The following language is in the final “reconciled” bill that will now travel to the Senate and ultimately Obama’s desk where it will be signed into law despite earlier assertions that he would veto the legislation:
Congress affirms that the Department of Defense has the capability, and upon direction by the President may conduct offensive operations in cyberspace to defend our Nation, Allies and interests, subject to–
(1) the policy principles and legal regimes that the Department follows for kinetic capabilities, including the law of armed conflict; and
(2) the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1541 et seq.).
In July, the Pentagon released its cybersecurity plan. It declared the internet a domain of war but did not specify how the military would use it for offensive strikes. The report claimed that hostile parties “are working to exploit DOD unclassified and classified networks, and some foreign intelligence organizations have already acquired the capacity to disrupt elements of DOD’s information infrastructure.” In addition, according to the Pentagon, “non-state actors increasingly threaten to penetrate and disrupt DOD networks and systems.”