In May of this year, the Obama Administration announced that it would appoint a Cybersecurity Coordinator, with the intent to give cybersecurity matters the attention that they deserve. However, several months removed from this announcement, the White House has yet to move forward on this promise. In terms of political impact, it would perhaps be encouraging to see the White House fortify America’s electronic defenses. From a national security law perspective, however, it is essential that the White House move forward. In light of recent reports and testimony from Administration officials, the current body of cybersecurity law appears insufficient for providing law enforcement and intelligence with needed guidance and tactical flexibility.
While the Department of Homeland Security has moved forward in establishing a cybersecurity center, Senate debate over the role of the proposed WH-appointed Coordinator remains unresolved. Senator Lieberman (I-CT), voicing concern about potential conflict between the Cybersecurity Coordinator and DHS, has highlighted the administrative difficulties that could arise from such an appointment. Earlier this fall, Senator Collins (R-ME) took a more stringent stance, voicing her opposition to the position.
Amid dealing with a possible troop increase for Afghanistan, the recent Fort Hood massacre, and continued challenges stemming from the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs, the Obama administration is already beset by more conventional security matters. Also, the oversight concerns raised in Congress also provide a reason as to why the executive delay is understandable. Nevertheless, earlier November reports of a possible appointment by Thanksgiving beg the question: how much longer?