Hughes to depart DHS

Lt. Gen. Patrick Hughes, acting undersecretary for the Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection (IAIP) Directorate at the Homeland Security Department (DHS), said he is retiring March 15.

Hughes spoke Feb. 16 at a hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee's new Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment.

There were rumors he would be leaving, especially after the departures in late January of Gen. Frank Libutti, former IAIP undersecretary, and Robert Liscouski, former assistant secretary for infrastructure protection at the directorate. Before Hughes took over for Libutti, he was assistant secretary for information analysis at IAIP, a position he had since November 2003.

The White House had not yet named anyone to replace Libutti, Liscouski or Hughes, said Michelle Petrovich, directorate spokeswoman. But she added that she expected someone will be named as acting head of IAIP before Hughes leaves.

Hughes is the latest in a string of high-level departures from DHS. However, Michael Chertoff was sworn in as the department's new secretary following his Senate confirmation by 98-0 vote Feb. 15. The Senate is also expected to confirm Michael Jackson, who will become deputy secretary of DHS, replacing Adm. James Loy.

In related news, Chertoff named John Wood as chief of staff to oversee DHS policy, planning and operations responsibilities and Brian Besanceney as assistant secretary for public affairs.

Wood most recently served as counselor to the attorney general at the Justice Department. He oversaw the department's civil, civil rights, antitrust, tax, and environment divisions, and civil terrorism litigation. Before that, he served as deputy general counsel for the Office of Management and Budget, where he helped to develop the major legislative, regulatory, management, and appropriations initiatives, including legislation to create DHS.

Besanceney will manage the department's internal and external communications and all of its component directorates and provide management and oversight to the public affairs office. Previously, he served as special assistant to President Bush and deputy director of communications at the White House. He also acted as principal spokesman for the White House Homeland Security Council, which coordinates government-wide homeland security policy for the president.

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