Legislators rail against potential rollback of flexible DOD cyber powers

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Apr 5, 2022 | CYBERSCOOP

Plans to review and potentially scale back a Trump-era rule providing broad authorities to the Department of Defense to launch offensive cyber operations without White House permission sparked concern from legislators at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday.
 
National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command leader Gen. Paul Nakasone testified at the hearing, responding to concerns from senators troubled by CyberScoop reporting last week that the White House has launched an “interagency review process” with an eye on taking back some of the broad authorities Cyber Command has held since the Trump administration issued National Security Policy Memorandum-13 (NSPM-13) in September 2018.
 
Sen. Angus King, I-Maine told Naksone at the open session hearing that he was very concerned about a potential scaling back of NSPM-13, which he called “a grave mistake [that] would undermine deterrence at the worst possible moment.”
 
Other senators also expressed worry about a possible weakening of NSPM-13, with Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., pointedly asking Nakasone if losing the authority to use “persistent engagement” to defeat adversaries in cyberspace would harm national security.
 
Nakasone said that prior to Cyber Command receiving NSPM-13 cyberspace authorities, his agency was forced to do

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