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HASC Chairs Issues Cyber Recommendations to DoD Authorization Bill

HASC Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.); Photo: mckeon.house.gov

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee has issued several recommendations to the 2012 Defense Authorization Bill, as the legislation enters what is known as “markup.”

In his draft, Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) aimed to lay out specific rules of engagement for military operations  in cyberspace — including conducting secret military cyber activities outside the U.S.

McKeon’s additions, known overall as a chairman’s mark, “would affirm that the secretary of defense has the authority to conduct military activities in cyberspace.”

But because of the evolving and shifting nature of cyberspace and cyber conflicts, “there is a lack of historical precedent for what constitutes traditional military activities in cyberspace,” the chairman’s mark states.

McKeon’s cyber section, in particular, would clarify that the defense secretary has the “authority to conduct clandestine cyberspace activities in support of military operations pursuant to the Authorization for the Use of Military Force outside of the United States” as well as to defend against cyber attacks on any asset of the Defense Department.

The markup’s language is a reflection of the fact that “military activities may not be confined to a physical battlefield, and the use of military cyber activities has become a critical part of the effort to protect U.S. and coalition forces and combat terrorism globally.”

McKeon’s draft would also provide for “more rigorous oversight” of defense cyber activities, including quarterly briefings to congressional defense committees.

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