Lots of Homeland Security news over the past week. First off, Bush appointed Bernard Kerik to head the agency. Kerik is an interesting story: high school drop-out rises to police chief and so on. Read about him here.
Kerik will ultimately be the man accountable for cybersecurity, although who has the day-to-day responsibility remains to be seen. Amit Yoran, Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity Division’s director, resigned this fall because the issue wasn’t a high enough priority for the administration. One of Yoran’s specific concerns was that the cyber chief was a director-level job, and not a more powerful and high profile assistant secretary role (assistant secretaries have budget authority). Congress had a chance to make that change this week in the intelligence bill (read the Washington Post’s account), but the measure was stripped from the version of the legislation agreed to by House and Senate negotiators.
I talked to Paul Kurtz, who was senior director for national security of the Office of Cyberspace Security for President Bush and is now executive director of the Cyber Security Industry Alliance. He thinks that the cyber chief will become an assistant level position in the next Congress, which would also help elevate cybersecurity as an issue. The House cybersecurity subcommittee released a bipartisan bill supporting the move and the Senators seems prepared to move.
I hope to have more on why the provision was taken out of the intelligence bill in the next couple of days.