Want to know why getting that retroactive telecom immunity is so important to Bush? It's not just about tapping phone calls.
Following up on my post from a little while back discussing Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell’s desire to police the Internet, the Washington Post’s Ellen Nakashima confirmed last weekend that the Decider had signed a classified directive authorizing the NSA to more expansively monitor intrusions on federal networks for signs of cyberattacks:
Until now, the government’s efforts to protect itself from cyber-attacks — which run the gamut from hackers to organized crime to foreign governments trying to steal sensitive data — have been piecemeal. Under the new initiative, a task force headed by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) will coordinate efforts to identify the source of cyber-attacks against government computer systems. As part of that effort, the Department of Homeland Security will work to protect the systems and the Pentagon will devise strategies for counterattacks against the intruders.
As Brian has said recently, the U.S. is absolutely not ready to handle cyberwar on almost any front. I’m all in favor of redirecting tax money towards protecting and strengthening our Internet infrastructure against any one of the millions of crippling threats it can face, rather than expensive, crappy weapons systems that have little measurable effect except fattening defense contractors’ coffers.
But in an expansive profile of Mike McConnell, the New Yorker’s Lawrence Wright touches on the myriad obstacles our intelligence community faces towards handling a real threat, and why they get it wrong so often.