Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

January 21, 2009

Day One Begins

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Jonah Czerwinski on January 21, 2009

What a day. I felt honored to attend yesterday’s swearing-in ceremony (and we enjoyed the Ball!). While I was fortunate to have attended the 2000 and 2004 ceremonies, needless to say yesterday’s was a powerful moment of progress in our country.

But this is a blog about homeland security. Readers may recall a series of posts here analyzing the homeland security positions of the presidential candidates in which I reviewed the tenets of then-Senator Obama’s platform. It included a broad set of goals to combat terrorist threats and keep Americans safer at home, including resilience, nonproliferation, public diplomacy, and information sharing.

Among our sources for that post was the campaign material and then the PTT site. The Transition site is now closed and the new Administration has begun use of whitehouse.gov. This includes a section on homeland security, which is noteworthy for how little has changed since the campaign.

Most campaigns make a lot of promises before being ratcheted back once governing begins. Today is day one. Much could change, but today we now have a new Homeland Security Secretary in Janet Napolitano. (The Senate confirmed her by voice vote yesterday.) And she has a strategic vision outlined by the president that is not much different from that which candidate Obama set forth.

You can review the Homeland Security agenda here.

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1 Comment »

Comment by William R. Cumming

January 21, 2009 @ 11:47 am

Will be interesting to see if the new Secretary’s drive for a unified vision for DHS stresses law enforcement and prevention, mitigation and recovery, specialized agencies with express statutory charters such as Secret Service, and Coast Guard, or the most important of all DOMESTIC CRISIS MANAGEMENT for large-scale domestic emergencies. At the moment in my judgement the silence is oppressive and virtually nothing significant learned from the Secretary’s confirmation hearings. Let’s just see what week by week and month by month progress is made on the unified mission. Personally, I think Secretary Chertoff’s greatest accomplishment was almost getting passage of Immigration Reform which was killed by the Republicans. Perhaps Senator McCain will pick up the torch. The rest of the time since March 1, 2003 when DHS was formed was largely reactive to events, oversupplying DHS with political appointees, and really never coming to grips with the basics. But hey could be wrong. Certainly a new FEMA will only be known if and when there is a wide-scale domestic disaster with mulitple geographic impacts. By the way while I view Katrina as a natural disaster in Alabama and Mississippi, I view Katrina as largely a wide scale man-made or enhanced greatly by human action events. Time will tell on DHS’s evolution. Also will the DEMS conduct the “Ferocious” oversight that the Republicans did while in the majority before 2006? Have not seen any substantive accomplishments through oversight by the DEMS yet even though in Majority in both Houses. Perhaps DHS could publish a comprehensive version of all the Executive Orders, HSPD’s, statutes and other mandates that it thinks it has responsiblity and authority for. But hey knowing what the legal mandates are never stopped the Republicans. Real question is of interest is what OLC/DOJ rulings were issued that impacted DHS in the period after its creation (or even before)? Did the GC of DHS ever request OLC advice? That might be an interesting transition document!

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