July 6th 2012, President Obama signed yet another Executive Order, ASSIGNMENT OF NATIONAL SECURITY AND EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS COMMUNICATIONS FUNCTIONS. This new Executive order grants the administration and the Department of Homeland Security massive new abilities that might be needed to re-establish communications during the event of a natural disaster or national security event. This order will allow the DHS to ensure that “communications must be possible under all circumstances” and “and improve national resilience.” This new Executive order states that;
“Sec. 4.1. The Secretary of Homeland Security shall establish an Executive Committee Joint Program Office (JPO) to provide full-time, expert, and administrative support for the Executive Committee’s performance of its responsibilities under section 3.3 of this order”
This new Executive order establishes the National Security and Emergency Preparedness or NS/EP a Executive Committee established to control communications during a crisis and ensure that the government has the proper ability to communicate whenever it needs. The “policy” of this Executive Order passed on Friday, July 6th 2012 says that it must have the capability “to enable the executive branch to communicate within itself and with: the legislative and judicial branches; State, local, territorial, and tribal governments; private sector entities; and the public, allies, and other nations.” Further down within the Executive Order it specifies the main responsibility of the NS/EP which is; “to serve as a forum to address NS/EP communications matters.”
Established under the executive order signed by President Obama on July 6th 2012 the NS/EP will “address” “communication matters” and contain “representatives designated by the heads of the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, Commerce, and Homeland Security, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), the General Services Administration, and the Federal Communications Commission, as well as such additional agencies as the Executive Committee may designate. The designees of the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of Defense shall serve as Co-Chairs of the Executive Committe.”
The NS/EP’s main responsibility for the Committee’s forum that is setup under section 3.1 ; “shall be to: (a) advise and make policy recommendations to the President, through the PPD-1 process, on enhancing the survivability, resilience, and future architecture of NS/EP communications, including what should constitute NS/EP communications requirements;”
The NS/EP will also “evaluate the capabilities of existing and planned communications systems, networks, or facilities to meet all executive branch NS/EP communications requirements, including any recommended remedial actions;” In addition to the committee being able to “evaluate the capabilities of existing and planned communications” the DHS will also have the ability to ensure those “communications” “through the use of commercial, government, and privately owned communications resources, when appropriate.”
Some of the responsibilities that were established under section four, the JPO which is suppose to “provide” “support are;”
a) oversee the development, testing, implementation, and sustainment of NS/EP communications that are directly responsive to the national security needs of the President, Vice President, and senior national leadership
(c) provide to the Executive Committee the technical support necessary to develop and maintain plans adequate to provide for the security and protection of NS/EP communications; and
(d) provide, operate, and maintain communication services and facilities adequate to execute responsibilities consistent with Executive Order 12333 of December 4, 1981, as amended.
The Federal Government already has the National Security Council, which was established in Executive Order 12333, listed above, which allows the Federal government to use the NSC to “act as the highest ranking executive branch entity that provides support to the President for review of, guidance for, and direction to the conduct of all foreign intelligence, counterintelligence, and covert action, and attendant policies and programs.”
This Executive Order signed last Friday and the Agencies or committee’s created within it, are not funded by Congress, which is suppose to be the purse strings for the Federal government. The order states that; “a long-term strategic vision for NS/EP communications and propose funding requirements and plans to the President and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), through the PPD-1 process, for NS/EP communications initiatives that benefit multiple agencies or other Federal entities;” this funding for all of these agencies will “(c) coordinate the planning for, and provision of, NS/EP communications for the Federal Government under all hazards;”
The Agencies and Committees and additional power now granted to the DHS under this new Executive Order is protected by one of the last sections which lays out its protections of the agencies and committees and their funding stating that; “(d) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:” and, “(e) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.” With the power invested in the Federal Government to fund and control these agencies independently from Congress, and the power to grant executive privilege, where does it end?