In the face of continued attacks on federal agencies and contractors such as Booz Allen Hamilton and IRC Federal that do highly sensitive security work for the U.S. government, Sen. John McCain has asked Senate leaders to appoint a select committee to look into the attacks and data leaks that have plagued Washington throughout 2011.
In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, McCain (R-Ariz.) said that a temporary Senate committee is necessary in order to get a handle on all of the disparate cybersecurity legislation proposals and to address the threat posed by groups such as Anonymous, LulzSec and Wikileaks.
“I write to renew my request that the Senate create a temporary Select Committee on Cyber Security and Electronic Intelligence Leaks. I feel this Select Committee is necessary in order to develop comprehensive cyber security legislation and adequately address the continuing risk of insider threats that caused thousands of documents to be posted on the website Wikileaks,” McCain said in his letter, which he sent Thursday.
The request for the select committee comes on the heels of renewed attacks on federal agencies and contractors by Anonymous and other groups affiliated with the AntiSec movement. The most recent incidents in this campaign are the attack by Anonymous on Booz Allen Hamilton revealed on Monday and the attack on IRC Federal last weekend. Both companies are involved in national security work for the federal government, and such companies have become prime targets for the groups in the AntiSec campaign.
In his letter to Reid and McConnell, McCain says that the select committee he is proposing is necessary for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the need to decipher the tangle of legislative proposals and agencies involved in the cybersecurity discussion.
“As you know, cyber security legislation has been drafted by at least three committees and at least seven committees claim some jurisdiction over the issue. The White House put forward a legislative proposal in May and the Department of Energy put forth requirements and responsibilities for a cyber security program that same month. Earlier this month, the Department of Commerce sought comment on its proposal to establish voluntary codes of behavior to improve cyber security and the Department of Defense issued its strategy for operating in cyberspace. With so many agencies and the White House moving forward with cyber security proposals, we must provide congressional leadership on this pressing issue of national security,” McCain wrote in the letter.
In addition to the attacks on contractors and federal agencies, the government has been dealing with the fallout from the myriad revelations in the Wikileaks documents that have been trickling out since last year. McCain said in the letter that he thinks the government’s current plan for dealing with these things is inadequate.
“I truly believe the only way to ensure the protection of sensitive and valuable information from tampering or dissemination by unauthorized persons is a Select Committee,” McCain said.