In the midst of the investigation into the cyber attack on our electoral system, the Trump administration is considering eliminating the cyber security office.
On Tuesday, Politico reported that Christopher Painter, top cyber security diplomat, will be vacating his position at the end of July. An unnamed source told the publication that Painter was given two weeks notice to clear out his desk. That same report also stated that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is considering closing the cyber office, merging it with another office and downgrading the rank of the cyber coordinator.
Painter’s dismissal and the downgrading of the office of cyber security will more than likely complicate the State Department’s ability to carry out Trump’s executive order to deliver an international cyber strategy by late September.
In light of Trump’s recent meeting with Putin and their agreement to merge cyber security interests and investigations, the move is fraught with questions. Like WHY ARE THEY DOING THIS? (But I think we already know the answer to that.)
A source familiar with internal planning at State said Tillerson’s idea of closing the office or merging it with another office and the downgrading of the cyber coordinator’s rank is “a step back from everything that has been done over the last ten years.” The same source told Politico that Tillerson is also considering “limiting the number of people who work on cyber security.”
Cyber experts have urged Secretary Tillerson not to eliminate the State Department’s cyber security mission. Jason Healy, a senior cyber security researcher at Columbia University, said it “would mean the United States would be the only major country without a lead diplomat to discuss cyber norms and trying to reduce the ever-escalating cyber attacks we see around the world.”
The United States led the world in creating a cyber security diplomatic role and dozens of other countries have followed our lead. Now, Healy says, “It is not just a shame if the U.S. were to surrender that leadership, but would mean the future internet will have more Russian and Chinese characteristics.”
There’s just one question left to ask of our illegitimate president: Is this what you call making America great?