Quitter! White House cyber-security czar Melissa Hathaway goes buh-bye

Obama's acting cyber-security czar Melissa Hathaway just quit her job. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers wonder who's next for the role that few people want.

Richi Jennings is your humble blogwatcher, who selected these bloggy morsels for your enjoyment. Not to mention creepy vintage ads...

Siobham Gorman shoves on:

Melissa Hathaway ... the White House's acting cybersecurity czar announced her resignation Monday, in a setback to the Obama administration's efforts to better protect the computer networks critical to national security and the global economy. The resignation highlights the difficulty the White House has had following through on its cybersecurity effort.


President Barack Obama first outlined his cybersecurity plans in a high-profile speech May 29, announcing his intention to create a top White House cybersecurity post -- a position he has yet to fill. ... Cybersecurity experts inside and outside the government heralded Mr. Obama's May 29 speech, but since then, several people have turned down offers for the job.

Joseph Menn blogs for The Pink 'Un:

Hathaway, who led the Obama administration’s review of cyber-security policy, announced her resignation effective Aug. 21. That gives the White House, already under fire for failing to fill the cyber czar post by now, a firm deadline to get on with it.

Security experts said the tasks of coordinating multiple agencies, defending federal networks and helping protect private carriers will be onerous enough even with a heavyweight in place. Not much is going to happen with no one there, even if Obama has declared the area as one of his top priorities.

Kenneth Corbin watches the poisoned chalice get passed around:

Hathaway had long been rumored as a top candidate for the permanent position, which Obama has said would be organized under both the National Security Council and the National Economic Council. ... [She] joins other notables, including former Virginia congressman Tom Davis, who have taken their names off the short list of candidates for a position that some think Obama will have trouble filling.

After all, the person who takes the job will have the daunting task of bringing together the various agencies, Congress and private industry to form a coherent federal approach to cybersecurity -- and do so from a relatively low position on the bureaucratic totem pole.

Dennis Fisher reels 'em in:

Trying to figure out who will eventually get the coordinator's job has become a popular parlor game in the security community and in Washington. More than a dozen big names have been mentioned in connection with the job, but no one has stepped forward to take the job.

Gautham Nagesh plays along:

We hear an announcement may be coming in the next couple weeks.


With Hathaway stepping aside, that leaves two names we've heard tossed around as leading candidates: Frank Kramer assistant defense secretary in the Clinton administration and Howard Schmidt, former White House cybersecurity advisor. The position has suffered a hit in terms of its profile as the ongoing turf war over which agency will oversee cyberspace has continued this summer. Some have even said "no thank you" to the job.

But Michael Tanji says, "Let’s Not Replace Her":

[There's] no permanent replacement in sight. Which is just fine. We can make more progress on the network security front without such a “czar.” ... A “czar” position is the exact opposite of what we need to successfully defeat cyber space adversaries.


He (or she) would have no power of service providers or industries that are both the underpinnings of cyber space and the victims of online assaults. Despite grandiose claims to the contrary, the government has very little direct impact on how safe national resources are online. ... Let’s move forward using that age-old mechanism for getting things done in bureaucracies: IKAGWKAG (”I know a guy who knows a guy”). The guy who knows the most guys is the guy you want in this job. Find him, and then sit back and watch what happens.

So what's your take?

Get involved: leave a comment.

Previously in IT Blogwatch:

Don't miss out on IT Blogwatch:

And finally...

Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 24 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You can follow him as @richi on Twitter or richij on FriendFeed, pretend to be Richi's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email: itblogwatch@richij.com.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

Shop Tech Products at Amazon