Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

August 25, 2008

McCain Offers 82 Seconds for Homeland Security

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Jonah Czerwinski on August 25, 2008

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.

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6 Comments »

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 25, 2008 @ 10:20 am

Senator McCain is all about PREVENTION and not really knowledgable about law enforcement or other aspects of Homeland Security. You might identify which of his Senate staff specialize in HS and EM. The odd thing is that McCain is quite quirky and realistic about the military-industrial-academic complex and its desire to support hegemony by the US world wide. Be interesting to see how HS appears in the debates with OBAMA. You can bet that the OBAMA pieces were constructed by staff. Still better than nothing. Biden also has odd posturing on HS and EM.

Comment by Christopher Tingus

August 26, 2008 @ 5:08 pm

Neither of the Presidential candidates truthfully have much personal and professional experience nor an HS and EM experienced team assembled. In fact, with the election before us, we really do not know just who they have in mind comprising key government decision-makers and my bet is that they, too at this point have little idea themselves.

While respective staff members may make their best effort, what is truly worrisome is the reality that neither candidates have a grasp of how to address pending and relevant HS and EM issues.

Moreover, what truly concerns me is the Democratic party’s and maybe even the Republicans’ demeanor towards offering all sorts of promised solutions and services which can only be supported by substantial increased tax revenues and in fact a global economy based on fiat dollars with very little personal or government accountability.

I hear the word “change” and after listening to political “promises” from both sides of the aisle at the local, state and federal side, we still do not have an effective eenrgy policy in place, comprehensive health care coverage for all American citizens and quite obviously a bureaucratic HS and EM lacking in unity and addressing serious and immediate concerns.

The same ‘ol, same ‘ol is apparently all we can expect from those we entrust and who sepend most of their time addressing their own agenda and applauding each other.

There are many who seek our demise and there is little time remaining for us as a nation to utilize our competencies and together address the nuwerous urgent issues before us.

Christopher Tingus
Harwich, MA

Comment by Bruce McConnell

August 26, 2008 @ 5:12 pm

Senator Obama also understands the link between homeland and national security — for example in the area of cyber security, which he addressed in a recent speech on confronting new threats. More at this link available.

Comment by Max

August 27, 2008 @ 7:11 am

>>”Neither of the Presidential candidates truthfully have much personal and professional experience nor an HS and EM experienced team assembled.”

Are you kidding? I would say that BOTH candidates have a significant amount of experience, just very different. The issue is judgment, efficacy to accomplish what they set out to do, and that which they actually set out to do. It looks to me as though McCain doesn’t set out to do much at all when it comes to homeland security. I don’t expect my commander in chief to have a background in homeland security, but I do expect him to understand how to set HS policy and to articulate his goals. Looks to me as though Obama has set forth a long list of goals and McCain offers a sound bite of just over one minute.

Comment by Christopher Tingus

September 8, 2008 @ 8:52 pm

We shall see….

Comment by john

October 13, 2008 @ 12:54 pm

i like pie

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