Homeland Security Watch
February 9, 2009

A new presidential directive and a detailed implementation document will expand the National Security Council’s jurisdiction to include cybersecurity, energy, climate change, nation-building and infrastructure, as well as traditional foreign policy issues. The Washington Post published a detailed story yesterday based on an interview with National Security Advisor Jim Jones that indicated further progress on a possible unification of the NSC and Homeland Security Council. This week, the Senate will hold an important hearing on the subject.

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The Post’s Karen DeYoung writes that most homeland and counterterrorism policy issues “may be subsumed into the expanded NSC.” The fate of the HSC as a separate body will be determined by a White House review over the next 50 days to be conducted for the President and Jones by John O. Brennan. Brennan, a former CIA official, was named deputy national security adviser for counterterrorism.

I noted at the time that it was possibly indicative of an NSC-HSC merger that when Jones was named, no corresponding Homeland Security Adviser was named. It seemed only more certain when Brennan was named, but no deputy for homeland security was. With Brennan in charge of this review, it may be even clearer that a merger is in the offing.

Brennan described his task to DeYoung as a “systems engineering challenge” to avoid overlap with the NSC while ensuring that “homeland security matters, broadly defined, are going to get the attention they need from the White House.”

This Thursday, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs convenes a hearing entitled “Structuring National Security and Homeland Security at the White House,” which will include former senior officials in charge of these issues during the Bush Administration, as well as think tank experts. The witness list is expected to be made public tomorrow. The hearing is scheduled for 10:00 AM at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 342.

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