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National Cybersecurity Chief Quits In Dispute Over NSA's Role

NCSC director Rod Beckstrom also complains of funding issues
Rod Beckstrom, director of the National Cybersecurity Center (NCSC) and one of the federal government's highest-ranking cybersecurity officials, resigned last week in a snit over funding and the role of the National Security Agency (NSA).

In a resignation letter (PDF) to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano, Beckstrom complained that the NCSC has received only five weeks of funding, thanks to machinations within the DHS and at the Office of Management and Budget.

Beckstrom also expressed concern about the strong cybersecurity role that has been given to the NSA, both during the Bush administration and since Obama came to office.

"While acknowledging the critical importance of NSA to our intelligence efforts, I believe this is a bad strategy on multiple grounds," Beckstrom said in the resignation letter. "The intelligence culture is very different from a network operations or security culture. In addition, the threats to our democratic processes are significant if all top level government network security and monitoring are handled by any one organization, either directly or indirectly."

Beckstrom recommends the creation of a civilian cybersecurity agency that is not controlled by the NSA. He also suggests that Mary Ellen Seale, the NCSC's current deputy director, be appointed acting director of the organization. The White House has not yet completed its 60-day review of the national cybersecurity environment, which is expected to result in recommendations on the DHS's cybersecurity organization.

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