After stonewalling congressional committees for nearly a year, the Trump administration has apparently finally agreed to share documents related to a new processes for approving cyber operations outside U.S. networks.

“On a bipartisan basis some of us sent a letter to the Trump administration demanding that they share with, at least some of the leadership on the Armed Services Committees, the rules of engagement for certain cyber contingencies,” Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, said at the Aspen Security Forum July 20.

“The Obama folks did give us that information, the Trump people changed it, but then they were reluctant to show us. We had to go all the way to the White House counsel, but he has come back and said, ‘OK, we will follow that precedent.’”

Congress, as part of its oversight role, has been asking to see the documents for National Security Presidential Memorandum 13, which repealed Obama-era processes for approving cyber operations through the interagency.

Thornberry noted that, in his experience, persistence is important. Congress has to not only keep asking for documents from presidential administrations, but also prove it can be careful with the information.

Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., the chairman of the House Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, proposed an amendment to the House version of the annual defense policy bill, which passed, seeking to compel the administration to provide these documents.

“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,” Langevin said in a July 10 statement.

“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.”

Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.

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