The private and sensitive information about America’s beloved veterans and our families is at risk from being exposed to foreign computer hackers, who wish to see America fall from grace.

Spies have been stealing secrets and other valuables from enemies, and harassing them endlessly for thousands of years. As tools and technology grew, so did the means and motives to abscond with the other guy’s booty and give him decades of hell.

Thieves used the precious intel to further their own agenda, which often included conquering a country and enslaving her people.

The Bible deals with theft in many of its timeless books. Leviticus 19:11 states: “You shall not steal. You shall not deal falsely. You shall not lie to one another.”

Look anywhere in your sphere of influence and you see people stealing, dealing falsely and continually lying to one another. With all The Bible’s grand wisdom, how is it that we don’t listen, respect and implement it?

We teach our children at a young age to respect the words, but at some point, they are subjected to mainstream news, information and entertainment that speaks otherwise and turns some of our kids into little monsters.

It’s no surprise that some of those industrious rascals become world-class, high-tech wizards that stalk unsuspecting prey—a government, company, family or individual. Even our veterans.

In today’s world, many of those wizards come from Russia and China, mainly because both governments place such a high priority on developing, educating, training, maintaining and sponsoring high-caliber spies, assassins and other shady characters that cause us no end of trouble. Fortunately for us, our own counterintelligence apparatus has known about some of these foreign spies living and working in America.

Shortly after WWII, the Soviets fell into utter disrepair and painful collapse that continues to this very day. Curiously, unlike Russia, the Chinese were handed the opportunity of a lifetime: developing the world’s largest manufacturing and technology base to service the entire planet.

Though the DoD will never admit, it actually procures Chinese products (including software) for use in our military’s hardware like the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning II, tanks and troop carriers, encrypted radios, computers, etc. You’d think that the TOP SECRET designation has teeth and means we don’t allow our enemies into our kitchen. Evidently, we do and it’s costing us untold billions of dollars to mitigate this sensitive issue.

Today, spies use the most sophisticated tech and other means available and do unlimited damage not only to the state but to innocent citizens. The US government has allowed this to happen, and 

now faces one of its greatest crises: sitting on the brink of war with two powerful nations that are clearly pissed off at America.

No one wants an all-out world war, though war itself is good business. Recall what Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler said in a 1933 speech:

“War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses. 

“I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we'll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns six percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get a hundred percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.

“I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.

“I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.

“I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long.

“I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

“During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”

General Butler’s timeless book, War Is A Racket, further describes how much money the business of war earned in the early part of the 20th century. In today’s dollars, the profits are astronomical, so it is understandable why most governments find a way into a profitable war or internecine conflict that lasts years, if not decades.

The mainstream history books state otherwise, but the results speak for themselves: America has always been at war, and war profiteers have always done whatever it takes to prolong each one, to line their pockets with billions of dollars.

Our conflicts with Russia and China go back hundreds of years. Today, they are more fertile than ever, though our own media report little on them. The recent computer hack of our government’s sensitive computers, supposedly the best-protected computer systems anywhere, demonstrates that our enemies are working in full force to acquire valuable intel on us, especially our military and VA personnel.

Why would the Chinese and Russians care about America’s veterans? For one, we still have sensitive information about their former jobs in the US military. Two, as we all know, many of our beloved veterans are vulnerable mentally and physically, and could be enticed or coerced to reveal sensitive intelligence.

The prime motive for handing over state secrets and other intel to our enemies has almost been money. And sex. The Chinese reason that America’s citizens are in a sorry state, not just because of the COVID-19 crisis, and are ripe for the pickin’ of sensitive information. It’s happened before; it will happen again. That’s just human nature.

The Russians have long infiltrated US government departments and civilian businesses, and even long-ago established an entire city and “university” to train spies to move to America and blend in until called up. Some of these spies were caught, their fates unknown.

Others, though, continue to live and work among us, still collecting information that aids their home government and country. This type of human-intelligence (HUMINT) gathering is no longer cost effective, plus it usually cannot produce results in a short period of time. These days, the bad guys operate on the millisecond level, something HUMINT couldn’t possibly match.

With the rise of very sophisticated high-tech in the computer industry, both the Russians and Chinese are slowly abandoning the old HUMINT method of gathering intel. Instead, they have invented new ways to exploit our computer systems, find a back door in, steal what they wish, and exfil without being detected, all from the comfort of a warm office deep behind enemy lines.

Cyberespionage is less risky, costly and dangerous than using live humans in the field, so goodbye to HUMINT. The old Cold War is alive and well, just on a whole new playing field: cyberspace.

The recent hacks into US government computer systems appear to have been taken lightly, with our news media reporting little on them. President-elect Biden has pledged to go after the Chinese and/or Russian hackers responsible for the attacks, and even stated he might respond in kind. President Trump has largely ignored the hacks, his advisors telling him not to engage in such a sensitive issue in his final days as president.

According to a Bloomberg report on 23 December 2020, “Already, investigators and government officials have pointed to an elite group of hackers tied to the Russian government and suggested a fairly obvious rationale: that it was an espionage operation aimed at nabbing classified intelligence and other inside information.

“But some lawmakers and people involved in the investigations have said that the magnitude and breadth of the hack point to other objectives, including undermining Americans’ faith in the systems themselves. U.S. cybersecurity officials have warned that the attackers pose a ‘grave risk’ to federal, state and local government agencies, in addition to the private sector and critical infrastructure, which could include anything from the electrical grid to transportation networks.

“Some have even likened the attack to an act of war, raising the stakes in how the U.S. might respond.”

So far, we know that the hackers breached computers at Treasury, Commerce, State and Homeland Security, and the National Nuclear Security Administration. If the hackers have gotten that deep into our systems, it is fair to assume the VA was, and still is, targeted.

The biggest problems facing US investigators are identifying the cyberattackers, determining how deep the attacks actually run, and what to do about it. It will takes months to know the extent of the attacks, which are still ongoing, thanks to vulnerable commercial software and computer systems, and our own lack of accurate intel and how to deal with it.

We suggest that all veterans download a copy of their complete VA file, which includes military file and healthcare records, and store it on DVDs in a fire-proof safe. If possible, keep paper copies of your records in a safe space, as well, and do not alert anyone (except trusted family) to its contents or whereabouts. Also, please log onto your profile page(s) at the VA and ensure your information is accurate. If not, change it online or call the VA immediately if you cannot do it yourself online.

Additionally, we remind you to stay vigilant when dealing with strangers. While 2020 is no 1940s Nazi Germany, our country is under attack from all sides in this new game of cyberwarfare. It is an unseen enemy that seeks to study and learn about our vulnerabilities, and exploit them to their advantage.

Remember above all else: the best security is anonymity.

AUTHOR: Bo Riley reports on issues of interest to veterans and active-duty personnel. He’s a former Army Ranger with the 1st Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, and lives in the Tampa Bay area.