Federal Cybersecurity Chief Quits, Blasts National Security Agency

The government's coordinator for cybersecurity programs has quit, criticizing what he described as the National Security Agency's grip on cybersecurity.

Rod Beckstrom, a former Silicon Valley entrepreneur, said in his resignation letter that the NSA's central role in cybersecurity is "a bad strategy" because it is important to have a civilian agency taking a key role in the issue. The NSA is part of the Department of Defense.

The power battles Beckstrom describes in his resignation letter illustrate the challenges ahead for the Obama administration as it plans its defense against governments and terrorists who might try to disrupt U.S. computer systems, cybersecurity specialists said. One issue is what part or parts of the government should lead the effort.

The Bush administration last year started a cybersecurity initiative to protect government networks, which was estimated to cost at least $6 billion in 2009 and $30 to $40 billion over the next several years.

The Obama administration is conducting a 60-day review of that effort and related policies. The reviewers, led by the official who started the cyber initiative for the Bush administration, are expected to issue recommendations next month.

Beckstrom's National Cybersecurity Center, created last March to coordinate all government cybersecurity efforts, answered to the secretary of homeland security.

In reality, "NSA currently dominates most national cyber efforts," Mr. Beckstrom wrote to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Thursday. "While acknowledging the critical importance of NSA to our intelligence efforts, I believe this is a bad strategy on multiple grounds."

• Click here to read the rest of this story in the Wall Street Journal.

• Click here to read Beckstrom's resignation letter (pdf).

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