Yesterday included a post here highlighting a number of critical questions posed by the GAO in a wide ranging study of national challenges that will take about 100 years to address.Â Among them was a set of questions dealing with homeland security that I believe would be excellent fodder for a presidential debate leading up to 2008.Â The Center for American Progress decided not to wait for the politicians.Â They ran their third annual Terrorism Survey of policy wonks earlier this summer and released the findings yesterday.Â
By querying 108 experts (representing a weighted breakdown of an equal number of conservatives and liberals, as well as a bulk identifying themselves as moderate), CAP â€“ in partnership with Foreign Policy â€“ gives us a stark assessment of where we stand in terms of combating terrorism and generally keeping America safe from deadly adversaries.Â The survey asks 30 direct questions (and a number of questions about the participants themselves).Â The results are insightful and the authors provide their own analysis here.Â
The single greatest threat as â€œNuclear materials/weaponsâ€ shows the only perfectly even breakdown that I could find so far.Â 28 Conservatives and 28 Liberals considered this the singled greatest threat.Â Its unclear if they meant nuc weapons generally or in the possession of someone or some country in particular.Â Perhaps another line in this answer set sheds light on this: Iran ranks as dangerously as climate change according to the weighted totals.Â
No one strongly believes that we are winning a war on terror.Â Judging by the totals, this one isnâ€™t even remotely close.Â The surveyâ€™s methodology shows the cross-section of participants.Â This is a group representing an even spread across the political spectrum.
The following is the fifth question with only the top two options listed.Â They are the most surprising of the answers:Â
Not a single conservative chose a stable and secure Iraq as the most important U.S. policy objective.Â But 26 liberals did.Â At least the so-called â€œhearts and mindsâ€ issue remains in the top slot.Â Just how we pursue that objective would take another survey entirely.
The eighth question in the survey gets down to judging the institutions responsible for improving the picture:
Below are departments and agencies involved in protecting the American people from global terrorist networks and in advancing U.S. national security goals. Thinking about the period from 9/11 to the present day and recognizing that different offices within U.S. government agencies/ departments perform at different levels, please rate each agency /department overall on a scale of 0 to 10.
Â Survey says:
No HSC?Â The Department of Homeland Security is ranked slightly below average across the board.Â It is helpful that the surveyors included the National Security Council, which fared worse than any of the other eightÂ agencies on theÂ list.Â But no mention of the White House Homeland Security Council?Â Perhaps thatâ€™s a worse fate.Â
The following question helps to convey the political balance that the Center for American Progress and Foreign Policy strove for.Â The former is not known for doing this, but its not their role anyway.Â This topic, however, is too important to represent only half of the political spectrum.Â
According to this response, the breakdown between conservative and liberal gradients is almost perfectly equal.