Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

July 11, 2013

Missing Homeland Security PPDs – why not online?

Filed under: General Homeland Security,Port and Maritime Security — by Christian Beckner on July 11, 2013

One of my ongoing frustrations over the past few years, since the merger of the Homeland Security Council into the National Security Council in 2009, has been the decision of the White House not to publicly release – with some exceptions – the Presidential Policy Directives (PPD’s) issued by the President.

This is not an issue of classification or related security concerns – to the best of my knowledge, the relevant homeland security PPD’s discussed below are unclassified and have no control markings.

Steven Aftergood at the Federation for American Scientists has a webpage that is the best online repository of these PPD’s.  As you can see on the list, six of them (2, 7, 8, 17, 18, 21) are on matters that are directly related to homeland security, but only two of these – PPD-8 on national preparedness and PPD-21 on critical infrastructure security and resilience – have been directly released by the Administration. One of them on the FAS site (PPD-2 on biological threats) is a watermarked leaked copy, apparently from DOD, and the other three are not publicly available.

The other three directives are nowhere to be found on the Internet.

PPD-7 is on the National Threat Advisory System, adopted in 2010 to replace the Homeland Security Advisory System.  I received a copy of this one while I was working at the Senate after requesting it, and all it really does is set roles and responsibilities for the rollout of the new system.  There’s no reason why it couldn’t be released publicly.

PPD-17 is on Countering Improvised Explosive Devices, and is apparently linked to this White House strategy on the topic released in February of this year.  The predecessor directive to PPD-17 by the Bush Administration, HSPD-19, was publicly released in February 2007 on the White House website.   Given the renewed attention to this issue in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, I would think that state and local law enforcement and emergency management agencies would benefit from a full understanding of current federal policy on this issue.

PPD-18 is on Maritime Security, and is referenced in a few places online, including a Coast Guard notice in the Federal Register, a US Navy document,  a LinkedIn profile, and a (now deleted) job posting at SAIC, but the directive itself is nowhere to be found on the Internet.  This directive replaces NSPD-41/HSPD-13, which was released publicly on the White House website in 2004, and DHS at the time released many of its supporting implementation plans (e.g. this one).

Given that the maritime domain is dominated by non-federal stakeholders – state and local governments, private sector entities, international partners – I do not understand why this directive has not been publicly released.  Without its public release, key stakeholders are likely still assuming that NSPD-41/HSPD-13 is the top-level federal policy directive on maritime security issues, when in reality it was rescinded nearly a year ago.

Why this lack of transparency for a category of documents that had been publicly released in the previous administration? I suspect a primary cause of this is the integration of the Homeland Security Council (HSC) into the National Security Council (NSC) in 2009.  The parts of the HSC that were absorbed into the new structure seem to have taken on the internal processes of the NSC, which has traditionally operated in the classified domain and worked on issues where federal agencies and international governments are the primary (if not sole) actors.  However, for nearly all homeland security issues, the participation of non-federal stakeholders is essential.

It’s not serving anyone’s interests for these directives to be kept so close hold.  Given the issues covered in these directives as well as the President’s stated commitment to government transparency, it’s overdue for these three PPD’s to be publicly released, and for the National Security Staff to become more transparent and forward-leaning in terms of releasing future PPD’s on homeland security-related issues.

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Comment by William R. Cumming

July 12, 2013 @ 12:51 am

Great post Christian and I am afraid the real reason why your suggestions have not been accomplished and have pretty much been avoided is INCOMPENTENCE not secrecy.

If the shift from a Federal perspective in PREPAREDNESS to a so-called NATIONAL one incorporating the full spectrum of PARTNERSHIP in PREPAREDNESS then this is one failure that could easily be avoided.

Revealed apparently in earlier posts and comments many HSPD’s invited revision that were never accomplished.

And of course often documents of great importance are prepared by contractors that really are fully stovepiped by competitive and profit making interests as opposed to cooperation and collaboration.

Finally if you with your previous seat of “power” complain why no real oversight of the problems created by the absence of clear guidance to all and discussion of relationships of one HSPD to another. Why that is work too hard for most occupying leadership roles. Better to give speeches as opposed to governing.

Thanks for reminding me of these failures and their importance to HS!

Comment by William R. Cumming

July 12, 2013 @ 12:52 am

P.S. I understand over 300 draft Executive Orders or revisions of EOs are stacked up in the WH or OLC/DoJ!

Comment by William R. Cumming

July 12, 2013 @ 7:21 am

Christian! Question? While the staffs of the NSC and HSC were merged into the NSS are not the NSC and HSC still AUTHORIZED by separate statutory schemes?

Comment by Christopher Tingus

July 12, 2013 @ 9:32 am

Breaking News:


I have been strongly in opposition to you Madame Secretary and at least from one US citizen on Main Street USA, whether Barry Obama accepts your resignation, many of us here on Main Street USA certainly wish you well!

The continued deception and the manipulative mannerisms and this WH and Barry Obama as nothing more than a Chicago city street slicker who could give a damn about the Constitution and who daily makes every attempt to circumvent the Constitution, well, at a time when so much uncertainty exists from Egypt to Turkey to the “Brutes of Tehran” and to so many other corrupt, the failure to engage and lead by the United States especially during this perverse and biased administration does not bode well for us. The blatant lies and you Madame Secretary allowing convicts to run the streets…well, news of your resignation, accepted!

Unless this nation identifies real leadership from the top down and stops these partisan ways, we will certainly continue to become less and less influential globally and we will again allow Germany to broaden its reach and adversely affect global stability as well. The manufacture and distribution of weapons Germany is presently engaged in is eye-opening as Merkel and the Bundestag create a new Confederate of Middle East States in new allies at a time when we cannot even keep the White House Doors Open For Our Kids Who Deserve Better and in addition deploy our naval vessels when required to strategic position and our DoD budgets are at jeopardy.

Let’s wake up and begin to question the administration in every way. You can bet that most of us who truly do care will never forget those so willingly left behind at the Benghazi Massacre. It is interesting to note as well in hearing this breaking news that it is time that we really take a look at our foreign policy decisions and the next we demand resignation from, Susan Rice!

Christopher Tingus
“Main Street USA”
PO Box 1612
Harwich (MA) USA 02645

Comment by Christopher Tingus

July 12, 2013 @ 9:40 am

Breaking News Wash Post:


Comment by William R. Cumming

July 12, 2013 @ 2:25 pm

Christian’s excellent post elaborated upon in Steve Aftergood’s Secrecy News blog! Tres Bien!

Comment by artcohn

July 13, 2013 @ 6:30 pm

” But if enough positions are open for a long enough period of time, it can lead to significant operational and management risks to that Department, and also diminishes its accountability to the U.S. Congress.”
That seems to be an Obama motive:
diminish its accountability to the U.S. Congress

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