The Presidential Transition Team is considering alternatives to the current national and homeland security structures in the White House. Several previous posts and reader comments here weigh in on the issue, but over the weekend the New York Times ran an article with some more insight into what may actually transpire.
Transition officials told NYT’s Peter Baker that folding the White House Homeland Security Council into the National Security Council is a real option in favor of achieving a “more efficient” policy system for the President. Furthermore, the separate “war czar” post created almost two years ago to manage the White House viz a viz Iraq and Afghanistan may be reassigned back to the national security adviser.
Bush’s national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, has privately urged the PTT to keep the HSC as a stand-alone entity, according to Baker. That’s interesting since the former head of the HSC, Fran Townsend, has said that she recommended merging the HSC and NSC on more than one occasion to no avail. Perhaps it was Hadley all along who opposed it.
PTT officials stressed to Baker that President Obama still intends to make national security “a central priority regardless of how he reshapes the White House.” This is important mainly for the politics of appearance. If the new team merges the NSC and HSC in any way and some kind of terrorist attack transpires soon after, critics might point to the merger as an antecedent to letting our guard down. A claim like that would be of little merit in fact, but it could sure grab headlines.