The Senate plans to hold a hearing on Thursday to consider the long-delayed nomination of Army Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency, as commander of the new U.S. Cyber Command.
The command was scheduled to start operations on Oct. 1, 2009. But the Senate held up Alexander's nomination, which includes a promotion to a four-star general, and the command's formal establishment because of concerns about its relationship with the NSA and the militarization of cyberspace.
No senator on the Armed Services Committee strongly opposes Alexander serving as both head of NSA and the Cyber Command, but they plan to ask tough questions during the hearing, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center, an advocacy group that tracks the security and use of citizens' personal information stored in computer networks, charged in a bulletin released on April 9 that the Cyber Command will "give the Defense Department broad new authority over the Internet."
EPIC also urged NSA's legal authority to make public information it has on surveillance the agency conducted on U.S. citizens in advance of Alexander's conformation hearing.
In November 2009, Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn III, told the Information Technology Acquisition Summit that Defense does not intend to militarize cyberspace using the Cyber Command. "It will be responsible for DoD's networks, the dot-mil world," he said. "Responsibility for federal civilian networks -- dot-gov -- stays with the Homeland Security Department, and that's exactly how it should be."
In May 2009, Alexander told the House Armed Services Committee that Defense needs a Cyber Command to respond to threats at network speed.