updated 01:13 pm EDT, Sat August 23, 2014
Presidential advisor believes education, overall government experience sufficient
In an interview with the Information Security Media Group publication, White House cybersecurity coordinator Michael Daniel admits to having no practical experience with the subject matter. Daniel claims that "being too down in the weeds at the technical level could actually be a little bit of a distraction" to his job of advising the President about ongoing and emergent information security issues.
The White House filled the position with Daniel in May 2012, coming from a previous position as the intelligence branch chief in the White House Office of Management and Budget. Daniel believes that the lack of practical experience in the field is offset by a masters' degree in national resource planning and public policy degree. He also credits previous government experience for success in the position, augmented by his martial arts experience.
Daniel isn't responsible for the technical details of a fix or solution to a country-wide issue. Rather, his job is to assess the situation and report to the president, and bring other agencies into the fold and "on the same page" about an issue. Senior Fellow Jim Lewis at the think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies claims that the lack of experience doesn't hinder Daniel's role in the position, claiming that "computer scientists were in charge, and they did a terrible job, being lost in the weeds and largely clueless about policy. You need someone with a strategic point of view and policy skill to make progress."
The interview was made public earlier this week. Critics of Daniel's remarks call the assignment political patronage, and claim to be interested in a governmental query about the positioning of the official. Daniel himself hasn't responded to any requests for comment about his statements.