In a CQÂ story today, Matthew Johnson invokes the perennial question of whether we need a Homeland Security Council in addition to a National Security Council at the White House. The non-government experts interviewed both suggest the HSCâ€™s days are numbered, while Congressman Peter King defends the need for a separate HSC.
P.J. Crowley at the Center for American Progress gets the award for most cutting response:
â€œâ€¦ it doesnâ€™t make sense to have an Iraq policy where you are creating terrorists disconnected from a homeland security policy where you are supposed to be able to defend against them.â€
Whether one agrees that the Iraq war is making more enemies than friends, it stands to reason that if combating terrorism overseas is a national security concern, why would defending against terrorism at home not be? No one would argue that the two efforts are completely disconnected, but sometimes all it takes is a little extra bureaucracy to install a stovepipe.
Imagine if the next President had a national security advisor with two deputies responsible for different portfolios that required a great degree of coordination and shared assets/resources (like the President’s attention)? One deputy for national security, the other for homeland security. The NSC staff would enlarge enough to accommodate the extra workload and the membership on the NSC would be rebalanced to include some of the members from the former HSC. (The Secretaries of Health and Human Services and Transportation may be the only two members of the HSC who are not also members of the NSC.)
CSISâ€™s David Heyman agrees. Not to put too fine a point on it, David clarifies that â€œWe should abolish the HSC and it should be subsumed by the National Security Councilâ€¦.â€
And in the other corner: Peter T. King of New York, the Ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, opposes the idea of merging the two Councils.
â€œJust as the president has a secretary of State and needs a national security adviser, he also needs a Homeland Security secretary and a homeland security adviser,â€ King said.
By this logic, we’ll need a Housing and Urban Development Advisor and a HUD Council at the White House, along with an Education advisor and National Education Council.Â You see where I’m going with this.
Determining the HSC-NSC fate requires a different argument fromÂ this one.Â Consider the unique roles that the HSC carries out that have no obvious overlap with the NSC (i.e. State and Local coordination, Emergency Preparedness and Response, or Critical Infrastructure Protection) and ask the following questions:
â€œDo these portfolios require a separate structure to serve the President or can they be represented by individual senior directors on an expanded NSC staff?â€
“Do these responsibilities require direct White House coordination and guidance in the fist place?”
“Would a double deputy and single National Security Advisor be effective in managing a broadened portfolio?”
“Is homeland security a separate endeavor from national security?”