In an event yesterday at the Council on Foreign Relations, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) released the House Republican's 2016 national security strategy.
Entitled "Achieving U.S. Security Through Leadership and Liberty," the 23-page strategy document calls for the United States to develop a "layered" border security program, enhance its cyber defenses and balance the challenge presented by the "going dark" phenomenon, and to adopt a wartime approach to counterterrorism and develop credible outreach vehicles through which to win the battle of ideas. It also calls for Congress to "restore America's international leadership" and for the United States to stand up to "Russian aggression" and "China's ambitions and aggressive actions."
Of particular interest to Lawfare readers, the strategy specifically addresses the Going Dark debate:
Finally, we must more effectively balance digital security and national security. Finding shelter in virtual safe havens, terrorists and criminals are using secure online communications to avoid detection. Their ability to “go dark” can cause law enforcement to “go blind,” degrading the government’s ability to detect and disrupt terrorist plots and crimes in our communities. In confronting this challenge, however, we must not undermine American citizens’ privacy protections. Tools like encryption are the bedrock of Internet security—without them, the web would be a far more dangerous place. We must work together in finding a path forward to keep our people—and our data—secure.
The Washington Post reports that the strategy seems designed to soften Donald Trump's edges, and in some places, the document diverges significantly from the presumptive Republican nominee's stated policies. Specifically, where Trump has called for a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, the Ryan plan says "we need more than just fencing," stressing the importance of information sharing. And while Trump has dismissed the value of NATO, the Ryan plan argues that the United States must reassert its international leadership role and move towards" modernizing and solidifying NATO," strongly signaling that the 2016 national security debate is likely to be just as ferocious within the Republican party as it is between the GOP and Hillary Clinton.
You can read the full document here.