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.