Trump picks ex-Bush aide Thomas Bossert to be top counterterrorism adviser

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump responds to a question during the town hall debate at Washington University on Oct 9, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump responds to a question during the town hall debate at Washington University on Oct 9, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri. PHOTO: AFP

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (NYTIMES)– President-elect Donald Trump has named Thomas P. Bossert, a top national security aide under President George W. Bush, to be his homeland security adviser, the Trump transition team announced Tuesday (Dec 27).  

Bossert will become assistant to the president for homeland security and counter terrorism, a position the transition team said would be equal in status to that of Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, whom Trump has chosen to be his national security adviser.

President Barack Obama’s homeland security aide has been a deputy national security adviser.  The change in rank “reflects the unwavering commitment President-elect Trump has to the safety and security of the nation, its people and territory,” the transition team said in the statement. 

“Mr Bossert will focus on domestic and transnational security priorities as General Michael Flynn remains steadfastly focused on international security challenges,” it said.

Trump called him “an invaluable asset” and praised the breadth of experience he will bring to the new administration.  “He has a handle on the complexity of homeland security, counter terrorism and cyber-security challenges,” Trump said in the statement.  

Bossert served as deputy homeland security adviser for Bush, and he currently runs a risk management consulting firm in Washington. He is also a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council research institution, working on its Cyber Statecraft Initiative. 

Helping to protect the country from cyber crimes is likely to be a major focus for Bossert in light of the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and other incidents in recent years.

Bossert will face the challenge of balancing cyber security needs against the privacy concerns of internet companies. 

“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,” Bossert said in the statement announcing his appointment. 

News of Bossert’s appointment drew praise from some members of Congress and former colleagues in the Bush administration, who described him as capable and knowledgeable about threats to the country. 

Frances F. Townsend, who was Bush’s homeland security adviser, said she was confident that Bossert would “continue to demonstrate the capacity and insight needed to take on the tough challenges facing the country.”

Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., also praised the choice. Langevin, a founder of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, said
Bossert had approached the issues of cyberthreats in a “centrist, bipartisan” manner. 

“I also hope that he will impress upon the president-elect the vital national security concerns tied to Russian information warfare activities, and I encourage him to work closely with Congress in attempting to build our resilience and our defenses to forestall such operations in the future,” Langevin said in a statement. 

Also on Tuesday, the transition team formally announced that Jason D. Greenblatt, the chief legal officer of the Trump Organization and a longtime adviser to Trump, will serve as his special representative for international negotiations. 

Greenblatt has been the president-elect’s business attorney for years, and in a statement, Trump called him “one of my closest and most trusted advisers.”

“He has a history of negotiating substantial, complex transactions on my behalf, as well as the expertise to bring parties together and build consensus on difficult and sensitive topics,” Trump said. 

As the president’s special representative, Greenblatt is likely to focus on peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, renegotiating trade agreements and the relationship between the United States and Cuba, among other international issues.