Why Didn’t We Ask China to Find Scooter Libby’s Missing Plame Leak E-Mails?

WSJ has an article reporting on the purportedly Chinese-launched GMail hacks that targeted top White House officials.

The article is interesting not because it claims the Chinese want to hack top officials. Who do you think they’d be most interested in hacking?

Rather, the article is interesting for some of the implications bandied about in the article. For example, Darrell Issa and CREW’s Melanie Sloan suggest the only reason the Chinese would hack the GMail accounts of White House officials is if those people were improperly conducting official business on GMail.

“If all White House officials were following rules prohibiting the use of personal email for official business, there would simply be no sensitive information to find,” said Rep. Darrell Issa, Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and a frequent thorn in the Obama administration’s side. “Unfortunately, we know that not everyone at the White House follows those rules and that creates an unnecessary risk.”

Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group, said the hacking “suggests China believes government officials are using their personal accounts for official business, because I doubt they were looking for their weekend plans or a babysitter’s schedule. Presumably, the Chinese wouldn’t have done this if they weren’t getting something.”

More plausible is the suggestion that the Chinese were phishing for information they could then use to compromise other accounts.

Stewart Baker, a former homeland security official in the Bush administration, said he suspects the ultimate goal of the hacking may have been to use the email accounts as a stepping stone to penetrate the officials’ home computers.

“If you can compromise that machine, you may well be able to access the communications they are having with the office,” said Mr. Baker.

I’m most interested in all the assumptions here, that a bunch of Chinese hackers know precisely how the White House email system works. If that’s true, why haven’t we asked the Chinese to turn over the emails OVP deleted from the first days of the Plame leak investigation? And why haven’t we asked the Chinese to turn over all those emails hidden on the RNC’s server? Maybe they can also help us find all of John Yoo’s torture emails?

Given how common it is, these days, for top officials to just delete their most inconvenient emails, I’m thinking American citizens ought to invite Chinese hackers to help us reclaim all the official records our overlords try to destroy.

34 replies
  1. MadDog says:

    …Given how common it is, these days, for top officials to just delete their most inconvenient emails, I’m thinking American citizens ought to invite Chinese hackers to help us reclaim all the official records our overlords try to destroy.

    Since we’re getting everything else Made in China, we might as well have them run our government too.

    Outsource it all to China. Congress, the courts, all of the agencies like the SEC, FTC, FDA, all of the Executive branch including the DOJ, FBI, State, Agriculture, etc.

    Hell, let’s just sell off the United States to China and we all can retire to…???

  2. rugger9 says:

    Well, it does give me the idea why W was sooooo deferential to the Chinese government on everything, even forcing down our surveillance plane without a peep from the WH. Or the renminbi manipulation, or the poisoned food, people and pets included, or Tibet, or …. It’s a wonder we hadn’t given them a green light to take over Taiwan. Let’s not forget Rover “lost” a Blackberry that no one ever asked about after he left.

    If the PRC had the goods on W [and his WH was stupid enough to do this] I’m sure they leveraged for everything they could get.

    And, we still (according to the DOD) can’t protect our systems until 2013. Hmmmmm.

    • mzchief says:

      It’s a wonder we hadn’t given them a green light to take over Taiwan.

      Yeah, China is not very popular with the Taiwanese:

      “Although China is rapidly developing, it’s still not a civilized country and it could never win respect from the world if it continues to repress freedom of expression,” Lee said.

      (excerpt from “Supporters speak out on behalf of arrested Tibetans,” Mar. 11, 2011)

      • JTMinIA says:

        > “Yeah, China is not very popular with the Taiwanese”

        That’s a tad simplistic, IMO. While my Taiwanese students are often loath to discuss politics with me, it’s quite clear that opinion on the island is mixed on China. If I’ve seen any pattern, it’s a correlation between whether the student is from the north end (i.e., Taipei) vs the south and how they feel about the Mainland.

        • mzchief says:

          Clearly there’s even greater pressure on Taiwan. I know folks from there who are not students and they are not at all interested in being governed by Beijing and say so quite openly and emphatically.

    • Citizen92 says:

      All of the Senior Bushie officials at the White House used the gwb43.org and rnchq.org domains running through servers in Chattanooga for all high level communications. And not their who.eop.gov computers. Damn sure the Chinese tried to get in there, and surely they have Rove’s number.

      • Watt4Bob says:

        I believe those same Republican servers in Chattanooga were set up by Rove’s IT guy, the one who helped hack the Ohio election results, where the local precincts sent the vote totals to the Republican servers which then transferred the data to the states servers in Ohio.

        This kind of hack is called a ‘Man-in-the-middle’ hack and is a classic way to steal/change/manipulate data or what have you, in this case the 2004 election.

        The biggest danger here is that the hackers, in this case the Republican party, may themselves be hacked by say the Chinese government, resulting in our election results being hacked not by the Republicans who set up the hack, but by the Chinese who captured/hacked it.

        The question then becomes, do the Republicans admit that they have been had, or do they fold just like the democrats do when they’ve been ripped off?

        My bet is that the Republican’s would keep their mouths shut, go ahead and let the Chinese pick for president stand, and hope of better results next time, rather than admit they had been stealing elections themselves.

        Incidentally, the man who built this system for Rove died when his small plane crashed just prior to his testimony before congress.

        H/T to Lisa Derrick, see her post for more details.

  3. rugger9 says:

    True enough, but the PRC still considers Taiwan a rebellious province, not a separate country. That’s why in the 70s there was such a commotion about the PRC taking over the Taiwan seat in the Security Council as a permanent member. Both consider themselves as the “true” China, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Taiwan acknowledging reality and going independent, in which case the PRC will invade. They’ve made that clear. The USA is obligated by treaty to defend Taiwan. How much W sold out from under that remains to be seen, but anyone whose spent any time in the area is under no illusions that the PRC is the biggest problem in the area. Since North Korea gets something like 90% of its resources from the PRC, they dance to the tune played by the PRC.

    • PJEvans says:

      I’ve heard they consider all non-mainland-resident people of Chinese ancestry to be their citizens, regardless of the wishes of those people.

      Adding to your list: the Cultural Revolution, where anyone who wasn’t practicing a politically-approved art was sent to work in the fields. (I met a woman who had walked out through Burma. She’d been a symphony violinist before they shipped her to the fields.)

  4. bell says:

    the usa gov’t might like to make a big whinny fuss about wikileaks, but what are they going to do about china, especially if these chinese hacks find some real dirt? granted, there is plenty enough dirt on the usa at this point and those in power are craven enough to think it matters diddly squat……..

  5. xyno says:

    Why does Issa assume that Chinese hackers would only be interested in official business? There’s a longstanding practice in intelligence of using embarrassing details of people’s personal lives as leverage. The Chinese hackers could well have been fishing for that kind of stuff.

  6. marksb says:

    Issa is a fool–a smart fool–taking advantage of media propensity to report any stupid thing a politician says without question or research…and certainly without challenge.

    On the other hand, I still don’t understand why we don’t have those deleted emails. It takes a focused effort (to the point of creating a program) to actually delete such from servers and backup media. That effort sould leave a fat trail if forensic investigators dug into the WH system.

    Looking forward, I guess.

  7. cregan says:

    I’m looking for the Chinese to find the email from Joe Wilson where he reports to the CIA that the Nigerian officials told him that the only reason Iraq would have contacted them to set up a meeting, that they could think of, was about getting yellow cake.

    And, then, he published a big column in a major newspaper saying he found nothing related to Iraq seeking yellow cake.

    Oh, and then, he was shocked, yes, shocked, that some accused him of skewing the truth for political reasons.

    Oh wait, that was already in the CIA report, so I guess we don’t need the Chinese.

    Oh yeah, and Joe admitted it verbally on Dec. 5, 2003 Meet the Press.

  8. Shoto says:

    the hacking “suggests China believes government officials are using their personal accounts for official business,

    I’m shocked! Shocked, I tell you!

    Actually, the only surprising part of that assertion is that WH officials would be that stupid.

    On the other hand, I take that back…

    • mzchief says:

      As Emptywheel points out, there certainly can be an upside since Google located their servers inside China (July 12, 2010). On a bit more serious note, a former government official escaped to the US and was legally here but apparently knew enough to hide for a period of time as he thought he would easily be abducted by Chinese agents and returned to mainland China (source: documented in this book he has written). Think about what that says.

  9. Disgusteddan says:

    No need to ask the Chinese for the missing emails. I’m sure you would find all of them in the NSA’s vacuum cleaner.

  10. Kassandra says:


    House Voting Now on Ending Libya War
    Submitted by davidswanson on Fri, 2011-06-03 14:41


    The U.S. House of Representatives today will vote on two resolutions.

    H.C.R. 51 sponsored by Dennis Kucinich would — if also passed by the Senate — have the force of law and end the Libya War. If this does not pass, Rep. Jerrold Nadler said on the floor this morning, there are no circumstances in which a president will not be able to go to war at his/her whim.

    Fearing that Kucinich’s resolution might pass, Speaker John Boehner has introduced H.Res.294, a toothless resolution that would not carry any force and not even go to the Senate for a vote. This resolution admits that the war is unauthorized but does not end it or even suggest ending it.

    Congress members are speaking in support of congressional power but bowing to partisan power and presidential power. They need to hear from you.

    Maybe………….. on edit: http://warisacrime.org/

  11. mafr says:

    china has been playing such games for a very long time. I am pretty sure they’re better at it than we are.

    Think of all those people, studying eighteen hours a day, to be better at something than the million or so others they may be competing against for a spot in school.

    That’s why they will probably conquer what’s left of the world, without firing a shot, while we stumble around in Asia, for nothing.

    this is interesting.

  12. onitgoes says:

    What? Is this the sound of the “other shoe” dropping?

    Yeah, the fracking dumbing down of Team USA, the conservatives lavish LOVE for teh dumbest-er-er who graduated from some Xtian joke of a “university,” but the hubris combined with sheer greedy pig-ignorance knows no bounds.

    The Chinese probably OWN us lock, stock & smoking gun, and probably have for quite a while now. Nothing would surpise me, at this stage, and frankly, I’m about to welcome our new Sino-Overlords with open arms bc I’m sick & d*mn bloody tired of the Devil we know right now.

    I can certainly believe any scenario involving Chinese hacking into LOTS of systems in our idiotic overly arrogant nation. That’s how empires are brought LOW by the so-called “barbarian” hordes. Hubris, sloth, arrogance, idiocy, inbred politics, “old boyz” networks on steriods all doing each other favors.

    If not now, some day soon the chickens will come home to roost. It’s nearly inevitable given the braindead, arrogant, ignorant stupidity of our overlords, be they politicians or greedheads on Wall St or in the MIC.

    • Kassandra says:

      Be careful what you ask for.
      I don’t think the Chinese own US yet, but I’m pretty sure the international banksters do.

  13. regulararmyfool says:

    The Holder regime at “Justice” can find illegal music downloaders, non-criminal “illegal” aliens and medical marijuana shops.

    Then they can’t find the tracks of the banking thieves, the war profiteers, the criminal elements in the Supreme Joke, the collusion of the insurance industry, the fraudulent billing for medical services, the monopolistic practices of big Pharma, the dangerous work of the genetic manipulators nor track down the enormous sums of money from the “illegal” drug industry that flow through the American financial system and on and on and on.

    This is not an accident.

    I don’t even want to think of what President Obama and this two bit shyster will do next.

  14. bzick says:

    Maybe if someone made an offer, the hackers would be willing to sell those various missing emails (if they have them).

  15. Gerald USN Ret says:

    I really chuckled at this one.

    I sent the heading of this thread to my niece Jodi who is at Computex Taipei 2011 right now. She actually has been all over that area including China for the last 4 or 5 weeks or so working with the emerging tablet technology revolution.

    My own question is would anyone here have believed the Chinese if they said there were no emails?

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