President-elect Donald Trump named Thomas Bossert his deputy for domestic and transnational security priorities, which will be an equal and distinct portfolio from the portfolio given to incoming National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
“Tom brings enormous depth and breadth of knowledge and experience to protecting the homeland to our senior White House team,” said Trump. “He has a handle on the complexity of homeland security, counterterrorism, and cybersecurity challenges. He will be an invaluable asset to our administration.”
His title will be assistant to the president for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism.
“We must work toward 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,” he said.
“The Internet is a U.S. invention, it should reflect these U.S. values as it continues to transform the future for all nations and all generations,” Bossert said.
“I also look forward to maintaining a strong, deeply respectful relationship with the governors, mayors, police and fire fighters, emergency managers, EMS professionals, and public health officials that constitute the backbone of our homeland security and our national preparedness,” Bossert said.
Trump’s decision to bring on Bossert shows that he is concerned about Russian and Chinese cyber-malfeasance inside American cyber-territory.
Inside the White House, the national security adviser typically hold the rank of “assistant to the president” and by tradition holds sway over all matters dealing with foreign relations and defense. Trump choice, Flynn, is a retired Army lieutenant general, whose military assignments include, Director of Intelligence for NATO forces in Afghanistan, and the commanding general of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Bossert, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center, is a former cybersecurity aide to President George W. Bush and the president of Civil Defense Solutions, an Arlington, Virginia-based consulting firm. “I am looking forward to working closely with General Flynn as we together help the President-elect advance the interests of the United States and its allies,” said Bossert.
In the Bush White House, Bossert served as the deputy homeland security adviser, where he advised the president on matters of homeland and national security, counterterrorism, cybersecurity and continuity of operations. He was also the lead author of that administration’s lessons learned Hurricane Katrina response. The graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and George Washington University Law School also held preparedness and infrastructure protection posts in that administration.
Bossert is an advocate of presidential primacy in the cyber-warfare and has argued that cyber territory is outside the requirement of the 1973 War Powers Act that the president notify Congress within 48 hours of the introduction of U.S. forces into combat inside American soil, airspace or waters.
The cyber-security expert has also dismissed the distinction between military and civilian cyber-targets. “I think in the cyber context, that’s the most fascinating conversation that we can have. There will be a military objective associated with almost every Internet connection in this world once we go to war and the cascading consequences will be on civilian – civilians as individuals, but also on civilian economic constructs – banks, financial centers, communications capabilities,” he said during a War Powers Act panel discussion at the Atlantic Council in 2013.
Updating the War Powers Act through Congress to address cyber threats is not likely to succeed and, he said. The War Powers Act was passed over a veto by President Richard M. Nixon. Although it remains on the books, in practice it has become a dead letter.
“A cyber legislation, any true comprehensive cyberstrategy, we can defend ourselves in ways outside of the military and be smart in a lot of other ways in terms of law enforcement and tax policy and regulatory policy and trade tariffs and so on is going to end up –you know, to get down to the congressional weeds of it, the parliamentarians are going to give that to every committee on the Hill. And that’s going to create a great difficulty,” he said.
In addition to his cyber-warfare duties, Bossert seems to suggest that he will be reasserting America’s democratic values on the Internet, even though Obama granted control over critical Internet functions transferred to a multinational group. That grant of control to the multinational Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, means that the web is not longer is synched to constitutional strictures and protections.
The appointment is not subject to Senate confirmation.