Obama security adviser: US leadership needed to defeat global cyber threats

Former Obama homeland security adviser Lisa Monaco in a new interview speaks critically of the Trump administration’s place on the global stage in defeating cyber threats.

Monaco told former CIA Director Michael Morrell in an interview for CBS News’s “Intelligence Matters” podcast that aired Wednesday that she would like the U.S. under President TrumpDonald John TrumpDC board rejects Trump Hotel effort to dismiss complaint seeking removal of liquor license on basis of Trump's 'character' DC board rejects Trump Hotel effort to dismiss complaint seeking removal of liquor license on basis of Trump's 'character' Mexico's immigration chief resigns amid US pressure over migrants MORE to be involved in more multilateral agreements to establish norms in cyberspace, rather than just deals with one country at a time.

“I think that the focus on bilateral, to the exclusion of multilateral, agreements in the cyber realm to try and establish norms of behavior is something that is a departure from past approaches and past administrations, again, crossing the political spectrum,” Monaco said.

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She added that it “should not be a partisan issue,” but acknowledged that there is a place for some bilateral cyber agreements, like the 2015 deal between former President Obama and China's President Xi Jinping aimed at curbing Chinese economic espionage.

“But if we do not work, if the U.S. is not leading and if the president is not leading the international community to come together to say, ‘Here's a set of activities that are acceptable in cyberspace and here's what we as an international community believe ought to be outside the bounds,’ — we can't hope to isolate bad actors,” Monaco said.

The Trump administration has faced some criticism from Obama-era officials and experts for not doing enough to combat cyber actors from nations including Russia, Iran, China and North Korea.

Among the actions criticized is the elimination of the top cyber position in the White House, the cybersecurity coordinator on the National Security Council, which took place last year.

National security adviser John Bolton, who oversaw the change, has defended the move. He told reporters last year that there were two other positions on the council that handled cyber issues, which he claimed made the coordinator job redundant.

Monaco, in the interview aired Wednesday, cited the elimination of the position as one of several “very dangerous departures,” saying there is a “lack of focus” when it comes to cybersecurity under the Trump administration.

Still, she praised officials for working with the private sector to help target and combat cybersecurity threats, saying it's "good on shoring up our defenses."