Trump taps former Bush national security aide as homeland security adviser

Tom Bossert will likely focus on issues of cyber-security.


President-elect Donald Trump tapped a former national security aide under President George W. Bush, Tom Bossert, to be his homeland security advisor on Tuesday morning. He has focused on issues of cyber-security throughout his career.

Bossert, who served as deputy homeland security adviser to President Bush, will be assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, which will be on the same level as his pick for national security adviser, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.

Bossert is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, a nonpartisan international affairs think tank. He has spoken on Atlantic Council forums on the subject of cyber-security and runs a risk management consulting firm. Bossert was also one of the main authors of the 2006 White House report on lessons learned from the Hurricane Katrina response.

In Atlantic Council forums for discussions on cyber-security issues, Bossert has discussed the many parties concerned about cybersecurity, from private industry to the government sector. Doug Wilson, a former assistant secretary of defense for public affairs in the Obama administration, told The Washington Post, that one of Bossert’s challenges is to foster “much more effective cooperation between government and the private sector.”


When asked at a 2013 Atlantic Council event what it would mean for Homeland Security if there were a cyber-attack against the private sector, Bossert answered:

At this stage, I would imagine there are CEOs of big and small companies calling — banks and otherwise — saying we demand some type of satisfaction. We at least want to be heard and we’ll talk to your agencies but we want decision-makers and we want access to power. So in some ways the White House has an easy job here. We have the luxury of asking a lot of questions, and eventually they have the hard job of making tough recommendations. The thing to remember here is that we are now trying to put into context these cyber attacks against our greater strategic objectives. Looking at Iran seemingly attempting to gain nuclear capability, and we don’t want that … Now we’ve got cyber attacks and … That service attack, which is financial industry admits is kind of a mass disruption instead of a mass destruction, as something that would tip us into war, so I think we want to have a steady hand on the till and not necessarily rush into some counter-attack. But the measures will be mounting.

Last year, Bossert expressed major concerns about the Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck program, which allows some travelers to go through less heavy security protocols, such as removing one’s shoes in the airport. The TSA wants to increase enrollment in PreCheck, but in an interview with The New York Times, Bossert said the biggest problem with TSA’s PreCheck proposals were not so much the privacy issues associated with government collection of private data but the effort to “entice people with reduced security” to participate PreCheck.

He is also a fierce supporter of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and elements of the Bush doctrine which assert countries harboring terrorists should be held accountable. Bossert wrote in a 2015 Washington Times opinion piece that the use of military force in both countries “was and remains just.” Bossert added, “The just and necessary use of force is one of the things separating us from the terrorists.”