The Obama administration is moving ahead with plans to name a cybersecurity czar, and National Security Agency (NSA) Director Lt. Gen. Keith B. Alexander is the leading candidate for the post, Inside the Ring has learned.
According to U.S. government officials, President Obama plans to promote Gen. Alexander to four-star rank and give him wide-ranging authority to implement the new Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative.
Word of Gen. Alexander’s likely appointment comes as the Department of Homeland Security’s senior official in charge of cybersecurity, Rod A. Beckstrom, resigned this week to protest what he said was excessive NSA and military influence over cybersecurity policies.
The electronic intelligence-gathering NSA is one of the least public but most effective of the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies. Mostly in secret, NSA has been leading U.S. government efforts to secure computer and other information networks and to block foreign electronic attacks on U.S. systems, which for the Pentagon number tens of thousands of electronic attempts every day. The agency during the past several months has begun receiving tens of millions of dollars in Pentagon funds under the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI), said defense officials familiar with the program.
Dennis C. Blair, the retired admiral who is director of national intelligence, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that the Obama administration is reviewing the security initiative “to ensure it is consistent with its own cybersecurity policy.”
Mr. Blair said a number of nations, including Russia and China, have technical cyberwarfare capabilities that can disrupt elements of the U.S. information infrastructure as well as gather intelligence. Terrorist and criminal groups also conduct cyberattacks.
“To be sure, significant work remains in order to protect, defend and respond to the cyberthreat in a manner that markedly improves our nation’s overall security,” Mr. Blair said. The initiative was launched in January 2008 and seeks to deal with cybersecurity threats, both current and future, and is working with private-sector companies to create an “environment that no longer favors cyberintruders over defenders,” Mr. Blair said.
“The CNCI includes defensive, offensive, education, research and development, and counterintelligence elements while remaining sensitive throughout to the requirements of protecting the privacy rights and civil liberties of U.S. citizens,” Mr. Blair said. He noted that the initiative has made “considerable progress” in identifying the threat and in developing solutions.
White House National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer declined to comment on Gen. Alexander’s candidacy for the cyber-czar post.
A U.S. intelligence report that was the basis for the Navy’s decision on Tuesday to reclassify Michael “Scott” Speicher as missing in action and no longer missing-captured, states that the action followed a review of captured Iraqi documents and an extensive search of Iraq for the pilot, shot down in 1991.
The March 4 report is based on a classified assessment and states that “based on all available intelligence, the [intelligence community] assesses that Capt. Speicher died shortly after his aircraft was shot down.”
“The IC does not know the location of his remains,” the report states. “In the 18 years since Capt. Speicher was shot down, the U.S. government has found no credible information to indicate what happened to him after he ejected from his aircraft.”
The report produced by the Intelligence Community POW/MIA Analytic Cell states that its judgment was based on intelligence, knowledge of Iraqi prisoner handling under Saddam Hussein and U.S. government efforts to account for Capt. Speicher since 1991.View Entire Story
Bill Gertz is geopolitics editor and a national security and investigative reporter for The Washington Times. He has been with The Times since 1985.
He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.
Mr. Gertz also writes a weekly column ...
By Rand Paul
Obama acts as though we no longer have a Constitution
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
First over-the-counter column approved for fast and effective relief from even your worst media-induced headache.
Contributions to the Communities Sports desk from readers.
Happiness is attainable. Morning to night. I love to teach, deal with folks that have an issue and really wish to tackle it and write.
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall
NRA kicks off annual convention
California wildfires wreak havoc