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Obama announces White House changes to create new "National Security Staff"

WASHINGTON, May 26 (KUNA) -- President Barack Obama on Tuesday announced that he would fully integrate White House staff supporting national security and homeland security into a new "National Security Staff" that will support all White House policymaking activities related to international, transnational and homeland security matters.
Establishment of the new National Security Staff, under the direction of the National Security Adviser, "will end the artificial divide between White House staff who have been dealing with national security and homeland security issues," Obama said in a White House announcement.
The President also announced that he would maintain the Homeland Security Council as the principle venue for interagency deliberations on issues that affect the security of the homeland such as terrorism, weapons of mass destruction (WMD), natural disasters and pandemic flu.
"The Homeland Security Council, like its National Security Council counterpart, will be supported by the National Security Staff," he said.
In addition, Obama said he would establish new directorates and positions within the National Security Staff to deal with new and emerging challenges associated with cybersecurity, WMD terrorism, transborder security, information sharing and resilience policy, including preparedness and response.
Obama said he would retain the position of Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism as principal White House adviser on these issues, "with direct and immediate access to me." "The security of our homeland is of paramount importance to me, and I will not allow organizational impediments to stand in the way of timely action that ensures the safety of our citizens," he said.
The President also announced creation of a new Global Engagement Directorate "to drive comprehensive engagement policies that leverage diplomacy, communications, international development and assistance, and domestic engagement and outreach in pursuit of a host of national security objectives, including those related to homeland security." The actions were based on a review of findings and recommendations in a Presidential Study Directive that Obama ordered last February to determine how the White House should be organized to deal with homeland security and counterterrorism issues, he noted. (end) rm.bs KUNA 262213 May 09NNNN