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Homeland Security Council
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Homeland Security Council

Securing Americans from threats to the homeland requires extensive coordination across a broad spectrum of Federal, State, local, and private sector entities to reduce the potential for terrorist attacks and other threats, and to mitigate damage should an incident occur.

Establishment and Function of the Homeland Security Council

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush established the Homeland Security Council (HSC) on October 8, 2001, through the issuance of Executive Order 13228. The organization and operation of the HSC was further specified by the President in Homeland Security Presidential Directive-1, which was issued on October 29, 2001. The establishment of the HSC was subsequently codified in Title IX of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (Pub. L. 107-296; 116 Stat. 2135; 6 U.S.C 491 et seq.). The HSC’s purpose is to ensure coordination of all homeland security-related activities among executive departments and agencies, and to promote the effective development and implementation of all homeland security policies.

Membership and Meetings

The HSC meets at the President’s direction, and the President presides at HSC meetings. In addition to the President, the members of the HSC are the Vice President, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of Transportation, the Director of National Intelligence, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. The following senior officials are invited to attend any HSC meeting: the Chief of Staff to the President, the Chief of Staff to the Vice President, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, the Counsel to the President, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Other senior officials are invited to attend HSC meetings pertaining to their responsibilities or otherwise as appropriate.

Role of the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism

Ken Wainstein, the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, serves as the President’s homeland security and counterterrorism advisor and, at the President’s direction, sets HSC meeting agendas. Mr. Wainstein also directs the HSC staff, which consists of approximately thirty-five persons, including a Deputy Assistant to the President and six Special Assistants to the President who report to the homeland security advisor on the following policy areas: border and transportation security; chemical and biological defense; continuity of government operations; emergency preparedness and response; prevention strategy; and nuclear defense. In addition, a Deputy Assistant to the President and a Special Assistant to the President in the National Security Council, who also report to the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, report to the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism in the areas of combating terrorism and intelligence programs and reform.