Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Assistant Director for Infrastructure Security Brian Harrell speaks at GTSC Emergency Management 2019 on April 4, 2019, in Arlington, Va. (Artem Koker/HSToday)

Former CISA Assistant Director Harrell Slams ‘Shame’ of Firing Krebs for ‘Faithfully Doing Duties’

The former assistant director of infrastructure at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency called it a “shame” that CISA Director Chris Krebs was fired Tuesday for properly doing his job to safeguard American elections.

Brian Harrell submitted his resignation to President Trump on Aug. 20 and joined AVANGRID as the company’s VP and Chief Security Officer. At CISA, Harrell led preparedness initiatives and training exercises with government and the private sector in areas including cybersecurity, drone threats, chemical sector security, soft-target threats, and more.

“Based on experiences from 2016 and 2018, CISA was ready for the worst on Election Day with better mechanisms to share threat information with our state & local officials, law enforcement, and intelligence partners,” Harrell told HSToday. “While we now have citizens better educated on the risks of election influence and dis-information, the professionals at CISA and Chris Krebs deserve a ton of credit for keeping a watchful eye on our nation-state adversaries.”

“It’s a shame, that in this administration, you can be fired for safeguarding the American people and faithfully doing your duties,” Harrell added.

Amid reports last week that Krebs expected to be fired by an irate president, Krebs kept vociferously defending the 2020 vote as the most secure in American history and swatting down rumors and conspiracy theories about altered or fraudulent votes — mis- and disinformation set straight by CISA’s Rumor Control.

Claiming that a recent statement by Krebs confirming the security of the 2020 vote was “highly inaccurate,” Trump tweeted Tuesday night that “effective immediately, Chris Krebs has been terminated as Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.” Krebs reportedly learned of his firing in that tweet.

On Nov. 4, Krebs issued a statement assuring Americans that CISA had “no evidence any foreign adversary was capable of preventing Americans from voting or changing vote tallies.”

The Rumor Control website set up before the election to counter misinformation that spread around the internet and disinformation used as a weapon by malicious actors continued after the election to beat back post-vote rumors, such as “Rumor: Votes are being cast on behalf of dead people and these votes are being counted; Reality: Voter registration list maintenance and other election integrity measures protect against voting illegally on behalf of deceased individuals.”

On Nov. 12, the Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council (GCC) Executive Committee, led by CISA Assistant Director Bob Kolasky, issued a statement declaring that “the November 3rd election was the most secure in American history.”

“There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised,” the statement said in bold. “…While we know there are many unfounded claims and opportunities for misinformation about the process of our elections, we can assure you we have the utmost confidence in the security and integrity of our elections, and you should too. When you have questions, turn to elections officials as trusted voices as they administer elections.”

That reportedly infuriated Trump, who has not conceded the election to President-elect Biden and has claimed voting irregularities make him the true victor. Krebs continued to counter claims of voter fraud and irregularities through his CISA Twitter account, frequently linking to CISA’s Rumor Control.

Last week Bryan Ware, who was appointed assistant director for cybersecurity at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency in January, resigned; he was reportedly forced out by the White House.

After Trump announced Krebs was out, Krebs quickly resurfaced on Twitter with a new account and an inaugural tweet: “Honored to serve. We did it right. Defend Today, Secure Tomrorow. #Protect2020.”

CISA Director Krebs Fired for Defending Security of Election, Tweets Trump

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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 senior fellow specializing in terrorism analysis at the Haym Salomon Center. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15, a private investigator and a security consultant. She 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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