President-elect Donald Trump has chosen former George W. Bush adviser Thomas P. Bossert to be his homeland security adviser.
It is a return to the White House for Bossert, who previously served as Bush’s deputy homeland security adviser.
Trump said in a statement Tuesday that Bossert “has a handle on the complexity of homeland security, counterterrorism, and cybersecurity challenges,” adding, “He will be an invaluable asset to our Administration.”
The former Bush aide will become assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, a position reported to be equal in status to that of Michael Flynn, whom Trump has chosen to be his national security adviser.
“Mr. Bossert will focus on domestic and transnational security priorities as General Michael Flynn remains steadfastly focused on international security challenges,” Trump’s statement said.
Bossert highlighted cybersecurity as a priority in his new job, saying in a statement that the U.S. “must work toward [a] cyber doctrine that reflects the wisdom of free markets, private competition and the important but limited role of government in establishing and enforcing the rule of law, honoring the rights of personal property, the benefits of free and fair trade, and the fundamental principles of liberty.”
Protection from cybercrimes will likely be a major focus in light of the hack of Democratic National Committee emails.
Bossert’s position seems a departure from the precedent set by the current administration, perhaps in an attempt by the president-elect to reconfigure the national security apparatus at the White House.
The arrangement in which Flynn will focus on “international” security threats while Bossert keeps watch over “domestic” security concerns gives Bossert an “independent” status in the new White House rather than making him subordinate to Flynn.
“I am looking forward to working closely with Gen. Flynn as we together help the President-elect advance the interests of the United States and its allies,” Bossert said in a statement.
Before Obama, the homeland security adviser managed a staff subordinate to the national security adviser. The current president combined those into a single staff at the beginning of his term, though Trump’s selection seems to indicate a desire to split the positions once more.
Trump’s selection was well received by Republicans and Democrats.
Rep. Bill Keating, D-Mass., who serves on the House Homeland Security Committee, said the appointment suggests the incoming Trump administration is taking seriously the threat of cyberterrorism. “It’s a good move strategically,” he said.
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., also a member of the Homeland Security Committee, said, “It’s important to have someone at the White House at the level of the national security adviser who is dealing with counterterrorism. It says a lot that there’s a person who has the ear of the president literally every day.”
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