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Senators Urge Bolton Not to Eliminate the Role of Cybersecurity Coordinator

June 1, 2018

Intelligence officials confirmed that Russia launched cyberattacks against U.S. voting infrastructure during the 2016 elections; Eliminating this role at a time when cyberattacks are on the rise does nothing to prevent our enemies from attacking again

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) led 18 senators in a letter urging National Security Advisor John Bolton to reconsider his recommendation to eliminate the role of Special Assistant to the President and Cybersecurity Coordinator. The coordinator historically has worked with agencies to develop a harmonized strategy for issues such as election security, and in the letter, the senators expressed concern that the decision to eliminate this role will lead to a lack of unified focus against cyber threats.

Joining Klobuchar on the letter were Senators Christopher Coons (DE), Tammy Baldwin (WI), Tina Smith (MN), Cory Booker (NJ), Elizabeth Warren (MA), Jeff Merkley (OR), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Ron Wyden (OR), Sherrod Brown (OH), Chris Van Hollen (MD), Bill Nelson (FL), Jeanne Shaheen (NH), Edward Markey (MA), Tim Kaine (VA), Dick Durbin (IL), Michael Bennet (CO), Mark Warner (VA) and Jack Reed (RI).

“Our country’s cybersecurity should be a top priority; therefore, it is critically important that the U.S. government present a unified front in defending against cyberattacks. Eliminating the Cybersecurity Coordinator role keeps us from presenting that unified front and does nothing to deter our enemies from attacking us again. Instead, it would represent a step in the wrong direction,” the senators wrote.

Read the full text of the letter here:

National Security Advisor Bolton,

We are writing today to urge you to reconsider your recommendation for the elimination of the role of Special Assistant to the President and Cybersecurity Coordinator.

The Cybersecurity Coordinator is an important role in the Administration established to unify the government's overall approach to cybersecurity policy. First established under the George W. Bush administration, the role of the Special Advisor to the President for Cyberspace Security was created in 2001. The Cybersecurity Coordinator historically has worked with agencies to develop a harmonized strategy for issues such as election security. While we recognize the importance of streamlining positions, we are concerned the decision to eliminate this role will lead to a lack of unified focus against cyber threats.

Cyberattacks to our nation have increased in frequency and sophistication. Six of our top intelligence officials confirmed Russia interfered in the 2016 election by attempting to hack into our cyber networks. The Senate Intelligence Committee recently reaffirmed the findings of our intelligence agencies and confirmed that Russia used cyberattacks against U.S. voting infrastructure.

Intelligence officials also affirm that Russia and other foreign actors will continue to target U.S. cyber networks. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said Russia will continue to conduct “bolder and more disruptive cyber operations.” When discussing past and ongoing efforts by Russia to wage cyberwarfare against the United States, former National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers unequivocally declared, “[t]his is not going to change or stop.” Russia’s actions have set the stage to embolden other foreign adversaries.

Our country’s cybersecurity should be a top priority; therefore, it is critically important that the U.S. government present a unified front in defending against cyberattacks. Eliminating the Cybersecurity Coordinator role keeps us from presenting that unified front and does nothing to deter our enemies from attacking us again. Instead, it would represent a step in the wrong direction. Again, we urge you to send a strong signal to the rest of the world that cybersecurity is a top priority by reconsidering the elimination of the Cybersecurity Coordinator.

Sincerely,

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