Politics

Trump Administration Won’t Let Congress See Cyber Weapons Directive: Lawmakers

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Evie Fordham Politics and Health Care Reporter

Leaders of the House Armed Services Committee said the Trump administration has not let them see a 2018 cyber weapons directive and related documents, and a committee spokeswoman said a letter they sent in February was ignored.

It is unknown if any members of Congress have seen National Security Presidential Memorandum 13, which national security adviser John Bolton described as “very different” that Obama administration guidelines. The White House confirmed the directive’s existence in September 2018.

“To delay release of these important documents limits our ability to make informed decisions as we consider the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020,” the committee leaders wrote in the Feb. 28 letter, according to The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday. (RELATED: US Sanctions Iran-Backed Hezbollah Officials As Tensions With Tehran Continue)

Committee chair Democratic Washington Rep. Adam Smith and ranking member Republican Texas Rep. Mac Thornberry signed the letter. Emerging-threats subcommittee heads Democratic Rhode Island Rep. Jim Langevin and Republican New York Rep. Elise Stefanik also signed the letter.

House Armed Services Committee ranking member Rep. Mac Thornberry speaks during a news conference with fellow GOP leaders following their weekly Republican Conference at the U.S. Capitol June 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

House Armed Services Committee ranking member Rep. Mac Thornberry speaks during a news conference with fellow GOP leaders following their weekly Republican Conference at the U.S. Capitol June 11, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“Congress has a vital role to play in ensuring any offensive cyber operations do not inadvertently undermine that stability and reflect our commitments to responsible state behavior in this new domain. Unfortunately, the White House has continually stymied our attempts to conduct this Constitutionally protected oversight, refusing to provide important policy documents that took effect nearly a year ago,” Langevin said in a statement Wednesday.

The House could vote as soon as this week on an amendment in the yearly defense authorization bill that would make the administration share the classified directive with Congress, the committee spokeswoman told The WSJ.

“The administration keeps Congress appropriately informed of cyber operations, including by providing briefings and documents,” a senior administration official told the Daily Caller News Foundation Thursday.

Cyber attacks have been in the news recently with reports about U.S. cyber action against Iran’s missile launch system in June.

Smith and Stefanik’s offices and did not respond to the DCNF’s requests for comment at the time of publication. U.S. Cyber Command could not immediately be reached for comment.

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