Senators discussing cyberspace security with a general this week made it clear they have reservations concerning the matter - and not without good cause.
Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander recently appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee, for a hearing on his nomination to head the Pentagon's Cyber Command. Questions directed at him reflected lawmakers' concern about military control over the Internet and other electronic communications networks.
Efforts by the military to defend against cyber attacks "could have broad and damaging consequences" for individual Americans, committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., pointed out.
Alexander agreed with that, but added the new Pentagon program is "not about an effort to militarize cyberspace." He emphasized, however, that some defense is needed. A cyberattack against the nation's computer-controlled electricity grids could cripple the nation, he noted.
Obviously, too much military control in cyberspace brings up troubling questions about the government's ability to spy on and harm Americans. At the same time, Americans need some defense against others who would do precisely the same thing.
We do not envy Congress, the president and the Pentagon in devising a cyber-defense system - but clearly, one is needed.