Thor’s new book is very much about the People’s Republic of China and how it operates and why it does some of the inexplicable things it undeniably does do. Which brings us to this story from the front page of the New York Times.
Preface to my commentary: I was the General Counsel and then Deputy Director of the Office of Personnel Management (“OPM”) from 1986 to 1989. I know what the agency is and whom it investigates. The latter category is enormous. The agency does the investigation on everyone who needs one that the FBI doesn’t have time or inclination to do. Sometimes it helps the FBI do background checks but most of the time OPM does the work itself, often using contractors. An OPM investigation is not as comprehensive as an FBI “full field” background check, but it collects lots and lots of data on everyone it is tasked to investigate.
And it is tasked to investigate tens of thousands of people every year –every civilian with the need for any kind of clearance gets run through the OPM system: a security guard at Lawrence Livermore, a janitor at Great Lakes Navy Base, a GS-14 at China Lake, every member of every presidential commission who doesn’t go through Senate confirmation and a FBI check, even if part time, even if unpaid.
Thousands and thousands of files on hundreds of thousands of Americans. And the PRC hacked into it and no doubt carted away much if not all of the data. For what conceivable purpose? Start your imagination running and then amp it up. This is the PRC after all.
So thanks, Team Obama, for failing to secure the data mine. OPM isn’t sexy place to work, and its budget isn’t vast nor its 6,000 or so employees widely known. But it did hold the data. And an enormous breach of the national security just occurred.
If you need any help imagining what the Chinese might want with the data, then start read Thor’s Act of War. It won’t take you long to figure out, and you won’t be happy, even as you become glued to this most excellent read.