2012 Defense Authorization Act To Allow Military To Conduct Secret Missions In Cyberspace

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On May 9, Representative Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, released his version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012. The bill, which is updated annually, specifies the budget and expenditures for the U.S. Department of Defense.

With the release of this year’s bill, the chairman is taking a different approach to defense. “The Department of Defense cannot continue to conduct business as usual and expect better results,” McKeon said in a press release.

Included in that approach is Section 962, titled “Military Activities In Cyberspace.” Citing terrorist activities by al-Qaida, the Taliban and others, the bill gives the military broad, nonspecific powers to conduct missions on the Internet.

“In particular, this section would clarify that the Secretary of Defense has the authority to conduct clandestine cyberspace activities in support of military operations,” the bill reads.

“In certain instances, the most effective way to neutralize threats and protect U.S. and coalition forces is to undertake military cyber activities in a clandestine manner. While this section is not meant to identify all or in any way limit other possible military activities in cyberspace, the Secretary of Defense’s authority includes the authority to conduct clandestine military activities in cyberspace in support of military operations, pursuant to an armed conflict for which Congress has authorized the use of all necessary and appropriate force or to defend against a cyber attack on a Department of Defense asset.”

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