On Friday, October 26, as Hurricane/SuperStorm Sandy was bearing down on the Eastern part of the United States, the White House quietly issued an Executive Order entitled: “Establishing the White House Homeland Security Partnership Council.” For the life of me I cannot figure out why this was released. I’m not sure that anyone from the White House or the Department of Homeland Security is willing to say why it was necessary or that they can explain how this isn’t duplicative of efforts already underway.
Then again, not everything that comes out of the White House on a Friday afternoon is designed for significant public attention. Some cynics might argue that it is the potential for scant public attention which drives a Friday afternoon announcement…even in an election year.
On the surface, the Executive Order has a laudable purpose: “to maximize the Federal Government’s ability to develop local partnerships in the United States to support homeland security priorities.” As if anyone could possibly be opposed to “partnership and collaboration,” the EO goes on to talk about the benefits of working together.
“Partnerships are collaborative working relationships in which the goals, structure, and roles and responsibilities of the relationships are mutually determined. Collaboration enables the Federal Government and its partners to use resources more efficiently, build on one another’s expertise, drive innovation, engage in collective action, broaden investments to achieve shared goals, and improve performance. Partnerships enhance our ability to address homeland security priorities, from responding to natural disasters to preventing terrorism, by utilizing diverse perspectives, skills, tools, and resources.”
Wow. Who knew?
What will they be for next? Baseball? Motherhood? Apple Pie (with gluten-free crust, of course)?
While there have been a few “the sky is falling” type commentators, such as Lee DeCovnick’ piece in The American Thinker, where he expressed the sense that this Executive Order serves as “a breathtaking assault on entire sections of Constitution and the rights, freedoms, and liberties of all Americans, carefully hidden within the stultifying and banal language of bureaucratic doublespeak,” in my view, the Executive Order does nothing of the sort. In fact, it seems to do nothing AT ALL.
I come to this conclusion based upon the language of section 4(b) of the Executive Order. It reads:
(b) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department, agency, or the head thereof;
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals; or
(iii) the functions of the Overseas Security Advisory Council.
Frankly, I thought it was the purpose of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, led today by President Obama’s close friend, Valarie Jarrett, to perform the functions that the new Homeland Security Partnership Council has been tasked with doing. The Intergovernmental Affairs office website states its purpose:
“The Office of Intergovernmental Affairs serves as the front door to the White House through which local, county, tribal, and state governments can participate in and inform the work of the President.”
Sounds suspiciously like the make-up, governance structure and purpose of the Homeland Security Partnership Council to me…and I suspect to others.
Does the new Executive Order establish a duplicative organization within the White House? Is the President attempting to limit the power of Cabinet-level agencies OR is he saying that the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs can’t do its job? Is there some OTHER reason the Executive Order was released? Do we really NEED a Homeland Security Partnership Council (one that doesn’t even include the biggest “partner” of all – the private sector!!)
I admit it. I’m baffled and need help. If you, reader, have any ideas, please send them my way via the comment section below. I’ll be most grateful for the help and, I suspect, so will the folks who are being asked to implement what really does give the appearance of being written in, as DeCovnick calls it, the “stultifying and banal language of bureaucratic doublespeak.”