For all the talk about terrorism, there is not a single web page on John McCain’s website devoted to homeland security. But I did locate the campaign’s video recording on homeland security with John McCain reading his statement explaining that “Nothing can guarantee our security.”
An analysis of McCain’s views on homeland security reveal vague details and a perspective that seems stuck in the past. In many ways, his ideas are a continuation of what’s been underway for years.
He starts by citing how Truman orchestrated a “massive overhaul” of our federal government to combat the Cold War and suggests that we need the same today. More overhauls beyond DHS? McCain says that we must “improve the leadership, coordination, and capacity of our first responders.” We’re really not trying to do that now? How would he do it differently?
He adds that we should make a similar improvement with non-government organizations and the private sector. Yet that’s what the ISACs, the Sector Coordinating Councils, the DHS Office of the Private Sector, numerous advisory councils, and other entities – already in existence – actually work on today.
Sure, we have far to go. But what is McCain’s plan? The following: We need “people, plans, and performance.” Any particular people? Any specific plan? Which performance metrics that we don’t already apply?
McCain says in his video that preventing terrorism is his first priority. We should do this, he reads, by working with our allies to deny terrorists access to WMD, by securing land borders, and by “expanding our screening process.” Of course prevention is the first priority, but combating WMD, building a wall along the border with Mexico, and screening more people amount to only a partial picture. He makes no mention of resilience and only indirectly refers to emergency response except to say that “Hurricane Katrina must never happen again.”
Moreover, which allies does McCain have in mind? Another coalition of the willing? What’s the right role for NATO? How does Pakistan figure in? It is strange that a candidate who accepts that we “fight’em [terrorists] over there [Iraq] so we don’t fight’em here at home” doesn’t make a single reference to Afghanistan or Iraq in his campaign’s only material on homeland security.
McCain does have a webpage on national security that describes 9/11 and the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000 as warnings of the threat posed by terrorism. For a person that accuses his opponent of having a pre-9/11 mindset, McCain sure seems stuck in the past with his description of the terrorist threat. We do not face the al Qaeda of 9/11 any longer. They have morphed since outlasting our offensive in Afghanistan. They invaded Iraq after we invaded Iraq. They have emerged brazenly on the internet to establish a daunting capability to radicalize and recruit through cyberspace. Moreover, the terrorists have bombed modes of public transportation in Madrid and London, aggrandized portions of Pakistan, and initiated their own surge in Afghanistan. All of this since 9/11.
For comparison, I recommend reading Obama’s detailed priorities for securing the homeland. For their part, Obama and Biden intend to:
• Safeguard Public Transportation
• Prepare Effective Emergency Response Plans
• Improve Airline Security
• Better Monitor our Ports
• Protect Local Water Supplies
• Support First Responders
• Improve Interoperable Communications Systems
• Create a Real National Infrastructure Protection Plan
• Secure our Chemical Plants
• Ensure Safe and Secure Disposal of Nuclear Waste
• Allocate Homeland Security Funds Based on Risk
A paragraph for each, and then a three-page fact sheet outlining the “how” of it. Obama calls it his plan and it reads like one: Statements of the problems, corresponding policy solutions, and details about how to get those accomplished.