National Security Professionals and Cyber Experts Call for Pentagon Intervention on Surrender of the Internet

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Center for Security Policy

Washington, D.C.: Dozens of experienced national security professionals and experts on cyber threats and warfare joined forces today to urge the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to oppose the transfer of the last vestige of U.S. control of the Internet to a non-profit organization in less than a week.

As things stand now, on 1 October, President Obama intends to transfer all responsibilities for naming and numbering domain addresses on the Internet to a non-profit organization known as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Should that happen, the United States will no longer have any control over the addresses that serve to make all websites accessible and allow users to connect to the Internet. Currently, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) reviews all new addresses and authorizes them to be posted to the authoritative root server (the “A Server”) by Verisign.

In the attached letter to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, current and former leaders in industry, national security, homeland and cyber security express strong concerns about the likely implications of such a step and seek a one-year delay to allow full consideration of these issues:
The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority function is critical to our nation’s ability to effectively defend our national assets and civilian population and ensure integrity in our cyberwarfare capabilities….DoD is reliant upon private sector critical infrastructure for its operations, and the integrity and security of the IP addresses associated with these assets are equally important to the protection of the American people.

Of…immediate concern to us…is the prospect that the United States might be transferring to future adversaries a capability that could facilitate, particularly in time of conflict, cyberwarfare against us. In the absence of NTIA’s stewardship, we would be unable to be certain about the legitimacy of all IP addresses or whether they have been, in some form or fashion, manipulated, or compromised. Given the reliance of the U.S. military and critical infrastructure on the Internet, we must not allow it to be put needlessly at risk.

The signatories, headed by storied leaders of the defense industrial sector and cyberspace, CACI International’s Executive Chairman, J.P. “Jack” London, and the former Chairman of Network Solutions, Michael A. Daniels, represent several centuries’ worth of experience in safeguarding America and its computer systems. They conclude with the bottom line: “There is, to our knowledge, no compelling reason for exposing the national security to such a risk by transferring our remaining control of the Internet in this way at this time.”

To learn more about what is at stake and the necessity of the executive branch and/or the Congress preventing this needless and avoidable disaster, contact Jody Westby, CEO of Global Cyber Risk LLC, at 202-255-2700 or westby@globalcyberrisk.com.

Here is the letter:

September 26, 2016

Hon. Ashton B. Carter
Secretary of Defense The Pentagon
Washington, D.C. 20301

General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr.
Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff The Pentagon
Washington, D.C. 20301

Dear Secretary Carter and Chairman Dunford:

As individuals with extensive, first-hand experience with protecting our national security, we write to urge you to intervene in opposition to an imminent action that would, in our judgment, cause profound and irreversible damage to the United States’ vital interests.

On October 1st, the contract between the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will expire. Upon expiration, the President will allow the Government’s remaining control over the Internet to transfer to ICANN. This includes the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) function and NTIA’s review of all Internet Protocol addresses and authorization for them to be placed on the authoritative root server (the A Server). In simple terms, nothing now is accessible on the Internet until it has undergone an IP address assignment and NTIA review and NTIA has authorized Verisign to post the address to the A server.

The IANA function is critical to our nation’s ability to effectively defend our national assets and civilian population and ensure integrity in our cyberwarfare capabilities. As Congress has considered this transfer of authority, it has stated that ICANN should ensure that .mil and .gov remain exclusive to DoD and that all IP addresses assigned to DoD are used exclusively by the Government. That ignores the fact that DoD is reliant upon private sector critical infrastructure for its operations, and the integrity and security of the IP addresses associated with these assets are equally important to the protection of the American people.

In the absence of U.S. Government involvement in IANA, it seems possible that, over time, foreign powers – including potentially or actually hostile ones – will be able to influence the IANA process. Even coercing the delay in approving IP addresses could impact military capabilities. From a broader view, given the well-documented ambition of these actors to restrict freedom of expression and/or entrepreneurial activity on the Internet, such a transfer of authority to ICANN could have far-reaching and undesirable consequences for untold numbers of people worldwide.

Of more immediate concern to us, however, is the prospect that the United States might be transferring to future adversaries a capability that could facilitate, particularly in time of conflict, cyberwarfare against us. In the absence of NTIA’s stewardship, we would be unable to be certain about the legitimacy of all IP addresses or whether they have been, in some form or fashion, manipulated, or compromised. Given the reliance of the U.S. military and critical infrastructure on the Internet, we must not allow it to be put needlessly at risk.

Indeed, there is, to our knowledge, no compelling reason for exposing the national security to such a risk by transferring our remaining control of the Internet in this way at this time.

In light of the looming deadline, we feel compelled to urge you to impress upon President Obama that the contract between NTIA and ICANN cannot be safely terminated at this point. At a minimum, given the irreversible character of this decision and its potential for grave and enduring harm to our national security and other vital interests, the decision should be delayed.

Sincerely,

J.P. “Jack” London
Executive Chairman CACI International, Inc.

Michael A. Daniels
Former Chairman, Network Solutions

Jody R. Westby
CEO, Global Cyber Risk LLC and
Former Chief Administrative Officer & Counsel, In-Q-Tel

Adm. James A. “Ace” Lyons, USN (Ret.) Former Commander-in-Chief
U.S. Pacific Fleet

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.
Former Assistant Secretary of Defense (Acting)

Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin, USA (Ret.)
Former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence

Hon. Pete Hoekstra
Former Chairman, House Intelligence Committee

Oliver “Buck” Revell
Associate Deputy Director (Ret.) Federal Bureau of Investigation

Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, USAF (Ret.)
Former Deputy Chief of Staff, United States Air Force

Hon. Michelle Van Cleave
Former Counter-Intelligence Executive

Rep. Brian Babin (TX-36)
Chairman, House of Representatives’ Committee on Science Space and Technology Subcommittee

Hon. Jon Kyl
Former Senate Minority Whip

Dr. Lani Kass
Former Director, Air Force Chief of Staff’s Cyber Task Force

Hon. Charles E. Allen
Former Under Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security for Intelligence and Analysis

Lt. Gen. C. E. McKnight, Jr., USA (Ret.)
Former Director, Command and Control Systems for Nuclear Forces, Joint Chiefs of Staff

Hon. John G. Grimes
Former Assistant Secretary, Networks & Information Integration and
DoD, Chief Information Officer

Lt. Gen. Robert J. Elder, USAF (Ret.)
Former Commander, U.S. Air Force Network Operations

Rep. Dave Brat (VA-7)

Vice Adm. Robert R. Monroe, USN (Ret.)
Former Director, Defense Nuclear Agency

Maj. Gen. Henry Canterbury, USAF (Ret.)
Former Operations and Readiness, Air Staff Pentagon

Daniel J. Gallington
Former General Counsel Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

Maj. Gen. Harold “Punch” Moulton, USAF (Ret.)
Former Director of Operations, U.S. European Command

Maj. Gen. Kenneth R. Israel, USAF (Ret.)
Former Director of Defense Airborne Reconnaissance Office

Andrew McCarthy
Former Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Southern District of New York

Hon. Paula A. DeSutter
Former Assistant Secretary of State and Professional Staff Member, U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

Rear Adm. Philip S. Anselmo, USN (Ret.)
Former Director of Command Control Communications Computers and Intelligence (C4I)

Rear Adm. Pierce J. Johnson, USN (Ret.)
Former Chief of Staff, U.S. Regional Headquarters, Lisbon (Portugal)

Lt. Gen. C. Norman Wood, USAF (Ret.)
Former Director, Intelligence Community Staff

Dan Goure
Former Director of the Office of Strategic Competitiveness in the Office of the Secretary of Defense

Thomas H. Handel
Former Executive Director, Naval Information Warfare Activity (now Navy Cyber Warfare Development Group)

Vice Adm. Edward W. Clexton, Jr., USN (Ret.)
Former Deputy Commander, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, Commander, Carrier Strike Group, and Deputy Commander in Chief, US Naval and Marine Forces, Europe

Vice Adm. Jerry L. Unruh, USN (Ret.)
Former Commander, U.S. Third Fleet

Rear Adm. Albert A. Gallotta, Jr., USN (Ret.)
Vice Commander, Naval Electronics Systems Command

Rear Adm. H. Winsor Whiton, USN (Ret.)
Former Commander of the Naval Security Group and former Deputy Director of the National Security Agency for Plans, Policy, and Programs

Lt. Gen. Bennett L. Lewis, USA (Ret.)
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Mobilization and Director, Defense Mobilization Systems Planning Activity

Lt. Gen. Tex Brown, USAF (Ret.)
Former Assistant Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force

Rear. Adm. Charles R. Kubic, CEC, USN (Ret.)
Former Commander, First Naval Construction Division

Rear Adm. Phillip R. Olson, USN (Ret.)
Former President of the U.S. Navy Board of Inspection and Safety

Victoria Coates
National Security Advisor to Sen. Ted Cruz

Morgan Wright
Senior Fellow, Center for Digital Government

Mike Steinmetz
President & CEO, Digital Executive LTD

Brig. Gen. Peyton Cole, USAF (Ret.)
Former Executive Secretary, U.S. Department of Defense

Capt. David E. Meadows, USN (Ret.)
Former Deputy Commander Naval Security Group

Capt. Scott W. Witt, USN (Ret.)
Former Chief, Weapons and Space, National Security Agency

Capt. Michael Sare, USN (Ret.)
Former Navy Cryptologist / Cyber Warfare Officer

Katherine C. Gorka
President, Council on Global Security

Col. R. J. Peppe, USAF (Ret.)
Former Chief, Selection Board Secretariat

Michael J. Jacobs
Former Information Assurance Director, NSA

Gwyn Whittaker
Former CEO, Mosaic, Inc.

Lynn Schnurr
Former Army Chief Information Officer and Defense Intelligence Senior Executive Service

Frederick Fleitz
Senior VP, Center for Security Policy and former CIA Analyst

Daniel J. Bongino
Former Secret Service Agency, Presidential Protection Division

Col. F. E. Peck, USAF (Ret.)

Lt. Col. Jim Webster, USAF (Ret.)

Lt. Col. Floyd H. Damschen, USAF (Ret.)

Col. Raymond C. Maestrelli, DDS USAF (Ret.)

Col. Ed Leonard, USAF (Ret.)

Maj. Gen. Gary L. Harrell, USA (Ret.)

Christian Whiton
Former State Department Senior Advisor

Maj. Gen. John Miller, USAF (Ret.)

Maj. Gen. Timothy A. Peppe, USAF (Ret.)

Col. Richard W. Dillon, USA (Ret.)

Lt. Col. Ronald King, USA (Ret.)

David P. Goldman
Columnist, Asia Times and PJ Media Capt.

James H. Hardaway, USN (Ret.)

Lt. Gen. Gordon E. Fornell, USAF (Ret.)

Rear Adm. Thomas F. Brown III, USN (Ret.)

Col. Daniel Pierre, USAF (Ret.)

S.C. Robinson, Ret.
Section Manager, Y-12 National Security Complex

Richard T. Witton, Jr. (Ret.)

Col. Michael R. Cook (Ret.)

Roger Kimball Editor and author

Larry Cox
President, Western Slopes Security Services

Angie Lienert
President & CEO, IntelliGenesis LLC

Col. Willard Snell, USAF (Ret.)

David Winks
Managing Director, AcquSight, Inc.

Maj. Gen. Michael Snodgrass, USAF (Ret.)

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One comment on “National Security Professionals and Cyber Experts Call for Pentagon Intervention on Surrender of the Internet
  1. Excellent letter! Praying that Congress will listen and kill this crazy plan to hand over control of the Net DNS Naming/Addressing System to outsiders!
    We do not need the additional security risks and worries.

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