Ruppersberger to White House on Plans to Close State Dept. Cyber Office: ‘Better Have a Damn Good Reason’
(Washington, DC) – Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger tonight spoke in strong opposition to White House plans to shutter the U.S. State Department’s primary cybersecurity diplomacy office.
His comments come amid reports the department’s Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues – which coordinates cyber issues with other countries – will soon close at the direction of the White House and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Current Cyber Coordinator Christopher Painter – a highly respected and capable leader who has worked tirelessly to protect our nation’s critical infrastructure – is set to vacate his position by the end of the month.
Media has reported the Administration plans to fold the Cyber Office into the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs and eliminate the direct line to the Secretary.
“Instead of closing this office and demoting its people, we should be elevating it and promoting them,” Congressman Ruppersberger said in support of an amendment to stop the closure during an Appropriations Committee mark-up of the State and Foreign Operations funding bill. “We’ve spent the last decade building a reputation as a world leader on cybersecurity – burying future efforts under layers of government bureaucracy makes no sense. We’ll be eating our competitors’ dust.”
“I want to know why the Administration wants to close or re-organize a front-burner mission like cybersecurity. Frankly, they better have a damn good reason.”
Congressman Ruppersberger is supporting efforts to establish an “Ambassador at Large for Cyber” to head a new cybersecurity bureau within the State Department.
Everyday, we face unrelenting attacks from Russia, North Korea, Iran and China, Congressman Ruppersberger said. Adversaries are not only targeting our critical infrastructure and government secrets, but data from American companies. A global cyber attack will cost an average $54 billion – on par with the devastation left by Hurricane Sandy – according to a new Lloyd’s of London report.