Congressional Quarterly’s CQ Homeland Security ran a story revealing views likely held by the presidential candidates on homeland security priorities. Neither candidate has dedicated much airtime to the topic of homeland security, but both have formed teams of volunteer policy advisors focused on developing homeland security positions. This week’s story quotes Ruchi Bhowmik of Obama’s Senate staff campaign and Lee Carosi Dunn from McCain’s staff. Neither spoke as representing the presidential campaigns, but both are accurate indicators of the candidates’ views.
Ruchi offered a constructive view that avoided the “throw the baby out with the bathwater” stance that many fear a change in party would bring to DHS. A key challenge for the next Administration, she said, would be to complete key programs that the current administration has left unfinished.
She views DHS as something of a “delinquent student” with “homework assignments and they’ve been by no means easy homework assignments, but they haven’t really turned them in.” She specifically included the National Response Framework, and described it as a research paper that was treated as an outline by DHS. “It’s OK,” Ruchi explained, “but it really wasn’t what the assignment was.”
Ruchi also explained that “resilience” is a concept that reflects a core goal of DHS to develop strong partnerships with stakeholders, including governors, local law enforcement, the private sector, and citizens in general. She noted that homeland security is achievable only when these groups are made a trusted partner in the process.
CQ also noted the emphasis Ruchi placed on research and development for better sensor technologies for mass transit protection, cargo container screening, medical countermeasures for bio-threats, and cybersecurity, which depends heavily on strong public-private partnerships.
Lee Carosi Dunn, counsel to McCain, emphasized making first-responders’ communications compatible with one another through such legislative efforts as setting aside some broadcast spectrum for first-responders.
Dunn also noted that McCain supports risk-based funding for state homeland security grants, cited transit security, better leveraging of technology between DHS and DOD, infrastructure protection – i.e. nuclear power plants, ports or cybersecurity – and the Real ID program that requires states to meet federally set standards for their driver’s licenses.
Soon it may be time to update the series we posted here on where the candidates stand on homeland security. Let’s hope the media ask the candidates to expand on their concepts and proposals for homeland security.