese? The most the U.S. government has done is offer those affected by the breach little more than what amounts to a glorified version of LifeLock.
China committed what will prove to be the largest government data breach in history. They should be publicly shamed for this and import deals should be threatened. But we know they won’t be.