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By NWV News writer Jim Kouri
Posted 1:00 AM Eastern
July 11, 2010

Senate Bill 773, as written by West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller, Democrat, would create new “emergency” powers for the President to have power over any “non-governmental” computer networks, whether public or private, that are declared by the President to be “critical.”

Before the Summer recess, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee unanimously approved Protecting Cyberspace As a National Asset Act of 2010.

The bill, co-sponsored by Senators Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Thomas Carper (D-Del.), gives the President the authority to order independent operators of "critical infrastructure" to completely shutdown the Internet.

During an interview, Sen. Lieberman used the cybersecurity system utlized by the People's Republic of China, a decidely totalitarian government, as an example of his own bill's applications.

In the House of Representatives, Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-Calif.) introduced similar legislation on June 16, which was sent to the appropriate committees for debate.

The Senate bill if passed would give the President of the United States the authority to declare a “cyber emergency” and close down the Internet by disconnecting users.

In addition, it will require professional IT people to be certified by the federal government, something that angers many IT technicians and those who believe in the First Amendment.
Americans are being deceived by the news media and their elected officials in Washington, DC and it’s Americans who will suffer from that deception, according to information technology experts.

This stealth legislation is being sponsored by the powerful and highly partisan Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and the liberal Senator Olympia Snow (R-ME), claim critics.

“The fact that a man [Rockefeller] who visited other nations to give them a heads up about our intentions [to invade Iraq] would now suddenly care about security is laughable,” said political strategist Mike Baker.

“But there is no laughing about a government that wants to control cyber space, the last bastion of freedom of speech in our crumbling democracy,” said Baker.

“What irks President Obama and the other liberal-left politicians is that fact that while they’re pampered by the mainstream news media, talk radio and the Internet are not in the tank for them,” he added.

During a White House announcement televised on Fox News, CNN and other news networks, Obama said he will appoint a cyber security coordinator—or Cyber Czar—for the critical infrastructure that all Americans depend on.

“We will ensure that these networks are secure, trustworthy and resilient,” he said. “We will deter, prevent, detect and defend against attacks, and recover quickly from any disruptions or damage.”

The cyber security office will orchestrate and integrate all cyber security policies for the government, the president said. It will work closely with the Office of Management and Budget to ensure agency budgets reflect those priorities, and, in the event of major cyber incident or attack, it will coordinate government response.

The cyber security coordinator will be a member of the national security staff and will serve on the president’s national economic council.

But Critics point out that any high-tech program that entails government intrusion should be carefully monitored by not only the US Congress but also private sector experts in cyber security and computer-based espionage.

“People went ballistic when they discovered the Bush White House authorized the interception of telephone and other electronic communications by intelligence and law enforcement agencies, and rightly so. Yet, I haven’t heard a peep from these same people who claim they are concerned with ‘privacy rights,’” said security expert and former NYPD cop Mike Fitzgerald.


“This may come back to haunt us as the first step down a truly slippery slope,” said former the Police detective and director of security.

“The technology involved is so complicated that it may take computer scientists to discover whether the government is protecting Americans on the worldwide web or spying on them. And what are businesses that rely on the Internet supposed to do if the President closes down the Internet?” asks Sam McCarthy a former police commander now a computer security expert.

The cyber infrastructure is not limited to the federal government. The office will work with state and local governments and international partners to combat cyber attacks, and also will work with the private sector to ensure an organized and unified response to future cyber incidents, Obama stated.

Experts agree that America’s economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend on cyber security, which also affects public safety and national security. However, most experts contacted said that cyber security should be the responsibility of the private sector not government officials.

“We count on computer networks to deliver our oil and gas, our power and our water,” said McCarthy.

“Computers help run public transportation networks from the skies to subways, he noted, and hackers have launched attacks on electrical grids,” he said.

Part of the Obama program is a national campaign to promote cyber security awareness and digital literacy. The effort also will be part of the president’s initiative to build a digital work force for the 21st century. However, according to security experts, Obama is seeking powers never before given to a President even during the height of the Cold War.

“Once Americans realize what’s happening it may be too late thanks to Obama’s supporters in the news media. Do a search and you won’t see stories about this power grab in the major media,” warns Baker.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates announced Army General Keith B. Alexander's appointment as the first U.S. Cyber Command commander, officially establishing the initial operating capability for the new command. The announcement comes immediately following Alexander's promotion to receive his fourth star during a ceremony at Fort Meade, Maryland.

"Given our increasing dependency on cyberspace, this new command will bring together the resources of the department to address vulnerabilities and meet the ever-growing array of cyber threats to our military systems," said Gates.

U.S. Cyber Command possesses the required technical capability and focuses on the integration of military cyberspace operations. The command is charged with pulling together existing cyberspace resources, creating synergy that does not currently exist and synchronizing war-fighting effects to defend the DoD information security environment.

This is not an expansion of DoD's mission. It is in keeping with the department's mission to protect and defend U.S. national security and protect the lives of men and women in uniform.

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U.S. Cyber Command is a sub-unified command, subordinate to U.S. Strategic Command. Its headquarters is currently located at Fort Meade, Maryland. The U.S. Senate confirmed Alexander's promotion to become commander of the new sub-unified command, U.S. Cyber Command on May 7.

Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III called the establishment of U.S. Cyber Command at Fort Meade yesterday a milestone in the United States being able to conduct full-spectrum operations in a new domain.

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“But there is no laughing about a government that wants to control cyber space, the last bastion of freedom of speech in our crumbling democracy,” said Baker.