January 27, 2021
In mid-January, a week before being sworn in as president, Joe Biden announced that he would appoint Anne Neuberger as the deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology on the National Security Council. Cybersecurity experts praised the move, citing it as a clear sign the Biden White House would be serious about countering cyber-threats. The New York Times described Neuberger, who became the National Security Agency’s cybersecurity chief in 2019, as a “rising official” at the agency. She had run its Russia Small Group, which launched a preemptive strike against the Kremlin’s cyber operatives during the 2018 elections, and in addition to focusing on preventing cyber-assaults on the US government and military, she had overseen the development of new impenetrable cryptography.
But the glowing reviews left out an unusual piece of her story: In recent years, Neuberger, through a family foundation, has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the pro-Israel lobby known as AIPAC, for its efforts to influence the US government and public opinion.
National security experts tell Mother Jones that the hefty donations from Neuberger’s foundation to AIPAC—a strong ally of an Israeli government that is deeply involved in cyber and intelligence issues of importance to the US government and that has spied on the United States and been a target of US spying—raise concerns. (NBC News reports the same.)*Advertise with Mother JonesAdvertise with Mother Jones
Neuberger hails from one of the wealthiest families in the United States. Her father is billionaire investor George Karfunkel, who was in the news last summer for making a curious donation of Kodak stock—worth up to $180 million—to an Orthodox Jewish synagogue in Brooklyn that seemed to barely exist. Karfunkel was listed in New York State records as the synagogue’s president and chief financial officer, and the transfer of this stock—which would have yielded Karfunkel a tremendous tax deduction—occurred during a wild buying spree of Kodak stock triggered by a leaked announcement that the Trump administration might be handing Kodak an unprecedented $765 million loan. (That deal never came through.) Members of Congress have demanded answers about Karfunkel’s highly unusual stock transfer.