McCain: White House, Pentagon must clarify military's cyber role

The White House and Pentagon have yet to define what would constitute hostile acts in cyberspace — and how the military would respond, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Tuesday.

A Pentagon cyberspace plan released last Thursday and a speech by Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn left some "fundamental questions" unanswered, the Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member said.

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Specifically, the Obama administration has yet to define moves by other individuals, groups and nations that Washington will consider "hostile actions" in the cyber realm.

The administration "needs to clarify" foggy details about the military's activities in the electronic domain, as well as when and how the military would "react" to such actions, said McCain.

The Pentagon's initial cyberspace strategy classified the electronic realm as a domain of war — just like air, land, sea and space. But it described mostly defensive actions the military would take to guard against enemy cyber-attacks.