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Jun 19, 2010


Were it not for the present crisis in the Gulf of Mexico, I might trust your assessment. Government agencies seem to have a way of enlarging their hegemony and competing with each other over turf, while neglecting their legitimate jobs.

You write: "Since those services are in private hands, the government needs some legislative authority to respond to such an attack."

Why isn't this authority to respond to cyber attacks assigned to the NSA and Defense Department or the FBI? You may be right that his isn't a "kill switch," but I really don't see any need for a new bureaucracy to be created to create even more strings in that rat's nest that already exists. Such agencies seem to function more as targets for FOIA requests and ACLU lawsuits than as real protectors of the nation.

For sure, government agencies have their own disfunctions, and there were efforts to find an agency other than DHS to address the problem of cybersecurity. However, when DHS was created, all of the civilian authorities over this problem were concentrated in DHS, so it would be hard to move responsibility at this point. DHS certainly took a long time rising to this challenge, but I think part of the reason was the deep resistance to any regulatory authority in this area. In other words, having been told for so long by so many that it should keep its hands off, is it really any wonder that DHS did so little until very recently?

As for NSA, I'm not sure people who mistrust government would feel more comfortable giving this job to that agency.

DoD can't do very much, because of Posse Comtitatus.

NSA is more of a monitoring-and-intel-gathering agency, not an active-operations agency. It's like the difference between a traffic cop with a radar gun and the SWAT team.

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