All-Star Panel:Reaction to US going after Chinese hackers

'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," May 19, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Today, we are announcing an indictment against five officers of the Chinese People's Liberation army for serious cyber-security breaches against six American victim companies. These represent the first ever charges against known state actors for infiltrating the United States commercial targets by cyber means.

JOHN CARLIN, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: In the past, when we brought concerns such as these to Chinese government officials, they responded by publicly challenging us to provide hard evidence of their hacking that could stand up in court. Well, today we are.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Today the Department of Justice, as you heard, charging five Chinese nationals with hacking into six different companies in the Pittsburgh area actually. And this case is going forward. They are now on the FBI's most wanted list. China, the foreign ministry responding with this, "The Chinese government, the Chinese military, and the relevant personnel have never engaged or participated in cyber theft of trade secrets. The U.S. accusation against Chinese personnel is purely ungrounded and absurd."

We're back with the panel. Jonah, this comes after a big visit by the head of the Chinese, the highest ranking Chinese general last week meeting with the vice president at the Pentagon. What do you make of this move and how it effects U.S./China relations?

GOLDBERG: Yes. I'm actually in favor of this move if it's actually backed up by something. If it's purely symbolic, symbolism is nice, it's important to diplomacy, but these people should be arrested. And I'm actually in favor of an idea by Jeremy Ratkin from George Mason University where we should revive the practice of issuing letters of marque. And we should actually employ people to go on attack to China. But that's a subject for a different issue.


GOLDBERG: I don't think anybody is actually shocked that the Obama foreign policy has maintained its incoherence with regard to China. It would be kind of weird to single out China where it had a coherent foreign policy and nowhere else. At the same time I think you can have things on two tracks, and it's important to figure out, at least getting this on the public national and international agenda is a worthwhile thing. It is an enormous issue.

BAIER: Kirsten, there are clearly two tracks here.

POWERS: Yeah. I mean, to me, I don't understand how anyone can even criticize this. This is obviously a good thing. Whether or not they are able to actually prosecute them, which they won't be able to, I still think that if they are going to the Chinese and making these claims and the Chinese are demanding that they prove them, I think that this is a step in that direction. It could potentially make life a little difficult for the people that are doing this once they leave the army, you know, the military and they try to go to the private sector, could maybe be a disincentive to people in the future. So I think it's just a net good and it's a completely separate issue on what you think of his larger foreign policy regarding China.

KRAUTHAMMER: I rise to the challenge of how could anybody be critical of this step.


KRAUTHAMMER: Easy, it is fictional foreign policy. This is a farce. The Chinese, we immediately rejected the charge as absurd and they make this absurd statement that we have never engaged in cyber theft. The whole world knows it, and we knew that the Chinese rejection would come. Second, we have no extradition treaty which, of course, they reject the existence of the charge in the first place, so it really wouldn't matter. Third, there is no way we are ever going to have these people stand trial.

POWERS: So we just ignore it?

KRAUTHAMMER: No. I'm warming to my subject.



KRAUTHAMMER: Until I get a signal that I'm running out of time.


KRAUTHAMMER: If you keep it up I will never get there. Fourth, there will never be a trial. This is simply a show. If you want to do something about this, announce, a, a doubling of our cyber defenses budget and add a whole section openly that we are going to now work, double our spending on cyber-attacks. Do something serious. If you do this in conjunction with that, then it means something.

I mean, the way that the Justice Department announced this as a new groundbreaking step, this is like tweeting Ukraine or tweeting the Boko Haram kidnappings. This is a government with power not using it and engaging in empty gestures instead. There, how did I do?

POWERS: Well, I just don't think that's -- I think that Obama got criticized when he was shifted money in the defense budget precisely for this reason, to spend more money on cyber-attacks. He has already done that. And then he was accused of weakening our foreign policy by doing exactly what you just said he should be doing.

BAIER: Quickly, on this two track premise, you have on the one side welcoming this Chinese general as tensions in the South Asian Sea are exploding with different countries. And then today's message is, you're bad for hacking and what are we going to do about it?

GOLDBERG: I go back to my lack of coherence point about Obama's foreign policy in regard to China. I don't think that these guys really know what to do vis-a-vis China, and they're still struggling with it.

BAIER: That was pretty succinct. That's it for the panel. But stay tuned to see the difference between good and bad journalism.

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