The government’s new cyber-security “Manhattan Project” is so secretive that a key Senate oversight panel has been reduced to writing a letter to beg for answers to the most basic questions, such as what’s going on, what’s the point and what about privacy laws.
The Senate Homeland Security committee wants to know, for example, what is the goal of Homeland Security’s new National Cyber Security Center. They also want to know why it is that in March, DHS announced that Silicon Valley evangelist and security novice Rod Beckstrom would direct the center, when up to that point DHS said the mere existence of the center was classified.
Those are just two sub-questions out of a list of 17 multi-part questions centrist Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Connecticut) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) sent to DHS in a letter Friday.
In fact, although the two say they asked for a briefing five months ago on what the center does, DHS has yet to explain its latest acronym.
The panel, noted it was pleased with the new focus on cyber security, but questioned Homeland Security’s request to triple the center’s cyber-security budget to about $200 million.
They cited concerns about the secrecy around the project, its reliance on contractors for the operation of the center and lack of dialogue with private companies that specialize in internet security.
That center is just one small part of the government’s new found interest in computer security, a project dubbed the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative, which has been rumored to eventually get some $30 billion in funding.
Little is known about the initiative since it was created via a secret presidential order in January, though the Washington Post reports that portions of it may be made public soon.
Read moreWhat’s Up with the Secret Cybersecurity Plans, Senators Ask DHS