[ISN] Official's departure revives push for promoting DHS cyber chief

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Wed Oct 6 04:45:15 EDT 2004


By William New
National Journal's Technology Daily
October 5, 2004 

The abrupt departure last week of Amit Yoran as a top cybersecurity
official appears to have breathed new life into congressional efforts
to elevate the position within the Homeland Security Department.  
Within hours after news Friday that Yoran, director of the
department's national cybersecurity division, had quit with one day's
notice, staff from various congressional committees met to discuss the
issue, government sources said. Earlier in the week, the issue had
appeared finished for the year over seemingly insurmountable committee
jurisdictional differences.

A new, trimmed provision to raise cybersecurity's status in Homeland
Security appeared in Monday's Rules Committee version of an
intelligence reform bill, H.R. 10. The new provision would elevate
cyber security two levels, from director to assistant secretary, and
give the new assistant secretary primary authority over the National
Communications System.

Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Association of
America, said on Tuesday that the inclusion of the amendment "means
the issue will not be an afterthought" in government. "Unfortunately,
it had to take a fairly high-level departure" for it to get included,
Miller said. "Certainly [Yoran's] departure served to re-energize the

One attendee insisted that the congressional meeting was not a
reaction to Yoran's departure but rather an attempt to meet the Friday
deadline set by House leadership for amendments to the intelligence

Yoran's departure caused a stir at senior levels of the Bush
administration, an administration source said Monday. Yoran met with
Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge the day before his departure.  
After the announcement, Robert Liscouski, assistant secretary for
critical infrastructure and Yoran's boss, was harshly criticized by
the White House Homeland Security Council, the source said.

Yoran sent a farewell e-mail to colleagues Sunday night cataloguing
dozens of accomplishments of his office during his year there.

The original language to elevate cyber security in the department
contained several pages of specific authority for the department. A
competing bill from the House Government Reform Committee emerged last
week and was viewed by some as an attempt to wrest back primary
jurisdiction over cybersecurity.

Friday's meeting included staff from the Government Reform, Homeland
Security, Judiciary and Science committees. "We're pleased that the
negotiations were productive," Science Committee Chief of Staff David
Goldston said. "We were able to limit the provision to a notion on
which there was broad agreement."

Still in the House intelligence bill is a provision that would add a
specific mention of information security to agencies' systems-planning
requirements. The Rules Committee may vote on the bill Wednesday, with
floor action expected Thursday.

If passed by the House, the issue will be addressed in House-Senate

The original House language was offered as an amendment to the Senate
intelligence reform bill Monday but was ruled non-germane to the bill
by the parliamentarian, sources said. That amendment was more
extensive in the responsibilities it would have given the next
cyber-security chief.

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