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Presidential Communications Officer

"The White House Military Office is the agency responsible for securing the president's ability to function as America's chief executive and commander in chief." The Office's function differs from that of the Secret Service. It could be said that the Military Office is responsible for protecting the office of the Presidency, whereas the Secret Service protects the physical life of the current occupant of that office (Bates).

The Presidential Communications Officer (PCO) is never far from the President. Attached to WHMO, he is the primary liason from Presidential communications. The actual designation of the security clearance held by a PCO is unknown, although it is said to be "the highest." It would not be inaccurate to say that anything which has the President's ear is within the scope of PCOs' duties, no matter how sensitive (Bates).

On the morning of September 11, 2001, LTC Herman, PCO assigned to accompany President Bush to Florida, was among the first notified of an airplane striking one of the World Trade Center towers. Immediately upon arrival at Emma Booker Elementary School, PCO Herman, in conjunction with the United States Secret Service and the WHMO military aide, established a secure telephone link between the President and the National Security Advisor. The director of the White House Situation Room was also present during the secure call (Bates).

From an organizational standpoint, a PCO is part of the White House Communications Agency (WHCA), itself a unit of the WHMO (Chisholm).

The Presidential Communications Officer is available to assist the President of the United States with activation of the Emergency Alert System. The EAS is activated by an order from the President to the White House Communications Agency (WHCA) duty officer or the President's Communications Officer through the FOC (FEMA Operations Center)/FAOC (FEMA Alternate Operations Center). The FOC and/or FAOC authenticate the request and establish the Primary Entry Point (PEP) (Emergency Alert System) conference (AM & FM Handbook).

Works Cited

Bates, Leslie. "Securing the Nation." Marist College Magazine. Fall, 2002. Marist College. March 3, 2006. http://www.marist.edu/magazine/fall02/securing.html.

Chisholm, Patrick. "The White House is on the Line." Military Information Technology Online Edition. March 30, 2003. Kerrigan Media International. March 3, 2006 http://www.military-information-technology.com/article.cfm?DocID=22.

"AM & FM Handbook." Emergency Alert System Handbooks. 2001. Federal Communications Commission. March 3, 2006 http://www.fcc.gov/eb/eas/handbook.htm.

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