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The five defendants attempted to plead guilty in October 2008, but those pleas were voided after the Obama administration sought to move the case to the Justice Department.
The defendants said through their attorneys that they are refusing to participate in the proceedings to protest the legitimacy of the military tribunal.
The presiding judge at the hearing was Army Judge Col. James Pohl, who granted the defense’s request to start the death-penalty trial no earlier than May 5, 2013.
CYBER THINK-TANK EXCHANGE
The problem, according to U.S. officials, is that the Chinese think tank involved was a front for the political police and intelligence services known as the Ministry of State Security.
The front group is the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, known as CICIR (pronounced “kicker”), which is notorious among U.S. security and intelligence officials for its work on behalf of Chinese intelligence.
According to the Chinese newspaper, the cyber war games were designed to show how each country would react to a sophisticated computer-virus attack like the notorious Stuxnet that damaged Iran’s industrial-control systems, including at the nuclear plant at Bushehr.
China has been widely identified as being among the most aggressive states in conducting cyber-espionage and cyberwarfare, and the exchange has raised questions about whether holding even informal cooperation with the Chinese would boost their capabilities or knowledge of how to attack the United States.
The congressional U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, in its annual report last year, said CICIR is “the public face” of the intelligence ministry.
“Aside from its public role, CICIR is fully incorporated as the Eighth Bureau of the Ministry of State Security and provides research and analysis for the Chinese leadership,” the report said, noting that the front frequently hosts U.S. visitors and is a part of Chinese propaganda and influence operations.
Asked about its cooperation with an intelligence front, CSIS spokesman Andrew Schwartz said the think tank “meets with CICIR on a range of security issues.”
The two entities agreed two years ago to meet regularly on cybersecurity, he said.
“It’s a typical think tank roundtable-type setting - a seminarlike event, where we brief on U.S. policy, they brief on China’s policy and then we talk about specifics, like law enforcement cooperation,” he said.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.
He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.
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