Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

January 30, 2010

Quadrennial Homeland Security Review: Update

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on January 30, 2010

Going over my notes from last week’s House hearing on the Flight 253 event, I recalled Deputy DHS Secretary Jane Holl Lute saying DHS was finished with the QHSR, and that it was at the White House for coordination.

I believe next week the Homeland Security Advisory Council is meeting.  Perhaps they will be briefed on the Review.

And eventually so will Congress and regular people.

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Comment by William R. Cumming

January 31, 2010 @ 1:23 pm

The report is required by statute so hopefully will be transmitted to Congress and Congress will conduct hearings.

Apparently, and interestingly to me, except for a FEMA/USAID MOA (Memorandum of Agreement) on SAR, there is no formal relationship between DHS or its components and USAID or the OFDA (Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance)! Such an agreement was once in effect signed by FEMA in 1986 and OFDA. Too bad probably not renewed when FEMA abolished efective March 1, 2003 by the Homeland Security Act of 2002. Or a new agreement signed when FEMA recreated by the PKEMA statute on March 31, 2007.

Haiti looking more and more like a domestic US disaster. Cubans and Chinese watching US failures with great interest and probably to propagandize their interests to those in Western Hemisphere who might be subject to catastrophic natural events. That is most of the Western Hemisphere other than CANADA and of course I include US.

Comment by Claire B. Rubin

January 31, 2010 @ 1:56 pm

When I last saw some of the draft materials, the case was made for focusing on resilience.
I hope that element is still in there, because the Haiti disaster is an compelling example of no resilience.

Comment by Mark Chubb

January 31, 2010 @ 5:12 pm

I am always reluctant to speak in absolutes. As such, I am not sure whether I would characterize Haiti as an example of “no resilience.” That said, the devastation and disruption lack any clear precedent that I can recall.

One of the most conventional models for resilience (University of Buffalo MCEER for instance) characterizes it along four dimensions: robustness, redundancy, resourcefulness, and rapidity. Others replace the last category with redesign or re-engineering. Each of these categories finds expression across the social, economic, physical/technical, and political/governance domains.

The reports coming from PaP seem to suggest the limits of Haitian robustness were exceeded in all or most domains. The dependence on international assistance for even the most basic functions and the absence of clear leadership from the Haitian government seem to suggest little redundancy or resourcefulness. As such, the speed with which the response and recovery will progress depends a great deal on the degree of redesign or re-engineering the society can tolerate as it invests in measures to reduce vulnerability to such threats in future.

It has been my experience that the most vulnerable in society are often the most accepting of the need for change, and adapt to it rather more readily than others with more resources or options given the need and opportunity. Of course, the degree of change they can affect in their own or others’ lives is severely resource constrained.

With adequate guidance and appropriate resource investments, Haitians may well do better than most at rebuilding their country and society. That, in my mind, wil be the true measure of their resilience. Whether we will let them own that process remains to be seen.

Comment by William R. Cumming

January 31, 2010 @ 7:47 pm

Perhaps the earthquake peril and understanding of it is well known but given what we now know I find it of great interest that no seismometers or earth motion sensors have been installed in Central or South America or the Caribbean basin. Clearly NOW not later there needs to be such placement.

To the degree that Mother Nature, religion, outside interferance, and other factors have impacted Haiti all to late to modify now. We are faced with a continuing medical emergency, feeding emergency, sheltering emergency, and governance emergency of 10 million survivors of the earthquake only 700 miles from the US. If in fact there may be up to 1.5 million people of Haitian “ethnicity” in the US even partial, this is one that may end up haunting US for a long time. IMO the administration is treating this disaster with its large-scale human impacts as if it can be surmounted and “won” with the “usual suspects” and methods being employed. No way and others will soon be documenting the following and erroneous judgement underlying this approach. The earthquake killed many but the poorly run and organized response will kill more IMO. And sooner rather than later.

It is my understanding that up to 13,000 American citizens were evacuated so far. Were they all uninjured? What do we learn from them about conditions? Are they being debriefed on any organized basis? Interviewed as to what they know about those who have not been evacuated and missing? Have they been furnished lists of those evacuated to compare against their knowledge of friends and colleagues or family that were in Haiti at the time of the earthquake? Just like a large scale INTEL op every scraped of info coming out from Haiti from the MSM and those who are responding should be carefully analyzed for clues? If Florida and other SE US states are not operating 24/7 studying what info comes out of Haiti, and FEMA and other agencies potentially involved they need to do so now. Also make lists of contacts of those with knowledge and skills that might assist the Haitians in the short and long run. These are basics. And is AID in charge? The US military? This should be considered a domestic disaster because if not technically NOW it will be soon.

Comment by Arnold Bogis

February 2, 2010 @ 12:15 pm

According to today’s Washington Post, the QHSR has been delivered to Congress.

So when do the rest of us get a peak?

Comment by Michael Klingle

February 2, 2010 @ 1:51 pm

The QHSR is now available through the House Homeland Security Committee website. Here is the link

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