Tags: Biden Administration | Cybersecurity | Joe Biden | cyber | national | director | angus king

Biden's Cyber Director Nominee Delayed Amid Turf Battle

Deputy National Security Advisory for Cyber and Emerging Technology Anne Neuberger speaks during a briefing
Deputy National Security Advisory for Cyber and Emerging Technology Anne Neuberger (Oliver Contreras/AP)

By    |   Sunday, 28 March 2021 03:15 PM

Despite a legal mandate to fill it, the Biden administration has failed to put a National Cyber Director in place as the U.S. faces multiple cyber attacks and espionage campaigns targeting U.S. companies and the government.

"No administration wants to have a Senate-confirmed position inside the White House because it gives Congress some say in how the president organizes his staff and brings an obligation to testify, which other officials in the Office of the President do not do," former Department of Homeland Security Undersecretary for cybersecurity and infrastructure Suzanne Spaulding told Politico.

"The NCD is needed to work the day-to-day deconfliction and institutionalize plans for preventing and, when that fails, responding to the next crisis," she added.

"And the next crisis could be tomorrow, so time is not on our side."

The slow roll being blamed on government bureaucracy has left lawmakers "frustrated," Politico reported, including Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, who sought the mandate of the National Cyber Director role in last year's National Defense Authorization Act.

"It's like we are in conflict and they are not appointing the secretary of defense," King, the co-chairman of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, told Politico. "I would hate to have another attack occur in the next 30-60 days and still not have anyone in that position."

The position will be subject to a potentially lengthy Senate confirmation process, too, as the Biden administration first vows to release a report on the new position, which might potentially infringe on some White House authority, including the National Security Council, Politico reported.

"They're taking way too long, and while conducting this review they have not nominated someone," Cyberspace Solarium Commission senior adviser Mark Montgomery told Politico.

"So they are very much slowing down the development of the NCD office."

Montgomery said the Biden administration is "underwater" in reviewing the recent SolarWinds hack pinned on Russia and China's breach of Microsoft Exchange servers.

"Things really are very bad," Montgomery told Politico.

The NCD office is new and not yet funded.

The White House is "working tirelessly to urgently make the necessary investments to effectively defend the nation against malicious cyber activity," NSC spokesperson Emily Horne told Politico.

"We are in the midst of a thorough and whole-of-government 60-day review regarding SolarWinds lessons learned, which includes consideration of how the new federal National Cyber Director entity will be structured in light of these lessons learned," she continued. "Like Congress, we are committed to the defense of the nation's cybersecurity. We understand the intense interest in the outcome of this review. However, this work is too important to rush and we must get it right for the American people."

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan might be wary of giving Congress a key say in national security, Politico reported.

"I know they had those reservations initially, and I hope they've gotten over that," King told Politico, making a reference to an ancient Greek statesman. "I'm sure Pericles would go home and b**** to his wife about the Athenian senate, but this is how our system works."

Still, the conflict in the White House amounts to a "bureaucratic disaster," a former senior federal cyber official told Politico.

"It is generally accepted that having a Deputy National Security Adviser for Cyber and an NCD both working out of the White House is something of a recipe for bureaucratic disaster," the official said. "In that context, it's reasonable to presume that any opposition to the appointment of an NCD is purely organizational, not personal."

Deputy National Security Advisory for Cyber and Emerging Technology Anne Neuberger is currently the senior White House official advising the president on cyber issues. Jen Easterly is a potential NCD candidate, having served as cyber adviser for the Biden transition team.

"They are like oil and water," a former national security official told Politico of Neuberger and Easterly. "They're both professionals, but it is true that they do not get along."

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Despite a legal mandate to fill it, the Biden administration has failed to put a National Cyber Director in place as the U.S. faces multiple cyber attacks and espionage campaigns targeting U.S. companies and the government.
cyber, national, director, angus king, ndaa, white house, nsc, bureaucracy
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2021-15-28
Sunday, 28 March 2021 03:15 PM
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