Interim DHS Intelligence Chief retires as Biden’s appointment still pending confirmation

Cohen took over the role last July after being warned not to create a bulletin in the US Capital on January 6, 2021, or that there was a risk of violence, amid several controversies in the Trump administration.

Under Cohen’s leadership, the Intelligence Office is working to restore its level of focus on analyzing online threats of violence and restoring its state and local partnerships.

The DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis has also created an intelligence gathering unit to monitor the movements of immigrants traveling across the US southern border and report law enforcement activities.

“I am writing to let you know that I am partially leaving the department from April 8, 2022 so I can better attend to the chronic medical issues related to my family member,” Cohen said in his memo. “It is a great honor to return to the Federal Government on January 20, 2021. Working with all of you is one of the greatest privileges of my career.”

Melissa Smislova, career officer, will head the agency on a temporary basis, according to a source familiar with the situation, as she has done in the past.

In a memo to the Intelligence and Analysis Workforce, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas Cohen was hailed as “one of our country’s foremost national security experts”.

Cohen hopes to launch a new private center focused on combating misinformation by foreign intelligence services, terrorist groups and criminal organizations.

Late last year, Biden nominated Kenneth Weinstein, an attorney and former Bush administration appointee, to head the DHS intelligence unit. Weinstein served in the federal government for many years, including former FBI Director Robert Mueller, former Assistant Attorney General and Chief of Staff.

If confirmed, Weinstein will become the top intelligence officer at the DHS, serving as Undersecretary of the Office of Intelligence and Analysis.

During the last year of the Trump administration, the Intelligence and Analysis Office was embroiled in a series of public controversies, beginning with the revelation that the office had compiled “intelligence reports” about the work of two U.S. journalists covering protests in Portland, Oregon. 2020.
An internal review released last fall found that inadequate oversight, improper collection and deployment of “untrained, inexperienced” collectors to Tradecraft and Portland were the cause of the problems at the time.

There were also leadership shake-up, whistleblower report and retaliation allegations.

There has been no Senate-certified leader in office since David Glove left in May 2020.

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