The White House has been open about its goal of relaxing rules on cyber weaponry, but it remains tight-lipped about policy details. The Trump administration has also been forthcoming with praises for its new cyberwarfare capabilities; current and former officials say the government has been able to react to a wider range of threats because of them.
Congress still hasn’t seen the directive — And not for a lack of trying, either. Multiple bipartisan letters have been addressed to Trump directly about the matter with no response. The directive, known as National Security Presidential Memorandum 13, includes details that would be extremely pertinent to lawmakers.
Congress needs policy details in order to complete its lawmaking functions, and the general population deserves at least some semblance of information on cyber threats. The passing of the National Defense Authorization Act provides hope that lawmakers will soon see these documents — but, then again, so did the Vulnerabilities Equities Process two years ago, and we’ve seen how that’s played out.
Fresh pressuring tactics — A spokeswoman for the House Armed Services Committee said the Trump administration’s refusal to share cyber policies “severely impairs Congress’s ability to evaluate the national security threat posed in the cyber realm on behalf of the American people.”
A senior administration official said the rules have been made available to Congress. “No one took us up on it,” the official said. No specifics about this access were provided.
Congress is obviously fed up with Trump’s ignorance of their pleas, so they’re trying the tried-and-true method of legal pressure. To this end, the National Defense Authorization Act passed in both the House and the Senate this month, requiring relevant policy documents to be shared with lawmakers. The updated law will require the president to allow congressional committees to read copies of any documents relating to the Pentagon's “operations in cyberspace” within 30 days.
Just the latest in cyber secrecy — This is not the first time Trump’s White House has been accused of harboring cyber policy details. Back in 2017, the Trump administration released the Vulnerabilities Equities Process, an outline of cybersecurity flaws discovered by U.S. intelligence agencies. At the time, the roadmap was lauded for its planned transparency — including an annual report to be sent to Congress — but the limited documents released since 2017 have been mostly classified and void of any sort of transparency.