Even though various members of the government are claiming China is responsible for the OPM breach, it is highly unlikely the Obama administration will officially acknowledge China’s culpability:
US government bodies, including spy agencies, also spy on foreign governments and conduct sweeping data-collection. This includes, for example, tapping into undersea telecommunications cables, as exposed in documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
Some US government sources said Washington would prefer to avoid engaging with China and other governments in public spats over activities that the United States itself pursues. They fear this could provoke foreign spies either to step up intelligence collection or tighten security measures, or both.
There was some support in Congress for publicly naming China.
“I think there is a lot of deterrence value in showing that you know who the adversary is,” said Republican Senator Susan Collins, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, as she introduced legislation to boost government cyber-security.
US officials said the Obama administration had not totally ruled out retaliatory measures against China for the hacking.
Even if new sanctions or other actions were undertaken, it was also possible Washington would not publicly link this to the hacking attacks, but rather advise China privately that the penalties are related to hacking, they said.
As upset as people are about this hack, they should direct their anger where it belongs: at the United States, and OPM specifically. We should expect China to engage in this type of behavior just as we expect the US to perform similar intelligence collection activities against other nations. At its basic core, this was spying at its finest, thanks to the terrible cyber security OPM employed.
This should be a huge lesson learned for the US government and a catalyst for it to finally get its act together.