Reorganised HOMELAND SECURITY by Trump WORRIES CYBERSECURITY EXPERTS
Department of Homeland Security is at a disrupted time this week, as the president is inevitably interested in immigration. King McAleenan, a former Customs and Board Protection commissioner and prominent family-separation advocate, has taken charge as secretary to look after what will happen to the DHS’s important responsibilities.
Last week it was all restructured, when it was decided by the President Donald Trump that he has expelled the former secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and declared that he was recruiting his nominee Ronald Vitiello as Head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement saying “we are going in a tougher direction”. Also DHS undersecretary Clair and Grady, Secret Service Director Randolph Alles and more others have also been expelled.
This order of DHS is far beyond immigration as it also covers issues like cybersecurity, border privacy, monitoring critical infrastructure, counterterrorism, and the development of science and technology in defense of the country. This informal defenestration of Trump’s Homeland Security has no intention of causing harm to other neglected areas but former officials of government are worried about the endless outcomes of the DHS’s reorganization.
On President Obama’s National Security Council, former Director R. David Edelman for International Cyber Policy says “DHS’s cybersecurity operators don’t take a day off when they’re without top leadership, and to some extent, their day-to-day is insulated from the political level. But absent leadership at the Cabinet and Deputy Secretary level, DHS is going to start losing the fight for resources and its voice in interagency policy development and that’s a cause for concern.”
In addition to the enforcement of Trump administration’s family separation policy, Nielson’s endowment as DHS secretary also promoted the mastery of cybersecurity. Homeland Security under Nielsen, sustained its cyber defenses by building National Risk Management Center and initiating the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. Due to unsafe involvement of some experts from outside and few from within the agency, DHS also endorsed problematic biometric and facial recognition policies and reformed its domestic terrorism unit. When white house was terminating important cybersecurity members Nielsen’s leadership stood out on cybersecurity issues.
It is not clear if any power on Cybersecurity DHS had been taken with Nielsen’s departure. McCleenan has equal powers as acting secretary but his position for this post is for limited period of time under US law(the standard is 210).
During Obama administration, former cybersecurity coordinator J. Michael Daniel says, “There’s a lot of uncertainty of long-term strategic guidance, if someone in an acting position comes in and tries to take the department in a new direction, people are skeptical.”
President Trump suggested that he wants to have a limited cabinet secretaries although it may not be in accordance with the law. “I like acting,” in January he said to the reporters. “It gives me more flexibility. Do you understand that? I like acting. So we have a few that are acting.”
According to Washington Post’s tracker, there are 39% of homeland security positions are occupied as there are more positions to be filled other than the few top vacancies.
“DHS’s voice is vital around the Situation Room table, Looking ahead, as we consider issues like national security controls over AI, or limits to foreign investment, DHS is going to be more crucial than ever and their absence of leadership could lead to some very skewed outcomes.” says Edelman
Edelman notified that some of unexpected fallouts of DHS with make the administration unhappy. He further says, “The competition for cybersecurity resources and authorities is fierce, and when it comes to the operational grey zone — between domestic and international, public and private sector networks — a vacuum at DHS might be filled by overeager defense or intelligence agencies”.
It may lead to policy retardation and its will badly effects the development and implementation of secures biometrics. Edelman say, “Persistent vacancies in science and technology offices may well delay that process, slowing down the sort of long-lead-time, high-tech work we need for smarter border security, critical biodefense, and even WMD detection applications”.
Sub-departments in charge of DHS like the Countering Weapons of Mass Destructive office, the Transportation Security Administration, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the Office of Intelligence and Analysis still have leaders confirmed by Senate.
“The career people can keep the trains running, the bigger issue is the long-term policy paralysis and the policy turmoil that this lack of permanence and long-term thinking will inevitably exact.” says Daniel.