McCain lays out broad cyber agenda

By Tony Bertuca / January 5, 2017 at 10:08 AM

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) laid out a broad agenda for his panel at the opening gavel of this morning's hearing on foreign cyber threats, highlighting intelligence assessments that the Russian government directed hackers to interfere with the U.S. presidential election.

“We must first have a policy, which means finally resolving the long list of basic cyber questions that we as a nation have yet to answer,” McCain said. “What constitutes an act of war or aggression in cyberspace that would merit a military response, be it by cyber or other means?” he continued. “What is our theory of cyber deterrence, and what is our strategy to implement it? Is our government organized appropriately to handle this threat, or are we so stovepiped that we cannot deal with it effectively? Who is accountable for this problem, and do they have sufficient authorities to deliver results? Are we in the Congress just as stovepiped on cyber as the executive branch, such that our oversight actually reinforces problems rather than helping to resolve them? Do we need to change how we are organized?”

Hearing witnesses include James Clapper, the director of national intelligence; Marcel Lettre, the under secretary of defense for intelligence; and Adm. Michael Rogers, chief of U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency.

McCain said his committee intends to hold a series of hearing in the coming months to explore the issue.

But McCain stressed the goal of the review was not to question the legitimacy of President-elect Donald Trump.

“As both President Obama and President-elect Trump have said, our nation must move forward,” McCain said. “But we must do so with full knowledge of the facts.”

McCain, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin, said: “The appearance of weakness has been provocative to our adversaries, who have attacked us again and again, with growing severity. Unless we demonstrate that the costs of attacking the United States outweigh the perceived benefits, these cyber threats will only grow.”