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Wednesday, February 8, 2023

DHS Joins Pentagon in Post-Election Leadership Purges

On the heels of a Pentagon shakeup in the last days of the Trump administration, two Department of Homeland Security officials have been asked to hand in their resignations.

Bryan Ware was appointed assistant director for cybersecurity at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in January. He previously served as DHS assistant secretary for Cyber, Infrastructure, and Resilience Policy.

CyberScoop first reported that Ware’s last day is Friday, and that the former tech entrepreneur plans to start a company. He declined to tell the outlet whether he had been asked to leave. “I’m very proud of the work that CISA has done this year,” Ware said. “And I think against significant odds, the work we did on elections is really a testament to what this agency can do.”

Reuters cited an unnamed official as saying the White House asked for Ware’s resignation earlier this week. CNN also reported that the White House forced him to resign, along with Valerie Boyd, assistant secretary for International Affairs in the Office of Strategy, Policy, and Plans.

Boyd assumed her DHS role in April 2019, and before that was a deputy chief of staff at Customs and Border Protection. From 2008 to 2016, she held various roles on the National Security Council. From 2016-2017, she worked at JP Morgan Chase as vice president and business manager of corporate responsibility.

The Washington Post reported that the White House asked for Boyd’s resignation Wednesday and her last day is Friday.

President Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper by tweet on Monday, the first workday after former Vice President Joe Biden was declared president-elect by estimation of electoral votes. That set in motion a Pentagon purge of high-level officials: James Anderson, the acting undersecretary for policy; Joseph Kernan, the undersecretary for intelligence; chief of staff Jennifer Stewart; and Mark Tomb, deputy chief of staff to the undersecretary of defense for policy.

Esper was replaced with Christopher Miller, who had been sworn in as director of the National Counterterrorism Center on Aug. 10; Anderson was replaced with Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata, a former Fox News contributor whose earlier nomination for policy chief stalled in the Senate due to bipartisan opposition to controversial statements tweeted by Tata; Kernan was replaced with Ezra Cohen-Watnick, a 34-year-old former aide to Michael Flynn; Stewart was replaced with Kash Patel, a onetime aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and former National Security Council official.

Speculation about why the administration was conducting such as dramatic shakeup in its last days has ranged from Trump wanting to make a statement by installing his loyalists in key positions and settling scores to a forthcoming dramatic policy move. Axios reported that the endgame at the Pentagon may be a rapid withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan against the advice of top military brass.

“There isn’t anybody like a [James] Schlesinger over there, or a Jim Mattis over there now at this point, or now Esper. So you have to worry about what President Trump will do to destabilize the institutions that he came in to destabilize,” former Defense Secretary William Cohen told SiriusXM on Tuesday. “He came in to take a wrecking ball to the ‘deep state,’ which means the professionals who serve us.”

Bridget Johnson
Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a terrorism analyst and security consultant with a specialty in online open-source extremist propaganda, incitement, recruitment, and training. She hosts and presents in Homeland Security Today law enforcement training webinars studying a range of counterterrorism topics including conspiracy theory extremism, complex coordinated attacks, critical infrastructure attacks, arson terrorism, drone and venue threats, antisemitism and white supremacists, anti-government extremism, and WMD threats. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15 and a private investigator. Bridget is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera, BBC and SiriusXM.

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