Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

July 15, 2009

Summer reruns: HSAS and counterterrorism reform

Filed under: DHS News,Legal Issues,Terrorist Threats & Attacks — by Philip J. Palin on July 15, 2009

Tonight  and tomorrow I have  meetings near a beautiful mid-Atlantic beach.  This morning I am heading down early to walk  the sand and, if the waves permit, ride some crests.  So two reruns:

Yesterday Napolitano announced a 60-day review of the Homeland Security Advisory System (HSAS). A task force will assess the effectiveness of the system for informing the public about terrorist threats and communicating protective measures within government and throughout the private sector.  A complete announcement and some helpful background is available from the Department of Homeland Security website.

Back in November and December I was invited to review and make recommendations regarding the twenty-four Homeland Security Presidential Directives signed by President Bush. I suggested that six be affirmed and adapted.   Here’s what I offered regarding the HSAS.

HSPD–3: Homeland Security Advisory System

Delegate for review outside the White House and Revise. This is a notorious system that undermines public confidence in Homeland Security. But sudden abrogation would complicate several current procedures for jurisdictional alert and response.

Delegation for review and revision outside the White House was my most common recommendation for most of the HSPDs.

Many are surprised to see President Obama “continuing” several Bush administration anti-terrorism polices.  Examples include extraordinary rendition, the use of military tribunals, preserving state secrets, and other policies and tactics.

This administration’s unfolding approach certainly deserves close-attention (power corrupts and so on…),  but so far I perceive a careful reforming (and occasional rejection) of Bush policies rather than simple continuation.  Obama is as tough a counter-terrorist as Bush or Cheney, but much more attuned to being publicly explicit regarding rationale, legal process, and desired outcomes.

In this — coincidentally or not — I see the administration carrying out what Philip Bobbit recommended in his Spring 2008 tome, Terror and Consent: The Wars for the 21st Century.  In a review published last year by the Homeland Security Affairs Journal, I wrote and quoted as follows:

Bobbitt’s mitigation goes far beyond resilient design of critical infrastructure; it is focused on resilient design of our constitutional order. He argues for vigorous – some will say Draconian – measures of prevention, preparedness, and mitigation. But unlike so many making similar arguments he insists these measures must emerge from thoughtful, transparent, and principled legislation, executive enforcement, and judicial review. We must behave wisely and consistently as a state of consent or – without ever intending so – we are likely to end up living in a state of terror.

“The states of consent must develop rules that define what terrorism is, who is a terrorist, and what states can lawfully do to fight terrorists and terrorism. Unless we do this, we will bring our alliances to ruin as we appear to rampage around the world, declaring our enemies to be terrorists and ourselves to be above the law in retaliating against them. We will become, in the eyes of others, the supreme rogue states and will have no basis on which to justify our actions other than the simple assertion of our power. At the same time, we must preserve our open society by careful appreciation of the threat that terror poses to it and not by trying to minimize that reality or to appease the sensibilities of people who would wish it away… We must do this because an open society depends upon a government strong enough and foresighted enough to protect individual rights. If we fail to develop these legal standards, we will find we are progressively militarizing the domestic environment without having quite realized that we are at war. And, when a savage mass strike against us does come, we will react in a fury that ultimately does damage to our self-respect, our ideals, and our institutions (p. 394).”

I will not be thinking about either of these — or other — important issues as I paddle in place watching for the perfect wave.

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Comment by William R. Cumming

July 15, 2009 @ 8:55 am

Enjoy the beach and several skin problems means my beach days are over, but not nights.

Hey glad you mentioned HSPD-3 review. Notice title of doc! Homeland Security Advisory System! Well one reform would be advice to whom and for what? The evolution research for the highly technical fields of
prediction, warning, alerting, notification, call-up/mobilization in crisis management/disasters has really come a long way in last 30 years. Each has its own discipline and purposes. Notice that the former Emergency Broadcast System is now called the Emergency Alerting System (EAS) and a recent CRS report provided an excellend up dated summary. Sent copy to Phil for posting or just go to OPEN CRS! Anyhow instead of fumbling their way through it let’s hope DHS brings in some of the research community and experts. One I would highly recommend is Prof. Dennis Mileti, PhD who has spent much of his career on warning issues and their communication to responders and the public.

Your review of Bobbit book (which I have not read) seems right on! Some analysts think that our political system will not survive the witch hunt or public outrage following a NUDET in a major city. Who knows? But it is a cinch that might actually occur and just as Nature does not grant variances that should be something thought through. A day long seminar in Philadelphia several years ago collected various thinkers on the problems caused by such an event. I believe some in attendance now part of the Administration. But it is a cinch that situation needs full-scale plans and preparedness and sound logistics, and medical input. Based on all information available I would argue that we are not anywhere near prepared for such an event and the legal profession also needs to think through the challenges that might be faced. And while I am at it does demonstrate the total fultility despite honorable intentions of the former Civil Defense program in the face of MAD and execution of a full SIOP by SU! Despite that fultility the fact that much natural disaster research was sponsored and certain other efforts means that the nation did learn something from that effort. Still interesting how many in public confuse nuclear power with bombs but also true even the experts did not realize that transferrance of nuclear power expertise to other nations could cause weapons proliferation. Some tough choices ahead.

Comment by Jim Garrow

July 15, 2009 @ 10:43 am

Thanks for the rec and review on the Bobbit book. I look forward to reading it.


Comment by christopher tingus

July 16, 2009 @ 5:27 am

As a nation we have been seemingly persistent in clarity in respecting our democratic course of the Republic, resilient and willing to work collaborate in assuring the integral unity and strength as a people.

Unfortunately, today, as an ever-growing bureaucracy, we are not better prepared than yesterday as the bureaucracy and the politicizing will not allow. We are at peril!

I truly wonder whether we have lost our spirit, a people who fled oppression, taxes and fees to give priority to a better Life before God’s eyes as witness and to care for one another.

The rage seemingly pervaded in so, so many today, the selfishness of those “entrusted” to serve in public service is so disheartening. Even those of us on the street aka Mr. & Mrs. Citizen Joe are distrustful of most that is said from the pulpits of the State and National government.

We have a government which has lost sight of the fact that it is the servent of the people, not the master as those involved perceive themselves i.e, Pelosi-Frank! Spending at a whim! Printing of “fiat” dollars only to lead to inflation and inflation….

We need preparedness.

Our way of Life is contrary to those who seek our demise. Let us not grow weary and lose sight of the evil ways of those who seek our demise. Both from within and to yonder, the world is pervaded with corruption.

This taxation of the people is leading to much unrest and while we see gun and ammunition sales skyrocket, the anxiousness of folks is very apparent. We as a nation are becoming impoverished. We are quickly becoming a third world country and this we must stand tall or soon it will be too late. The clock is ticking.

As all has seemingly evolved to the contrary of Life as we expected here in good ‘ol USA, preparedness and all else must come from the bottom up for it has become apparent that government has become and is becoming much too big, failing its master – We the people! People are becoming enlightened and though often dysfunctional, there is outrage on the street and we demand leadership that will help prepare is in the case of inevitable calamity as well as just having appropriate 911 response as we make a call in desperation seeking help as communities lose their ability to serve the majority interests of the community because of a growing deficit only stimulated by the present administration in a few short days.

A few short days where you Mr. President has already travelled the world twice and we are no better for it. Nothing has truly changed in AfPak, nothing in Israel, nothing in Agrica, nothing in the training camps who profess the demise of America.

We are rushed to pass a stimulus package and we have yet to see a quarter of the funds distributed when Pelosi and Frank told us the importance of getting these monies into the mainstream. Now we are rushed to pass a healthcare reform bill with very little diligent understanding of the ramifications of…we must pass it.

Why? Is it so that we must pass it before any further debate evolves so that we must praise the Kennedy icon before his passing to continue the incestuous ways of Congress patting each other on the back, affording each other accolades after accolades as the ship sinks…and let no one believe other for it is not the Grandschildren and their kids we worry about as the good ‘ol beltway boys talk about, it is we who are worried today as taxes and taxes, fees and fees, inflation and inflation, imporverishment today whic is affecting so, so many with nearly 20% unemployed and despite the rhetoric, promise of much more certain anguish as a result of this lack of diligent commitment to public service in the self-serving agenda of local, state and national government.

Enjoy the warmth of the sun as the sun spot activity wanes a bit during this period, however from your astute perception as shared in your writings, there is much to do with little time. Unity and organization are prerequisite to whether we will in fact survive for we are being besieged from cyber attack as well as within from themany dusfunctional folks at all levels of government and if we are being threatened from within here on Main Street USA, well God Bless the other countries and God’s children who like the beloved – Nada – are at the whim of the dastardly deeds of those who think they sit above mankind for they, too will learn humilty through repentance or they will fail most assuredly, however far too many souls will unfortunately be compromised.

Let’s truly prepare. Our government on both sides of the aisle are on the wrong course in many ways. Wiht the clock ticking, it is We the people that can make a difference, each and every one of us.

It would be very good to see numerous others expressing their opinions in this most important HLSwatch.

God Bless America!

Christopher Tingus
Harwich, MA USA 02645

Comment by Sylvia Leverson

August 6, 2010 @ 1:30 am

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Comment by Lettie Vitale

January 9, 2011 @ 3:09 pm

Nice idea. Thanks for sharing, bro.

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