on the question of whether DOD should be given the authority (even if constrained and limited to specific types and circumstances) to allow it to retaliate against attackers of its C4I infrastructure. But it does believe that DOD should take the lead in explaining the severe consequences for its military capabilities that arise from a purely passive defense, that DOD should support changes in policy that might enable it, perhaps in concert with law enforcement agencies, to take a less passive stance, and that a national debate should begin about the pros and cons of passive versus active defense.

The public policy implications of this recommendation are profound enough that they call for involvement at the highest levels of the DOD—the active involvement of the Secretary of Defense is necessary to credibly describe the implications of passive defense for C4I systems in cyberspace.

To whom should DOD explain these matters? Apart from the interested public, the Congress plays a special role. The reason is that actual changes in national policy in this area that enable a less passive role for DOD will certainly require legislation. Such legislation would be highly controversial, have many stakeholders, and would be reasonable to consider (let alone adopt) only after a thorough national debate on the subject.

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