Former Pentagon Official Says All Chinese Electronics In The US Could Have Built-In Trapdoors

Chinese Electronic Chips

Photo: Intertechnology via flickr

Richard Clarke Has another disturbing prediction for America.Clarke worked with four White House administrations during 30 years of government service before opening his own cybersecurity firm in the corridors of Arlington, Va  outside the nation’s capital.

He was at the State Department, the Department of defence, has a master’s Degree from MIT and was the Bush counter-terrorism guy who told the White House that al Qaeda was plotting a grand attack on American soil in the weeks leading up to 9/11.

After the attack, Clarke sat before the 9/11 commission and told them directly: “Your government failed you.”

Clarke recently spoke to Ron Rosenbaum at Smithsonian Magazine and told him the government is slipping up again, that while we now have the ability to coordinate a successful cyberwar, like slipping the Stuxnet virus into Iran’s nuclear system, the U.S. has absolutely no cyber defenses.

Which is a bad thing for a superpower that gets the lionshare of its electronic components, both civilian and military from China, one of its biggest global adversaries.

Clarke, like the rest of the world, knows China is sending compromised electronics to the U.S. by the boatload, to be used in military vehicles from submarines to fighter jets, and that many of them are poor quality, counterfeit, and worthless, but he thinks they hold another secret.

He believes the Chinese, already known for their industrial espionage, and electronic subterfuge, have built  “logic bombs,” “Trojan horses,” and trapdoors into all manner of electronic components that could be activated at a moments notice, sending a digital apocalypse to the U.S. military with a few simple keystrokes.

The following excerpt from Smithsonian, and cited by John Reed over at DefenseTech, illustrates the specifics of Clarke’s concern:

“My greatest fear,” Clarke says, “is that, rather than having a cyber-Pearl Harbor event, we will instead have this death of a thousand cuts. Where we lose our competitiveness by having all of our research and development stolen by the Chinese. And we never really see the single event that makes us do something about it. That it’s always just below our pain threshold. That company after company in the United States spends millions, hundreds of millions, in some cases billions of dollars on R&D and that information goes free to China….After a while you can’t compete.”

But Clarke’s concerns reach beyond the cost of lost intellectual property. He foresees the loss of military power. Say there was another confrontation, such as the one in 1996 when President Clinton rushed two carrier battle fleets to the Taiwan Strait to warn China against an invasion of Taiwan. Clarke, who says there have been war games on precisely such a revived confrontation, now believes that we might be forced to give up playing such a role for fear that our carrier group defenses could be blinded and paralysed by Chinese cyberintervention. (He cites a recent war game published in an influential military strategy journal called Orbis titled “How the U.S. Lost the Naval War of 2015.”)

That 1995 show of force in the Taiwan Strait was the single largest display of U.S. military power in the region since the Vietnam War . Today, with the U.S. pivoting back to the region after a decade of war in the Middle East, it faces an incredibly wealthy China that’s spending heavily on an extensive military force.

So while it may seem like Clarke could just be trying to drum up business, the question remains why wouldn’t China do this to give itself the advantage in a face-off with the U.S. military?

China writes the book on corporate espionage, and if the U.S. is foolish enough to create weapons it could use against the PRC with Chinese made electronics, then who would be the bigger fool: the U.S. for buying them, or the Chinese for not building-in a solution to neutralize its adversary?


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