President Joe Biden’s incoming cyber defense deputy has claimed that "systemic racism" is one of the greatest threats to U.S. cybersecurity.
Camille Stewart, a former Google strategist whom Biden reportedly tapped for White House deputy national cyber director, has argued that "our #NatSec apparatus must be a part of dismantling systemic racism," and "pursuing anti-racist and anti-hate policy outcomes" should be a chief national security focus for the administration.
Biden’s new hire is likely to stoke concerns from Republican legislators that his administration has been more focused on pushing a race-focused ideological agenda than on traditional national defense issues—such as the increasing risk of cyberattacks from Russia, Iran, and China. The Department of Justice said in June it is bracing for more cyberwarfare from adversarial countries. Last month, the FBI revealed it intercepted an Iranian-backed cyberattack against Boston Children’s Hospital, and Russian hackers targeted an American satellite company in Ukraine earlier this year.
Stewart, who served as policy adviser for the Obama administration’s Department of Homeland Security, has criticized the United States as an intrinsically racist society in her writing and on social media.
She claimed that the U.S. economy "lost $16 trillion b/c of Racism against Black Americans," and warned in 2020 that "SYSTEMIC RACISM WILL RUIN THIS DEMOCRACY," arguing that systemic racism was a part of "every institution not just the criminal justice system."
"[Solutions] to cybersecurity challenges will never reach their full potential until systemic racism is addressed and diverse voices are reflected among our ranks at all levels," Stewart wrote in a 2020 column for the Council on Foreign Relations titled "Systemic Racism Is a National Security Threat."
She added that "communities of color are disproportionately affected by cyberattacks that target critical infrastructure."
In a 2020 column for the Hill, Stewart said the Biden administration’s efforts to combat systemic racism "must be woven into leadership priorities, processes, structures, and domestic and international strategy."
Stewart proposed that U.S. foreign policy leaders be encouraged to "talk about systemic racism in the U.S on a global stage" and acknowledge the "detrimental effects of racism at home and in U.S. foreign policy towards regions of the world."
The White House did not respond to a request for comment. A White House press release on Monday said Stewart was "regarded as not only an expert but also as an inspiration, especially to women and underrepresented minorities."
Republican lawmakers have objected to other recent hires by the Biden administration, including U.S. special representative for racial equity and justice appointee Desirée Cormier Smith, who claimed white diplomats lack empathy and humility.