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Gen. Alexander, Director of the National Security Agency since August 2005, is about to become what the Army describes as "dual hatted." The Senate is about to confirm him to another highly sensitive leadership position requiring the utmost integrity and fidelity to the Constitution when he has shown neither.
Despite that, after sizing up the enormous challenge of running the new U.S. cyber-warfare command, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, looked at Gen. Alexander and added, "And you're the right person for it."
Not for the first time, neither Inhofe nor his colleagues seem to have done their homework. Or maybe it is simply the case that Congress now accepts being lied to as part of the woodwork in the Capitol.
And the same can be said for so many other very senior Army officers. It becomes easier to understand why Army Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba compared some of his colleagues during the Bush administration to the Mafia.
No Additional Stars for Taguba
Taguba told investigative journalist Seymour Hersh of a chilling conversation he had with Gen. John Abizaid, then CENTCOM commander, a few weeks after Taguba's report became public in 2004. Sitting in the back of Abizaid's Mercedes sedan in Kuwait, Abizaid quietly told Taguba, "You and your report will be investigated."
"I'd been in the Army 32 years by then," Taguba told Hersh, "and it was the first time that I thought I was in the Mafia."
Getting back to Gen. Alexander's nomination, if our senators continue to feed on thin gruel like that served up by the Washington Post, Alexander is a shoo-in to become the first head of the Cyber Command, newly established to enhance the kind of capabilities for waging network warfare that the Pentagon believes it needs.
Technically speaking, Alexander's training and experience would qualify him for the job. But, as I will show in what follows, if Congress wants to be able to get honest answers from someone in such a sensitive post, it should send the general packing.
Premium on Trustworthiness
As Alexander testified Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee that is weighing his nomination, it became frighteningly clear that his new scope of responsibility would be virtually (no pun intended) unbounded -- the more so inasmuch as he would keep his job as NSA director.
Alexander himself conceded the point that much about cyber-warfare is "unchartered (sic) territory." He got that right! It's also uncharted.
"Civil liberties, privacy all come into that equation," Alexander said, "while you try to, on the same network, potentially take care of bad actors."
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