Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s ongoing campaign to dramatically gut reorganize the State Department continues apace as Bloomberg reports the former ExxonMobil CEO is shutting down the Office of the Coordinator for Cyber Issues, an Obama-era office created for State to work with other countries on cyber security issues.
As part of Tillerson’s reorganization efforts, the coordinator will no longer report directly to the Secretary of State, but be subject to the chain of command as the office is folded into the State Department’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs.
“It’s taking an issue that’s preeminent and putting it inside a backwater within the State Department,” said Robert Knake, a senior fellow for cybersecurity at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington who was director of cybersecurity policy at the National Security Council under Obama. “Position to power matters both within the U.S. government and within the international community.”
Cybersecurity is at the forefront of American policy after Russian hackers attacked systems in 39 of states during the 2016 election, which resulted in outgoing-President Obama ordering the NSA to retaliate with a cyberattack of their own.
Oddly, the decision to shutter the office comes after months of Tillerson saying the State Department needs to ditch its Cold War mentality (while also sabre-rattling against Communist North Korea) and face down modern threats.
This is the second questionable office closure to hit the State Department recently. Earlier this week, it was reported that the Office of Global Criminal Justice, which handles the U.S. response to war crimes, will be rolled into the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.