Jan 28 2009

Why Symantec’s CEO shouldn’t be Obama’s Commerce Secretary

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A Fox News report claims President Obama has his eye on Symantec CEO John Thompson as his “leading candidate for Commerce Secretary.”

I think the president should reject Thompson — because Symantec secretly turned over computer viruses to China for at least two years during Thompson’s reign as CEO.

Washington pays Thompson’s firm a lot of money to pro­tect govern­ment com­pu­ters from the same viruses they supplied to China.

And now Obama might nomi­nate him for Secre­tary of Commerce…

Mind you, the U.S. government pays Symantec a lot of money to protect U.S. government computers from the very same computer viruses they gave to an oppressive regime that openly despises U.S. national security interests. How much more ironic can you get?

Not only did Symantec arm China with cyber-smallpox technology … they did it right under the very noses of the White House and the FBI. Symantec’s executive team actually decided “we’re going to arm China and we’re not going to arm the U.S.” And John Thompson sat at the very top of the company’s executive team that made this decision.

For at least two years during Thompson’s reign at Symantec, his people advised the White House and the FBI on global cyber-threats to U.S. national security. Symantec often flew their people into D.C. on the company’s dime so they could personally brief people like Richard Clarke. Thompson’s people stood next to White House senior staffer Richard Clarke in his famous “Y2K situation room,” ready to help out if China had dared to launch a cyber-attack.

And at the very same time, Thompson’s people also opened a pipeline to China so they could smuggle digital munitions to a country the U.S. now believes is responsible for hordes of cyber-attacks launched against federal, state, and local government networks.

For at least two years during Thompson’s reign, his company armed Beijing’s oppressive regime for a single reason: commerce. Symantec wanted to pave governmental inroads to China’s growing corporate market for PCs and software.

Does America really need a Commerce Secretary who spent two years arming China with network warfare weapons, all while keeping the White House in the dark?

“CEO Thompson” kept all of this a secret from both Clinton and Bush. What will “Secretary Thompson” keep secret from Obama?


Let’s suppose Thompson dons the mantle of Commerce. And let’s suppose China releases an über-virus that makes a shambles of our banking & commerce networks. “Team Obama” descends on the White House for an emergency cabinet meeting.

“Here’s what we know,” says the Secretary of Defense. “Beijing attacked us with a virus that has the telltale signature of a Symantec goat file. In fact, we think they built this virus based on what Symantec delivered to them on March 12, 2000 at 08:43am Pacific Time.” The Secretary of Commerce shifts nervously in his seat.

“We think China did this on purpose — used one of Symantec’s goat files,” the Secretary of Defense continues. “We think they did it just to put us in the very quandary we’re in right now.”

Obama speaks up. “I don’t get it. What quandary are we in right now?”

The Secretary of Defense coughs nervously. “Mr. President, Symantec’s delivery of viruses on March 12, 2000 included an email trail from senior management. Marketing had complained that the virus experts were deliberately trying to slow down the transfer of viruses to China. The last email comes directly from senior corporate management. The person who sent that email, told the director of virus research to give Marketing what they need so Symantec can keep their commerce moving in China … and ‘commerce’ is a direct quote from the email. The senior corporate manager warned that if the flow of viruses didn’t go up immediately, he said John Thompson would personally come down there and fire the director of virus research.”

The Secretary of Commerce blurts out “I didn’t write that email!” All eyes in the room turn toward John Thompson. “Somebody at my company must have been using my name in vain, Mr. President.”

President Obama frowns and turns back to his Defense Secretary. “Okay. I see the quandary.” He turns again to the Commerce Secretary. “John, you are excused from the rest of this meeting…”

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