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The cyber threat is one of the most serious challenges the U.S. currently faces. At an AEI event on Monday, Gen. Keith B. Alexander of the National Security Agency argued that this threat represents the greatest transfer of wealth in history. He further emphasized that it is both possible and necessary for the government to take action to address this threat by training cyber experts, building a defensive architecture, increasing situational awareness and by passing new legislation that protects the country while preserving civil liberties. Furthermore, for America’s defensive measures to be effective, said Gen. Alexander, information must flow to those tasked with defending the country at network speed.

An expert panel then debated the severity of the threat and discussed who should take responsibility for securing U.S. information, security and wealth. Michelle Van Cleave of the Homeland Security Policy Institute and George Washington University characterized China’s current espionage efforts as inadequate “law enforcement strategy.” Jeff Snyder of Raytheon Company emphasized the threat that disgruntled employees and foreign infiltrators pose to private industry. Jim Harper of the Cato Institute concluded that there is no apocalyptic cyber threat, advocating that the private sector — not the American taxpayer — should be responsible for protecting its own secrets.
–Lazar Berman

Event Description
President Obama has called the cyber threat to the U.S. “one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face.” The U.S. federal government is a frequent target, but the corporate world is also under siege. Chinese hackers are especially problematic, and the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission recently reported that Chinese government cyber capabilities would pose a “genuine risk” to the U.S. military if conflict ever broke out.

Experts continue to disagree on solutions. How dire is the threat posed by Chinese hackers? Can government action solve the problem, or does the solution lie with the private sector? General Keith Alexander, Director of the National Security Agency, will give the keynote address, which will be followed by a discussion among a panel of experts and practitioners.

Full video will be posted within 24 hours.


2:45 PM

3:00 PM
Paul Wolfowitz, AEI

Keynote Address:
Gen. Keith B. Alexander, National Security Agency

4:00 PM
Panel Discussion

Jim Harper, Cato Institute
Adam Segal, Council on Foreign Relations
Jeff Snyder,Raytheon Company
Michelle Van Cleave, Homeland Security Policy Institute, George Washington University

Danielle Pletka, AEI

5:00 PM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Lazar Berman at [email protected], 202.862.5872.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact Véronique Rodman at [email protected], 202.862.4871.

Speaker Biographies

Gen. Keith B. Alexander is the commander of U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM), director of the National Security Agency (NS) and chief at the Central Security Service (CSS) at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland. As commander of USCYBERCOM, he is responsible for planning, coordinating and conducting operations and defense of Department of Defense (DOD) computer networks as directed by U.S. Strategic Command. As the director of NSA and chief of CSS, he is responsible for a DOD agency with national foreign intelligence, combat support and U.S. national security information system protection responsibilities.

Jim Harper, the Cato Institute’s director of information policy studies, works to adapt law and policy to the unique problems of the information age, in areas such as privacy, telecommunications, intellectual property and security. Harper was a founding member of the Department of Homeland Security’s Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee and he recently co-edited the book “Terrorizing Ourselves: How U.S. Counterterrorism Policy Is Failing and How to Fix It.” He has been cited and quoted by numerous print, web and television media outlets, and his scholarly articles have appeared in the Administrative Law Review, the Minnesota Law Review and the Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly. Harper also wrote the book “Identity Crisis: How Identification Is Overused and Misunderstood” and is the editor of, a web-based think tank devoted exclusively to privacy. He also maintains online federal spending resource

Danielle Pletka is the vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at AEI. Before joining AEI, she served for 10 years as a senior professional staff member for the Near East and South Asia on the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. She writes frequently on national security matters with a focus on domestic politics in the Middle East and South Asia regions, U.S. national security, terrorism and weapons proliferation. Pletka edited “Dissent and Reform in the Arab World: Empowering Democrats” (AEI Press, 2008, with Michael Rubin and Jeffrey Azarva). She is the author of “Iranian Influence in the Levant, Iraq, and Afghanistan” (AEI Press, 2008, with Frederick Kagan and Kimberly Kagan).

Adam Segal is the Ira A. Lipman Senior Fellow for Counterterrorism and National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). An expert on security issues, technology development and Chinese domestic and foreign policy, Segal currently leads study groups on cybersecurity and cyber conflict as well as Asian innovation and technological entrepreneurship. His forthcoming book “Advantage: How American Innovation Can Overcome the Asian Challenge” (W.W. Norton, 2011) examines the technological rise of Asia. He is a research associate of the National Asia Research Program and was the project director for a CFR-sponsored independent task force on Chinese military modernization.

Jeff Snyder is the vice president of cyber programs at Raytheon Company. Over the past 20 years, Snyder has held positions involving strategic planning, business development and operations with a variety of high technology firms. Before joining Raytheon, he was vice president of cyber programs for Cubic Corporation where he formed Cubic Cyber Solutions Inc., and, as vice president of business development at SAIC Corporation, he oversaw marketing, business development and execution of the firm’s Information assurance and cyber security business area. Snyder taught in the U.S. Navy’s graduate nuclear engineering program prior to leaving defense service to enter private industry.

Michelle Van Cleave served as the national counterintelligence executive under President George W. Bush. As the head of U.S. counterintelligence, she was responsible for providing strategic direction to and ensuring the integration of counterintelligence activities across the federal government. She has held senior staff positions in the U.S. Congress, at the Pentagon and in the White House, where she was assistant director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. A lawyer and consultant in private life, she is currently a principal with the Jack Kemp Foundation, helping to establish and manage programs to develop, engage and recognize exceptional leaders and serves on the board of the Jamestown Foundation and the Association of Former Intelligence Officers.

Paul Wolfowitz spent more than three decades in public service and higher education. Most recently, he served as president of the World Bank and deputy secretary of defense. As ambassador to Indonesia, Wolfowitz became known for his advocacy of reform and political openness and for his interest in development issues, which dates back to his doctoral dissertation on water desalination in the Middle East. At AEI, Wolfowitz works on development issues.

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