Biden administration guts Homeland Security Advisory Council


The Biden administration has fired 32 members of the Homeland Security Advisory Council, according to a letter to members of the council obtained by POLITICO.

A letter sent Friday by DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told members that he has ended the “terms of current HSAC members effective March 26, 2021.”

“I am considering how the HSAC can bring the greatest value to the Department and how the expertise, judgment, and counsel of its members can be harnessed most effectively to advance the Department’s mission,” he wrote. “I expect to work closely with the HSAC and to rely on its Members to help guide the Department through a period of change.”

He said he would reconstitute the council in the next few weeks as he transitions to a new model for the committee. He thanked the members of the council for their service.

The board was set up to provide the DHS secretary with advice and expertise of those in the homeland security world to consult on decisions across the vast department. Subcommittees of the council have also issued reports on various subjects, like economic security.

The removal of the members, who were unpaid, suggests that the Biden administration is continuing to put its stamp on DHS, whose Immigrations and Customs Enforcement component early on resisted a move to do a temporary halt on deportations. The firing also comes as the Biden administration struggles to address a migrant surge at the border.

Mayorkas also announced that William Bratton, the former New York City police commissioner, and Karen Tandy, former administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, will remain in their positions as chairman and vice chair, respectively. William Webster, a former FBI and CIA director, will continue as the chair emeritus.

Members of the DHS advisory committee removed on Friday include former NSA director Keith Alexander, former acting DHS Secretary Ken Cuccinelli, former Immigrations and Customs Enforcement acting director Tom Homan, former D.C. police chief Cathy Lanier, former star FBI agent Ali Soufan, Heritage Foundation foreign policy expert James Carafano, and former DHS official Stewart Baker. The 32 members of the council removed on Friday were appointed by a number of former DHS secretaries, both Democratic and Republican.

A DHS spokesperson declined to comment.

Early in Biden’s term, the administration fired multiple Trump-appointed members of numerous DOD advisory committees.

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