from the all-power-to-C:-drive dept
No one likes it when a new boss takes over the office and starts acting like the entire operation can be turned around in a matter of days, if not hours. A "can do" spirit is overrated, especially when it's possessed by someone who knows almost nothing about the day-to-day business or, indeed, anything about this sort of business in general.
But that's what we have going on here. Within days of taking over the job, the new President has unleashed multiple orders and directives to FIX EVERYTHING… with details to follow sometime between "shortly" and "never." The plan to "make America great again" involves:
- Telling Americans you're going to "fix" all of these things.
- Telling government agencies and officials that they're going to fix all these things
- Right now
Today, the Washington Post published what appears to be a draft of an executive order to be signed by President Donald Trump. The order, entitled “Strengthening US Cyber Security and Capabilities,” puts flesh on the bones of the “cyber review” promised by Trump during the campaign. It spells out who will conduct the review and what its specific goals are. The order also sets a brisk pace for the review, calling for initial recommendations for the security of “national security systems” and critical infrastructure within 60 days. The review also has a 60-day deadline to provide the president with a list of “principal cyber adversaries.”
While fire in the belly proclamations aren't unique to the new president, the expectation that multiple officials and agencies will be able to come up with what's required in the next 60 days borders on ridiculous. There's also a 100-day window for recommendations on how to draft the private sector into the government's cyberwar. At this point, multiple agencies are still fighting over who gets to be the top cyberwarrior, as well as whose particular data silo gets to be the biggest. Expecting something coherent in the next couple of months is delusional.
This administration-ordered time crunch -- as unrealistic as it is -- isn't limited to President Trump. As Ars Technica's Sean Gallagher points out, President Obama did the same thing. His 2015 cybersecurity "sprint" order was just as misguided. In the end, all Obama got out of it was some agency head resignations. Government systems are still, for the most part, as insecure as they've been since before the "sprint," when the Government Accountability Office reported that 23 out of 24 agencies surveyed failed to meet information security standards.
But this sort of speedy order is swiftly (no pun intended) becoming a Trump trademark. America's problems can apparently be solved with presidential "to do" lists fired off to a variety of agencies. He appears to believe that if he orders it, it will be done. How do you win the War on Terror, currently in year 16 of ∞? Easy. Come up with a plan to win and then win.
(ii) Within 30 days, a preliminary draft of the Plan to defeat ISIS shall be submitted to the President by the Secretary of Defense.
(iii) The Plan shall include:
(A) a comprehensive strategy and plans for the defeat of ISIS;
It's breathtaking in its simplicity. It's a shame no previous presidents had the forethought to demand a plan to defeat ISIS. And it's doubly-shameful no one involved in the War on Terror could be bothered to formulate a plan for beating terrorists until the president demanded one. Trillions of taxpayer dollars could have been saved if only George W. Bush had demanded a "comprehensive strategy for the defeat of [current top terrorist organization]" to be delivered to him by the end of 2001, AT THE LATEST.
And here's what's going into these orders and directives. Not much. Not even a legal review by White House lawyers.
NBC is reporting that the document [immigration/visa order] was not reviewed by DHS, the Justice Department, the State Department, or the Department of Defense, and that National Security Council lawyers were prevented from evaluating it. Moreover, the New York Times writes that Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, the agencies tasked with carrying out the policy, were only given a briefing call while Trump was actually signing the order itself. Yesterday, the Department of Justice gave a “no comment” when asked whether the Office of Legal Counsel had reviewed Trump’s executive orders—including the order at hand. (OLC normally reviews every executive order.)
This process is a reflection of Trump's personality, and it's not a good look for someone in the most powerful office in the world. The federal government often has trouble accomplishing the mundane. Now, its new boss wants it to deliver miracles and is only willing to wait a couple of months for them to be delivered. At some point, realism has to set in, but we're still at the point where the new president believes mountains can not only be moved, but have always been able to be moved at the slightest notice. All that's been missing is someone willing to order the mountain's relocation.