al Qaeda's Legacy
NSA Chief Continues Bid to Take Over Cybersecurity
In the wake of the resignation on Friday of National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) Director Rod Beckstrom overconcerns that the National Security Agency plans to take over government cybersecurity efforts, comes an announcement that NSA Director Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander will be giving the keynote address at this year's RSA security conference.
The talk is being billed as an explanation about why cybersecurity is a national security issue.
The release says Alexander will be talking about "how the Internet enables cyber criminals and others in conducting targeted attacks and what can be done to combat this threat."
The Bush Administration frequently tried to equate crime on the internet with national security to gather support for its interest in monitoring internet activities. Alexander's RSA talk will likely continue this trend and serve to bolster the NSA's efforts to wrest control of the government's cybersecurity efforts from the Department of Homeland Security, a prospect that concerns civil liberties advocates, given the NSA's acknowledged warrantless domestic wiretapping program and allegations that the agency also secretly tapped domestic internet communications without a warrant.
Last month, Director of National Intelligence Admiral Dennis Blair told Congress that the NSA, rather than the DHS which currently oversees cybersecurity, should take over the government's cybersecurity efforts. A week later, Beckstrom, DHS's current cybersecurity chief, tendered his resignation (.pdf).
In his letter, Beckstrom criticized the NSA's encroachment on DHS territory. He wrote:
"NSA effectively controls DHS cyber efforts through detailees, technology insertions and the proposed move of NPPD and the NCSC to a Fort Meade NSA facility. NSA currently dominates most national cyber efforts. While acknowledging the critical importance of NSA to our intelligence efforts, I believe this is a bad strategy on multiple grounds. The intelligence culture is very different than a network operations or security culture. In addition, the threats to our democratic processes are significant if all top level government network security and monitoring are handled by any one organization (either directly or indirectly). During my term as Director, we have been unwilling to subjugate the NCSC underneath the NSA."
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