Really? You don't have an issue with a foreign intelligence agency disrupting core infrastructure for a nation in the midst of a civil war? Especially against a nation we are not even at war with?
What if the Chinese (or anyone else) did something similar? Would that not be considered an outright act of war?
We are not at war with Syria, we should not be disrupting anything. There could have easily have been numerous deaths directly resulting from that outage.
Intelligence agencies operate in foreign countries during peacetime. This is not a new phenomenon. Espionage is not limited to war, and it never has been. Peacetime espionage is 99% of all espionage, and much of the time, it's necessary to maintain that peacetime.
The US has spies in every country in the world, war or not. So does China, so does Russia, so does the UK, etc. It's just a fact of life. If a nation state is not spying, it's not doing its job.
The US was and is directly involved in the Syrian civil war. It may not be dropping bombs (though it was considering it, and that requires intelligence to plan) but it is trying to stop the violence - and guess what, that requires effective intelligence.
The only reason ever given is 'Might is Right'. To be an American patriot is to be a psychopath.
Our founding fathers would not condone the practices of our country. Modern politicians certainly don't seem to abide by the convictions we were founded on. Or maybe they just conveniently warp their interpretation to forward their own agenda.
GP said it would be an act of war. That definition doesn't mean the victim has to declare war on the aggressor, does it?
I feel inclined to agree with other comments saying this boils down to childish morality: "everyone else is doing it."
If you're not intending to make any sort of moral argument, but simply one of consistency in policy, then consider that people are taking issue with their NSA committing an "act of war" on a volatile country they are not at war with. It's different than some friendly mutual hacking with, say, France. What gives NSA the right to make that call and hope it doesn't blow up in the entire nation's face? And if it was sanctioned "from on high", we can still be angry that our elected officials and their appointees would do such a thing.
If there was a civil war going on in the US and disrupting the internet was likely to lead to loss of life then we might have a comparable situation. That isn't the situation though.
I am making a note of the fact that you view the Chinese government as a good barometer of morality in readiness for the next time you bring up their human rights record.
Here's a characteristic of Chinese human rights that isn't captured by that question: it is the official policy of China that the police can convict and sentence its citizens to a year of labor camp ("reeducation through labor") without a trial. I find that characteristic more important in assessing Chinese civil liberties than the fact that they have obviously owned up a bunch of our routers.
let me ask your question with an other question: How many lives can a spy agency kill until it is no longer acceptable?
So let say the French intelligence service decide to plant one on a nuclear power plan in the US. Sadly however it has a bug which goes off and partial shuts down the reactor. A meltdown happens, killing a few thousands and irradiate the surroundings.
Do you go to war over this? Would you classify it as an attack, a accident, or a act of war?
Lets assume that radio and TV inside Syria informed the public where current fire fights happened, where people should go to seek shelter, and other warnings of dangers to the civilian population. Radio and TV get this information from sources inside government and reporters on the field, some using The Internet to transmit this information.
You cut that communication line and radio and TV do not have current information to broadcast. People dies as a result. A lot of innocent civilians dies. This singular event could have killed more people than horrific event like 9/11 or a meltdown at a power plant.
This is why I ask: How many casualties is a spy agency allowed to inflict until it is no longer acceptable.
I think officially they ended this. Officially.
How does that situation have anything to do with today?
The "terrorists" (pick your current flavor of the month) are implicated in almost the same list of behaviours, excepting the global surveillance, due to lack of resources.
We aren't currently engaged in some kind of gentleman's war, playing by Marquess of Queensberry rules.