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Trump's 8-member cybersecurity panel quits en masse

28 August 2017

As many as eight members of Donald Trump's cybersecurity advisory council, including an Indian-origin data scientist, have resigned, citing the US President's insufficient attention to cyber threats. Three of the members had been holdovers from the Obama Administration.

According to media reports today, the seven members of the National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC), whose purview includes national cybersecurity, resigned en masse, citing both specific shortfalls in the administration's approach to cybersecurity and broader concerns that have undermined the "moral infrastructure" of the US.

''You have given insufficient attention to the growing threats to the cybersecurity of the critical systems upon which all Americans depend, including those impacting the systems supporting our democratic election process,'' said the group resignation letter, obtained by sections of the media.

The letter also mentioned Trump's failure to condemn neo-Nazis and white supremacists after a violent protest earlier this month in Charlottesville, Virginia.

''When asked about the horrific violence in Charlottesville, you failed to denounce the intolerance and violence of hate groups, instead offering false equivalences and attacking the motives of the CEOs who had resigned from their advisory roles in protest,'' the letter added.

''In taking on this duty, I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,'' the letter further reads. ''Today, that oath compels me to resign. The moral infrastructure of our Nation is the foundation on which our physical infrastructure is built. The Administration's actions undermine that foundation.''

A 'Unite the Right' march was organised on August 12 to protest against the proposed removal of a statue of General Robert E Lee, who commanded the pro-slavery Confederate forces during the American Civil War. Violence broke out after they were confronted by anti-racism groups and later a car ploughed into one group of anti-racism protesters in Charlottesville. Donald Trump had blamed both sides including the "alt-left" for the deadly violence.

The members resigned just before the panel was supposed to hold its quarterly business meeting, which continued today as scheduled.

They include the first ever White House Chief Data Scientist D J Patil, Office of Science and Technology Policy Chief of Staff Cristin Dorgelo and White House Council on Environmental Quality Managing Director Christy Goldfuss, all Obama-era appointees.

The president recently lost two other panels before the NIAC members resigned. His administration dissolved the Manufacturing Council and the Strategic and Policy Forum, but not before a good number of their members already left (See: Trump disbands 2 business panels after exodus of CEOS).

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