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Straight talk on security

National intel director Clapper the latest guest at Raytheon-sponsored event

Washington Post columnist David Ignatius interviews Director of National Intelligence James Clapper during "Securing Tomorrow," a Raytheon-sponsored series of discussions with leaders in national security and foreign policy. (Photo: April Greer for The Washington Post)

Deterring cyber attacks is even harder than preventing a nuclear assault, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in a wide-ranging interview at a Raytheon-sponsored forum.

Speaking to Washington Post columnist David Ignatius at the "Securing Tomorrow" series, Clapper said nuclear deterrence works "because there are physical things you can see."

"You can see, feel, measure, gauge bombers, subs that sort of thing," Clapper said. "Very difficult in the cyber domain because you can't render it physically."

Another obstacle in cyber deterrence, he said, is the absence of an international "body of law" to punish offenders. He pointed to recent United Nations guidelines as progress, but said they're "a ways away" from implementation.

"Unfortunately, we're going to have to endure more breaches, and this sort of thing – hacks, et cetera – before we reach that point," he said.

Clapper, President Obama's chief intel adviser, also touched on international tensions in the South China Sea, organized and lone-wolf terrorism, and the delicate balance between collecing intelligence and preserving privacy and civil liberties.

The hour-long interview is available on the newspaper's website.

Clapper is the third top federal official to take part in the Securing Tomorrow series. Previous guests have included Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert O. Work and National Security Adviser Susan E. Rice. The events have covered topics such as foreign policy, international trade, regional conflicts, missile defense and the future of military technology.

This document does not contain Technical Data or Technology controlled under either the U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations or the U.S. Export Administration Regulations. E16-ZVD9

Last Updated: 09/28/2016

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