Secrecy News

Homeland Security Council Fades to Black

The Homeland Security Council (HSC), a White House agency that advises the President on homeland security policy, has become one of the darkest corners of the U.S. Government.

The Council was established by President Bush shortly after September 11, 2001 and it was chartered as an agency within the Executive Office of the President in the Homeland Security Act of 2002.

“Thereafter, the HSC disappeared from the public record,” a new report from the Congressional Research Service (pdf) noticed.

In particular, according to CRS: The Homeland Security Council “does not appear to have complied with requirements for Federal Register publication of such basic information as descriptions of its central organization.”

It has never disclosed “where, from whom, and how the public may obtain information about it.”  Nor has it published the required “rules of procedure, substantive rules of general applicability, and statements of general policy.”

Moreover, “No profile of, or descriptive information regarding, the HSC or its members and staff has appeared, to date, in the annual editions of the United States Government Manual.”

This peculiar state of affairs was described by Harold C. Relyea of the Congressional Research Service in “Organizing for Homeland Security: The Homeland Security Council Reconsidered,” March 19, 2008.

Last week, President Bush appointed assistant attorney general Kenneth L. Wainstein to be homeland security adviser and chair of the Homeland Security Council, succeeding Frances F. Townsend.

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