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Defense Secretary James Mattis (R) introduces Vice President Mike Pence before he announces the Trump Administration's plan to create the U.S. Space Force by 2020 at the Pentagon August 9, 2018 in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

'I've Got a Bad Feeling About This': Making Analysts Nervous, Trump Reportedly Relaxing Cyber-Warfare Rules

While the precise implications of Trump's move are unclear, critics called the rule reversal a "huge deal" and expressed alarm about what lax restrictions on cyberweapon use could mean under Trump's direction

Jake Johnson

In a move that immediately sparked alarm among national security analysts, President Donald Trump on Wednesday reportedly scrapped a classified Obama-era memo that set detailed restrictions on how and under what circumstances cyberweapons can be used.

"I've got a bad feeling about this."
—Marcy Wheeler, national security journalist

According to the Wall Street Journal—which first reported Trump's move late Wednesday—the rollback was described by one administration official briefed on the decision as an "offensive step" toward loosening constraints on the military's ability to deploy cyberweapons against foreign "adversaries."

One anonymous official told the Journal that Trump's ultra-hawkish national security adviser John Bolton began calling for the elimination of the Obama-era memo shortly after he arrived in the White House in April.

"The Trump administration has faced pressure to show that it is taking seriously national-security cyberthreats—particularly those that intelligence officials say are posed by Moscow," the Journal noted. "Top administration officials are also devising new penalties that would allow stronger responses to state-sponsored hacks of U.S. critical infrastructure... a mounting worry due to Russia's efforts to penetrate American electric utilities."

While the precise implications of Trump's move are unclear, analysts called the rule reversal a "huge deal" and expressed concern about what lax restrictions on cyberweapon use could mean under Trump's direction.

"I've got a bad feeling about this," independent national security journalist Marcy Wheeler wrote on Twitter.

Officially titled Presidential Policy Directive 20 (pdf), the secret Obama-era memo Trump reportedly reversed on Wednesday was made public in 2013 by National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden.

As the Journal reported, the measure "mapped out an elaborate interagency process that must be followed before U.S. use of cyberattacks."

White House officials told the Journal that Trump has replaced Obama's directive with his own rules, but they refused to provide any details.


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Poll Shows Majority Oppose Supreme Court's Attack on Fundamental Rights

Fifty-six of respondents said they're now concerned the court will attack marriage equality and the right to obtain contraception.

Julia Conley ·


Global Windfall Profit Tax of 90% Needed to Address 'Catastrophic' Food, Climate Crises: Oxfam

Taxing the excess profits of large corporations within the G7 alone could raise an estimated $430 billion to fight world hunger, deliver vaccines to the entire world, and make a giant dent in the fight to drive down fossil fuel pollution and jumpstart the necessary renewable energy transition.

Jon Queally ·


NATO to Boost Ranks of High-Readiness Forces by 650% to Over 300,000

Anti-war campaigners responded that "this is not the path to peace and will not make the world safer."

Jake Johnson ·


Ilhan Omar Says Plan to Fix Supreme Court Must Include Impeachment Probes

"We need an impeachment investigation into Clarence Thomas' role in the January 6th coup, as well as into Gorsuch, Alito, Barrett, and Kavanaugh's testimony on Roe during their confirmation hearings," said the Minnesota Democrat.

Jake Johnson ·


Right-Wing Justices Should Be Impeached for Lying Under Oath, Says Ocasio-Cortez

"We have a responsibility to protect our democracy," said the New York Democrat. "That includes holding those in power who violate the law accountable."

Kenny Stancil ·

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