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New year, new U.S. cyber security chief

BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, December 22 2009

The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder, our go-to source for all things related to the White House cybersecurity coordinator position, fleshes out the details of this morning's news on the appointment of Howard A. Schmidt (see to the right shaking hands with the President in the White House's Cross Hall) to the long-vacant post.

Schmid, as Ambinder reports, has experience working both in government and the private sector, with stints at places like the Commerce Department, eBay, the FBI, Microsoft, and the Air Force under his belt, and while the considerable challenges facing the Obama Administration point person on cybersecurity fall outside our purview here, it's worth noting that what watchers are looking for are signs indicating how much institutional authority and access to the President that Schmidt will have from his post on the National Security Council. Cybersecurity is one aspect of our modern technological landscape where it matters a great deal whether politicians truly appreciate the current state of play.

After the jump is the full text of the email from Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John O. Brennan announcing Schmidt's importance:

Dear Friend,

Cybersecurity matters to all of us. Protecting the internet is critical to our national security, public safety and our personal privacy and civil liberties. It’s also vital to President Obama’s efforts to strengthen our country, from the modernization of our health care system to the high-tech job creation central to our economic recovery.

The very email you are reading underscores our dependence on information technologies in this digital age, which is why it seemed like a fitting way to announce that the President has chosen Howard Schmidt to be the White House Cybersecurity Coordinator. Howard will have the important responsibility of orchestrating the many important cybersecurity activities across the government.

Howard is one of the world’s leading authorities on computer security, with some 40 years of experience in government, business and law enforcement. Learn more about Howard's background and approach to cybersecurity:

Howard will have regular access to the President and serve as a key member of his National Security Staff. He will also work closely with his economic team to ensure that our cybersecurity efforts keep the Nation secure and prosperous.

Moving forward we will use WhiteHouse.gov, this email program and our other communications tools to keep you posted about our progress in this important area.

Sincerely,
John O. Brennan
Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism

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