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Congresswoman Debbie Dingell

Representing the 12th District of Michigan

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Dingell Leads Letter Urging President Trump Not to Eliminate White House Cyber Security Coordinator Position

May 17, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (MI-12) led a letter with seven colleagues urging President Trump to reconsider a reported decision to eliminate the role of Special Assistant to the President and Cyber Security Coordinator. Such a decision would leave a significant void in coordinating a whole-of-government response to cyber threats, while signaling to allies and adversaries that the United States is abdicating its international leadership role in this space, the Representatives argued. 

“We urge you to strongly reconsider this decision,” they wrote. “America needs to send a strong message to allies and adversaries alike that we are committed to leading and solving complex cybersecurity issues.

“The risks individuals and countries face in cyberspace are only increasing, and we must build on our capacity to combat those risks – not take needless steps backwards. With increased tensions with China, Russia and now Iran, the need to bolster and form a cohesive strategy for dealing with threats new and old is of vital importance. We will also be having elections in six short months, and the need for increased election security is glaring.”

The elimination of the Cyber Security Coordinator would hinder the country’s ability to respond quickly to threats and curb intellectual property theft and attacks on infrastructure. “Nations will continue to brazenly defy international norms in cyberspace,” the Representatives continued. “Whether it is attacks on our financial sector, energy sector, industry or even political campaigns we cannot let these go unanswered and leave ourselves open for future attacks.”

In addition to Dingell, the letter is signed by Reps. Denny Heck (WA-10), Jacky Rosen (NV-03), Dina Titus (NV-01), Jim Himes (CT-04), Stephen F. Lynch (MA-08), Derek Kilmer (WA-06) and Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18).

The full letter is here and below:

President Donald Trump

The White House

1600 Pennslyvania Ave, NW

Washington DC, 20500

This letter is regarding recent media reports that your administration is eliminating the role of Special Assistant to the President and Cyber Security Coordinator. We urge you to strongly reconsider this decision. America needs to send a strong message to allies and adversaries alike that we are committed to leading and solving complex cybersecurity issues. 

The role of Cyber Security Coordinator has been influential in developing and coordinating the United States’ strategy and responses to threats across government, as well as outreach to the private sector.  The previous holders of this office have done tremendous work on casting sunlight on the vulnerabilities equity process, and worked extensively with the Intelligence Community and Department of State to reach international consensus on curbing intellectual property theft and attacks on infrastructure.  These are complicated issues that demand strong and capable leadership. 

The risks individuals and countries face in cyberspace are only increasing, and we must build on our capacity to combat those risks – not take needless steps backwards.  With increased tensions with China, Russia and now Iran, the need to bolster and form a cohesive strategy for dealing with threats new and old is of vital importance.  We will also be having elections in six short months, and the need for increased election security is glaring. Additionally, with the splitting of NSA and CYBERCOM roles, it is imperative the Executive Branch have someone capable to help manage this transition.  When inevitable questions on how to implement new policies arise, there should be someone in the White House to answer them. 

Nations will continue to brazenly defy international norms in cyberspace. Whether it is attacks on our financial sector, energy sector, industry or even political campaigns we cannot let these go unanswered and leave ourselves open for future attacks.  The Cyber Security Coordinator works with all departments of government to ensure that the cost of carrying out these malicious actives is high, and that bad actors are deterred.  The importance of a harmonized and coordinated American cyber policy spans the entire global economic system. Whether it is coordinating an international response to an outbreak of ransomware, fighting Distributed Denial of Service attacks, or protecting American companies from the theft of trade secrets and intellectual property, the role the Cyber Security Coordinator plays in these cannot be overstated. A strong and coordinated whole of government response to these issues will ensure American leadership in the continually changing landscape of cyberspace. 

Cybersecurity is one area where bipartisan agreements on policy and strategy still exists. It should come as no surprise that nation-states and criminals will keep attacking us and our allies and it is vital that we have the best people working on these problems, with a visible figurehead that other government agencies, the private sector, and our allies can turn to for guidance.  We must continue to lead the way towards making the Internet and cyberspace a secure and stable place.  We know you share these goals, and therefore urge you to leave the office of Cyber Security Coordinator in place.  

Sincerely,