- The Washington Times - Friday, November 20, 2015

Sen. John McCain has written the Obama administration to raise concerns over the White House’s failure to sanction China as a result of a rash of recent cyberattacks attributed on Beijing.

While President Obama and his Chinese counterpart agreed to curb cyber assaults against each other’s governmental networks following a September meeting in Washington, D.C, the Arizona Republican is imploring top administration officials to weigh its options for retaliation as skepticism mounts concerning the agreement between the heads of state.

In letters sent this week to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Mr. McCain called into question the Obama administration’s reluctance so far to take action against China, specifically its failure to impose sanctions as a result of a wave of cyberattacks against U.S. government and corporate targets.

The White House had been reportedly weighing sanctions against China prior to Mr. Obama’s meeting two months ago with President Xi Jinping, where the two agreed to scale back cyberattacks against one another. Nevertheless, intelligence officials in Washington and security experts alike have accused Chinese hackers of launching strikes against American networks in the weeks since.

“I am dismayed by this president’s inability to recognize that this is already a national security threat as well as an area of competition with China,” Mr. McCain wrote to the DOJ and DHS heads in a letter sent Thursday.

“The failure to utilize these authorities is alarmingly consistent with this administration’s refusal to articulate a robust strategy to deter cyberattacks,” the senator added. “The theft of economic data means the United States is footing the bill for the research and development of our enemies to acquire tools to be used against us, and this will continue until our adversaries understand that attacking and pilfering the United States in cyberspace is no longer a low-cost endeavor, but instead will carry real consequences, in the form of sanctions or otherwise

In a separate letter to Mr. Clapper, the senator said that Chinese hackers “will persist until those determined to attack understand there is a cost associated with cybertheft,” adding that “repeated attacks demonstrate the potential cost of a weak cyber strategy and the national security price we may pay for refusal to utilize available tools to deter further attacks.”

Previously, Mr. McCain asked the intelligence director during a September hearing if he thought the pact between the White House and Beijing would last, to which Mr. Clapper responded with an empathetic “no.” Last week, the Department of Homeland Security dispatched an envoy to China to prep for a second round of talks slated for next month in Washington.


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