Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

April 3, 2008

Chertoff: Layered Defense in Allies’ Interest

Filed under: International HLS,Strategy — by Jonah Czerwinski on April 3, 2008

Reader Eric asked about the adoption by other nations of the ‘homeland security’ concept. HLSWatch asked Secretary Chertoff in yesterday’s meeting to discuss his recent trip to the Middle East. A member of the media there asked him a question that allies in general ask the U.S.:

The “U.S. fights terrorism overseas to prevent terrorists from performing terrorist acts in the U.S. What’s your comment on these thoughts?

Read: The U.S. advocates a layered global defense against terrorism to keep the threat away from the homeland. This implies to audiences overseas that we’d rather have it out on their homelands. Can’t blame them for assuming the worst, but Chertoff is right to say that a layered defense is the best defense. How that helps allies is in how we define “layers.”

A layered defense isn’t just about geographic layers though. There are information layers that reveal intentions and enable us and our allies to act before an attack. Financial flows also serve as a layer to create a hurdle that terrorists must cross in organizing an attack. Layers like these are opportunities to complicate the efforts of an adversary and force him into a vulnerable or detectable position.

Allies don’t just benefit from the U.S. pursuing a layered defense. We all do since a true layered defense in the 21st century requires certain basic agreements to be struck among allies. They include the nature of the threat, concepts of success, and acceptable trade-offs. In this sense, any progress the U.S. and Europe make in resolving information sharing for transatlantic flights is mutually beneficial. Of course, if we can’t convince our allies of the mutual benefit, either there isn’t one or we’re not very convincing.

Chertoff: TOPOFF 4 Lessons Under Review

Filed under: Radiological & Nuclear Threats,Terrorist Threats & Attacks — by Jonah Czerwinski on April 3, 2008

Reader Arnold asked whether we can expect a public report on the lessons learned from the TOPOFF 4 exercise, which took place October 15-19, 2007, with thousands of federal, state, and local officials responding to a full scale response to a simulated dirty bomb attack in Oregon and Arizona. The Secretary explained that the TOPOFF lessons learned are under review now and being circulated for sign off. t4-portland.gif
Two things to consider:

1. The Secretary also said that planning for TOPOFF 5 is underway. It would be important for the lessons from TOPOFF 4 to inform that design.

2. Its unclear if the lessons from TOPOFF 4 are being drafted as a deliverable to the public, including state and local officials, who clearly drew their own lessons that should probably have a hand in crafting the review.

Look for a public version no sooner than summer.

April 2, 2008

Chertoff-Blogger Roundtable Candid and Contemplative

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Jonah Czerwinski on April 2, 2008

This and following posts are quick squibs about subjects HLSWatch.com discussed with Secretary Chertoff today in a small roundtable of four homeland security bloggers. The session was an informal setting in the old DHS International Affairs digs: Four bloggers, a cabinet secretary, and the press staff leadership.

This is the second roundtable the Secretary has organized and it was far more engaging this time. Topics include cyber, the Fence, the presidential transition, REAL ID, immigration, politics, and planning for the future of the Department.

I should mention President Bush’s stenographer was there to cover the meeting. She’s a real pro having worked for three consecutive presidents. Once the transcript is out, we’ll revisit these posts and respond to your questions/comments.

The other bloggers were David Venturella of Security Debrief, Anne Broache of CNET, and Robert Bluey of the Heritage Foundation.

UPDATE 4/3/08: We now have the transcriptfrom this meeting.

April 1, 2008

Chertoff to Convene Bloggers

Filed under: Border Security,General Homeland Security — by Jonah Czerwinski on April 1, 2008

DHS Secretary Mike Chertoff reconvenes a group of us bloggers for a roundtable tomorrow at DHS Headquarters. Topics are likely to include the recent developments surrounding REAL ID deadlines and compliance by states. Or perhaps the legal waivers Chertoff issued today that suspend environmental laws and regulations to finish building 670 miles of fence along the southwest border. (Eileen Sullivan at AP reports that these pesky laws currently prevent DHS from building the 267 miles of fencing in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.)
Readers are encouraged to submit here the questions they would like answered by the Secretary. The last time we met with him, each of us was given only enough time for one question. I hope we’ll be able to make more use of this session. Looking forward to your questions.

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