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5/26/2009
05:10 PM
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Obama, White House To Oversee Cybersecurity Leadership

The national security staff will include new positions for addressing cybersecurity, information sharing on terrorism, border security, and preparedness and response.

President Barack Obama on Tuesday announced the White House will create a new directorate or position within the executive branch to deal with cybersecurity, under the direction of the national security adviser.

The new cybersecurity directorate or position would be part of a new group of advisers called the national security staff -- consolidated international and homeland security support staff -- that would report to the national security adviser, the president said. As news of government cybersecurity concerns, including intrusions into the power grid and sensitive Air Force technical systems information, reaches a crescendo, experts have increasingly called for better cybersecurity leadership, with many proposing White House roles.

Obama is expected to announce the top post Friday, May 29, following a complete review of the federal government's cybersecurity policies and procedures. It isn't clear what, if any, authority the cybersecurity chief will have over private networks.

"It's the White House that can be the referee, the traffic cop, the carrot and stick, the one trying to make sure the efforts are organized, and that's the right kind of role for a central authority on this subject," Bruce Brody, chief security officer for the Analysis Group, said in a recent interview, when asked about the possibility of more centralized authority for cybersecurity.

Obama said he plans to integrate White House staff supporting national security and homeland security into a uniform "national security staff," which will support all policy activities relating to international and homeland security matters. The staff will report to the national security adviser -- a change that Obama said would end the "artificial divide" between some White House staff.

The Homeland Security Council will continue to be the main organization for interagency deliberation on homeland security issues, he said. The council will also draw support from the White House national security staff.

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