Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

November 8, 2007

New White House Cybersecurity Initiative Underway

Filed under: Cybersecurity — by Jonah Czerwinski on November 8, 2007

Cybersecurity just got a $154 million boost as part of a seven-year Presidential initiative that may reach into the billions of dollars according to a White House whisper yesterday.  It is hard to know why the Presidential peep about such a major undertaking didn’t warrant more of a podium.  I couldn’t even find a press release.

Siobhan Gorman at the Baltimore Sun, always plugged in to the intel community, was among the first to report on the non-announcement.  The president requested the funds in a letter to Speaker Pelosi.  Tracking threats in cyberspace on both government and private networks is what the White House promised to do in more than one national strategy document.  There is a National Cyber Security Division at DHS. (See HSPD-7, section 16 for more detail.)  The PATRIOT Act (love it or hate it) extends authorities to combat terrorist activities on the Internet.  Few would suggest that the job is done.  Yet, why the mere murmur?

Perhaps because there are so few details settled.  The initiative would be led by DHS with support from the National Security Agency, the Office of the Director of National  Intelligence, and other intelligence community members, including the FBI.  Another touchy aspect may be the financing of this effort.  According to Siobhan’s story and the OMB documents attached to the president’s letter, funds for the “Cyber Initiative” will be redirected from such things as the Coast Guard, Hurricane Katrina rebuilding, border security, the Inspector General’s office, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Whoa.  I wouldn’t broadcast that either.  Cutting funds for the Coast Guard is unpopular everywhere.  I’m pretty sure the Lower Ninth hasn’t been rebuilt since the last time I was there after Katrina.  Just wait until Lou Dobbs hears about the border security.  The Inspector General?  He might actually need a boost.  And FEMA.  That may actually be warranted.  (I can hear reader WRC’s keyboard already.)

Update: Further funding details are in Jason Miller’s story at FCW.com, wherein he specifies that the president recommends using unobligated funds from a number of different DHS offices, including the chief information officer ($873,000), the Customs an Border Protection automation modernization project ($6.1 million) and the Science and Technology Directorate ($216,000). All such details can be read in this attachment.

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Comment by Ge'r Pierro

November 20, 2007 @ 9:55 am

Really, cutting cash to border control & Katrina rebuild, FEMA & interdiction, is not the way to fund something of this magnitude. I’m amazed this isn’t on a front page in at least a few silicon byways, but not for nothing…what did they have before, moldy swiss cheese & a seive?

Comment by Christopher Tingus

November 22, 2007 @ 11:23 pm

Cybersecurity without question is a prerequisite requirement to maintaining our security and Life as we know it today in our daily quest to assure lberty and peaceful coexistence which means employing the expertise required to successfully address these challenges.

Kudos Mr. President, staffing and both sides of the room who understand that this seven year initiative demanding our utmost support which I concur will eventually require billions of dollars to be voted by both Republican and Democrat leadership is a no. 1 priority.

With the daily successes in an ever evolving global technology as exemplified by the Asian scientific and engineering leadership’s ambitious steps clearly understanding the importance of cyberspace activities and policy as very important.

As a citizen who applauds such activities, I am quite supportive in such initiative led by a very select group of committed individuals at DHS HQ which will entail NSA support further helping to establish an even closer relationship between DHS and NSA. Those at NSA are applauded daily by this author in the essential and challenging diligence required. As DHS evolves, it too has gained invaluable experience and the ability to identify and handle numerous scenarios.

I do believe the funding and support for such long-term commitment to subject initiative should come from other sourcing though. With billions being spent on Boston’s “Big Dig” for instance over the last decade which I have questioned the managament of such substantial funding to remake seven miles of Boston’s metro roadway system, the President’s initiative is even far too important and must require immediate support by a non-partisan team to fully fund all such diligence in effort to thwart those seeking to utilize their technological expertise to undermine our way of Life which promises so much in the advancement of mankind in the eys of the Lord!

There is no need to cut back border controls or Katrina rebuilding for instance. I am far too much of an advocate calling for more financial audit of project(s) funding to prevent wasted dollars as well as a citizen supporting more control over our northern and southern borders as well as preparing for the next strong cyclone promising to devestate an area and population who has suffered far too much already.

Yesterday we must be prepared as Morher Nature and our foes are challenging our great nation and resilient people daily and there is no time but the present to make crucial decisions to maintain our way of Life in our pursuit of happiness and equality for all and safeguard us as those at DHS and NSA and so many others do every day! God Bless America!

Christopher Tingus
Harwich, MA

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January 14, 2008 @ 12:51 pm

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