Today is Susan Rice's first day on the job as National Security Advisor. And already her portfolio has been expanded.
President Obama signed today an executive order on "Combating Wildlife Trafficking." The directive reads, "By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to address the significant effects of wildlife trafficking on the national interests of the United States, I hereby order as follows:"
Section 1. Policy. The poaching of protected species and the illegal trade in wildlife and their derivative parts and products (together known as "wildlife trafficking") represent an international crisis that continues to escalate. Poaching operations have expanded beyond small-scale, opportunistic actions to coordinated slaughter commissioned by armed and organized criminal syndicates. The survival of protected wildlife species such as elephants, rhinos, great apes, tigers, sharks, tuna, and turtles has beneficial economic, social, and environmental impacts that are important to all nations. Wildlife trafficking reduces those benefits while generating billions of dollars in illicit revenues each year, contributing to the illegal economy, fueling instability, and undermining security. Also, the prevention of trafficking of live animals helps us control the spread of emerging infectious diseases. For these reasons, it is in the national interest of the United States to combat wildlife trafficking.
It goes on, and toward the end, this line is included, "There is established a Presidential Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking (Task Force), to be co-chaired by the Secretary of State, Secretary of the Interior, and the Attorney General (Co-Chairs), or their designees, who shall report to the President through the National Security Advisor."
The entire executive order can be found here.
UPDATE: A friend on the government writes in:
I think the blog post on the wildlife EO is probably a bit off the mark. Some terrorist groups in Africa are known to get financing from the sale of African animals, and mostly the tusks of elephants and rhinos. It's a trend that is only increasing. It's a awful collusion of African-based criminals/terrorists/corrupt governments and our friends the Chinese to bring about the whole-sale slaughter of some of the world's most majestic creatures, and fund their terror exploits or undermine governments in the process. I'm happy to see American leadership here -- and hope we do something more than set up a task force. Also, it would make little sense for the task force to report to the President through anyone other than the National Security Advisor -- this is an international problem with true national security implications, even if we don't always see it. I know we want to watch Rice like a hawk, but I don't think this is a place to attack.
If we stop the poaching, we stick it to both African extremists and the Chinese. Seems like a good policy to me.