Homeland Security Dems respond to rumored Trump retaliation plan

House Homeland Security Democrats are expressing concern about a reported White House plan to combat negative coverage by launching an investigation into a Department of Homeland Security program sharing information on cyberattacks. 

A source with knowledge of a White House meeting on the plan leaked details to Foreign Policy magazine last week, prompting a reaction from the ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee. 

{mosads}”We are deeply concerned by reports of plots within the White House to make false statements about a critical cybersecurity information sharing program in an effort to draw attention away from the President’s reckless decision to share classified information with Russian officials,” said ranking member Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and committee member Cedric Richmond (D-La.) in a letter to the White House.

Thompson and Richmond conclude the letter by asking the White House to provide a log of meetings from May 17, the date the administration allegedly conducted the meeting to concoct the plan, as well as any notes or documents shared at relevant meetings. 

The White House told Foreign Policy it was unaware of any such meeting. 

According to outlet, the operation would attack former President Obama and his administration by either insinuating that it inappropriately gave access to sensitive data to Russia or by getting a news outlet to run a story accusing the Automated Indicator System (AIS) program of sharing information about hacking threats.

The aim of the plan, the magazine said, would be to shift focus from the fact that Trump shared with top Russian officials code-word intelligence reportedly provided by Israel.

The AIS program does not handle classified secrets or data vital to national security.

Rather, it shares information with the private sector, largely gathered from the private sector, on identifying and avoiding efforts to hack private-sector systems. It is not focused on nation-level threats; the data also helps identify criminal hackers, ransomware and other non-state threats.

AIS was born of bipartisan legislation. Both House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas), and House Homeland Security subcommittee on Cybersecurity Chairman John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) have touted the legislation as a major success in the cyber security sphere. 

Foreign Policy quotes a source with knowledge of the meeting describing the alleged administration plan as a “bag of crazy cats.”

The letter from Thompson and Richmond describes it as “deeply troubling” and “craven and nonsensical — even for this Administration.”

The Foreign Policy story claims targeting AIS may also be used to clean house in the Department of Homeland Security.


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