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 Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Congress Tackles Key Cybersecurity Initiatives

Congress, back this week from spring break, isn't wasting time tackling some key cybersecurity and IT security-related initiatives.

Within the next few weeks, Congressional committees will hold sessions to tackle some of the hottest infosec-related items, including the confirmation hearing on Army Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander to be military cyber commander, markup sessions on bills to fund cybersecurity research and development and realign the National Institute of Standards and Technology's laboratories and a hearing on combating cyber crime and identity theft.

Alexander Confirmation Hearing

Thursday's Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing comes nearly 10 months after Alexander was nominated by President Obama to be the first military cyber commander. If confirmed, he would retain his current job, director of the National Security Agency, and be promoted to full general. No one is suggesting that Alexander won't be confirmed, but concerns have been raised that having the same officer overseeing the cyber command and NSA poses potential conflicts: Should the top spy also be the general in charge of protecting the computer systems and networks employed to support the nation's warfighters?

Indeed, it's been questions about that dual role that has delayed the confirmation process. As we reported last month, the committee sent a questionnaire to Alexander on March 6 seeking answers about how he would balance the two jobs. Though the NSA is a DoD agency, it works with civilian agencies to secure federal IT, raising additional concerns about potential military involvement in civilian matters. "They are working through some of the hard problems and that is what the reason for the delay is," James Lewis, senior fellow at the Center for International and Strategic Studies and expert on government and military cybersecurity policy, told GovInfoSecurity.com.

 

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