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July 12, 2012
Notes from the Pentagon

Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander, the commander of the new U.S. Cyber Command, this week defended the creation of the military's digital war-fighting command and its training of cyberwarriors for future high-tech combat.

Asked by a Chinese reporter about the training of U.S. military personnel for cyberwarfare, including the Air Force’s recent graduation of the first six dedicated cyberwarriors, Gen. Alexander said:

“I think defending our country in cyberspace is one of our most important missions … to ensure that we’re secure.”

The four-star general, who also heads the super-secret electronic spying National Security Agency, also said the president and secretary of state recently outlined the limits of U.S. cyberwarfare efforts. He paraphrased the two officials as saying that “we’ll respond to those attacks in different forms.”

“And so from our perspective, we need a trained and ready force to defend this country,” Gen. Alexander said. “And we’re doing that. And it’s not just military: It’s military and civilian. We have some great technical capabilities here, and I think we’ve got to set those.”

Gen. Alexander said one priority is to “stop the theft of intellectual property and other things that are going on.”

He sidestepped a question about the threat to the United States posed by aggressive Chinese cyberintrusions and data theft.

Asked about the Chinese cyberthreat, he quipped: “Yes. Did you want a longer answer?”

Gen. Alexander then said it was difficult in an “unclassified environment” to talk about Chinese cyberthreats, but noted that statistically both the United States and China have the largest numbers of computers and related devices.

“There’s the greatest probability, then, that those devices are going to be used for disruptive, destructive and other forms, so we both have to get together and figure out a way forward,” he said.

“And I believe … the theft of intellectual property is astounding, and we’ve got to figure out how to stop that,” he added, following a speech to the American Enterprise Institute.

The new commander of the U.S. military forces in the Pacific told a Chinese military-affiliated television station recently that one of his major goals is to prevent a military “miscalculation” between the United States and China.

Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, head of the Pacific Command, also sought to play down U.S. concerns about China’s growing military power, during a recent interview with Hong Kong’s Phoenix Television, whose CEO and chairman is former People’s Liberation Army propaganda official Liu Changle.

The four-star admiral, who headed U.S. military operations that ousted Libya’s dictator Moammar Gadhafi, made clear that the United States is strengthening alliances as part of a shift toward Asia and will not allow the U.S. military to be pushed out of the region by China’s growing military power and assertiveness.

Adm. Locklear said the U.S. rebalancing of forces to the Pacific, where up to 60 percent of naval forces will be deployed, includes strengthening key strategic alliances with five major regional allies. The United States also values its developing strategic relationship because of mutual shared interests, he said.

“We also have a desire, I think, to not allow any miscalculation because of our military power, our military issues, to disrupt the opportunities in this region of the world,” Adm. Locklear said.

He noted that “we will remain in this part of the world because, as I look at my children and my grandchildren’s future back in the United States, what’s happening in this region of the world is important to them.”

Adm. Locklear said continued prosperity in Asia requires a stable security environment.

“And that will be my goal as a commander: to ensure through all the mechanisms, including a growing military-military relationship with China, to be able to ensure that we don’t let miscalculations get in the way of a security environment that allows us to prosper together,” he said.

U.S. officials in the past have used the word “miscalculaton” as a euphemism for a U.S. war or other military confrontation with China, topics that are widely discussed almost daily in published Chinese military writings. Adm. Locklear also said the United States does not have a policy of “containing” China, despite recent efforts to strengthen alliances with numerous non-communist states circling China, including India, Japan, Mongolia, the Philippines and Singapore.

“There is no intention nor desire to contain China. We recognize that China is an emerging power and will be a regional superpower in this part of the world. And that’s probably the way that destiny has taken it, and it’s a good thing,” he said.

“So, the question will be: How will the Chinese people and the U.S. people and our government and our military accept each other as an existing power, the United States, and a rising power, China. We all have choices to make in that relationship. We can make good choices together.”

Asked if China as an emerging power can work together peacefully with the existing U.S. superpower, Adm. Locklear said: “History is not destined to repeat itself.”

Retired Army Col. Kenneth Allard testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday regarding what he termed the bias of the New York Times, regarding its discredited 2008 Pulitzer Prize-winning report that falsely sought to reveal conflicts of interest and wrongdoing by former military officials who were briefed by the Pentagon during the George W. Bush administration.

Col. Allard, testifying on whether recent national security leaks by the Obama administration were designed to boost the president’s re-election efforts, said in prepared testimony that he personally experienced how the New York Times “deliberately distorts national security information, even to the point of plagiarism.”

The target of his ire was the inflammatory expose published on April 20, 2008, that charged 70 retired military officers, including Col. Allard, with misusing their positions while serving as military analysts on broadcast and cable television networks.

“The article went on at considerable length — 7,500 words — to suggest that we had been seduced by privileged access to closed-door Pentagon briefings; that some of the military analysts had allowed their ties to defense contractors to influence what they later said on TV (there were even hints of possible kickbacks); but above all, that the military analysts had conveyed to their TV audiences a view of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq secretly shaped by Pentagon propaganda,” he said.

The article prompted denunciations by 40 House Democrats and Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat, and then-Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama and set off several investigations into alleged wrongdoing.

Col. Allard stated: “After more than three years, four separate federal investigations, and the expenditure of at least $2.3 million, we were fully exonerated by the DOD IG [Department of Defense inspector general]. That agency found no evidence that any federal law, regulation or instruction had been violated, despite the charges leveled by the New York Times.”

The New York Times eventually issued a “clarification” but published it inside the newspaper on Christmas Day so it would receive little attention, Col. Allard said.

He then quoted from a Wall Street Journal commentary that stated that the original article, by New York Times reporter David Barstow, “all fit tidily into the narrative that the war was a conspiracy run by a Dick Cheney-Don Rumsfeld shadow government. Michigan Sen. Carl Levin and then-presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton called for federal investigations. Well, those investigations have now shown that the liars weren’t at the Pentagon.”

Col. Allard also said that his 2006 book, “Warheads: Cable News and the Fog of War,” provided Mr. Barstow with a “framework” for his 2008 article, but that was never mentioned by the reporter.

“When Mr. Barstow was awarded the Pulitzer, I also complained directly to the dean of the Columbia School of Journalism, which administers the Pulitzer awards committee,” Col. Allard said. “Finally, I also contacted the New York Times public editor and publisher, all to no avail.”

Col. Allard, a former Army intelligence officer, called for the House committee to investigate administration leaks to the New York Times and to reporter David Sanger for disclosing that the U.S. government dispatched the Stuxnet computer attack on Iran’s nuclear-plant control systems.

He also said that Congress “clearly owes the ‘Warheads’ an apology for the actions taken in its name and at the direct instigation of some members still holding office.”

“Not only are some of my brothers authentic heroes, but all are distinguished veterans who did nothing to deserve the ignominy heaped upon them by the New York Times — much less potential indictments,” Col. Allard said.

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