Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

September 4, 2015

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on September 4, 2015

William R. Cumming Forum

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September 3, 2015

Homeland Security: Top Issue or Other?

Filed under: Disaster,Preparedness and Response,Resilience,Strategy — by Philip J. Palin on September 3, 2015

In a speech last week to note the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s impact on the Gulf Coast, President Obama said:

Here in New Orleans, a city that embodies a celebration of life, suddenly seemed devoid of life.  A place once defined by color and sound — the second line down the street, the crawfish boils in backyards, the music always in the air — suddenly it was dark and silent.  And the world watched in horror.  We saw those rising waters drown the iconic streets of New Orleans.  Families stranded on rooftops.  Bodies in the streets.  Children crying, crowded in the Superdome.  An American city dark and under water.  

And this was something that was supposed to never happen here — maybe somewhere else.  But not here, not in America.  And we came to realize that what started out as a natural disaster became a manmade disaster — a failure of government to look out for its own citizens.  And the storm laid bare a deeper tragedy that had been brewing for decades because we came to understand that New Orleans, like so many cities and communities across the country, had for too long been plagued by structural inequalities that left too many people, especially poor people, especially people of color, without good jobs or affordable health care or decent housing.  Too many kids grew up surrounded by violent crime, cycling through substandard schools where few had a shot to break out of poverty.  And so like a body weakened already, undernourished already, when the storm hit, there was no resources to fall back on.

In the podcast with Thad Allen that Arnold Bogis highlighted on Tuesday, the former Coast Guard Commandant remarked, “The event does not create the preconditions, and to the extent that preconditions exist, that erodes resiliency and your ability to deal with the problem, you’re going have the consequences of greater effect and greater magnitude.”

In addition to the preconditions noted by the President and the Admiral, I would highlight the structure of the electrical grid, fuel distribution systems, supply chains for food, pharmaceuticals, medical goods, and more.  The lower ninth ward did not have a functioning public water system for fourteen months after Katrina. What would be the situation in post-earthquake Los Angeles?  In the New Orleans region, as in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, and in myriad locations along most major US waterways, dikes, levees, dams and other engineered structures have incrementally accumulated without much attention to potential interdependencies.  Dozens of dams my grandfather was instrumental in building more than sixty years ago have not been maintained and are an increasing hazard.

As the President suggests, many of our most troublesome preconditions are the result of neglect.  But others — even some referenced by Mr. Obama — are as likely to emerge from proactive and purposeful choices intended to enhance efficiency, economic productivity, and other generally perceived positives.

Does the Homeland Security mission include addressing preconditions?

Glance at the screen capture below.  This is from the White House website.  Click on ISSUES and this is what is displayed.  Does the distinction between “Top Issues” and “More” strike you as meaningful?

White House Website_Issues

I suspect the headings were organized by a web-master rather than senior policy staff. But like an innocent (Freudian?) slip of the tongue, it’s interesting to consider.  I may even agree with the distinctions.  The “Top Issues” listed above have the potential to shape the strategic landscape.  Those listed under the first set of “More”, as usually conceived, are much more responses to problems that resist strategic shaping.

Much of my work tries to get Homeland Security more effectively engaged in preconditions.  Presidential Policy Directive 21 indicates:

The Federal Government shall work with critical infrastructure owners and operators and SLTT entities to take proactive steps to manage risk and strengthen the security and resilience of the Nation’s critical infrastructure, considering all hazards that could have a debilitating impact on national security, economic stability, public health and safety, or any combination thereof. These efforts shall seek to reduce vulnerabilities, minimize consequences, identify and disrupt threats, and hasten response and recovery efforts related to critical infrastructure.

Later in the same PPD, we read:

The Secretary of Homeland Security shall provide strategic guidance, promote a national unity of effort, and coordinate the overall Federal effort to promote the security and resilience of the Nation’s critical infrastructure. In carrying out the responsibilities assigned in the Homeland Security Act of 2002, as amended, the Secretary of Homeland Security evaluates national capabilities, opportunities, and challenges in protecting critical infrastructure; analyzes threats to, vulnerabilities of, and potential consequences from all hazards on critical infrastructure; identifies security and resilience functions that are necessary for effective public-private engagement with all critical infrastructure sectors; develops a national plan and metrics, in coordination with SSAs and other critical infrastructure partners; integrates and coordinates Federal cross-sector security and resilience activities; identifies and analyzes key interdependencies among critical infrastructure sectors; and reports on the effectiveness of national efforts to strengthen the Nation’s security and resilience posture for critical infrastructure.

Several additional DHS roles are then listed.  Similar proactive language — authorities, as they are called — can be found in other statutes and executive actions. But whatever the authorities and occasional exception, the culture of Homeland Security remains more defensive…threat-oriented…reactive.

Preconditions persist and multiply.

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September 1, 2015

Thad Allen: “The real problem in New Orleans was they experienced the equivalent of a weapon of mass effect. And they lost continuity of government.”

Filed under: Catastrophes,Preparedness and Response — by Arnold Bogis on September 1, 2015

Former Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen is fond of using that description of what Hurricane Katrina did to New Orleans.  Often he adds, “without the criminality.”

That is an important distinction.  It means that because it was a natural disaster rather than a terrorist attack, the federal government could not simply take control of the response.  Instead, there was an intricate dance of competing political pressures, interpretations, and interests at all levels of government.  Depending on one’s political leanings, it is easy now to lame blame on particular people over others.  What I think should be understood by all is that communication between the local, state, and federal governments fell apart at the very moment it was most needed.

I bring this up because Allen was interviewed on Juliette Kayyem’s latest podcast.  It is an interesting conversation on his recollections about the response to that catastrophe.

You can listen to it here: http://wgbhnews.org/post/thad-allen-hurricane-katrina-10-years-later

 

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“Devastating consequences if the current trend lines continue”

Filed under: Biosecurity,Catastrophes,Climate Change,Futures,Resilience,Risk Assessment,Strategy — by Philip J. Palin on September 1, 2015

Thanks to the Alaska Dispatch News, here’s a transcript of the speech President Obama gave Monday evening (9PM Eastern) in Alaska.

The phrase “homeland security” was never uttered.  But I perceive a considerable connection.  One excerpt:

We also know the devastating consequences if the current trend lines continue.  That is not deniable.  And we are going to have to do some adaptation, and we are going to have to help communities be resilient, because of these trend lines we are not going to be able to stop on a dime.  We’re not going to be able to stop tomorrow. 

But if those trend lines continue the way they are, there’s not going to be a nation on this Earth that’s not impacted negatively.  People will suffer.  Economies will suffer.  Entire nations will find themselves under severe, severe problems.  More drought; more floods; rising sea levels; greater migration; more refugees; more scarcity; more conflict. 

That’s one path we can take.  The other path is to embrace the human ingenuity that can do something about it.  This is within our power.  This is a solvable problem if we start now. 

 

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August 28, 2015

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on August 28, 2015

William R. Cumming Forum

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August 27, 2015

New Orleans and the Gulf at Ten

Above, Weather Channel coverage of Katrina on August 27, 2005

On Saturday, August 27 ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina was a CAT-3 still in the Gulf, but projected to hit along the Mississippi delta. The state of Louisiana requested and received a Stafford Act declaration of a major disaster in anticipation of the hurricane’s impact. Late Saturday afternoon the mayor of New Orleans (finally) encouraged voluntary evacuation of the city.

That weekend I was conducting counter-terrorism training in a windowless, Strangelovian room far from the Gulf. But we had the storm track and continuous news coverage displayed on several giant monitors.

I perceive that over the next week Homeland Security morphed from being mostly threat-oriented toward much more engagement with vulnerability. This very nascent field began shifting from a focus on “stopping bad guys” to assessing risk and cultivating resilience.

Media and scholarly attention to the Tenth Anniversary of Katrina started in early August and has been surprisingly substantive. Here at HLSWatch, Bill Cumming has offered several notes and links on the anniversary, see recent Friday Free Forums. Following are five more links I hope you find worth your time.

  • The Data Center –  Fantastic resources on demographics, economics, and other quantitative measures related to the region’s recovery.
  • Resilience in Survivors of Katrina (RISK) – This is an ongoing longitudinal study of several angles on several sub-populations.  Focus is on psycho-social outcomes.
  • Catastrophes are Different from Disasters – The now classic essay by E.L. Quarantelli.  Also check out other excellent essays in this 2006 special report by the Social Science Research Council.
  • Recovery Diva – Claire Rubin has posted at least twenty thoughtful updates with multiple links.
  • REVERB – An exhibition (through November 1) at the Contemporary Art Center of New Orleans.

Threats continue to challenge and tempt us.  Vulnerabilities can be difficult to acknowledge. Meaningful mitigation often requires sustained collaboration. Resilience is complicated. We continue to learn from Katrina.

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August 25, 2015

George Will on immigration policy

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on August 25, 2015

The following is a brief excerpt from the George Will column that appeared in the Sunday Washington Post.  You can read the full commentary HERE.

–+–

It has come to this: The GOP, formerly the party of Lincoln and ostensibly the party of liberty and limited government, is being defined by clamors for a mass roundup and deportation of millions of human beings. To will an end is to will the means for the end, so the Republican clamors are also for the requisite expansion of government’s size and coercive powers…

The policy is: “They’ve got to go.”

“They,” the approximately 11.3 million illegal immigrants (down from 12.2 million in 2007), have these attributes: Eighty-eight percent have been here at least five years. Of the 62 percent who have been here at least 10 years, about 45 percent own their own homes. About half have children who were born here and hence are citizens. Dara Lind of Vox reports that at least 4.5 million children who are citizens have at least one parent who is an illegal immigrant.

Trump evidently plans to deport almost 10 percent of California’s workers and 13 percent of that state’s K-12 students. He is, however, at his most Republican when he honors family values: He proposes to deport intact families, including children who are citizens. “We have to keep the families together,” he says, “but they have to go.” Trump would deport everyone, then “have an expedited way of getting them [“the good ones”; “when somebody is terrific”] back.” Big Brother government will identify the “good” and “terrific” from among the wretched refuse of other teeming shores…

Trump’s roundup would be about 94 times larger than the wartime internment of 117,000 persons of Japanese descent. But Trump wants America to think big. The big costs, in decades and dollars (hundreds of billions), of Trump’s project could be reduced if, say, the targets were required to sew yellow patches on their clothing to advertise their coming expulsion. There is precedent.

MUCH MORE

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August 21, 2015

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on August 21, 2015

William R. Cumming Forum

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August 20, 2015

Conflicting or complementary?

Filed under: Biosecurity,Climate Change,Futures,Preparedness and Response,Resilience,Strategy — by Philip J. Palin on August 20, 2015

Each month the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration releases a review of weather data.  What the accumulating data demonstrates are increasing departures from historic means, much more extreme weather of every sort.

While some continue to argue the cause for this shift, there is more and more consensus that the data confirms an emerging climate much different than that experienced by recent generations. (Monday I received a briefing on the so-called Kankakee Torrent of 14,000 to 19,000 years ago.  This suggests that even extremes are relative).

So far the impact of the extended California drought on agricultural production — and prices — has been modest.  According to a late-June analysis by the USDA Economic Research Service,

The current outlook for 2015 is for slightly lower than average retail food price inflation, with supermarket prices expected to rise 1.75 to 2.75 percent over 2014 levels. Despite drought conditions in California, the strength of the U.S. dollar and lower oil prices could have a mitigating effect on fresh fruit and vegetable prices in 2015. As of June, ERS predicts fresh fruit prices will rise 2.5 to 3.5 percent and fresh vegetable prices 2.0 to 3.0 percent in 2015, close to the 20-year historical average. 

But if the current drought would extend for another several years, and especially if drought in one agricultural region is combined with destructive extreme weather in other agricultural regions (e.g. the 2010 drought in Ukraine, Russia, China, and Argentina), the combined consequence can be dire.

While an understanding of cause is usually crucial to prevention and many kinds of mitigation, it is possible to disagree as to cause and develop plausible projections of consequence. In most of life there is a “cone of uncertainty” of some sort, but even when we cannot precisely predict, we may be able to reasonably anticipate.

Over the last several months a UK-US team has attempted to anticipate the impact of extreme weather on global agricultural capacity.  They recently released a report, concluding:

... the global food system is vulnerable to production shocks caused by extreme weather, and… this risk is growing. Although much more work needs to be done to reduce uncertainty, preliminary analysis of limited existing data suggests that the risk of a 1-in-100 year production shock is likely to increase to 1-in-30 or more by 2040. Additionally, recent studies suggest that our reliance on increasing volumes of global trade, whilst having many benefits, also creates structural vulnerability via a liability to amplify production shocks in some circumstances. Action is therefore needed to improve the resilience of the global food system to weather-related shocks, to mitigate their impact on people.

I find the binational report especially interesting for reasons that go beyond the explicit factual analysis.  The organization and rhetoric of the report seems a bit bipolar… unable to resolve a persistent tension between two policy/strategy perceptions.  One angle tends toward greater redundancy and centralization.  The other tends toward greater diversity and decentralization.  The authors do not seem self-aware of the tension.  It would be interesting, at least to me, to see a principled strategic process for engaging these two alternatives… or possibly complementary approaches.

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August 14, 2015

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on August 14, 2015

William R. Cumming Forum

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August 13, 2015

Recently…

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on August 13, 2015

Natural:  Drought, wildfires, flooding, possible hurricanes, eventual earthquakes, tsunami, sea rise, climate change, epidemics and pandemics… what else?

Accidental: Contamination or destruction.  Spills, leaks, and other unintended releases, mechanical and structural failures, collisions and other explosive combinations, random and persistent expressions of entropy.

Intentional: Absence, alienation, anger, dismissal, exclusion, fear, mistrust, neglect, prejudice, abuse, suspicion, dehumanization, displacement, hostage-taking, militancy, murder, mass-murder, terrorism, torture, tribalism, war, xenophobia… much more.

When does intention or lack thereof cause/amplify natural or accidental hazards?

Strategy (strategies?): Prevention, preparation, mitigation, resilience, response, recovery… enough?

–+–

On July 25 Wilma Sturgeon, age 97, died.  Mrs. Sturgeon served as the Fulton County (Illinois) Public Health Nurse from 1946 to 1980. For most of this period she was the entire county health department. Three personal memories:

  • She worked with nurses and physicians to organize Sunday after-church whole community polio vaccination drives.  Health care workers associated with every church in town shepherded whole congregations to schools or American Legion Halls or other central locations for mass inoculation. She did the same thing at several coal mines and at the International Harvester plant. Sophisticated social physics.
  • Each August she instructed football coaches at every school in the county on the fundamentals of avoiding and treating heat exhaustion. Prevention, preparedness, mitigation, resilience, response, and (in every case I heard about) recovery… including my own heat stroke.
  • She worked with teachers, pastors, and others to temporarily relocate children with evidence of physical abuse — and discreetly work with families to alter behavior and facilitate reunification — without the involvement of law enforcement (other than in a few repeat cases).  She was not deterred from seeking the best out of the worst.

It was a different time and a particular place, but I perceive our times and many of our places (see above) could benefit from Mrs. Sturgeon’s sort of  very practical and persistent care… multiplied.

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August 7, 2015

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on August 7, 2015

William R. Cumming Forum

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August 6, 2015

Danger: It is clear. Is it present?

Filed under: Immigration,International HLS,Strategy,Terrorist Threats & Attacks — by Philip J. Palin on August 6, 2015

Manu_Brabo_San Salvador Arrest

Above: Photograph by Manu Brabo (AP) of an arrest in San Salvador from the Executioners of El Salvador in The New Yorker.

Until the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the United States did not attempt to control immigration as a matter of policy. Other late 19th Century restrictions attempted to limit entry by Japanese, lunatics, anarchists, and carriers of infectious diseases.  From 1921 to 1965 various laws and Executive actions served to set an upper limit on total immigration and set quotas for the national origin of immigrants.

The Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments of 1965, the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, and the 1990 Immigration Act put in place the basic architecture of contemporary immigration policy. Since 9/11 there have been several attempts to significantly revise immigration laws, most of these efforts have failed.

Each year roughly 700,000 legal immigrants enter the United States.  Illegal immigration is tough to track, but net inflows — number entering minus number returning — are credibly estimated to have plunged below 100,000 since the Great Recession (2007).   According to the Pew Research Center, since 2012 it is possible that more Mexicans living in the United States have returned to Mexico than have crossed north.

If so, this would restore a long-time pattern of Mexican and Central American migration.  According to Madeline Zavodny with the American Enterprise Institute:

It is worth noting that historically many unauthorized immigrants did not settle permanently in the United States. Instead, they worked here temporarily, saved some money and returned home; many repeated this on a seasonal basis for years but ultimately retired at home, where their family members had remained. Since the 1980s, however, there has been a gradual shift toward unauthorized immigrants settling in the United States and reuniting with family members here. One reason for this was the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) legalization program, which enabled some 2.7 million unauthorized immigrants to receive permanent legal status. Another reason is the increased difficulty in crossing the U.S.-Mexico border due to tighter border security. As it has become harder to re-enter the United States, unauthorized immigrants have increased their length of stay here.

Increased economic opportunity in Mexico — strongly tied to a declining birth-rate — is one of several factors that have shifted migration patterns. “The immigration debate seems to be stuck around the year 2006, and before then,” says Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute.

Japan or New Zealand can conceivably manage their immigration policy with a border strategy.  Most large, affluent, culturally diverse nations (or regions, ala the European Union) will find a border strategy to be about as effective as the Maginot Line.  To be effective much more attention is required to shape the strategic context for migration… as distant from the border as possible.

For example, last week Refugees International released a new report on violence in El Salvador.  In the last six months, there have been over 3000 murders in this nation of 6 million.   According to the report:

More children are killed in El Salvador per capita than in any other country. Two gangs are largely responsible for this increasing violence. These gangs, the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18 (18th Street) originated in Los Angeles, but after 1996, thousands were deported to El Salvador in a process that has been described as “unintentional state-sponsored gang migration.” By 2005, El Salvador had 10,000 active gang members, and this number has only grown in the intervening years. Currently, there are 70,000 members of the MS-13 and 18th Street gangs operating in El Salvador…

Does this situation present a potential immigration challenge to the United States? Last summer we had a dramatic example of the possibility.  Since then the situation in Central America has only gotten worse. Does the strength of Central American gangs and their contacts with US and international criminal/terrorist organizations present a potential threat beyond immigration?  Is the US national interest our only concern in this context?  Should it be?

Where would you prefer to engage the potential threat?  How would you prefer to reduce the potential threat? When is the right time to engage?  The Refugees International Report offers some answers.

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July 31, 2015

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on July 31, 2015

William R. Cumming Forum

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July 29, 2015

Homeland Security: How do we get there from here (can we)?

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on July 29, 2015

Independence Pass_Looking West higher on the ascent

The Aspen Security Forum offers a wonderful pastiche of theory and practice, creators and critics, ambitious aspirants and reflective achievers.  The size, setting, and structure encourages authentic conversation and actual thinking.  It could — should — facilitate self-criticism, but whether or not this is wide-spread is beyond my observational capability.

As I reflect on the plenary and side-bar discussions at last week’s mountain-top experience (7890 feet), I am struck by a persistent reductionist predisposition.  Partly this is the healthy result of having a room packed with people who are working current assignments with serious consequences.

Hegel offered, “To generalize is to think.”  William Blake countered, “To generalize is to be an idiot.”  The difference, it seems to me, depends on whether our generalization is an accurate abstraction of reality or a convenient manipulation of reality.

To over-generalize — but perhaps not inaccurately — again and again I heard serious men and women trying to reduce our current risk environment to some set of binaries: us versus them, right versus wrong, if we can do this then we can be much better assured of that.  Participants were trying to conceive a direct path from our current situation to a better place.

It may imply some helpful self-criticism that even as this  earnest effort was made, almost no one found the proposed direct pathways entirely satisfactory.  Some version of “much more consideration is needed” was referenced again and again.

Clark Ervin, if you’re reading this, for the 2016 Forum I suggest an early session that gives everyone a basic fluency in network theory.  John Arquilla is typically a provocative panelist.  Networks and Netwars could benefit from an update, but its core concepts would have advanced the cause at last week’s Forum.  John’s colleague at Naval Postgraduate School, Ted Lewis, has done wonderful work on the role of network analysis in critical infrastructure, supply chains, and more. (See Bak’s Sand Pile: Strategies for a Catastrophic World).

Binaries are seductive.  Pong was fun.  But we live in a much more complicated — complex — world.  Eulerian paths (or stigmergetic trails) accurately reduce excess information, noise and distraction to help us find — or confirm the impossibility of — an effective way from here to where we want to go.  This often begins by plotting strategic intersections.

To avoid inaccurate reductionism I need to acknowledge that last week I heard at least three panelists/interviewees lead with a worldview that was non-binary:  Jeh Johnson, Mike Leiter, and — even when she was not feeling well — Juliette Kayyem.  Each of them described challenges involving multiple vertices.  Each encouraged looking for intersections worth our sustained investment. Each attempted to show how the matrix could be used as scaffolding for our own architectures, our own destinations.  They were being reductionist while embracing complexity.

But when I tried to discuss with others the potential solution trails I heard these three suggesting… Well, maybe I was the problem (even though I never mentioned Euler or ant analogies in any of these conversations).

–+–

Above is the view from Colorado Route 82 just west of the Continental Divide.  There are many different ways to travel between Denver and Aspen.  Some easy, others difficult. Many beautiful.  Each with its share of contemporary banality.  Some theoretical connections are practically impossible; or if not impossible, so difficult as to be foolish.  Choosing the “right” way is a matter of time, resource, and purpose.

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July 25, 2015

Cyber: still lost at sea

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on July 25, 2015

Norbert Wiener’s neologism — cybernetics — draws on the classical Greek term for helmsman or steersman or guide to highlight our odyssey across vast largely uncharted and emergent currents of human-machine interface.

Most of the cybernauts at Aspen confirm we are still far from home.  If anything, the  digital ocean is rapidly expanding, our risks are increasing, and self-proclaimed helmsmen disagree on our best course. Some also paused to praise the beauty of the sea and its potential bounty.

Cyber was clearly the preeminent issue this year. Several different panels dealt with some aspect of cybersecurity.  I heard three issues emerge as top tier concerns: encryption, protection of engineered networks, and influencing social networks.  You can listen to the details at the Aspen video archive.  I will give you my high-level, overly reductionist and annoyingly analogous take-aways.

Encryption:  It is effective and will soon be ubiquitous.  This will undo a current strategic capability of the United States to intercept and track communications.  Our guardians will lose a considerable portion of their ability to hear and see risks arising.  But it is technically inevitable and the proposed technical “fixes” create their own new problems.  No less than Mike Chertoff came out against proposed “duplicate key” or “back-door” solutions.  I practically sprained my neck trying to see Suzanne Spaulding’s (DHS Undersecretary for NPPD) reaction to Chertoff’s comments, but from where I sat her blond bouffant was as impenetrable as Athena’s helmet.

Protection of Engineered Networks:  At the beginning of the Aspen Security Forum, I perceive this is what most of the audience meant by “cybersecurity”.  By the last day of the conference our physical systems are still seen as important, but only one part of cyber-strategy.  Several smart men in uniform cogently and persuasively explained how these systems can and will be defended. Continuing with my classical analogy, engineered systems are the fleet of twelve ships with which Odysseus departed Troy bound for home.  This is our legacy.  It has been our strength.  It is worth defending.  It may also be worth remembering that our Greek hero returns home (under the protection of Athena) with nothing.  He does return home.  He is a hero.  But over-time the fleet has been lost.

Influencing Social Networks: Since Wednesday this issue was inserted into almost every cybersecurity discussion. I’m not sure its a good match, but again and again the use of social networks by ISIL (ISIS, Daesh, name your poison) was treated as a cyber issue.  This ranged from questions about how the United States could/should just “take out” the enemy’s network connections to how the normative values of large online populations are formed, can be discerned, and potentially deployed. It was frequently emphasized — admittedly, vaguely — that this problem will require agile, creative, and (therefore) whole-of-nation collaboration to solve.  It is beyond the capacity of the government alone. [Another reminder: When our hero finally arrives home, he finds 108 rowdies consuming his wealth, spoiling his palace, and trying to marry his wife. Odysseus overcomes these varied — and mostly domestic — adversaries in an unlikely alliance with a goddess, his young son, a slave, and a cowherd. The people of Ithaca then forgive their ruler all his failures and peace is restored to the land.]

Please listen to the experts on the videos.  But it was striking how our last victory (the Cold War) permeated perceptions of what many see as the rapidly increasing heat of cyber-war.  Essential discontinuities between then and now are recognized, but the current context and particularities are framed in weird ways to “fit” the intellectual categories developed and deployed back then.  This sort of strategic rigidity is not what finally brought peace to Ithaca.

–+–

With great appreciation I need to acknowledge the Institute for Public Research at CNA for financially supporting my attendance at this year’s Aspen Security Forum.  This rigorously empirical organization is obviously not responsible for any of my observations or potentially misplaced classical analogies.

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