Biden to pick Orthodox Jewish woman for White House cybersecurity post — report

US president-elect said planning to task longtime intelligence official Anne Neuberger with coordinating cybersecurity for federal government

Anne Neuberger, an Orthodox Jew, was recently tapped to head the US National Security Agency’s new Cybersecurity Directorate. (National Security Agency via JTA)
Anne Neuberger (National Security Agency via JTA)

US President-elect Joe Biden has reportedly picked an Orthodox Jewish woman for a new cybersecurity position on the National Security Council.

Citing two people families with Biden’s plans, Politico reported Wednesday that Anne Neuberger will be named deputy national security adviser for cybersecurity.

Neuberger, the head of the National Security Agency’s cybersecurity division, will be tasked with coordinating cybersecurity for the US federal government, the report said.

A spokesperson for the Biden transition wouldn’t confirm the pick but said cybersecurity would be a top priority for the incoming administration.

“We will strengthen our partnerships with the private sector, academia, and civil society; renew our commitment to international norms and engagement on cyber issues; and expand our investment in the infrastructure and people we need to effectively defend the nation against malicious cyber activity,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

The National Security Agency (NSA) campus in Fort Meade, Maryland. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

A congressional staffer hailed Neuberger as “one of the most capable and respected cyber experts” and said her selection for a White House role would be a “big loss” for the National Security Agency.

One of the most pressing tasks facing Neuberger will be addressing the massive, months-long cyberespionage campaign that has compromised dozens of US government agencies and private businesses. US officials have linked the hack to elite Russia hackers.

Neuberger has worked at the National Security Agency for over a decade and was tapped to lead its cybersecurity efforts last year. She helped establish the US Cyber Command and worked as chief risk officer, leading the agency’s election security efforts for the 2018 midterms

Neuberger has said her family’s harrowing escapes — first from the Holocaust and then from the Entebbe hostage crisis in Uganda, after the Air France flight her parents were on was hijacked by Palestinian terrorists in 1976 — helped shape her worldview.

Though her parents are not Israeli, they were held by the hijackers for a week along with Israeli passengers because they were Jewish.

Then-defense minister Shimon Peres (c), along with former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin (l), meets the hostages released from Entebbe as they land in Israel on July 4, 1976. (Uri Herzl Tzchik/IDF Spokesperson’s Unit/Defense Ministry Archives)

Neuberger, 45, also known as Chani, is from the heavily Jewish Brooklyn, New York, neighborhood of Borough Park, where she attended the Bais Yaakov Jewish day school for girls, according to the Yeshiva World News.

She is a graduate of Touro College in New York and Columbia Business School, and has worked in the White House Fellows program. One the side, she runs a charitable organization helping divorced single mothers in Orthodox communities.

In a 2018 interview with the Forward, Neuberger said that she had encountered few problems related to her religion at the NSA and that she was extremely happy to be seen as a role model for Orthodox women.

“If you are professional in your job and comfortable in adhering to your traditions, everyone will be fine with it,” Neuberger said. “All my coworkers understand that I don’t go out with them for drinks on Friday night and that I observe the Sabbath. In fact, I have assistants who keep their eye on the clock for me Friday afternoons, letting me know that I had better get moving.”

“My 17-year-old daughter, who attends an Orthodox school, went to a career night two weeks ago where religious women in a range of fields — doctors, lawyers, judges — came to speak to them. That would have been unheard of 25 years ago, when I was in high school. And now I want to contribute to that movement and participate in it as much as I can.”

A member of one of the 100 wealthiest families in the United States, Neuberger transitioned from the private sector into government service following the September 11 attacks.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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