Saturday, January 02, 2010

Pentagon Computer-Network Defense Command Delayed by Congressional Concerns

Ellen Nakashima writes in The Washington Post:

The Pentagon's plan to set up a command to defend its global network of computer systems has been slowed by congressional questions about its mission and possible privacy concerns, according to officials familiar with the plan.

As a result, the Defense Department failed to meet an Oct. 1 target launch date and has not held a confirmation hearing for the command's first director.

Although officials stress that the cyber command, as it is known, is an effort to consolidate existing offensive and defensive capabilities under one roof and involves no new authorities or broadening of mission, its potential for powerful new offensive capabilities -- some as yet unimagined -- have raised questions on Capitol Hill about its role, according to national security experts familiar with the concerns.

Key questions include: When do offensive activities in cyberspace become acts of war? How far can the Pentagon go to defend its own networks? And what kind of relationship will the command have to the National Security Agency?

The NSA has the skills and authority to encrypt military secrets and break enemy codes, but its involvement in the controversy over warrantless wiretapping several years ago has raised concerns about any role it will play in a cyber command.

More here.


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