Awaiting Executive Order, Langevin Urges President to Emphasize Cyber in State of the Union

Feb 5, 2013 Issues: Cybersecurity

One week prior to the State of the Union address, Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) wrote to President Obama today, asking that he underscore the urgency with which we must respond to cybersecurity threats when he speaks to the nation. The major speech will take place after the Administration has spent months considering its options for an Executive Order to improve cybersecurity policies because Congress failed to pass meaningful legislation dealing with the issue last session.

A co-founder of the bipartisan Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, Langevin has emphasized that we cannot fully address current and future challenges in cyberspace without Congressional action; however, he has encouraged the Administration to use executive authority where possible to address our most urgent cybersecurity needs and help spur the House and Senate into reaching agreement on cyber legislation.

“I hope that you will take the unique opportunity afforded by your State of the Union address to galvanize both Congress and the public to demand immediate action to secure our country’s cyberspace,” wrote Langevin. “While I trust that you will use every existing avenue of executive power to improve our capabilities in this realm, our current laws simply do not reflect the amazing technological advances (and the accompanying challenges) that have been made since their enactment.”

Langevin, who co-chaired the CSIS Commission on Cybersecurity for the 44th Presidency that made recommendations prior to Obama’s first term, plans to introduce legislation in the coming months that would address our most pressing cyber concerns, which include protecting critical infrastructure.

Full Letter to President:

February 5, 2013

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

Congratulations on your inauguration for a second term. As your State of the Union address now approaches, I would like to thank you for your efforts to improve our nation’s cybersecurity in your first term. From increasing the amount and quality of the data shared among federal agencies and the private sector to elucidating clear policy guidelines for trusted identities in cyberspace and cyberwarfare, your administration has truly made protecting American citizens and American interests a national priority.

Unfortunately, the scope of the challenge has only increased. The same American ingenuity that allows our businesses to be world-leaders in information technology also exposes us to a host of new threats. Defense Secretary Panetta, speaking to the Business Executives for National Security, described the current state of cyber-affairs as “a pre-9/11 moment.” Attacks against our defense industrial base, our financial services infrastructure, our free press, and even our own government networks are a daily occurrence. While none have yet caused the destruction on the scope of 9/11, the potential for such a disaster is real, and it is growing.

Combating this threat is a pressing priority. As the co-founder of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, I work to inform my colleagues of the inadequacy of existing legislation to secure the domain, and I have appreciated your administration’s efforts to highlight the immediacy of our need. I hope that you will take the unique opportunity afforded by your State of the Union address to galvanize both Congress and the public to demand immediate action to secure our country’s cyberspace. While I trust that you will use every existing avenue of executive power to improve our capabilities in this realm, our current laws simply do not reflect the amazing technological advances (and the accompanying challenges) that have been made since their enactment.

I was privileged to serve as the Co-chair of the Commission on Cybersecurity for the 44th Presidency, which presented you with a series of recommendations when you first took office. Your actions in your first term have made it abundantly clear that you have embraced the need for a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy, and I look forward to working with you to expand and implement this strategy throughout the coming session.

Sincerely,

 

Jim Langevin
Member of Congress