"President Trump gets his share of criticism — some warranted, much not. But recently the president’s critics have chosen curious ground to question his response
to the coronavirus outbreak since it began spreading from Wuhan, China, in December.
It has been alleged by multiple officials of the Obama administration, including in The Post, that the president and his then-national security adviser, John Bolton, “dissolved the office” at the White House in charge of pandemic preparedness. Because I led the very directorate assigned that mission, the counterproliferation and biodefense office, for a year and then handed it off to another official who still holds the post, I know the charge is specious."
"It is true that the Trump administration has seen fit to shrink the NSC staff. But the bloat that occurred under the previous administration clearly needed a correction. Defense secretary Robert Gates, congressional oversight committees and members of the Obama administration itself all agreed the NSC was too large and too operationally focused (a departure from its traditional role coordinating executive branch activity). As The Post reported in 2015, from the Clinton administration to the Obama administration’s second term, the NSC’s staff “had quadrupled in size, to nearly 400 people.” That is why Trump began streamlining the NSC staff in 2017."
"One such move at the NSC was to create the counterproliferation and biodefense directorate, which was the result of consolidating three directorates into one, given the obvious overlap between arms control and nonproliferation, weapons of mass destruction terrorism, and global health and biodefense. It is this reorganization that critics have misconstrued or intentionally misrepresented. If anything, the combined directorate was stronger because related expertise could be commingled."
"The NSC is really the only place in government where there is a staff that ensures the commander in chief gets all the options he needs to make a decision, and then makes sure that decision is actually implemented. I worry that further reductions at the NSC could impair its capabilities, but the current staffing level is fully up to the job."
"You might ask: Why does all this matter? Won’t it just be a historical footnote?
It matters because when people play politics in the middle of a crisis, we are all less safe.
We are less safe because public servants are distracted when they are dragged into politics.
We’re less safe because the American people have been recklessly scared into doubting the competence of their government to help keep them safe, secure and healthy."