Another czar in the executive branch

posted at 5:22 pm on May 26, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

The Obama administration will appoint yet another “czar” to put in charge of policy outside the bureaucratic organization, this time on cybersecurity.  In essence, Barack Obama will have one man running the Internet, or at least its American resources, in order to better coordinate security for both public and private networks:

President Obama is expected to announce late this week that he will create a “cyber czar,” a senior White House official who will have broad authority to develop strategy to protect the nation’s government-run and private computer networks, according to people who have been briefed on the plan.

The adviser will have the most comprehensive mandate granted to such an official to date and will probably be a member of the National Security Council but will report to the national security adviser as well as the senior White House economic adviser, said the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deliberations are not final.

The dual reporting function is a key to the post.  Lawrence Summers, the Washington Post reports, worries that an unbalanced focus on security will blunt on-line economic growth through a burgeoning thicket of regulation.  He wants the Council of Economic Advisers to have some authority to block regulation and enforcement on private networks that will damage the economy.

The appointment of a czar comes as a piece with the Cybersecurity Act of 2009, though, which already grants some far-reaching power to the executive branch.  While most wondered whether Obama would “shut down” the Internet on the pretense of national security, the actual threat involves the legal authority to demand records without a warrant or probable cause.  As I wrote almost two months ago, in the hands of a political commissar, that could mean trouble for administration critics if the government abuses that authority:

Section 14 may be a bigger problem.  It essentially revokes all privacy safeguards on Internet use for all networks.  The Fourth Amendment would go straight out the window with the explicit inclusion of “private sector owned critical infrastructure information systems and networks.”  While Section 18 limits jurisdiction to federal networks, Section 14 allows the government to go after private networks without search warrants.  The section also doesn’t limit the jurisdiction to acute attacks, either.  That jurisdiction exists at all times.

The big problem isn’t that Obama might shut down the Internet.  It’s that the bill essentially repeals the Fourth Amendment.

And now Obama wants to put that power in the hands of one man, answerable only to Obama himself.  Of course, that’s how the czars ran Russia back in the day, too … and look how well that turned out.

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Internet Mullah ?

kurtzz3 on May 26, 2009 at 8:03 PM

Isn’t Czar a Russian term?

Dingbat63 on May 26, 2009 at 8:29 PM

Someone needs to bring a lawsuit to strike Section 14.

There are technical reasons that access to private networks is needed to improve security for the internet. With judicial oversight, the potential for abuse is reduced.

Right_of_Attila on May 26, 2009 at 8:31 PM

While discussing possible bailouts (and therefore defacto nationalization) of newspapers last week a friend of mine made the comment “even if they control the news, they can’t control the internet.” At the time I told my friend that all they need to control are a handful of nodes. That’s how China can restrict a network as large as theirs. It ain’t easy, but neither is it as hard as you might think.

Normally I’m not paranoid, but if this happens only talk radio and an adoring MSM will stand between our current republic and a future dictatorship.

Onus on May 26, 2009 at 8:42 PM

Here I make the case that BHO is the most powerful man in the history of Earth, & every day he makes himself more powerful.

jgapinoy on May 26, 2009 at 8:45 PM

As long Obama picks Gore, things will be hunky dorie. After all Fat At invented the internet, won a Noble and is not the least greedy with his alternate energy company.

burt on May 26, 2009 at 9:01 PM


If this does happen, I’m not sure what I’ll do.

Chaz706 on May 26, 2009 at 9:31 PM

we’re movin’ to Montana!

DCJeff on May 26, 2009 at 6:09 PM

Keep going north. California is taking over.

upinak on May 26, 2009 at 6:10 PM

Can’t go much farther north w/o hitting Canada.

Oh wait…

Chaz706 on May 26, 2009 at 9:42 PM

Gee, with all these Czars, we need our own Rasputin.. Someone Big, hairy, Ugly, Odd, Nasty, Scowling, an insider, ….. oh wait.. nevermind….

bullseye on May 26, 2009 at 9:53 PM

It essentially revokes all privacy safeguards on Internet use for all networks.

How far down does this go? My home network?

/and the idiots on the left were apoplectic when Bush was listening in on foreign phone conversations

AZfederalist on May 26, 2009 at 11:00 PM

Isn’t Czar a Russian term?

Dingbat63 on May 26, 2009 at 8:29 PM

It is indeed. (tsar) It’s a derivative of Caesar and usually means a supreme ruler in the same sense that Caesar saw himself as a rule (from God).

I always wonder why they use this term for anything.

TheBlueSite on May 27, 2009 at 12:44 AM

The Won will have to form a seperate cabinet just for all the “czars” he has created. He can call it “The Politburo”

Random Numbers (Brian Epps) on May 27, 2009 at 12:57 AM

How come they’re never called ‘Kaisers’?

Dr. ZhivBlago on May 27, 2009 at 2:54 AM

More of the same.

Akzed on May 27, 2009 at 9:18 AM

Czar Nicholas met an unhappy end. Sigh.

SKYFOX on May 27, 2009 at 9:40 AM

Internet Czar? This is outrageous! We should organize and… what? Someone’s at the door… Hang on a minute… Hey watch it! (scuffling noise)…………………… (crickets)

Mr_Magoo on May 27, 2009 at 11:32 AM

I normally won’t dig this deep to comment, and I doubt anyone will read this but when I’m right I’m right.

Ed said:

And now Obama wants to put that power in the hands of one man, answerable only to Obama himself. Of course, that’s how the czars ran Russia back in the day, too … and look how well that turned out.

NY Times says:

The White House office will be run by a “cyberczar,” but because the position will not have direct access to the president, some experts said it was not high-level enough to end a series of bureaucratic wars that have broken out as billions of dollars have suddenly been allocated to protect against the computer threats.

And Ed’s correction says:
Oh wait…

PresidenToor on May 28, 2009 at 11:03 PM