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Order has been anticipated for some time now

President Barack Obama (D) has been widely criticized by conservatives for his use of executive orders to push the federal actions he wants when Congress is unwilling to go along with him.  The tactic isn't exactly new (FDR signed nearly 4,500 executive orders) and President Obama hasn't used it all that often (he's signed 144) [source].  But his critics contend his executive orders are more sweeping and loaded with action than past ones, so the small count is misleading.

I. Some Critics Say the Order Goes Too Far...

That criticism may be revived this week if President Obama drops his long-awaited cyberwarfare executive order.

Reuters spoke with government officials who had seen the order and said it is expected for a Wednesday drop.  The order is expected to expand the role the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plays in policing the homeland online from both internal and external threats.
Obama speaking
President Obama wants to expand the federal gov't to "solve" the cybersecurity "crisis".
[Image Source: U.S. Aid]

The expansion of DHS authority alone is enough to make many a bit queasy.  Under President Bush, the new intelligence agency was a key point of controversy from his Democratic and third party critics.

Some Republicans even opposed the DHS under both Bush and Obama, although they're a drastic minority in Congress.  Perhaps most notable is Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) who has suggested that the Department of Homeland Security is poor in talent, offensive to civil liberties, and redundant, commenting [source]:

Before 9/11, we were spending $40 billion a year, and the FBI was producing numerous information about people being trained on airplanes, to fly them but not land them. And they totally ignored them. So it’s the inefficiency of the bureaucracy that is the problem. So, increasing this with the Department of Homeland Security and spending more money doesn’t absolve us of the problem. Yes, we have every right in the world to know something about intelligence gathering. But we have to have intelligent people interpreting this information.

But like it or not, Ron Paul and his supporters on the left and right may be unable to stop President Obama from pushing through the plan.

II. ...Others Complain It's Too Weak

One thing that will make it difficult to rally Congressional opposition to the order is that the order itself is actually relatively similar to the bills put forth by bipartisan committees in both the House and Senate last year.

In reality, most Congressional Democrats and Republicans agreed that some sort of increase in cyberdefense spending and more codified framework for public-private sharing of information on threats was necessary.  Both plans involved incorporating the DHS into those roles.  So on the surface at least the pending executive order does not sound all that different from what either the House or Senate had agreed upon.

Ultimately, neither bill passed last year, thanks largely to partisan bickering.  While the House bill and Senate bill were remarkably similar, the Republican controlled house insisted on its version being passed, while the Democratic controlled Senate demanded its bill be the final version.  Ultimately that gridlock sunk both bills, when a series of small changes would likely have been enough to reconcile the differences between the two bills.
Congress Buillding wide
Despite drafting nearly identical bills last year, the House and Senate were not able to reach agreement, due largely to partisan bickering. [Image Source: U.S. Congress]
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is among the cyberdefense agencies frustrated by that bureaucratic train wreck.  But officials to acknowledge that it won't be easy convincing the private sector to trust federal security.

Comments FBI Executive Assistant Director Richard McFeely, head of the Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch, "Our biggest issue right now is getting the private sector to a comfort level so they can report anomalies, malware, incidents within their network [without them fearing media leaks]."

Reportedly the information sharing portions of the order will be voluntary for most businesses.  

Indeed, despite the controversy over what the order does do, there's also some concern/criticism about how much it doesn't get done.  Comments one source to Reuters -- "We know the executive order isn't going to go as far as legislation could or will go, but it's a good start."

Stewart Baker, former National Security Agency (NSA) general counsel and a past assistant secretary for policy at the DHS comments, "I think this can fairly be described as a down payment on legislation.  [It should do something positive], but whether it will provide practical protection from cyber attacks is still in doubt."

Source: Reuters

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RE: Don't get it
By Reclaimer77 on 2/12/2013 4:53:36 PM , Rating: 5
This isn't about security, it's about spending more money and consolidating more power.

The Imperial Presidency continues. Our Representatives, who are Constitutionally mandated to pass laws and make policies, are once again usurped in favor of Executive action.

I guess he learned from Obamacare. Why bring stuff like this into a public debate and take the risk of the American public having a chance to be informed and take sides? Just magic things into existence with the stroke of a pen, Democracy be damned.

RE: Don't get it
By room200 on 2/12/2013 7:58:22 PM , Rating: 2
President Obama has used the Executive Order the least of most presidents including Bush I, Bush II, and Clinton.

RE: Don't get it
By Alexvrb on 2/12/2013 10:52:13 PM , Rating: 2
The quantity isn't a problem in and of itself. The scope is a problem. The lack of boundaries is a problem. The problem is not just Obama, its where the system is headed as a whole.

Who can really do anything if the Executive branch decides to run rampant? Where's the enforcement? Much of Congress is in his pocket and without them the rest are feeble. In the coming years reliance on the Judicial branch to keep things upright is going to become a thing of the past, as they are nearing the tipping point themselves.

RE: Don't get it
By room200 on 2/12/2013 8:06:51 PM , Rating: 2
It was an up or down vote. 219-212. Republicans LOST the VOTE . Nine years ago, George W. Bush used reconciliation to pass $1.3 TRILLION in tax cuts that went mostly to the wealthiest Americans. The Democrats LOST that VOTE.
Don't hate the player...hate the game. Now stop f$%cking whining all the time.

RE: Don't get it
By arthur449 on 2/13/2013 2:42:33 PM , Rating: 2
In situations such as this, where mandating policies and procedures in a timely fashion is required, bypassing the legislative branch (which is at an all time low in terms of public approval anyway) is the best course of action if something is actually going to get done.

Now, granting this responsibility to the redundant, inept, and unnecessary DHS is where I find fault. At least, I suppose, it wasn't cryptically left to the TSA.

RE: Don't get it
By Ammohunt on 2/14/2013 10:51:28 AM , Rating: 2
Whatever reasoning you or anyone comes up with the fact is that this is not the way the system was designed to work. Passing laws is the sole duty of the legislative branch anything other than that is a potential abuse of power and should be challenged like the Labor board appointments.

RE: Don't get it
By Reclaimer77 on 2/14/2013 4:25:07 PM , Rating: 2
That's not a Democracy or a Republic. "Do what I want fast, or I'll do it myself". Sounds like something a tyrant or King would say. This is America, remember?

The founders of this country specifically saddled the office of the President with a Congress, as a check to his power. Notice I said saddled, as in burdened. The reason for this is so no President could just get what he wanted, all the time, on every issue, without the people being involved. Congress are the people's representatives.

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer

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