White House Cybersecurity Aide Quits

The Washington Post is reporting that Melissa E. Hathaway, the White House senior aide on cybersecurity has handed in her resignation. The Post says that Ms. Hathaway, the Acting Senior Director for Cyberspace for the National Security and Homeland Security Councils, "had become dismayed by the delay" in naming a cybersecurity coordinator (aka "cybersecurity czar") by President Obama.

Ms. Hathaway had reportedly been a contender for the position.

In May, President Obama said in a speech relating to his release of the Cyberspace Policy Review report that Ms. Hathaway helped author that,

"America's economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend on cybersecurity,"

and that

"Today I'm releasing a report on our review, and can announce that my administration will pursue a new comprehensive approach to securing America's digital infrastructure.

This new approach starts at the top, with this commitment from me:  From now on, our digital infrastructure -- the networks and computers we depend on every day -- will be treated as they should be:  as a strategic national asset.  Protecting this infrastructure will be a national security priority.  We will ensure that these networks are secure, trustworthy and resilient.  We will deter, prevent, detect, and defend against attacks and recover quickly from any disruptions or damage.

To give these efforts the high-level focus and attention they deserve -- and as part of the new, single National Security Staff announced this week -- I'm creating a new office here at the White House that will be led by the Cybersecurity Coordinator.  Because of the critical importance of this work, I will personally select this official.  I'll depend on this official in all matters relating to cybersecurity, and this official will have my full support and regular access to me as we confront these challenges."

Ms. Hathaway apparently felt that President Obama was not giving cybersecurity the priority status that he claimed in his speech or she thought was required.

However, as I mentioned here, no one seems too anxious to take the job of cybersecurity czar. The job promised lots of visibility and responsibility, but little authority, as Rod Beckstrom, Director of National Cybersecurity Center (NCSC) discovered in his position. He resigned in March.

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