Wednesday, 27 May 2009

White House Restructures National Security

Written by 

James Jones

President Obama announced the merger of the Homeland Security Council with that of the National Security Council in order to make Americans safer, he said. Also included are several measures hinted at but yet to be delineated.

The integration of the domestic security staff with that of the United State's international security staff goes even farther than it first appears. The president is also establishing a "global engagement directorate" that is supposed to communicate more effectively with other countries — the international community — about U.S. security policy. Obama intends to more effectively use diplomacy, communications, and international aid (monetary aid, or physical aid, as in foreign troops?) to support U.S. national security in the areas of terrorism, cross-border crime, pandemics, natural disasters, nuclear proliferation, and “other threats.”

"These decisions reflect the fundamental truth that the challenges of the 21st century are increasingly unconventional and transnational, and therefore demand a response that effectively integrates all aspects of American power," read Obama’s written statement.

Added to all of this will be new forays by the administration into the world of cyber security and transborder security — all, the administration says, in order to ensure domestic security. Accompanying all of this will be a larger bureaucracy with many added positions of salaried government employees.

Presidential National Security Adviser retired Marine Gen. James Jones believes that issues like energy and cyber security need to be part of an integrated National Security Council, but he did not elaborate on just what aspects of the energy issue would be pertinent to, or regulated by, the National Security Council. He did say, "The idea that somehow counterterrorism is a homeland security issue doesn't make sense when you recognize the fact that terror around the world doesn't recognize borders." Whether he’s speaking of the southern border of the United States, or borders in general, remains unclear.

Jones did make clear that economic, narco-terror, arms proliferation, and “other issues,” another all-encompassing term not expounded upon, would be broadly addressed under the mega-umbrella of the new security reorganization.

Sen. Susan Collins from Maine had the only objection on record, with the objection not based on any constitutional principles but only a “concern” that there may be some “confusion among the merged staff,” and that White House domestic security officials’ focus may be diluted. “Only time will tell whether this new structure can maintain the necessary focus,” she said.

The president seems to have had the first and last words on the subject, with little or no input from the citizens or their representatives, and virtually no transparency until the decree was made public (So let it be written; so let it be done): “The security of our homeland is of paramount importance to me, and I will not allow organizational impediments to stand in the way of timely action that ensures the safety of our citizens. The United States faces a wide array of challenges to its security, and the White House must be organized to effectively and efficiently leverage the tremendous talent and expertise of the dedicated Americans who work within it.”

One wonders if the Constitution and the Bill of Rights could be organizational impediments that the president is not willing to let stand in his way.

AP Images: Presidential National Security Adviser retired Marine Gen. James Jones