FCWInsider

Blog archive

Gates: NSA ‘primary weapon in this conflict’

Robert Gates

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, on a press tour promoting his new book, "Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War," spoke at a Jan. 16 Politico Playbook event in Washington. The hour-long conversation with Politico’s Mike Allen covered a lot of ground, but a few gems on intelligence leaks and cybersecurity emerged during the discussion. 

On stopping leaks: “The president and I were about the only people at the table who weren’t taking notes. At one point, when the president was really angry about leaks, I turned to him and said, ‘Mr. President, would you look around the table? Everybody’s writing! And they’re all going to go back and brief their staffs, and their staff will brief everybody else. If you want to stop leaks, tell everybody to put their damn pencils down. Say there’s one note-taker for the meeting, and he or she is from the National Security Council staff, and no one else is allowed to take notes.’ Uh, that never happened.” 

On the possibility of a “cyber 9/11: “First of all I think a cyberattack of that magnitude from nation-state with whom we are not at war is not very likely. So I think the greatest danger comes from non-government entities – terrorist groups, global organized crime, probably more likely a terrorist group. And some are very sophisticated when it comes to the Internet. So I think that is a very real danger.”

On the state of U.S. cybersecurity: “The problem I see is, I think we have the capability to protect our critical infrastructure, but bureaucratic and political issues have us so wrapped around the axle that we can’t figure out who to give the authority to defend us.

“The reality is – and this was a debate I had in Obama administration – when I first became Defense secretary, I asked the deputy general counsel of the department to get me a memo of what kind of cyberattack would constitute an act of war. When I left four and a half years later, I was still waiting for that memo. 

“I think a lot of people who are really focused on privacy and civil liberties resist the notion of the NSA providing cybersecurity for the United States ...the truth is they are our primary weapon in this conflict.”

Posted by Amber Corrin on Jan 21, 2014 at 12:10 PM


FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.

Featured

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1996, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

  • Shutterstock image.

    Merged IT modernization bill punts on funding

    A House panel approved a new IT modernization bill that appears poised to pass, but key funding questions are left for appropriators.

  • General Frost

    Army wants cyber capability everywhere

    The Army's cyber director said cyber, electronic warfare and information operations must be integrated into warfighters' doctrine and training.

  • Rising Star 2013

    Meet the 2016 Rising Stars

    FCW honors 30 early-career leaders in federal IT.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group