A military authorization bill passed by Congress has allowed for Cyber Command, a U.S. intel organization, to lay the foundation for digital warfare against Russia’s electric power grid without briefing President Donald Trump.
The commander of Cyber Command, General Paul M. Nakasone, has taken more active measures in ensuring that American computer code has the potential to threaten the capabilities of Russia’s electric power grid, according to an article from The New York Times.
“It has gotten far, far more aggressive over the past year. We are doing things at a scale that we never contemplated a few years ago,” said a senior intelligence official speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Administration officials believe that Trump was not briefed on the efforts to implant software code into the Russian grid. This is only possible because the new bill treats operations in cyberspace as military activity, meaning that a briefing would not be necessary.
“It’s 21st-century gunboat diplomacy. We’re showing the adversary we can inflict serious costs without actually doing much. We used to park ships within sight of the shore. Now, perhaps, we get access to key systems like the electric grid,” said Robert M. Chesney, a law professor at the University of Texas.
The intelligence community has taken advantage of the ability to circumvent briefing Trump out of worry that he might either push back against the actions of Cyber Command or discuss the different defense tactics with foreign officials like he has in the past.
As the intelligence community continues to take measures that place it on the offensive rather than the defensive, in regard to the cyber cold war between the U.S. and Russia, the military authorization bill allows for less oversight and interference from Trump.