Another Joe Biden nominee to a powerful executive office has baggage that would embarrass any reasonable administration. Kenneth Wainstein has been tagged to become undersecretary for intelligence and analysis at the Department of Homeland Security. The position is responsible for fighting foreign threats to American cybersecurity.
Financial disclosures reveal that Wainstein negotiated an agreement that let an American avoid a prison sentence for hacking activities on behalf of the United Arab Emirates. Wainstein represented Marc Baier, who was charged for hacking the phones of journalists and human rights activists on behalf of the UAE.
Baier worked as a contractor for Dark Matter and led “Project Raven” for the firm, conducted on behalf of the UAE to spy on people critical of its regime. The project used spy equipment obtained from American companies without the approval of the U.S. government.
The charges against Baier and others resulting from spying activities affect the security industry made up of former U.S. government spies who work for contractors and foreign governments. The CIA has issued some warnings to former intelligence officers regarding work done for foreign governments that could undermine national security.
Wainstein is slated to act as the liaison officer to the intelligence community of the DHS and oversee the Cyber Mission Center. That office investigates security threats like the attempts of the Russian government to hack American election infrastructure.
Wainstein’s representation of Baier resulted in a settlement with Justice Department prosecutors that required Baier to pay $750,000 and give up his security clearances to end the case against him. A former national security official described the deal as “extraordinarily lenient.”
Wainstein was a lifelong Republican who served during the George W. Bush administration with the DHS, FBI, and Justice Department. After the election of President Trump, he left the Republican Party, publicly referring to Trump as “a threat to the rule of law.” He endorsed Joe Biden in last year’s election.
Wainstein has also represented former CIA director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.