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The floor of the main lobby of the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Va. The floor of the main lobby of the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley, Va., Jan. 21, 2017 (AP file photo by Andrew Harnik).

Don’t Rush to Judge the CIA’s Covert Cyber Offensive

Friday, July 24, 2020

News reports last week that U.S. President Donald Trump granted the CIA broad authority in 2018 to conduct offensive cyberattacks against Russia, China, Iran and North Korea have rightfully raised alarm among some in Washington’s national security set. Recent history indicates that when the White House has greenlighted items at the top of the CIA’s wish list, things haven’t always turned out well. See the Senate “Torture Report” and leaked documents on lethal drone attacks in South Asia for more details.

In light of these past CIA transgressions, the current handwringing is not unwarranted. Yet, as often happens with sensational stories about American spycraft, there is a risk that reporting about the mere existence of a secret CIA campaign of offensive cyberattacks obscures what this new “gloves off” approach might portend for the future of cyberwarfare at the global level. ...

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