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Beltway Confidential

US government declares hacking an act of war, then hacks allies

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Beltway Confidential,The Pentagon,National Security,Ashe Schow,Edward Snowden,Computer hacking,Cybersecurity

Revelations from European leaders on Monday that the National Security Agency bugged European Union offices in Washington and hacked into its computer network bring to light hypocrisy on the part of the U.S. government.

In 2011, the Pentagon released its first formal cyber strategy, which called computer hacking from other nations an "act of war," according to the Wall Street Journal. In late June of this year, WSJ reported that Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower, released information alleging the U.S. government was hacking Chinese targets "that include the nation's mobile-phone companies and one of the country's most prestigious universities."

Now that EU offices have been hacked by the U.S. government as well, one must wonder if that was an "act of war" on the part of the United States.

Pentagon officials emphasized in 2011, however, that not every cyberattack would be considered an act of war unless it threatened American lives, commerce or infrastructure. There would also have to be indisputable evidence that the suspected nation state was involved.

U.S. hacking of China and the EU may not have caused such harm to those countries, but that hasn't stopped EU officials from expressing outrage. "I am deeply worried and shocked about the allegations of U.S. authorities spying on EU offices," Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament said. "If the allegations prove to be true, it would be an extremely serious matter which will have a severe impact on EU-U.S. relations."

Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg's foreign minister, also chimed in, calling the practice "abominable."

A spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that "bugging friends is unacceptable."

French President Francois Hollande condemned the practice as well, saying, "We cannot accept this type of behavior between partners and allies." Hollande later said that the hacking was not necessary for anti-terrorism efforts. "We know that there are systems which have to control notably for the threat against terrorism, but I do not think that this is in our embassies or in the EU that this risks exist," he said.

President Obama, however, doesn't seem to think he's done anything wrong.

Apparently, you might be a terrorist if you work for the EU.

h/t @mikko

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