Originally published: April 12, 2012
Last updated: April 19, 2012 - 1:53pm
The White House is scrambling to influence cybersecurity legislation that’s been tangled in a web of policy, politics and parochialism — even reaching out to Republican leaders as the House prepares to act on the issue later this month.
On the surface, the players are battling over the best way to protect the nation’s electric grid, water facilities and other critical infrastructure from being taken down by a crippling cyberattack. But underneath, it’s really a quintessential Washington turf war, spiced up by election-year politics. In one corner, the champions of the civilian Homeland Security Department: the White House and the Homeland Security panels in the House and Senate. In another corner, proxies for the National Security Agency: House Republicans and Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, who represents the NSA’s Maryland headquarters. A third group, led by John McCain (R-AZ) in the Senate and Mary Bono Mack (R-CA) in the House, has also weighed in with a bill that focuses on fostering information sharing about cyberthreats between the government and critical infrastructure operators without tacking new security mandates onto businesses. It all makes for a twisted tale of how a basic national security imperative — cooperation between the government and private companies — could fall victim to the vagaries and vanities of Congress.
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