Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

November 26, 2008

Chertoff, TSA Chief Hawley Convene Blogger Roundtable

Filed under: Aviation Security,Humor — by Jonah Czerwinski on November 26, 2008

On November 17, DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff and TSA Administrator Kip Hawley convened the next blogger roundtable, this time at TSA Headquarters. Topics covered Secure Flight, general aviation security regulations, holiday security measures, technology investments, and other issues. This may have been the final roundtable Secretary Chertoff convenes with the bloggers. However, it was the first time HLSwatch.com was singled out by the Secretary for a recent post with which he took issue. After the usually round-the-table introductions, S1 said the following with a smile:

Mr. Czerwinski: Jonah Czerwinski. Good to see you again, Mr. Secretary.

Secretary Chertoff: By the way I’m going to call you out on one thing. So you disagree with my saying that when I do risk, I put the most weight on consequence? And you said, but on Wall Street they disagree with that. They think it’s more a matter of probability than consequence. I rest my case.

Mr. Czerwinski: They may not be the people to watch–

Secretary Chertoff: Right. It was my position on consequence, which I’ve articulated for a couple years now, is what I’ve now learned that in the trade they call it the fat tail. If you read Black Swan so it’s inside baseball.

Mr. Czerwinski: I noted that, thank you.

Secretary Chertoff: All right, shoot.

Sheesh. Chertoff was referring to my 29 OCT 08 post entitled Chertoff Addresses the Beta, in which I suggest that he described risk assessment in his speech to the Wharton School in such a way that could trigger extremes of excessive caution or excessive spending. I made the ill-timed analogy of how risk is assessed on Wall Street. Oops. The full roundtable transcript is available on the TSA blog.

Fortunately, we won a small victory after that playful jab at my criticism of the Secretary’s risk assessment formula. The roundtable concluded as follows:

Secretary Chertoff: I have to say, people say, why do you do blogging? I’m not saying this to feed your egos. I said, I thought that by and large, in terms of focused, sustained, engaged, and knowledgeable questions, the bloggers who cover us regularly do a great job, and it is useful for me to get feedback because I actually do read these – I read the good ones, I don’t read the nutty ones – to get feedback about stuff that is working and not working, and I think that it is a great way for us to communicate, because we do get, you know, good questions come from a knowledge base. You guys do follow this stuff on a regular basis.

Mr. Czerwinski: When you hand over the “Leadership Journal,” can we get you to guest blog at some point?

Secretary Chertoff: Yeah, I probably will.

Fellow bloggers in attendance included:

Rich CooperSecurity Debrief

Barbara Peterson – Conde Nast Traveler & Daily Traveler

Matt Phillips – Wall Street Journal & The Middle Seat Terminal

Tom Smith – ACI-NA

Benet Wilson – Aviation Week & Towers and Tarmacs

Chad Wolf – Security Debrief

Have a great Thanksgiving everybody. I’ll keep up with developments and update HLSwatch.com over the long weekend if something is time sensitive. If, however, the next few days are as uneventful as I hope, I’ll see you on DEC 1.

November 24, 2008

White House, DHS Lay Down New Rule for Shippers to Share Better Targeting Data

Filed under: Intelligence and Info-Sharing,Port and Maritime Security — by Jonah Czerwinski on November 24, 2008

Today DHS announced a new regulation that requires maritime cargo carriers and importers to submit more data to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) about thier shipments. The goal is to better target risks in the maritime domain with inspections, added screening, security scanning, etc. The private sector must submit the additional information to CBP before vessels and their cargo are permitted to enter the U.S. Small businesses view this as a major setback for their competitiveness – and they have some backing on the Hill.

The Importer Security Filing and Additional Carrier Requirements requires that importers submit an Importer Security Filing (ISF) with the so-called “10+2” data set no later than 24 hours before the cargo is loaded onto a ship destined for the U.S.

Last month, The White House held a meeting with representatives from the private sector and relevant government agencies, including CBP, to discuss the proposed regulation. The meeting, which seems to have been hosted by the White House Office of Management and Budget, was entitled “”10+2″ Importer Security Filing and Additional Carrier Requirements” and took place on October 6. In attendance either by phone or in person were the following:

• Kristy Daphnis OMB/OIRA
• Nelson Garcia Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Assoc.
• Tom Sullivan SBA/Office of Advocacy
• Bruce Lundegren SBA Office of Advocacy
• Peter Friedmann Pac. Coast Council & CONECT
• Ray Bucheger Pac. Coast Council & CONECT
• Bryan Zumwalt National Marine Manufacturers Association
• Shannon Richter OMB
• Bruce Hirsh USTR
• Ted Posner NSC
• Elena Ryan USCBP
• Lorrie Rodbart USCBP
• Chris Pappas USCBP
• Jerry Coleman, Porta-Nails in North Carolina;
• Bill Gullickson, McLaughlin Gormiey King Co in Minnesota;
• Maggie Smith, Coppersmith, Inc. in California;
• Linda Wood, Bennett and Company in Massachusetts;
• Roger Clarke, Williams Clarke Company, Inc. in California;
• Robin Grove, Masterpiece International in California;
• Anne Marie Bush, Veritrade International in Washington;
• Karen Kenney, Liberty Internationai in Massachusetts;
• Silvia Scherer, Trade Tech Inc. in Washington; and
• Patricia Hainline, George S. Bush Co. in Oregon.

Congresswoman Valezquiez, Chairwoman of the Committee on Small Business, wrote a letter to OMB Director Jim Nussle explaining that CBP has failed to meet its obligations under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (“RegFlex”) to “properly analyze the economic impact of the 10 + 2 Rule on small entities.” RegFlex was enacted to limit disproportionate burdens on small businesses and entrepreneurs facing industry-wide regulations.

To accomplish this, RegFlex mandates that federal agencies conduct an analysis with a “description of any significant alternatives to the proposed rule which accomplish the stated objectives of applicable statutes and which minimize any significant economic impact of the proposed rule on small entities.” CBP has stated that it “does not identify any significant alternatives to the proposed rule that specifically address small entities.”

To be fair, the interim final rule includes a delayed compliance date of one year after the interim final rule takes effect. If CBP perceives a “good faith effort and satisfactory progress toward compliance” among the noncompliant during the first year, CBP “will show restraint in enforcing the rule.”

According to Scott Gudes, Vice President, Government Relations, of the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), CBP will see a number of such cases because Small businesses, including small brokers, do not have:

1. The resources, i.e., customs experts, to help collect and compile the information being required

2. The 10+2 management system needed to allow their clients to collect 10+2 data from all involved parties

3. The integrated computer systems needed to process the information and communicate with suppliers abroad

CBP will conduct a review to determine any specific compliance difficulties that importers and shippers may experience in complying. Both the Congresswoman and the NMMA believe that the unintended consequences likely to be found include increased inventories, additional charges for dwell time, and costly infrastructure and IT system upgrades that larger firms can more easily absorb.

CBP’s review is intended to address just these types of impacts. It will examine compliance costs, the barriers to submitting the data 24 hours prior to lading, and the benefits of collecting the data. CBP states that “based upon the analysis, DHS will determine whether to eliminate, modify or maintain these requirements.”

The Importer Security Filing and Additional Carrier Requirements interim final rule will take effect 60 days from today.

November 20, 2008

AZ Governor Named DHS Chief for Obama

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Jonah Czerwinski on November 20, 2008

Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano is reported to be President-elect Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Homeland Security. An early supporter of Obama’s, Napolitano is a considered to be a champion of law-enforcement and border security. Her focus on managing illegal immigration across Arizona’s southern border prioritized eliminating facilitators and enablers of illegal border crossings, rather than on incarceration and raids (although these were still used). Governor Napolitano shepherded Arizona’s first homeland security strategy and established the Arizona Counter-Terrorism Information Center, a 24/7 inter-agency fusion center.

According to DemocraticGovernors.org, Governor Napolitano has secured more than $100 million in homeland security funds for Arizona. This year, the Arizona Department of Homeland Security announced a 36 percent increase in federal funding for border security operations. DHS awarded $9.85 million dollars to Pima, Santa Cruz, Yuma, and Cochise counties for efforts related to Operation Stonegarden.

Arizona’s Operation Stonegarden grant began in 2006 when the state was awarded $7.2 million in DHS funds. According to Arizona’s Department of Homeland Security, the state’s homeland security projects align with eight national priorities identified by DHS:
1. Implement the National Incident Management System and National Response Plan (NRP)
2. Expand Regional Collaboration
3. Implement the Interim National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP)
4. Strengthen Information Sharing and Collaboration Capabilities
5. Strengthen Interoperable Communications Capabilities
6. Strengthen CBRNE Detection, Response and Decontamination Capabilities
7. Strengthen Medical Surge and mass Prophylaxis Capabilities
8. Strengthen planning and citizen preparedness capabilities

Arizona’s homeland security strategy includes the following five priorities:
• Enhance Arizona’s information sharing and systems to expand and maintain assessment and detection capabilities

• Further enhance prevention and regional collaboration in sustaining homeland security programs

• Bolster border security by strengthening partnerships with federal, state, tribal, local and international stakeholders

• Bolster emergency preparedness, response and recovery planning capabilities while protecting first responders

• Support national strategy for homeland security and National Preparedness Goal

Did I mention that she’s also a Wahoo? Gov. Napolitano earned her JD at UVA.


DHS issued this statement on December 1, 2008, the day President-elect Obama publicly announced Gov. Napolitano as his pick for DHS:

Statement By Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff On The Designation of Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano as Homeland Security Secretary

I have had the good fortune of knowing and working with Governor Janet Napolitano for years, going back to our days as prosecutors. She has a tremendous intellect and possesses the leadership and sound judgment needed to make the difficult decisions that this job presents.

The men and women of this department have been keenly focused for more than a year on facilitating a smooth transition for the incoming leadership team. Janet is an excellent choice for Secretary of Homeland Security, and I look forward to working with her as she prepares for this awesome responsibility.

November 19, 2008

HLS Transition Plan Offers Insight Into Likely Changes, Priorities of New Administration

Filed under: Organizational Issues,Strategy — by Jonah Czerwinski on November 19, 2008

Consider this a place holder post about the Homeland Security Presidential Transition Initiative. The HSPTI worked during the last year to develop and present to both the McCain and Obama campaigns late in the election a transition plan for homeland security. There is a lot in the report’s ~30 pages and this is merely an introduction to begin the dialogue here.

The HSPTI presents its recommendations in four policy areas:
• Homeland Security Structure and Personnel: Management and reform of the White House structures dealing with the HLS mission, DHS in general, and, yes, the question of whither FEMA

• Federalism: Advice for how to work with state, tribal, and local officials

• A “100 Day Script:” A step-by-step set of guidelines for managing the crucial, albeit somewhat arbitrary, initial management period for any new President

• Engaging the Public: Communicating with, educating, and mobilizing the American public

This HSPTI recommendations are organized into ten sections, sequenced chronologically in general time periods by month. Most of the recommendations can be undertaken at the direction of the new President, his Chief of Staff, and other top officials. The report’s authors are, however, smart enough not to pick a fight with the Congress and advise appropriate levels of engagement with the Legislative branch and other stakeholders.

Those recommendations can be generalized as follows:
• Make selection of the DHS Secretary a Tier 1 choice, announced along with the first wave of appointees (Treasury, Defense, etc.).

• Engage early and often with the Bush administration security team and transition council.

• Conduct a table-top exercise with the new leadership team prior to the inauguration to clarify roles and responsibilities in the event of a
terrorist attack.

• Integrate the existing White House Homeland Security Council within the National Security and Domestic Policy Councils, but maintain an Assistant to the President (and Deputy National Security Advisor) to oversee homeland security policy functions.

• Organize a homeland security summit within the first 100 days, bringing together federal, state, local, and private sector leaders to review the state of intergovernmental cooperation and public-private partnership, particularly in light of the unfolding economic crisis.

Deliberate attention given to the important role of the QHSR was a welcome sight. “An early priority for the new administration should be taking charge of the interagency process regarding the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (QHSR).” The report advocates White House level engagement in the QHSR to “reassesses the nature of risk to the United States, evaluates existing programs and new initiatives, and reviews the adequacy of the existing bureaucratic structure and resources.” These areas of inquiry are largely aligned with those laid out by the Congress, which mandated the Review.

So whither FEMA? The homeland security policy community is a reluctant participant this awkward pass-time of deliberating over whether FEMA should be returned to its independent agency status and removed from DHS. There are benefits and trade-offs to doing so, as there are sure to be with the status quo if it is maintained. The decision should be driven not by backlash against Katrina, the Bush Administration, or anything like that. The stakes are too high. The decision should be informed by a comprehensive assessment of the vision of success for our nation’s homeland security mission and the necessary authorities, investments, and structures needed to achieve it. Fortunately, the HSPTI chooses to predicate the decision about FEMA on the outcome of the QHSR.

“A decision to remove FEMA should be deferred until the completion of the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review in late 2009. Maintaining the status quo in the first year avoids unnecessary instability and confusion at a time of elevated risk. It also provides time for the new administration to consult with congressional leadership and build support for any major changes that may be contemplated within the QHSR process.”

It is noteworthy that several of the authors are likely involved with the Obama-Biden transition and so we may be reading a report being implemented in real time.

November 17, 2008

Letters to a Young Agency: Obama Writes to DHS, TSA About His Priorities

Filed under: Aviation Security,Organizational Issues — by Jonah Czerwinski on November 17, 2008

During the closing days and weeks of the 2008 presidential race, Barack Obama wrote a series of letters to John Gage, National President of the American Federation of Government Employees, to explain his priorities for the federal workforce if he becomes President of the United States. Then-candidate Obama dedicated one letter to DHS and another specifically to the TSA.

In his letter to Gage about DHS, Obama expressed concerns about DHS workforce policies. The lack of collective bargaining and the unintended consequences of “pay-for-performance” on morale and results served as the core of the letter. Obama intends to restore collective bargaining. He wrote that he will “ensure that each nominee [in an Obama-Biden Administration] has a clear understanding of the labor-management collective bargaining process and my commitment to assuring its fairness. The same goes for my appointments to the Federal Labor Relations Authority and the Federal Services Impasses Panel.”

He stressed that DHS workers should be rewarded for high quality work, but that the Bush Administration’s “failure to fund the initiative [“pay-for-performance” system] guaranteed that rewarding one employee would be at the expense of another. This is unfair and serves to reduce morale, rather than improve it,” Obama wrote.

In a separate letter directed specifically at the TSA, Obama cited issues raised by Transportation Security Officers (TSO) about the need for collective bargaining rights. “Advocating for TSOs to receive collective bargaining rights and workplace protections will be a priority for my administration,” Obama wrote to Gage in late October.

That other DHS officers serving as Border Patrol Agents, Federal Protective Officers, or Capitol Police, for example, all have collective bargaining rights makes this inequity a top workforce priority for Obama. Citing high attrition rates among the TSO workforce, Obama intends to re-examine the Performance Accountability and Standards System (PASS) for TSOs to “determine whether it meets minimum standards of fairness, transparency, and accountability.” If it does not, expect the Obama-Biden Administration to replace the PASS system with the General Schedule wage system used by the rest of the federal government, including other DHS agencies.

This afternoon, I have the opportunity to meet with TSA Administrator Kip Hawley and DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff. I hope to ask them about these plans, as well as current initiatives like Secure Flight.

November 14, 2008

DHS Cyber Security Plans, Progress, and Strategies for Success Subject of IBM Roundtable

Filed under: Cybersecurity — by Jonah Czerwinski on November 14, 2008

The new Administration will inherit a multi-billion dollar National Cyber Security Initiative with lead roles served by DHS and its component agencies, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Defense Department. In practice, all agencies will serve some role in reducing cyber-based threats. To address some of the governance and strategy issues in this context, the Center for the Study of the Presidency (CSP) and IBM’s Global Leadership Initiative today convene the next Homeland Security Roundtable on the topic of “DHS Cyber Security Plans, Progress, and Strategies for Success.”

Since 2001, CSP has convened senior leadership from the Executive Branch and leading minds from the policy community and private sector to address critical homeland security issues in an invitation-only, off-the-record setting. Today, I’ll facilitate this roundtable as I used to when I was at CSP as director of homeland security projects. A group of leading experts from the policy community and private sector will join me and our lead discussant, Mr. Andrew Cutts, director of cyber security policy at the Department of Homeland Security. Participants include:

• Steven Bucci, Cyber Lead, IBM Global Leadership Initiative, IBM Global Business Services, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense – Homeland Defense

• Frank Cilluffo, Associate Vice President for Homeland Security and Director, Homeland Security Policy Institute, The George Washington University, and Former Special Assistant to the President for Homeland Security

• P.J. Crowley, Senior Fellow and Director of Homeland Security at the Center for American Progress, and former Special Assistant to the President of the United States for National Security Affairs, serving as Senior Director of Public Affairs for the National Security Council, and former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense

• Andrew Cutts, Director, Cyber Security Policy, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

• Jonah J. Czerwinski, Senior Fellow, Homeland Security, IBM Global Leadership Initiative, and Senior Adviser Homeland Security Projects, Center for the Study of the Presidency

• Bryna Dash, IBM Public Sector – DHS/NPPD

• W. Scott Gould, Partner and Vice President, IBM Global Business Services, , Public Sector , and former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, former Assistant Secretary of Commerce

• Job Henning, Director, Political and Legal Affairs, Project on National Security Reform and Senior Fellow, Center for the Study of the Presidency

• Henry H. Horton, Associate Partner leading the Information Assurance and Strategic Initiatives, IBM Global Services, Public Sector, and former Federal Special Agent in Charge of a strategic counter-espionage and counter-terrorism organization, Director of Security for an Independent Federal agency.

• Daniel B. Prieto, Partner and Vice President, IBM Global Business Services, Public Sector

Mr. Cutts will provide a substantive overview of where the DHS efforts currently stand, what remains as defined goals, and areas that should receive better focus. This session will be held at the unclassified level and is not for attribution. All comments are off the record and so, unfortunately, I will not be posting here about the roundtable.

November 12, 2008

NAO Has Satellite Data, But A “No” From Congress

Filed under: Intelligence and Info-Sharing — by Peter J. Brown on November 12, 2008

~Guest Post~

Unresolved privacy and civil liberties issues continue to prevent the DHS National Applications Office (NAO) from engaging in any of its proposed law enforcement-related satellite surveillance activity. However, the NAO continues to evolve in important ways. While the NAO, which was formally launched just over a year ago as the Department of Homeland Security’s central satellite data and imagery clearinghouse, has some funding, it still is not operational, according to DHS spokeswoman Laura Keehner.

NAO operates no spy satellites, but it is intended to facilitate the use of, access to, and requests for geospatial intelligence (GEOINT), Measurement and Signature Intelligence (MASINT), and Electronic Signals Intelligence (ELINT) from both national and commercial surveillance systems for many new and non-traditional civil agency users. Sounds good on paper, but, absent suitable transparency, firm judicial oversight, and accountability regarding methods and procedures, Congress appears neither ready nor willing to let NAO offer satellite-based surveillance data to civilian law enforcement agencies.

DHS remains optimistic. “The NAO will ensure a consistent, repeatable process for requests from these civil agencies of this information, while including required reviews for the protection of sources and methods, privacy, civil rights and civil liberties. The NAO will advocate and broker agency requirements with the appropriate intelligence community functional manager,” according to Keehner.

However, the Government Accountability Office’s “National Applications Office Certification Review,” issued on November 6, simply states that most if not all of the key concerns expressed over the past year by members of Congress and others remain unresolved.

Current funding levels for NAO are intended only to sustain it, and additional funds may become available in the next fiscal year. The failure to gain GAO certification underscores the considerable uncertainty surrounding NAO at this point. If the OK is given to NAO to initiate law enforcement support operations, NAO will probably require more staff and a larger budget.

Progress Despite Setbacks
While its law enforcement support role awaits further clarification and approval, NAO continues to evolve. Avoiding any duplication of effort with respect to satellite imagery delivery and distribution is one of NAO’s top priorities.

“As the NAO matures, appropriate linkages with key DHS offices such as OEC, as well as appropriate linkages with offices in other agencies, will be important to pursue and put in place. No specific plans exist at this time,” says Keehner. “NAO will participate with all relevant emergency response and coordination plans of its customer and provider agencies to ensure emergency services arrive to those customers in a timely manner.”

NAO’s civil support activity means, among other things, that FEMA will become a major consumer of NAO services. Regardless, NAO is now a firmly fixed entity when the need for such an entity was never clearly defined nor even discussed in great detail in the first place, at least not in the context of the disaster response or emergency management priorities or other FEMA-related performance improvements, which were identified following Hurricane Katrina.

As NAO gears up to make multiple satellite-based civil support applications available for disaster response and monitoring purposes including such things as the rapid identification of emergency ingress and egress routes etc, NAO’s support role in any large-scale natural disaster or terrorist attack may require additional updating of the National Emergency Communications Plan, the National Response Framework, and possibly the National Incident Management System, given constraints imposed by certain CBRN scenarios. For more on this, consider reading “Why the Country Needs the National Applications Office” which was written in July for the DHS online “Leadership Journal” by Charlie Allen, DHS Under Secretary for Intelligence & Analysis.

With its yet to be approved local law enforcement support operations, NAO will propel DHS directly onto the traditional turf of the Department of Justice, and how these two agencies will interact as a result remains to be seen.

Peter J. Brown, a satellite technology journalist from Maine, often addresses emergency management and disaster response issues. His commentary on the expanding role of satellites in global preparedness, surveillance, and response appears in the October 2008 issue of “Disaster Medicine & Public Health Preparedness”, a journal of the American Medical Association.

November 10, 2008

EU Identifies Homeland Security Needs for 2010-2014 Strategy

Filed under: International HLS — by Jonah Czerwinski on November 10, 2008

In January 2007, the German Minister of the Interior and the Vice President of the European Commission responsible for the Justice, Freedom, and Security portfolio proposed the creation of an informal group of policy makers at the ministerial level to consider the future of European policy in this area. The proposal was made at a meeting of the European Union’s Ministers of Interior and Immigration in Dresden. The Future Group, as it came to be called, recently issued its report entitled “Freedom, Security, Privacy – European Home Affairs in an Open World.”

The Future Group was co-chaired by the Vice President of the European Commission and the Minister of Interior of the acting Presidency. It assembled the Ministers of Interior of Germany, Portugal, Slovenia, France, Czech Republic, and Sweden, and a representative from Spain, Belgium, and Hungary, as well as the President of the LIBE Committee of the European Parliament and a representative of the Secretariat General of the EC.

The Future Group focused on homeland security-type challenges facing the EU in the period of 2010-2014. They highlighted three cross-cutting challenges as “essential to safeguard and complete the area of justice, freedom and security in the light of continuously changing framework conditions:”

• Preserving the “European model” in the area of European Home Affairs by balancing mobility, security, and privacy;
• Coping with the growing interdependence between internal and external security;
• Ensuring the best possible flow of data within European-wide information networks.

Homeland security remains principally a responsibility of individual EU Member States. However, because the EU faces multiple risks, including natural disasters and intentional disasters defined by the Future Group as “in the context of terrorist Chemical, Biological, Radio Nuclear threats,” the Future Group supports the development of a European policy to improve “consistency, better efficiency and even greater solidarity between Member States.” DHS engagement of EU nations should be informed by these proposals as they may reveal a policy direction being embraced by important counterparts across the Atlantic.

The 2005 European Union Strategy for the External Dimension of the Area of Justice, Freedom, and Security called for deeper cooperation between ministers of Home Affairs, Foreign Relations, Development, and Defense. The EU Future Group suggests that this type of coordination ought to accommodate varying strategies for engagement with other countries, namely the U.S., and with entire regions.

Specifically, the Group advocates tightening links with the EU’s strategic partners – especially the United States and Russia. By 2014 the European Union should finalize and formalize its political objective to establish a Euro-Atlantic area of cooperation in the field of freedom, security and justice with the United States, it states. Under this format, Home Affairs issues may be more closely linked with the EU’s external relations.

Other proposals of the Future Group are organized in terms of the above three issue areas. Key ideas that should be considered by U.S. homeland security leadership include the following:

• The Group recommends that the 2005 European Union Strategy be further developed into a comprehensive global approach with better use of EU Member States’ relevant competences and resources. The Group also believes that a new concept should be developed on the future of the EU’s related institutions. Specifics include improving information flow between Eurojust and Europol, and the role of the Joint Situation Centre (SitCen) should be revisited.

• Better political, technical, and operational cooperation should be reached with non-EU countries, especially those most at risk of terrorism and the EU’s major strategic partners, namely the United States and Russia. The Group suggests promoting exchanges of best practices between Member States and possibly with non-EU states concerning the legal tools for extradition/expulsion, surveillance, and measures to fight “home-grown terrorism.”

• A European counter terrorism policy should take into account the “possible threat” of terrorist attacks with nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons, suggests the EU group. It also proposes creating a platform for sharing information between the Member States’ special police units responsible for dealing with WMD scenarios.

• The first phase of the EU’s border management policy, which aimed mainly at removing internal border controls, is coming to an end. An integrated border management strategy, argues the Group, must be capable of dealing with the intensifying global movement of people, cargo, conveyances, and information. To do so, the Future Group recommends establishing integrated control of European Union borders, including a “one stop approach integrating all checks and controls carried out for different purposes.” This is not unlike our effort to create “one face at the border” through CBP.

• Efforts should be made to launch a “European Security Tool-Pool” Initiative, say the report’s authors. Such a “tool pool” would allow Member States and European Union institutions to make available tools “of proven or potential use in the security field for appraisal and or testing by authorities of other Member States and, when useful, support its mutual deployment.”

For more on ways in which the U.S. could participate in such a “tool-pool,” please see earlier writings here on establishing a version of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency under DHS that serves a similar purpose by lending, leasing, or selling technology and other competencies to nations in need of better homeland security.

Also see Matt Korade’s piece in today’s CQ Homeland Security on the special role served by the UN in countering terrorism.

Special thanks to reader Peter J. Brown for bringing this report to my attention. See his guest post here later in the week on the DHS National Applications Office.

November 7, 2008

What Awaits Dems at DHS Part II: SBInet

Filed under: Border Security,Technology for HLS — by Jonah Czerwinski on November 7, 2008

SBInet is intended to become an integrated system of personnel, infrastructure, technology, and rapid response measures to secure the northern and southern land borders of the U.S. by replacing two former programs, America’s Shield Initiative and the Integrated Surveillance Intelligence System. Both of these programs had similar goals, but were ended due to mismanagement and failure of equipment. Former Deputy Secretary Michael Jackson played a large role initiating SBInet.

DHS estimates that it will need $7.6 billion through 2011 to acquire and deploy the necessary technology and fencing along the Southwest border to carry out SBInet. The first phase of SBInet, called Project 28, is intended to demonstrate SBInet technology across a 28-mile stretch of the Arizona-Mexico border.

SBInet is managed by Boeing with subcontractors Centech Group, DRS Technologies, Kollsman, L-3 Communications Government Services Inc., L-3 Communication Systems – West, LGS, Perot Systems, Unisys Global Public Sector, and USIS.

The SBInet contract runs through September 30, 2009, with three one-year options. The cost of Project 28 is estimated at $67 million. The value of Boeing’s three-year contract to build SBInet is estimated to be between $2 billion and $8 billion. Greggory L. Giddens Mark Borkowski is the current executive director of the SBI Program Management Office at CBP.

Boeing planned to have Project 28 operational in June 2007. Problems with software and other technology led to high profile delays. With Project 28 implementation delayed until October 2007, Secretary Chertoff told a Congressional hearing that he is “not going to buy something with U.S. government money unless I’m satisfied it works in the real world.” He added, “And if it can’t be made to work, I’m prepared to go and find something that will be made to work, although I’ll obviously be disappointed.”

The system is designed to detect a “target” with radar, and then use video cameras to determine whether the radar encountered a person, vehicle, or an animal. In February 2008, the GAO reported that radar readings were too slow and were being triggered by rain and other weather-related false alarms. Moreover, camera couldn’t identify subjects beyond 3.1 miles.

Senior members of the Senate (i.e. Lieberman, Collins, Akaka, Voinovich) have expressed concerns about SBInet’s management challenges. The senators also cited an over-reliance on contractors as one of their chief concerns, raising issues about whether DHS can properly oversee the project.

So can it work? Border patrol agents began using SBInet in December 2007, and the system was officially accepted by DHS in February 2008. Boeing was awarded further contracts to upgrade software and hardware, which I believe still expects to have done by the end of 2008.

CORRECTION: Thanks to reader D.O., please note that Greg Giddens was succeeded as head of the SBI Program Office by Mark Borkowski, a retired USAF Col. who served previously as director of mission support for the U.S. border patrol. Giddens left Sept. 19 to become executive director of facilities management and engineering for CBP.

November 6, 2008

China-U.S. Cooperation in Combating Terrorism

Filed under: International HLS — by Jonah Czerwinski on November 6, 2008

While HLSwatch.com embraces a global approach to homeland security, much of our coverage is focused on the transatlantic relationship, EU, and the broader Mediterranean region. However, a recent post after my visit to Beijing highlighted the unintended consequences of China’s counterterrorism and homeland security initiatives. Following is a distillation of U.S.-China relations in this context. The Congressional Research Service issued a thoughtful briefing in September on this topic. China-U.S. relations in countering terrorism represents a balance of tensions and cooperation, and several opportunities for progress exist.

China qualified many of its initial promises of support for the U.S. in its fight against terrorism. The PRC noted its veto authority as a check at the UN Security Council and initial commentary in official Chinese media criticized U.S. intelligence failures and cited U.S. defense and foreign policies as prompting the attacks. Reported anti-U.S. reactions in the PRC’s online chat rooms after the attacks exacerbated tensions.

During the week that I recently spent in Beijing I was exposed to a range of dominant Chinese cultural themes. “There are many Chinas” is a common phrase, often invoked by first time visitors and invariably by their hosts. Our hosts, some of the leading minds in Chinese business strategy and entrepreneurism who are defining the leading edge of innovation for a globalizing Chinese economy, made this point to me often.

The Chinese government is engaged in an intense balancing act to reconcile communism and capitalism, an historically closed society with the forces of globalization, and the development of a massive workforce with wide disparities of wealth and access to education and health care. China also faces the challenge of managing the development of a job market that is transitioning from a manufacturing economy to a service economy. This latter transition is marked by rapidly moving shifts from a production-based participation in the global economy to a consumption-based participation. The PRC’s approach to combating terrorism includes similar hallmarks.

Ever the nation of contradictions, China also views itself as a victim of terrorist attacks that are blamed principally on ethnic Muslim Uighur separatists in the northwestern Xinjiang region. Consider this series of developments after 9/11 that CRS identifies:

• In a message to President Bush on September 11, PRC ruler Jiang Zemin condemned the terrorist attacks and offered condolences.

• In a phone call with the President on September 12, Jiang reportedly promised to cooperate with the United States to combat terrorism.

• At the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) on the same day, the PRC (a permanent member) voted with the others for Resolution 1368 (to combat terrorism).

• On September 20, Beijing said that it offered “unconditional support” in fighting terrorism.

• On September 20-21, visiting Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan promised cooperation, and Secretary of State Colin Powell indicated that discussions covered intelligence-sharing but not military cooperation. PRC counterterrorism experts attended a “productive” initial meeting on September 25, 2001, in Washington, DC.

• On September 28, 2001, China voted with all others in the UNSC for Resolution 1373, reaffirming the need to combat terrorism.

The 110th Congress also has engaged the debate. For example, the House passed on September 17, 2007, H.Res. 497, citing the PRC for using the fight against terrorists to increase oppression of the Uighur population. On May 22, 2008, Senator Sherrod Brown introduced a similar bill in S.Res. 574. In June 2008, Reps Delahunt and Rohrabacher called for the Uighurs held at Guantanamo to be given U.S. parole. On July 30, the House passed H.Res. 1370, calling on the PRC to stop repression of the Tibetan and Uighur peoples, and Senator Brownback introduced S.Res. 633 on the pre-Olympic clampdown.

The CRS study focuses on the following policy areas on which the U.S. and China could focus to improve bilateral cooperation:
• Law-enforcement ties
• Port security
• Oppressed Uighur populations whom China claims to be linked to “terrorists”
• Detained Uighurs at Guantanamo Bay prison
• Weapons nonproliferation
• Security for the Olympics in Beijing in August 2008
• Sanctions that ban exports of arms and security equipment
• Military-to-military contacts
• China’s influence in Central Asia through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization
• China’s arms transfers to Iran

November 3, 2008

What Awaits the Dems at DHS

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Jonah Czerwinski on November 3, 2008

Greetings from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Tomorrow is election day. Immediately afterward, DHS will begin its first presidential transition. In all likelihood, Barack Obama and Joe Biden will win, ushering in for the first time a DHS leadership comprised mainly by Democrats. For a government agency populated by more political appointees than any other agency, this is big news for our newest federal department. Granted, an Obama administration would likely replace a sizeable number of political slots with career professionals, but new leadership at DHS will result in significant change. But what kind of change?

Today, UPI ran a story entertaining a few possibilities. Interviewing Clark Ervin, former Inspector General of DHS, the story posed four worthwhile questions:

1. How, if at all, would a Democrat-led DHS affect the average citizen?
2. What would be the three major differences between a Bush-run DHS and an Obama-run DHS?
3. What would be the biggest DHS-related challenges facing Obama?
4. If you were Obama, what would you do with the DHS upon entering the White House?

Clark, a Republican who leads Aspen Institute’s Homeland Security Programs, suggests that the average citizen can look forward to a DHS that is more focused “on protecting civil rights/civil liberties, including privacy.” He also cited the likelihood that we can expect private industry to do more to secure themselves and their interdependent critical infrastructure. And, invoking his IG perspective, he hopes an Obama administration would focus “more than this administration has on making programs and operations work.”

In my opinion, specific programs that need to work better include the following:
• SBInet
• DHS International Programs
• Homeland Security Information Network
• Western Hemisphere Traveler Initiative
• DHS Cyber Initiatives
• Secure Freight Initiative

These programs alone account for more than $3 billion in the Department’s program budget and include direct involvement of the following DHS components:
• National Cyber Security Center
• Coast Guard
• I&A
• Operations
• Policy

2008 is becoming another year without an attack on the homeland since 9/11, but other factors overshadow this homeland security success. DHS’s core mission areas remain “high risk.” It was ranked at the bottom of OPM’s list of desirable places to work in the federal government. And DHS is the subject of 157 GAO reports just this year. Each of the programs above have found their ways into the GAO’s crosshairs.

The new DHS leadership team will be challenged to right these programs. If time permits, HLSwatch.com will dedicate a series of posts about what challenges face each program along with highlights of the best solutions. In the meantime, get out there and vote!

November 1, 2008

U.S.-EU Strike Accord on Air Cargo Screening

Filed under: Aviation Security,International HLS — by Jonah Czerwinski on November 1, 2008

There are about 300 flights a day to the U.S. that originate from the 27 EU countries. How the cargo on those planes is screened has been an issue over which the U.S. and EU have negotiated for years. DHS wants our European counterparts to apply the same security standards we do on flights from the U.S. across the Atlantic. With a little help from a Congressional deadline, the European Commission and TSA struck an agreement yesterday to apply U.S. standards for air cargo screening for half of the cargo on U.S.-bound passenger flights by February 2009 and all cargo on all flights by 2010.

The agreement, signed on the 30th by TSA chief Kip Hawley and Zoltan Kazatsay, Deputy DG for Energy and Transport at the European Commission, meets a Congressionally mandated deadline under the 9/11 Commission Act to require screening of 100 percent of cargo on passenger planes by August 2010. Kudos to TSA and the DHS Policy shop for successfully concluding this effort.

Under the agreement, the EU and the U.S. will use the same screening equipment, provide the same training to screeners and impose the same security requirements for the facilities where the cargo is screened. Currently, 95 percent of flights within the U.S. and departing from the U.S. undergo cargo screening.