Cybersecurity Loses Brand-Name Billing in House Intelligence Shuffle

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While there is no doubt that the House Intelligence Committee will continue to concern itself with relevant cybersecurity issues, that would not be obvious from this week’s announcement of changes to the panel’s subcommittee structure.

Out as a separate subcommittee is the National Security Agency and Cybersecurity Subcommittee, and in are four newly-named and constituted subcommittees including the Strategic Technologies and Advanced Research (STAR) Subcommittee, which according to its chairman, Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., will concern itself with some aspects of cybersecurity.

“Every day we face emerging cyber and technological threats not only from our geopolitical rivals, but also from lone wolves and other asymmetrical actors,” he said in a statement earlier this week. “Our ability to stay several steps ahead of these threats is integral to our nation’s safety. We are very, very good at it, but maintaining our superiority requires constant vigilance.”

“I’m eager to work with our intelligence agencies, the Defense Department, technology firms and innovative members of the private sector to ensure a holistic effort to explore bleeding-edge technology, how to use it, and how to protect ourselves against it,” the congressman said.

According to various news reports, the committee’s new Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation (CCC) Subcommittee, along with the full committee, each will handle cybersecurity issues. A spokesperson for the committee did not respond to a request for further information on a breakdown of how cybersecurity issues will be considered among the various organizations.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., chairman of the full committee, said of the new subcommittee structure this week, “In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Congress directed the IC [intelligence community] to break down stovepipes and reform itself to ensure that threats were addressed across jurisdictions and agencies. Our oversight of the IC should reflect that mandate, and our subcommittees will be more focused on core missions than specific agencies.”

According to the committee, “The Strategic Technologies and Advanced Research Subcommittee will focus on the emerging technologies that will change the way we collect intelligence and defend the nation. The Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation Subcommittee will oversee the IC’s efforts to protect the country from terrorists, WMD proliferators, insider threats, hard targets, and other malign actors.”

Two more new committees complete the current subcommittee lineup. “The Intelligence Modernization and Readiness Subcommittee will look at the overall management of the IC, with an emphasis on human capital management, information technology, and security clearance reform. Finally, the Defense Intelligence and Warfighter Support Subcommittee will focus on the IC’s support to the American military and the Pentagon,” the committee said.

Rep. Andre Carson, D-Ind., will chair the CCC subcommittee; he was ranking member of the former Emerging Threats subcommittee, and Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ariz., was appointed ranking member of the subcommittee.

Alongside Rep. Himes who chairs the STAR subcommittee, Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, has been named ranking Republican on the subcommittee. In a statement on Twitter, Stewart said “I’m honored to serve as the ranking member for the STAR Subcommittee. The programs that this subcommittee oversees represent a critical component in ensuring that our Nation is kept safe.”

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., will chair the Intelligence Modernization and Readiness Subcommittee, with Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, as the ranking member.

Rep. Hurd, who is well know in Federal IT policy circles as the former chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s IT subcommittee, will bring “firsthand cybersecurity and intelligence experience to the subcommittee, and in this new role will continue to build on his bipartisan IT modernization policies that have saved the federal government $5 billion since 2015 and made important strides toward securing government information systems from cyberattacks,” according to a statement from his office.

Finally, Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., will chair the Defense Intelligence and Warfighter Support Subcommittee which will focus on how the intelligence community supports the Defense Department.

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