America’s cybersecurity czar just abruptly quit

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In the wake of President Trump’s appointment of foreign policy war hawk John Bolton, another high-level member of the National Security Council team is departing the White House. 

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Rob Joyce, who is often referred to as the White House cybersecurity czar, appears to be leaving voluntarily only a week after his boss, Tom Bossert, was forced out of the administration.

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Bossert had brought Joyce to the White House 13 months ago from the National Security Agency, where he had led an elite hacking group called the Tailored Access Operations unit (TAO.)

After Bossert was forced out, Joyce was appointed as his interim replacement.

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While the National Security Council – which Bolton now heads – is part of the Trump administration, the National Security Agency is a separate department headed by a high ranking military officer. 

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The NSA has responsibility for the security of the national information systems, which includes the Defense Department and other federal agencies and departments.

The NSA also works to improve the security of critical operations and provides technology to help gather information for the military and U.S. intelligence agencies.

The highly respected Joyce’s exact title in the White House was Cybersecurity Coordinator, where he had taken a leading role in tracking those responsible for global cybersecurity attacks targeting computer routers and other networking equipment. 

Joyce is credited with pushing for the imposition of harsher penalties on foreign agents who are responsible for cyber attacks. 

The revelation that he will leave comes shortly after he and other U.S. and U.K. officials gave reporters a briefing on global cyber attacks, most of which they blamed on hackers backed by the Russian government. Those attacks have been against government agencies, businesses, and critical infrastructure operations.

Joyce may not have to leave because of Bolton, but it seems clear that with the departure of his boss and mentor, and the change brought in by the hard-charging new boss, he has chosen to go back to the NSA where he can work on projects to do his best and not have to worry about the politics and an agenda as he would have in the White House. 

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This leaves a void in the White House, but it is expected Bolton will bring in his own loyalists to fill this and other jobs as those who have been there are departing one after the other.

It goes without saying that it is not a good sign that someone like Joyce, who is highly respected both inside the White House and outside, is leaving at a time cybersecurity has never been more important. 

Where the NSC was run previously with military precision with a sense that there was a real world effort to get it right, now Bolton is bringing in his neo-conservative agenda which promises more confrontations and probably more wars.

Joyce is smart to get out now because Bolton’s arrival marks the arrival of a dark new era for the White House, and that means, for America.

Benjamin Locke

Benjamin Locke is a retired college professor with an undergraduate degree in Industrial Labor and Relations from Cornell University and an MBA from the European School of Management.

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