NSA Chief: U.S. ‘Not Ready’ on Cyber

McCain floats idea of creating a committee to handle legislation.

McCain: Balks at "baked in" overruns.
National Journal
Jordain Carney
Add to Briefcase
Jordain Carney
Feb. 27, 2014, 9:13 a.m.

Sen. John Mc­Cain sug­ges­ted Thursday that a se­lect Sen­ate com­mit­tee should tackle long-stalled cy­ber le­gis­la­tion.

“We’ve been go­ing back and forth; every­body knows we need the le­gis­la­tion…. I can’t tell you the num­ber of meet­ings I’ve gone to on it. And one of the prob­lems we face is that this is­sue crosses many jur­is­dic­tion­al lines of dif­fer­ent com­mit­tees,” the Ari­zona Re­pub­lic­an said, ask­ing Gen. Keith Al­ex­an­der, the dir­ect­or of the Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency, if he had giv­en the idea any thought.

Mc­Cain’s com­ments came dur­ing a Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee hear­ing to dis­cuss the fisc­al 2015 budget and fu­ture fund­ing for Cy­ber Com­mand, which Al­ex­an­der over­sees, and U.S. Stra­tegic Com­mand.

“I think that would be a great idea,” Al­ex­an­der said, but he ad­mit­ted that his know­ledge of the Sen­ate’s in­ner work­ings is lim­ited.

He stressed, at mul­tiple points dur­ing the hear­ing, that cy­ber is chan­ging “so rap­idly that our policies and laws lag be­hind it.”

In­de­pend­ent Sen. An­gus King of Maine backed the idea, say­ing it made “some sense,” adding, “If we have an at­tack in two or three months from now and we haven’t done any­thing, we’re go­ing to look pretty dumb around here.”

The bound­ar­ies on cy­ber-re­lated is­sues cur­rently run through a hand­ful of Sen­ate com­mit­tees, in­clud­ing Armed Ser­vices, In­tel­li­gence, Com­merce, and Home­land Se­cur­ity and Gov­ern­ment­al Af­fairs.

Sen­at­ors in both parties have agreed gen­er­ally that cy­ber­se­cur­ity le­gis­la­tion is needed, but they have made little head­way. A 2012 bill didn’t sur­vive a pro­ced­ur­al vote, and the Cy­ber In­tel­li­gence Shar­ing and Pro­tec­tion Act, a ver­sion of which passed the House in 2012 and 2013, lan­guished in the Sen­ate.

But Al­ex­an­der stressed that le­gis­la­tion is needed to give agen­cies, in­clud­ing the NSA, the Justice De­part­ment, and the De­fense De­part­ment, in­creased au­thor­ity to pre­vent and com­bat cy­ber­at­tacks, adding that he is “con­cerned that the lack of le­gis­la­tion will im­pact our abil­ity to de­fend the coun­try.”

Sen­at­ors on both sides of the aisle agreed with Al­ex­an­der — who could be mak­ing his last ap­pear­ance be­fore the com­mit­tee be­cause of his com­ing re­tire­ment — that cy­ber will be at the fore­front of fu­ture con­flicts.

And if this is Al­ex­an­der’s last ap­pear­ance, he left mem­bers of the Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee with a warn­ing, say­ing, on cy­ber­threats: “I think those at­tacks are com­ing, and I think those are near-term, and we’re not ready for them.”

What We're Following See More »
THE PLAN ALL ALONG?
Manchin Drops Objections, Clearing Way for Spending Deal
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"The Senate standstill over a stopgap spending bill appeared headed toward a resolution on Friday night. Senators who were holding up the measure said votes are expected later in the evening. West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin had raised objections to the continuing resolution because it did not include a full year's extension of retired coal miners' health benefits," but Manchin "said he and other coal state Democrats agreed with Senate Democratic leaders during a caucus meeting Thursday that they would not block the continuing resolution, but rather use the shutdown threat as a way to highlight the health care and pension needs of the miners."

Source:
UNCLEAR WHAT CAUSED CHANGE OF HEART
Giuliani Out of Running For State
1 days ago
BREAKING

Donald Trump transition team announced Friday afternoon that top supporter Rudy Giuliani has taken himself out of the running to be in Trump's cabinet, though CNN previously reported that it was Trump who informed the former New York City mayor that he would not be receiving a slot. While the field had seemingly been narrowed last week, it appears to be wide open once again, with ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson the current favorite.

Source:
ALSO VICE-CHAIR OF TRUMP’S TRANSITION TEAM
Trump Taps Rep. McMorris Rodgers for Interior Secretary
1 days ago
BREAKING
SHUTDOWN LOOMING
House Approves Spending Bill
2 days ago
BREAKING

The House has completed it's business for 2016 by passing a spending bill which will keep the government funded through April 28. The final vote tally was 326-96. The bill's standing in the Senate is a bit tenuous at the moment, as a trio of Democratic Senators have pledged to block the bill unless coal miners get a permanent extension on retirement and health benefits. The government runs out of money on Friday night.

HEADS TO OBAMA
Senate Approves Defense Bill
2 days ago
THE LATEST

The Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act today, sending the $618 billion measure to President Obama. The president vetoed the defense authorization bill a year ago, but both houses could override his disapproval this time around.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login