Bob Woodward

Expert Voices

U.S. anti-missile cyber defense could be less effective than claimed

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, testifies before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson testifies before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on April 19, 2018. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Amid all the conversation around Bob Woodward’s "Fear," there was a small detail that largely escaped public notice: U.S. cyberattack capabilities against adversary missile programs are weaker than publicly claimed. Woodward reports President Obama had initiated an ongoing program that “pinpointed cyberattacks on the command, control, telemetry and guidance systems before and during a North Korean missile test launch," but "their success rate was mixed.”

Why it matters: Pre-emptive U.S. cyberattacks on conventional and nuclear missiles, and their supportive command-and-control and targeting systems, are at the heart of the U.S. defense strategy against China. But if the Pentagon is still obtaining only “mixed results” from the same kind of disabling cyber operations with North Korean missiles, which are less sophisticated than China’s, U.S. defense capabilities in this area might be less effective than advertised.

Exclusive poll: Majority believe Woodward book, NYT op-ed

Data: Survey Monkey online poll conducted Sept. 12-13, 2018 among 2,173 U.S. adults. Total margin of error is ±3.0 percentage points. Modeled error estimates: African-American women ±8.5, age 18 to 34 ±6.0, White suburban women ±7.0, Never Hillary Independent voters ±12.0, Rural voters ±6.0; Poll methodology; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

A majority of Americans believe Bob Woodward's book and the anonymous NYT op-ed — both of which warned of internal resistance to President Trump — but there's no evidence that they've changed Americans' opinions of him, according to a new Axios/SurveyMonkey poll.

Why it matters: Everything is partisan. If two major news bombshells warning of White House chaos don't change things, it's further evidence that Americans' opinions of Trump are set in stone, whether they like him or not.

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