President Obama is scrapping the way President George W. Bush oversaw homeland security, and will incorporate domestic security officials into an expanded National Security Council.
The plan unveiled on Tuesday folds the White House Homeland Security Council, an advisory group created by Mr. Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, into the National Security Council, which reports to Gen. James L. Jones, Mr. Obama’s national security adviser.
“The United States faces a wide array of challenges to its security,” Mr. Obama said in a statement, “and the White House must be organized to effectively and efficiently leverage the tremendous talent and expertise of the dedicated Americans who work within it.”
General Jones, in a briefing with reporters Tuesday, added: “There is no right hand, left hand anymore.”
The new configuration, he said, would “allow the president to make better decisions even more rapidly.”
The homeland security council will continue to be Mr. Obama’s first responder for natural disasters and other catastrophic events, White House officials said. But now homeland security council advisers will report to the National Security Council, and will have a seat at the table for meetings on national security issues.
The council is separate from the Cabinet-level Homeland Security Department, which is not affected by Tuesday’s announcement.
“The idea that somehow counterterrorism is a homeland security issue doesn’t make sense when you recognize the fact that terror around the world doesn’t recognize borders,” General Jones said.
He said Mr. Obama’s homeland security adviser, John Brennan, would strive to make sure that both domestic and foreign policy advisers worked closely on counterterrorism.
Mr. Obama ordered a 60-day review of the homeland security apparatus in February, and General Jones has been up front in wanting to see a more expansive security structure, with an enlarged National Security Council that would address broad issues of cybersecurity, drug trafficking by terrorists, arms proliferation and other issues.
At a time when Republicans have been increasingly critical of Mr. Obama’s handling of national security issues like terrorism suspects and the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, White House officials are taking pains to avoid looking like they are downgrading domestic security as a priority. Some White House officials had initially discussed getting rid of the homeland security council altogether.
But that council will continue to exist under the new plan.
House Republican staff members said they did not expect the reorganization to draw much fire from their bosses.
In his statement, Mr. Obama said, “These decisions reflect the fundamental truth that the challenges of the 21st century are increasingly unconventional and transnational, and therefore demand a response that effectively integrates all aspects of American power.”