Her grandparents survived the Holocaust. Her parents, George Karfunkel and Renee Karfunkel, were on the hijacked Air France flight in 1976. She grew up in a Hasidic neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York, and she is Orthodox Jewish. Her name is Anne Neuberger, the choice for Joe Biden’s proposed new cybersecurity post.
Why is Anne Neuberger important? Because she represents another of the big changes between the Biden administration and the previous administration of former President Donald Trump: cybersecurity.
Trump decided to eliminate the cybersecurity coordinator role in 2018, and according to Politico, two people familiar with the plans said Biden plans to appoint Anne Neuberger as deputy national security adviser for cybersecurity in the incoming NSC (National Security Council).
The incoming Biden administration has made controversial nominations for administration positions and advisors, some criticized for their closeness to the Communist Party of China, others for their links to the Iranian theocracy, and the latest regarding Alejandro Mayorkas and his alleged relationship to the EB-5 visa scandal. However, Anne Neuberger’s pick does not appear to have political overtones.
Anne Neuberger’s career
Neuberger has worked at the NSA for more than a decade and has been serving as the agency’s cybersecurity director since 2019.
“Neuberger will be responsible for coordinating the federal government’s cybersecurity efforts, with a likely emphasis on responding to a massive cyberespionage campaign carried out last year by suspected Russian hackers, which the government is still struggling to unravel,” Politico reported. “Anne Neuberger will be well-suited for the position: as the NSA’s first director of cybersecurity, Neuberger was responsible for managing intelligence sharing between the NSA and other government agencies, as well as the private sector, on threats to critical infrastructure.”
A spokesperson for the government transition told Politico that “the Biden-Harris administration will make cybersecurity a top priority, elevating it to a government-wide imperative from day one. We will strengthen our partnerships with the private sector, academia and civil society; renew our commitment to international standards and engagement on cyber issues; and expand our investment in the infrastructure and personnel we need to effectively defend the nation against malicious cyber activity.”
In an article by Bari Weiss, a writer formerly with The New York Times, who has been quite critical of the American liberal left and the Biden administration, we read part of Anne Neuberger’s story about her qualities as a professional.
At the same time, there is a blunt criticism of NBC News and the portal Mother Jones, a well-known Progressive site, for questioning Neuberger’s loyalty to America because of her Jewish roots.
NBC had to retract after the Biden White House strongly condemned the questioning of Neuberger.
According to Weiss, Neuberger is “a career national security official who has led cybersecurity at the NSA and was recently appointed to the Biden administration’s National Security Council.” It further calls her “brilliant and a natural leader,” or “the kind of person you want running things.”
“Only in America does the Orthodox, Yiddish-speaking granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, child of a refugee from Europe, become the nation’s top national cybersecurity official. Not only is she the first woman to hold this position, she’s the first person to hold it at all,” Weiss explains in her piece on Anne Neuberger.
The criticism of NBC – and the praise for the Biden administration for defending Neuberger – stems from the fact that, in Weiss’ words, ” Mother Jones and NBC ran hit pieces on Neuberger, which left readers with the unmistakable impression that her loyalty to America should be questioned. (NBC has since retracted its piece).”
According to the writer, The basis of their smear is that Anne and her husband had been philanthropists, through a family foundation, to Jewish causes in Baltimore, MD, and to various national Jewish organizations.”
Mother Jones, parroting the age-old canards about Jews in government, suggests that there’s reason to suspect Neuberger’s loyalty to America. Of course there isn’t,” the writer said. “But the magazine printed the following quote from its unnamed sources who: “point out that the Israeli government does maintain an aggressive campaign of espionage against the United States and has a deep interest in US cyber policy.”
Beyond the conspiracies of NBC and Mother Jones, the reality is that Anne Neuberger is probably, so far, one of the most qualified officials hired for her position. Her professional and veteran NSA profile, in addition to her low profile, endorse her as a candidate for a position of particular importance because of the alleged and novel Russian hacks of the U.S. government reported last December.
“Neuberger is widely respected in the cybersecurity and intelligence community, and is well known among Congressional intelligence committees that have worked with her during her tenure at the NSA,” Politico reads. “One Congressional staffer said Neuberger had “proven herself to be one of the most capable and respected cybersecurity experts in the entire government throughout her more than a decade of experience at the NSA.””
In addition, one staff member described her hiring as “a great loss” for the NSA, but stressed that her expertise is “needed more than ever at the highest levels of government, especially in light of recent events and the changing cyber threat landscape. It is also a very welcome development to see a woman leading on an issue so critical to national security, especially given the dearth of women in senior national security positions.”
So get ready to hear more often the name Anne Neuberger, who has the great challenge ahead of her in an entirely new position that the Biden administration will be paying close attention to.