Senator: ‘We need a cyber doctrine for when we are attacked’ by Russia, China, others

Sen. Mark Warner said over the weekend that Congress, the Pentagon and the president need a cyber-doctrine for when the nation is attacked or when American systems are interfered with, as what allegedly happened last year when Russia attempted to disrupt the U.S. election.

The Virginia Democrat says he’s in agreement with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who called for retaliation against Russia in response to the 2016 election meddling in an interview on NBC’s “Meet The Press.”

“I actually agree with the majority leader that we need a cyber doctrine,” he said. “For a long time, I think we have had incoming — whether it was Russians, Chinese, others — where we’ve had cyberattacks, misinformation, disinformation attacks.”

“We need to have both defense and offensive capabilities.”

Analyst comment: The United States carries out its own cyber activities against Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and others who are responsible for attempting to break into our systems, so some of this talk is likely aimed at political supporters. And the U.S. has considered cyber attacks acts of war since 2011. However, there has never been, apparently, a strategy for dealing with cyber ‘interference’ that does not rise to the level of an actual attack. In this, the U.S. should consider options carefully because too little response will be viewed as weakness and too strong of a response could invite retaliation.

Why it’s on our radar: Information in this article helps satisfy Priority Intelligence Requirement 1, 2, 3, and 4: What are the latest indicators of a NATO-Russia conflict; a U.S.-China conflict; a U.S.-North Korea war; and a new war in the Middle East?  Each week in our Strategic Intelligence Summary, we gauge the likelihood and scope of conflict with Russia, China, North Korea, and in the Middle East, and track the latest developments in each region.  Subscribe here to receive our premium intelligence products prepared by Intelligence and special operations veterans.

Jon E. Dougherty is a political, foreign policy and national security analyst and reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in both fields. A U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he holds BA in Political Science from Ashford University and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.

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