In mid-July, the Obama Administration publicly announced that they weren’t going to “publicly blame” China for the OPM hack, despite saying, publicly, that they believe China did it.
This was because there was no good evidence for China having done it. Indeed, the FBI mentioned them as a possibility, leading media outlets to treat that as an allegation, leading Congress to declare that as proof China did it, leading other media outlets to say Congress confirmed the story, and so on. By the end of July, despite not “publicly blaming” China, US officials were openly talking about “revenge” against them.
Shortly thereafter, a hack against the Pentagon’s unclassified email system happened, and the entire process was repeated again, only this time it was Russia who wasn’t formally blamed, who no evidence existed to really prove was behind it, and who the US was still mad at.
Fast forward another month, and we are at the present, with US officials now talking up the possibility of announcing sanctions against both Russia and China over these “cyber-attacks,” which again, they have not offered any public evidence were committed by either nation.
While officials treat this as a totally consequence-free option, the reality is that the sanctions are almost certain to provoke retaliatory sanctions, and tit-for-tat moves that will worsen relations and harm trade. And again, all this to “punish” people we really shouldn’t be so sure did it in the first place.