MeriTalk News Briefs: NSC Intel Chief Departs, Nakasone Takes on Elections, Census Hearing Cancelled

Welcome to MeriTalk News Briefs, where we bring you all the day’s action that didn’t quite make the headlines. No need to shout about ‘em, but we do feel that they merit talk.

National Security Council Intelligence Chief Departs

Michael Barry, the senior National Security Council (NSC) director for intelligence programs, is leaving the White House, two government officials told the Daily Beast. Barry is just the latest departure as National Security Adviser John Bolton appears to clean house. In a controversial move this May, Bolton nixed the position of White House Cybersecurity Coordinator and there has been a flurry of departures since. According to reports, Barry is leaving the White House on good terms and is returning to the Central Intelligence Agency, where he previously worked. There has been no announcement regarding who will replace Barry at the NSC.

Nakasone Takes Election Security Into His Own Hands

Paul Nakasone, who heads both the National Security Agency (NSA) and U.S. Cyber Command, is taking election security into his own hands absent a directive from the White House. Nakasone has directed both organizations to coordinate efforts to counter Russian interference in the 2018 midterm elections, according to the Washington Post. The directive was given to NSA staff last week and is the latest incidence of U.S. national security agencies taking election security into their own hands absent direct guidance from the White House. However, former government officials say a high level strategy is needed to counter Russian interference effectively. “Nakasone, and the heads of the other three-letter agencies, are doing what they can in their own lanes, absent an overall approach directed by the president,” Michael V. Hayden, who has headed the NSA and the CIA, told the Washington Post. “As good as it is, it’s not good enough. This is not a narrowly defined cyberthreat. This is one of the most significant strategic national security threats facing the United States since 9/11.”

Census IT Preparations Hearing Canceled

A joint subcommittee hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee to examine IT preparations for the 2020 Census scheduled for today has been canceled. The discussion was instead changed to a private briefing on Census prep. A communications director for the committee’s majority party informed MeriTalk that the change in proceedings was due to scheduling conflicts. Census cybersecurity policies have recently drawn calls of concern from former government officials. The U.S. Census Bureau responded today affirming its strong cybersecurity posture.

White House to Form Worker Training Council

The White House on Thursday will announce creation of the National Council for the American Worker, which will be charged with developing a “national strategy for training and retraining workers for high-demand industries,” according to an op-ed piece by Ivanka Trump, who advises her father President Trump. The new council will be made up of “senior administration officials” that have not yet been named. The White House did not define “high-demand” industries, but did note that the technology sector is the fastest growing industry segment in the United States. It also said that many of the 6.6 million unfilled jobs in the United States require skills training rather than a college degree. In addition to the new council, the White House also is creating an advisory board to help implement “results-driven job-training programs in classrooms and workplaces around the country.” The advisory board will be made of leaders from the private sector, educational institutions, philanthropic organizations, and state governments, the White House said.

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