Trump administration eliminates White House cybersecurity post

By Susan McFarland
Trump administration eliminates White House cybersecurity post
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with cybersecurity experts at the White House. His administration eliminated the position of cybersecurity coordinator on the National Security Council Tuesday. File Photo by Molly Riley/UPI | License Photo

May 16 (UPI) -- The Trump administration on Tuesday eliminated the cybersecurity coordinator position on the National Security Council, the job central to developing policy to defend against computer attacks.

Cutting the job will "streamline authority" for senior directors who lead most NSC teams, according to an email sent to NSC staff.


National security adviser John Bolton said in a memo the position is no longer necessary because officials had already made cybersecurity issues a "core function" of the President Donald Trump's national security team, The New York Times reported.

The position was vacated by Rob Joyce last month to return to the National Security Agency, where he previously directed cyber-defense programs. Lawmakers and cyber policy experts had urged Trump to replace Joyce and not to eliminate the position.

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Politico first reported the move.

Mark Warner, ranking Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, said the administration should be "investing in our nation's cyber defense, not rolling it back."

"I don't see how getting rid of the top cyber official in the White House does anything to make our country safer from cyber threats," Warner tweeted.

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Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, said Bolton was "wreaking havoc" on the National Security Council.

"With cyber threats ever-changing and growing more sophisticated by the day, there is no logical reason to eliminate this senior position and reduce the already degraded level of cyber expertise at the White House," Thompson said.

Chris Painter, the State Department's coordinator of cyber issues when the position was created under the administration of President Barack Obama, called the move "a tragedy."

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"Structure isn't everything but structure speaks to priority and ability to drive decisions and coordinate oft disparate views," Painter tweeted. "Every study, commission or other review suggested higher not lower placement."

Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security announced its strategy to managing national cybersecurity risks, which they say are at historic levels.

"The cyber threat landscape is shifting in real-time, and we have reached a historic turning point," said DHS secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. "Digital security is now converging with personal and physical security, and it is clear that our cyber adversaries can now threaten the very fabric of our republic itself."


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