The 2018 midterm elections are still down the road at this point, with cybersecurity remaining one of the concerns on many people’s minds. It was just within the last few years that Russian government officials directed hacking into Democratic Party affiliated email accounts and the like in an effort to tip the scales. Not many — outside of the president’s inner circle, at least — are keen on letting that happen again.
At least three more individuals who up until now have worked on cybersecurity related issues are, though, now leaving their positions with the government. Assistant FBI Director Scott Smith heads the bureau’s cyber division, and he’s leaving, along with executive assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Cyber Response and Services Branch David Resch and executive assistant director of the FBI’s National Security Branch Carl Ghattas. All three men are expected to now take jobs in the private sector.
The Wall Street Journal claimed the departure of such a significant number of cybersecurity officials at once to be out of the ordinary. Besides the three newly revealed impending FBI departures, Smith’s deputy Howard Marshall recently announced his departure from the FBI and other agents are expected to do so soon.
Hanging over work considerations at the FBI are rounds of attacks from President Donald Trump, who has routinely discredited the agency in an effort to improve his own standing. Acting like someone with something to hide, he has dismissed the Russia investigation, which originated with the agency, as a “witch hunt.”
Resch cast his decision to leave in an at least mostly positive light, offering a statement devoid of any doomsday scenarios brought closer to reality by President Trump.
‘As I retire after 28 years of government service to transition into the private sector, I have full confidence that under Director [Christopher] Wray’s steadfast leadership, the Bureau will remain the FBI the American people have depended on for 110 years.’
The continued threat faced by the FBI — and the United States — of cyberattacks from Russia was highlighted this week thanks to a gaffe from the president.
Speaking to a reporter at the White House, he claimed Russian meddling to be a thing of the past, despite the fact that individuals including Dan Coats — the Director of National Intelligence he himself appointed — recently acknowledged it as an ongoing threat, speaking of the Kremlin’s “ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders attempted to cast Trump’s “no” in response to that question of whether or not Russian meddling is a present threat as meant to shut down questioning and not actually answer the inquiry.
However, even apart from that statement, Trump has proven his distaste for confronting the threat of Russian aggression. His administration delayed the implementation of sanctions in response to the nation’s 2016 meddling significantly, and at every turn, Trump ignores the certainty with which the U.S. intelligence community has condemned Putin’s government as the interest behind 2016 hacking.
Even while offering a statement meant to patch things up and reaffirm a basic level of presidential support for the intelligence community Tuesday, Trump claimed it could have been other interests, too.
In other words, it falls to those who will pick up the slack after the newly announced FBI departures vacate their ranks to counter cyber threats to the nation.
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