The Cable

Clinton: Cyber attackers 'should face consequences'

Past U.S. administrations have sought to expand the borders of democracy, but Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is about to take that concept to a whole new level; she's declaring that U.S. policy is to advocate for basic freedom and human rights in cyberspace.

The announcement, to come in a speech this morning on Internet freedom, stakes out new ground for U.S. foreign policy, establishing that the United States is now committed to defend such basic rights as freedoms of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of assembly, on the internet, from now on. [UPDATE: Read the speech here.]

"Freedom is no longer defined solely by whether citizens can go into the town square and criticize their government without fear of retribution," Clinton will say according to her prepared remarks. "Blogs, email, and text messages have opened up new forums for exchanging ideas -- and created new targets for censorship."

Clinton also plans to break new ground by directly addressing the Chinese government's suspected hacking of dozens of American technology firms, including Google, and calling on new rules of the road in cyberspace that would hold nation states accountable for their cyber attack and cyber espionage activities.

"Countries or individuals that engage in cyber attacks should face consequences and international condemnation," she will say. "In an interconnected world, an attack on one nation's networks can be an attack on all. By reinforcing that message, we can create norms of behavior among states and encourage respect for the global networked commons."

To back up the new policy, Clinton will also announce a new $15 million in programming to promote Internet freedom, expand access to the Internet for women and other groups; train and support civil society groups and NGOs in the use of new media technologies; and support a series of new media pilot projects starting to expand civic society in the Middle East and North Africa.

"As the birthplace for so many of these technologies, we have a responsibility to see them used for good," her speech reads.

This is a major evolution of how the U.S. government views its role in cyberspace and although the details are yet to be worked out, the consequences of the announcement could be far-reaching.

State Department official Jared Cohen, the guy who got Twitter to delay maintenance during the Iranian street protests, told The Cable that the State Department will now start engaging corporations as "stakeholders" to cooperate with the new U.S. policy to promote and defend freedom in cyberspace.

"The Internet represents the new virtual commons, and the State Department has the mission to insert the issues of freedom of speech, human rights, and democracy into these new commons," Cohen said. "This notion of shared responsibility between companies will likely suggest that collaborative efforts to promote human rights and democracy."

Clinton also plans to integrate the internet into all of the other tools of diplomacy, a mission she calls "21st century statecraft," another shift that could change the way the U.S. government approaches the Internet.

"Elevating Internet freedom as a major element of foreign policy will help us achieve all of our other foreign policy goals," Cohen said.

Clinton's speech begins at 9:30 at the Newseum.

AFP/Getty Images

The Cable

Briefing skipper: Haiti, START, Mitchell, South Korea

In which we scour the transcript of the State Department's daily presser so you don't have to. Here are the highlights of Wednesday's briefing by State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley:

  • As of Wednesday afternoon, there 43 urban search and rescue teams in Haiti, 122 lives have been saved, 43 of them by the 6 U.S. teams. Over 6,000 Americans have been evacuated from Haiti and the American death toll stands at 33, including State Department official Victoria DeLong. 146 orphaned children have come to the U.S.
  • Of the 153 flights that landed in Haiti yesterday, 115 were non-military and 38 were from the Defense Department, Crowley said, pushing back against allegations that the military flights were crowding out humanitarian aid missions. A second airport at Jacmel could open shortly.
  • The UN mission in Haiti is back to about 80 percent of its pre-earthquake strength and the Haitian police are at about 50 percent staffing, Crowley reported. 3 U.S. officials remain missing.
  • Crowley said the U.S. and the Haitian government is working together to determine which planes get to land and when, based on whatever the most immediate needs are. "Once we set the priorities, then we apply those priorities to, you know, the array of people who are applying for slots to be able to fly in," he said.
  • As National Security Advisor Jim Jones heads to Moscow, there are new reports that U.S. missile defense elements will be deployed just miles from the Russian border. But that won't throw (another) wrench into the U.S.-Russian negotiations for a START follow on treaty, according to Crowley. "We believe it's still being conducted in good faith, and I would not think that complication will come into it." Undersecretary Ellen Tauscher is also on the Moscow trip.
  • Special Envoy George Mitchell is in Israel, having already stopped in Syria and Lebanon. Crowley seemed to endorse the call from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to have the U.S. be involved in determining permanent borders. "I think we want to get into the formal negotiation. I think it's been suggested by a variety of parties that if we were to do so, establishing permanent borders might be the first thing at the top of the list," Crowley said.
  • Clinton signed exemptions that will allow new visas for Tariq Ramadan and Adam Habib, two prominent Muslim scholars who have been accused of having links to terrorism. "We do not think that either one of them represents a threat to the United States," Crowley said.
  • South Korean official Wi Sung-lac is visiting Washington, and he will be meeting with senior officials at the State Department, including Deputy Secretary James Steinberg, Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell, Ambassador Steve Bosworth and Special Envoy Sung Kim.