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The Board also noted that the crowdsourcing project triggered an extensive debate on the accuracy of the report, which was completed without access to classified data, and warned it could have “serious political and military implications.”

Some analysts challenged the Georgetown study because one of its sources was a fictional Chinese television program about the Second Artillery Corps, which runs China’s strategic nuclear forces.

“Whether the report is completely accurate or not, this event provides a ‘proof-of-concept’ on how crowdsourcing can be used to augment limited analytical capacity,” the Defense Science Board said, adding that U.S. intelligence should set up a process to support crowdsourcing that would “ensure that a non-prejudicial process is established whereby open source and mainstream intelligence assessments can be reconciled.”

The Georgetown study caught U.S. intelligence agencies off-guard and triggered a debate over the number of warheads in China’s nuclear arsenal. Official intelligence estimates put the number at some 200 to 300 warheads. Other analysts have challenged that estimate, based on China’s fissile material production capability and increasing number of nuclear missile and other forces.

Economic warfare threats

The U.S. remains vulnerable to cyberattacks on its economy by al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, as well as by nation-states like China.

That’s the conclusion of a new book by financial analyst Kevin Freeman, “Game Plan: How to Protect Yourself from the Coming Cyber-Economic Attack.”

Mr. Freeman, who initially exposed in a Pentagon report the possible sabotage leading to the 2008 financial collapse, reports that al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri threatened last year to “bleed America economically.”

Al Qaeda is not alone in recognizing America’s economic vulnerabilities,” Mr. Freeman writes. “Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, and a host of other regimes have at one time or another suggested that America could be taken down by economic warfare.”

Mr. Freeman recounts another major indicator of strategic vulnerability to economic warfare, namely, the Syrian Electronic Army’s cyberattack on The Associated Press Twitter account that caused a temporary 1 percent drop in the stock market.

Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander, outgoing head of the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command, recently bolstered Mr. Freeman’s warning during a “60 Minutes” interview.

“I believe that a foreign nation could impact and destroy major portions of our financial system,” Gen. Alexander said, noting that “right now it would be difficult to stop [such a cyber attack] because our ability to see it is limited.”

Mr. Freeman’s book explores the variety of malicious economic and cyber warfare threats the economy faces, including hyperinflation, dollar failure, banking collapse and electromagnetic pulse strikes.

“You haven’t seen anything yet,” Mr. Freeman told Inside the Ring. “The next attack is coming and will be worse than 9/11 and the 2008 financial collapse combined.”

China’s space weapons

Story Continues →