Debate erupts at news the White House may scale back DOD cyber-ops authorities

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Apr 4, 2022 | CYBERSCOOP

Days after CyberScoop exclusively reported the White House is considering scaling back a Trump-era policy giving the Department of Defense and U.S. Cyber Command broad authorities to launch cyber-operations, conflict erupted in Washington about the wisdom of such a move.

More than three years after the Trump administration gave DOD those authorities, White House officials have launched an “interagency review process” to hammer out revisions to NSPM-13 with an eye on scaling it back and returning some control over cyber ops to the White House.

Cybersecurity experts debated the merits of the White House’s plans to revise NSPM-13, with some asserting that cyber operations will be dangerously slowed down if the White House becomes involved in the process. Others argued that the White House has to take back control. Those in the latter camp say it is unsafe for DOD to act without knowledge of political and diplomatic considerations — and they questioned how effectively the DOD has wielded its broad authority to undertake offensive cyber operations.

The case against scaling back

Mark Montgomery, a former Republican Senate Armed Services staffer who helped craft the 2018 legislation laying the groundwork

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