Kemba Walden Withdraws Nomination From Top Cybersecurity Post

Kemba Walden Withdraws Nomination From Top Cybersecurity Post

The Office of the National Cyber Director’s acting director Kemba Walden will reportedly not be nominated to permanently hold the office she has overseen since 2022.

Walden has brought stability and leadership to an office after its first director, Chris Inglis, and its deputy director resigned within 6 months of each other in 2021.

Speaking to the Washington Post, Walden did not elaborate on the alleged personal debt that is keeping her from a permanent position, but did she she say—without explanation—that she withdrew her nomination.

Although it has not been officially confirmed, Reuters reported that a source with knowledge of the nomination process said Walton would not be considered for a permanent position “because of personal debt issues that would make her difficult to confirm.”

An unnamed source told The Record that the reason she would not contend for the White House’s nomination “defies imagination.

The White House released a statement regarding Walden: “Acting National Cyber Director Kemba Walden has demonstrated strong leadership overseeing the Office of the National Cyber Director (ONCD). The Biden-Harris Administration–and the American people–greatly appreciate Acting Director Walden’s vision and service advancing national security, economic prosperity, and technological innovation.”

It is the policy of the office not to comment on personnel matters, and this only lends to speculation regarding the reasoning behind a withdrawal from someone who has been instrumental in providing a guiding hand to such a young office.

According to The Post, the rules for who gets a security clearance is affected by having an unusually high amount of debt. That is, having large amounts of debt is seen as a security risk and could open up a government official to blackmail schemes.

“I’ve never heard of that one before,” an anonymous lawyer who is familiar with the process told the paper. “If she’s actually paying the debt or hasn’t defaulted on the debt, I think it would be very unusual to be held up because of that.”

It is rumored that the White House’s preferred pick is a Black man, Henry Coker. a highly regarded top official at both the National Security Agency and the CIA, a source told the Washington Post.

But, some online experts say, a decision needs to be made soon.

“We are concerned that the delay in nominating a candidate for the National Cyber Director role could impede the great work accomplished under Director Inglis and Acting Director Walden, hinder the implementation of the National Strategy, and jeopardize the effectiveness of the ONCD,” wrote a coalition of industry advocacy groups and non-profit cyber organizations in a letter to Jeff Zients, the White House chief of staff.