Pentagon Chief To Appeal to Silicon Valley for Help with Cybersecurity

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter will visit a crucial front this week in the war the Pentagon considers its greatest potential threat: cyberspace.

Carter [pictured above] will visit a Pentagon outpost in the heart of Silicon Valley, speak at a cybersecurity conference in San Francisco and go to Microsoft and Amazon headquarters in Seattle to highlight the risks of cyberattacks and the need for greater digital cooperation with the Pentagon.

His visit to the West Coast -- his third in less than a year, more than he's made to Kabul or Baghdad -- marks the latest effort by the Obama administration to recruit telecommunications, social media and other technology companies as partners in national security operations despite deep suspicion in Silicon Valley about government surveillance.

The distrust erupted in public after National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden leaked details about the government's vast domestic and overseas surveillance programs in 2013.

The gulf has widened in the weeks since the Justice Department asked a federal court to force Apple to write software so FBI agents could unlock an iPhone used by one of the killers in the Dec. 2 mass shooting in San Bernardino.

Most Silicon Valley companies are backing Apple in the dispute. They argue that an adverse ruling would spark a flood of requests for similar tools from local, state and federal prosecutors, and they fear it would make smartphones and other encrypted devices more vulnerable to hackers.

"One hand of the government is reaching out to the valley, while another is poking them in the eye," said Peter W. Singer, a fellow at the nonprofit New America Foundation in Washington and coauthor of the book "Cybersecurity and Cyberwar."

The debate will shift to Congress on Tuesday when James B. Comey, the FBI director, and Bruce Sewell, Apple's general counsel, are scheduled to testify at a House...

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