[Rushtalk] Obama's 'secret' cyber security law may allow 'military deployment within the U.S.'

Carl Spitzer Winblows at lavabit.com
Thu Dec 6 10:39:57 MST 2012

             Attorneys: Obama’s ‘secret’ cyber security law

             may allow ‘military deployment within the U.S.’

By Stephen C. Webster
Thursday, November 15, 2012 11:54 EST


The White House on Wednesday receieved a Freedom of Information Act
(FOIA) request (PDF link) from two attorneys with the Electronic Privacy
Information Center (EPIC), demanding that President Barack Obama release
the text of what they called a “secret” new cyber security law that
appears to enable “military deployment within the United States.”

The FOIA was filed in response to an article that appeared in The
Washington Post this week, claiming that Obama issued a secret directive
shortly before the elections that empowers the military to “vet any
operations outside government and defense networks” for cyber security

However, because the exact text of the directive remains a secret,
nobody can really say exactly what it does. That was somewhat
disconcerting to American Civil Liberties Union legislative counsel
Michelle Richardson, who told Raw Story on Wednesday that without the
text, “it’s hard to see what they mean.”

In their FOIA, EPIC attorneys Amie Stepanovich and Ginger McCall go even
further, arguing that the directive is tantamount to the president
issuing a “secret law” that may enable “military deployment within the
United States” in order to vet network security at companies like AT&T,
Facebook, Google and others. And indeed, the Post‘s article seems to
substantiate that concern, explaining that the order will help “finalize
new rules of engagement that would guide commanders when and how the
military can go outside government networks to prevent a cyberattack
that could cause significant destruction or casualties.”

But that’s literally all anyone outside of the chain of command knows
about this order, McCall told Raw Story Thursday afternoon. “We don’t
know what’s in this policy directive and we feel the American public has
the right to know.”

“The NSA’s cyber security operations have been kept very, very secret,
and because of that it has been impossible for the public to react to
them,” Stepanovich added. “[That makes it] very difficult, we believe,
for Congress to legislate in this area. It’s in the public’s best
interest, from a knowledge perspective and from a legislative
perspective, to be made aware of what authority the NSA is being given.”

Such an order, reportedly issued last month, may have actually
overridden Congress concerns amid a debate on cyber security. Senate
Democrats failed on Wednesday to pass a cyber security bill that would
have put the civilian-run Department of Homeland Security in charge of
the nation’s cyber defenses instead of the military-run National
Security Agency. Republicans succeeded in blocking the bill even though
it had the support of 51 senators, in a move The New York
Times described as “setting the stage” for executive action to safeguard
the nation’s network infrastructure.

“Our concern is buttressed by an earlier FOIA request that we submitted,
when [NSA Director] General Keith Alexander had been asked a few
questions [during his confirmation hearing] that he did not answer
publicly,” Stepanovich said. “He submitted answers in a private,
classified supplement, which we also do not have publicly available.
There was a question about the monitoring of private communication
networks. Whatever answer he gave is not public, but it may implicate
now what the NSA is attempting to do. 

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