By Ellen Nakashima
Washington Post Staff Writer
June 24, 2009
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates issued an order yesterday establishing
a command that will defend military networks against computer attacks
and develop offensive cyber-weapons, but he also directed that the
structure be ready to help safeguard civilian systems.
In a memo to senior military leaders, Gates said he will recommend that
President Obama designate that the new command be led by the director of
the National Security Agency, the world's largest electronic
intelligence-gathering agency. The current NSA director, Lt. Gen. Keith
B. Alexander, is expected to be awarded a fourth star and to lead the
Gates or his deputy had been expected to announce the command in a
speech a week ago. Analysts said making the announcement by memo is in
keeping with the Pentagon's effort to tamp down concerns that the
Defense Department and the NSA will dominate efforts to protect the
nation's computer networks.
"Is it going to be the dominant player by default because the Department
of Homeland Security is weak and this new unit will be strong?" said
James A. Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and
International Studies. "That's a legitimate question, and I think DoD
will resist having that happen. But there are issues of authorities that
haven't been cleared up. What authorities does DoD have to do things
outside the dot-mil space?"
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