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Report: President Has Broad Power to Order Cyberattacks

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David E. Sanger and Thom Shanker with The New York Times reported, "A secret legal review on the use of America’s growing arsenal of cyberweapons has concluded that President Obama has the broad power to order a pre-emptive strike if the United States detects credible evidence of a major digital attack looming from abroad, according to officials involved in the review. That decision is among several reached in recent months as the administration moves, in the next few weeks, to approve the nation’s first rules for how the military can defend, or retaliate, against a major cyberattack. "

Ars Technica's Sean Gallagher added, "The rules will leave the Department of Homeland Security and FBI responsible for defending US government and commercial networks from attack up to a certain threshold—the exact nature of which is being kept secret—after which the Department of Defense would become involved. The DoD would only be allowed to take offensive action with direct presidential approval."

According to The Atlantic Wire's Adam Clark Estes, "One senior American official said that officials quickly determined that the cyberweapons were so powerful that — like nuclear weapons — they should be unleashed only on the direct orders of the commander in chief."

In related news about cyberattacks, The Washington Free Beacon's Bill Gertz wrote, "Computer networks at the Energy Department were attacked by sophisticated hackers in a major cyber incident two weeks ago and personal information on several hundred employees was compromised by the intruders. Energy Department officials, along with FBI agents, are investigating the attack on servers at the Washington headquarters. They believe the sophisticated penetration attack was not limited to stealing personal information. There are indications the attackers had other motives, possibly including plans to gain future access to classified and other sensitive information. No classified information was compromised in the cyber attack, said officials who provided details of the attack to the Washington Free Beacon on condition of anonymity."

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