Olympia Snowe Critical of Cybersecurity Coordinator’s Place in the Executive Branch

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olympia_snowe2In a hearing held Tuesday addressing the Cyber Security Act of 2009, Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, was critical of the Obama administration for making the cybersecurity coordinator unable to testify before congress.

Referring to the newly created position of the cybersecurity coordinator, Snowe said: “He’s a member of the National Security Council and cannot testify. Given the significance of this issue … it really needs to rise to a different level.”

Snowe, who serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee Task Force on Cyber Security, added that given the serious nature of cybersecurity, it is unacceptable to have a senior administration official who is not accountable to Congress and meets behind closed doors.

The Senate Commerce Committee heard from experts who expressed their concerns about the lack of a comprehensive defense toward attacks targeting the nation’s financial industry, telecommunications system and electrical grid. Michael McConnell, executive vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton’s national security business and a former director of national security and national intelligence, said if the United States were to fight a cyberwar today, it would lose. James Lewis, a senior fellow at the nonprofit Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the nation is “under attack every day, losing every day vital secrets.”

One solution to these problems is the Cyber Security Act of 2009. It would regulate organizations and companies that provide critical infrastructure for the United States, require licensing and certification for cybersecurity professionals, and provide funding for grant and scholarship programs. The House of Representatives passed its version of the Cyber Security Act, something Lewis said was necessary and overdue.

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