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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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May 19th, 2014
05:16 PM ET

Does the U.S. hack Chinese companies?

(CNN) – Attorney General Eric Holder announced Monday that members of the Chinese military have engaged in the hacking of American businesses and entities, including U.S. Steel Corp., Westinghouse, Alcoa, Allegheny Technologies, the United Steel Workers Union and SolarWorld.

The individuals charged are part of a "group of hackers working for the Chinese government, trying to make Chinese companies much more competitive and give them an advantage," says former FBI official Shawn Henry.

But is the U.S. being hypocritical?

"The U.S. is not stealing intellectual property from foreign companies and providing them to U.S. companies, that's just not happening," says Henry.

Governments have been involved in espionage against other governments for years, "but as it relates specifically to some corporate competitive advantage, the U.S. isn't doing that. Other nations, not so much," says Henry.

But National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden said on German television, using German engineering firm siemens as an example, "if there's information at Siemens that's beneficial to U.S. national interests – even if it doesn't have anything to do with national security – then they'll take that information nevertheless."

In other words, Snowden alleges the U.S. snoops on trade secrets.

For more of analysis from former FBI official Shawn Henry, and CNN's senior national security correspondent Jim Sciutto, check out the video above.

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