Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

September 16, 2006

A new National Strategy for Combating Terrorism

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christian Beckner on September 16, 2006

On September 5th, the White House released an updated version of the National Strategy for Combating Terrorism. The previous version of the report was released in February 2003, and is available here. I’ve finally got around to reading the new report, with the objective of comparing its homeland security-related content to the 2003 report.

The 2003 report dealt only peripherally with homeland security, and by design: it was explicitly intended to serve as an equal companion piece to the National Strategy for Homeland Security, and not discuss the domestic, defensive aspects of the war against terror.

The 2006 National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, by contrast, makes no reference to the National Strategy for Homeland Security as a companion piece, and instead includes several homeland security-related sections within it. The report contains sections that deal with border and travel security, infrastructure protection, counter-WMD efforts, and homegrown radicalization. But it seems to view homeland security as an afterthought: the language in these sections feels like boilerplate. The reason for this is primarily institutional: the strategy was developed by the National Security Council, which does not have a direct role on homeland security at the White House, a responsibility that falls to the Homeland Security Council.

The result of this schism of authority is that we’re likely to continue to lack strategies that address how the “offensive” and “defensive” elements of the war on terror relate to each other, in terms of linking institutions and systems and prioritizing resources.

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