When reporters asked Vice Admiral Thomas Wilson, the new head of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, about Chinese cyberwarfare plans, he appeared a bit undone. "It's a big part of this asymmetric threat, and it's probably bigger than all of outdoors in terms of trying to get your arms around it," he declared.

Still, the seriousness of the Chinese cybercampaign is debatable. "I am skeptical [that these kinds of] 'offensive information operations' can be anything more than seriously annoying," said John Pike, a defense analyst at the American Federation of Scientists. He thinks it's more of a nuisance than anything else—and that part of the trick of this sort of warfare is to keep it at such a level so the enemy doesn't get serious and embark on a bombing campaign. "That said," Pike continued, "the U.S. is more dependent on network systems than any other country in the world. . . . If you want to be a nuisance to the U.S. without provoking us to nuke you, this is one way to do it."

Over the last several months, the Chinese have proposed employing a range of guerrilla warfare tactics to undermine the West in a "dirty war." That can involve terrorism, biochemical warfare, environmental damage, and computer viruses designed to throw the West into crisis—hacking into Pentagon computers, rigging the stock market, tricking banks with phony transactions. Chinese military writers think that cyberwar is necessary because it can't hope to stand up to the West's military apparatus.

One recent book, written by two PLA air force colonels, lists 24 ways to knock off the U.S. and its allies. They write enthusiastically of George Soros's attack on the British pound in 1992. One article suggests China should set aside $100 billion to throw its enemies into economic ruin. Colonel Qiao Liang, the author of another book, argued in an article, "All strong countries make rules, while all rising ones break them and exploit loopholes. Barbarians [a Chinese term for foreigners] always rise by breaking the rules of civilised and developed countries, which is what human history is all about."

Recently Chinese government hackers tried to destroy Web sites maintained by the Taiwan National Assembly, and while they caused enough damage to close down the sites for three days, they never did wipe out data in the computers. Taiwanese hackers struck back, forcing Beijing to disconnect computers from the Web until a new protective "wall" was put in place.

It Won't Make You Go Blind, But . . .
Debbie Does Disability

Sex workers won a precedent-setting decision last week when Florida's labor department granted workers' compensation to a woman who claimed she had to masturbate on the job. The 40-year-old Fort Lauderdale phone sex operator said she developed carpal tunnel syndrome from answering the phone with one hand and using the other to note customers' names and fetishes and to give herself an orgasm during the conversation. In her claim for $267 a week (based on average weekly wages of $400), the woman said she was injured from "repetitive use of the phone." She also asked for $30,000 to pay a surgeon for operating on her hands to relieve the pain.

Christian Science

"Regular churchgoers tend to recover faster from surgery, have fewer life-threatening infections and generally enjoy better health than their atheist neighbors. Of course, it is impossible to know whether fellowship and connection to a supportive community accounts for this, or if it’s the hand of You Know Who." —Mona Charen in the Washington Times,November 18, 1999

Additional reporting: Kate Cortesi

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