Just recently five senior FBI officials in charge of election protection and cybersecurity have left the Federal Bureau of Instigation. The news broke few days ago that one of the heads of the agency’s task force to protect the U.S. from overseas attacks, Jeff Tricoli, had resigned. Today the Wall Street Journal is reporting via DailyKos that four more top FBI cybersecurity experts are also leaving.
Scott Smith, assistant FBI director is leaving this month and his deputy Howard Marshall is already gone; Smith’s supervisor David Resch, executive assistant director of the FBI’s criminal, cyber, response and services branch; and Carl Ghattas, the agency’s national security branch executive assistant director, are also on their way out.
Did Trump and his minions in the Republican Party drive them out? Democrat Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) suggests that perhaps they did. He said “One-and-one-half branches of our government appear to be committed to attacking the Bureau, its workforce and its mission on a near-daily basis.” FBI Director Chris Wray downplayed this, saying “Would they (FBI agents) prefer not to get criticized? Of course. […] But at the end of the day, the criticism we care about is the people who know our work.”
However, the reasons for their departure may not be nefarious. Former officials say there are high levels of frustration about how to organize the program to protect our country’s cyber network. “There’s an internal tension in terms of how to staff cyber properly. […] We constantly have new people in leadership reinventing the cyber program,” one former official told the WSJ.
This comes at a time when Republicans have refused to provide additional funding for grants to local governments to beef up their protection of election systems from attacks. The White House is clearly a-okay with all that, as are others.