How a Chinese hack exposed the death of the Republic

  • 16 June 2015
  • NormanL
How a Chinese hack exposed the death of the Republic

The Office of Personnel Management was hacked. Sensitive information on millions of federal employees ended up, most experts believe, in the hands of the Chinese. As the online magazine Ars Technica notes: "the data from OPM and other breaches, foreign intelligence services have a goldmine of information about federal employees at every level of the government."

Maybe it will be used for espionage. Perhaps some of it will be sold on the black market. But the big question is: will anyone in the federal goverment be held accountable for what happened? The answer so far appears to be "no." And that's a huge problem in and of itself:

In a sense, the data breach reveals how far American government is from republicanism in character. Republics are flinty things. Men who govern republics are supposed to find it shameful when they waste the public's money. They are supposed to think of their failures as a kind of betrayal of the public trust. But how many people are going to get fired for this? How many will lose contracts or suffer public and professional humiliation? None is my guess.

Disgrace in the American Empire only falls on multi-star generals who give classified info to the biographers they are banging. Not the dopes who are cashing checks while the Chinese break in our digital backdoor.

We don't expect heads to roll over this data breach. Nor do we expect angry congressional hearings, blue ribbon panel investigation or a daily drumbeat of media stories.

A data breach? Happens all the time. Just enroll in credit monitoring and hope for the best. Except things may get even worse:

Two decades of bad security practices, a long decline in internal information technology experience within civilian agencies, and a tendency to contract out critical parts of IT to private companies without a great deal of technical oversight have created ripe attack conditions. To boot, DHS's efforts to provide a first line of defense against network attacks is based on an approach rooted in security strategies more than a decade old—and even that strategy is only now being fully put into place.

If no one is held accountable for a massive failure like this, no will will have an incentive to fix the problem...and make sure it never happens again.