The U.S. should launch a cyberattack campaign against China, 2016 GOP hopeful Mike Huckabee said Monday, days after it was revealed suspected Chinese hackers had pilfered 4 million federal workers’ records.
"What will it take for President Obama to open his eyes?” Huckabee said, calling it “mind-boggling” that the administration wouldn’t hack China in response to the breach revealed last Thursday at the Office of Personnel Management.
“The way you deal with a bully on the playground is to punch them in the face and put them on the ground because the only thing they respect is power,” he said.
It’s believed China is building a database on U.S. government workers in order to stage future cyberattacks, ranging from targeted phishing attacks to blackmail to imitating high-ranking officials.
"The Chinese attacked our government and hacked into the lives of four million Americans,” said the former Arkansas governor. “The response and retaliation to this behavior is simple — America should hack the Chinese government. We should hack the cellphones of some prominent Communist party leaders, hack the bank accounts of intelligence officials, publicly humiliate Chinese families for political corruption, or wipe-out a few critical Chinese computer systems."
Since declaring his candidacy for president, Huckabee has been hammering Obama over his handling of China. He believes the president has been too compliant with Beijing, and more concerned about seeking trade deals than curbing the Asian power’s aggression in areas like the South China Sea.
But offensive counterattacks through cyberspace is a contentious topic among officials and security experts. Many believe it would only escalate cyber conflicts, leading to a greatly feared destructive attack on a public utility, such as the electrical grid, financial system or water supply.
And without any clear international rules of the road, the Pentagon and White House have been loath to publicly explain their offensive cyber strategy.
However, a recently updated Pentagon cybersecurity strategy did contain an unprecedented focus on offensive capabilities. It affirmed that the U.S. would use retaliatory tactics in limited situations.
“The United States must be able to declare or display effective response capabilities to deter an adversary from initiating an attack,” the document said.
Huckabee’s suggestion would likely go beyond this edict. But he thinks it’s the only option to curb China’s rapidly advancing cyber espionage campaign. The U.S. has also blamed the Asian power for digitally pilfering massive amounts of trade secrets.
"When you tolerate bad behavior and bullying, you get more of it,” Huckabee said. “If the Chinese attacked a military base or government facility, the U.S. would respond in-kind. A cyber attack against America is no different — we must retaliate proportionately and hack China back.”