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Cybersecurity bill: Why senator is taking his case straight to top CEOs

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Frustration has grown on Capitol Hill, in no small part due to explicit warnings about the growing cyberthreat from the nation's top military leaders, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency, who also leads the Pentagon's new US Cyber Command.

"The cyberthreat is real and demands immediate action," General Alexander wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in late July. "The time to act is now; we simply cannot afford further delay."

Recipients of Rockefeller’s letter included Virginia Rometty, CEO of IBM, as well as the chiefs of ExxonMobil, Wal-Mart, General Electric, Ford and big utility companies. But the mailing list also sent it to many company chieftans whose cybernetworks are unlikely to be vital to the nation's welfare.

While Rockefeller has in the past polled small groups of businesses, it was apparently the first time detailed views on this subject were being requested en masse. Responses to such letters are purely voluntary, but usually receive thoughtful replies, according to a spokesman for the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation committee where Rockefeller serves as chairman.

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