Sens. McCain, Levin: DoD Leaves Cyber Questions Unanswered

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)

Sens. Carl Levin and John McCain of the Senate Armed Services Committee urged the Defense Department to clarify the military’s cyber role in a letter sent yesterday to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

The letter states the DoD has failed to fully define DoD’s plan-of-action should a threat to national security arise, leaving the nation’s cyberspace vulnerable.

“The continued failure to address and define the policies and legal authorities necessary for the Pentagon to operate in the cyberspace domain remains a significant gap in our national security that must be addressed,” they wrote.

The letter was sent following the recent release of DoD’s “Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace,” which McCain believes left some fundamental questions unanswered, such as the relationship between military operations in cyberspace and kinetic operations, the development of a declaratory deterrence posture for cyberspace and the definition of what would constitute an act of war in cyberspace, among others.

The letter to Panetta is part of McCain’s continued efforts to urge Congress to establish a bipartisan panel to draft legislation to combat security threats and breaches aimed at U.S. companies and defense networks.

McCain last week sent a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell calling for the creation of a Select Committee on Cyber Security and Electronic Intelligence Leaks in the Senate. According to McCain, the temporary panel would allow for the drafting of comprehensive cybersecurity legislation quickly without needing to work through numerous and in some cases competing committees of jurisdiction.

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