We are now in a “new, chaotic era at the Department of Homeland Security” notes Emily Dreyfuss in her article in Wired. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has seen many recent changes, including the departure of Kirstjen Nielsen, the former Homeland Security secretary with cybersecurity expertise. These changes are concerning since they may cause negative long-term effects for the DHS’s mandates involving cybersecurity, counterterrorism, critical infrastructure, and more.
R. David Edelman of IPRI and a former director for international cyber policy on President Obama’s National Security Council mentioned that “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”. However, “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.”
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security seal. Image in the public domain in the United States.
Another concern stems from the fact that currently many key Homeland Security positions are vacant. “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” comments Edelman. On the positive side, DHS subagencies such as the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security agency still have Senate-confirmed leaders in place.
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