Cyber-Nonsense from Richard Clarke (courtesy of the NY Times)

In an op-ed in Monday’s NY Times, Richard Clarke, former Special Advisor on Cyber-security to President Bush, raised alarm bells about “foreign hackers, particularly from China, [who] penetrate American firms’ computers and steal huge amounts of valuable data and intellectual property.”  Neither Congress nor the Obama Administration, in Clarke’s view, is doing enough to halt this “continuing, rampant cybertheft,” which amounts to  “the greatest transfer of wealth in history.”  He goes on:

Because it is fearful that government monitoring would be seen as a cover for illegal snooping and a violation of citizens’ privacy, the Obama administration has not even attempted to develop a proposal for spotting and stopping vast industrial espionage. . . . But by failing to act, Washington is effectively fulfilling China’s research requirements while helping to put Americans out of work. Mr. Obama must confront the cyberthreat, and he does not even need any new authority from Congress to do so.  Under Customs authority, the Department of Homeland Security could inspect what enters and exits the United States in cyberspace.

[emphasis added]

Really!? And how, exactly, do you propose that they do that?! [Extra credit: Why does the NY Times persist in printing nonsense like this?]  Inspect what enters and exits the US in cyberspace?? This is the guy who was the “cyber-czar” for 3 years?

It doesn’t work like that — does Clarke really not get it?  There’s a single global network that has a (virtually) infinite number of entry points.  There are no ships coming into the harbor that you can board and inspect.  There’s no place where you can station your border guards to check stuff coming “in to the United States” or moving “out of the United States.”  Oh — and we actually like it that way; that’s one of the very important things that makes the Net such an astonishing place.  You want to open up and inspect every packet that lands on the desktop of anyone located within US borders?  Is that what you’ve got in mind?  If that’s your proposal (and I can’t for the life of me imagine what else you might have in mind to accomplish this bizarre and absurd task) — No, thank you. [Extra Credit #3:   of the innumerable constitutional and statutory provisions such a plan would violate, choose 3 and discuss]