In May, 1897, reporters gathered clues that suggested Mark Twain was dead. But Twain lived another 13 years, time enough to write “[T]he report of my death was an exaggeration.”
In September, 1969, disc jockeys and other people collected (and manufactured) evidence proving Paul McCartney was dead.
Paul’s not dead, of course. Apparently he’s still touring, and in fact is scheduled to appear in Phoenix, Arizona’s techno-euphonically named “Jobing.com Arena” on Sunday, March 28th. Front row seating packages are available for $2,500 if you require absolute proof that Paul is not dead.
But I digress.
Following in the footsteps of those who tried to push Mark Twain and Paul McCartney to an early grave, I’d like to give six reasons for suggesting the National Strategy for Homeland Security is dead.
Clue number one: In her February 5, 2010 post titled “QHSR: We have a strategy, what now?”, Jessica wrote:
When Congress passed the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, it required the Department of Homeland Security to prepare a Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (QHSR) to assess the status of our nation’s homeland security efforts and to “delineate and update, as appropriate, the national security strategy….”
One could reasonably infer — as many people I’ve spoken with have done — that the QHSR is the ontological equivalent of a National Strategy. The 3.0 upgrade — as it were — of the two homeland security strategies that came before it.
But unlike the other two documents (the National Strategies of 2002 and of 2007), the QHSR does not refer to itself as a National Strategy for Homeland Security. Instead, it describes itself as a “strategic document” and a “strategic framework.”
“A Strategic Framework for a Secure Homeland” says the cover of the QHSR.
Is there a difference that makes a difference between a national strategy and a strategic document or strategic framework?
I’m not sure. But I do know that thinking about that question makes my brain hurt.
I will take the semantic uncertainty as one clue supporting the death hypothesis: the QHSR could have been called the new National Strategy for Homeland Security. But it was not.
A second clue: I asked the DHS press office if the QHSR was basically the same as the national strategy. I did not expect to get a response to that somewhat pedantic question from an office I know is probably understaffed and overworked. My expectations were met. And I get to create more “suggestive” support for the death hypothesis.
In keeping with the way rumors are created and spread, I heard from a friend in a position to know who was told by someone on the National Security Staff that for all intents, the QHSR is “the defacto national homeland security strategy.”
For my purposes, that’s even better than saying it is or is not the formal National Strategy. Ambiguity is the fertilizer that gives life to rumor. And to a third clue.
Clue number 4: in Presidential Study Directive 1, the president writes
“I believe that Homeland Security is indistinguishable from National Security — conceptually and functionally, they should be thought of together rather than separately. Instead of separating these issues, we must create an integrated, effective, and efficient approach to enhance the national security of the United States.” [my emphasis]
That Study Directive led to the eventual integration of the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council staffs into the National Security Staff (NSS). Could this be the institutional equivalent of the filial cannibalism practiced by wolf spiders?
(Probably not, but I had a bet with a colleague about being able to work cannibalism into a paragraph about homeland security.)
However, I do hear mixed reports about how that merger is going. CQ Homeland Security (on February 3rd, subscription required), for example, reports some unknown person believes “the merger steers counterterrorism into ‘a mire of bureaucratic and administrative infighting.’” Ah yes — bureaucratic and administrative infighting, unlike the good old days. Sadly those rumors must be saved for another day.
But I digress again. What else on the death hypothesis?
Well, there’s a February 23, 2010 memo descriptively titled “FEMA Administrator’s Intent for Building the FY 2012-2016 Future Year Homeland Security Program (FYHSP).”
That document is intriguing to me for several reasons. For one, it redefines the QHSR’s barely one month old vision for homeland security.
The QHSR says:
“The vision of homeland security is to ensure a homeland that is safe, secure, and resilient against terrorism and other hazards where American interests, aspirations, and way of life can thrive.”
The FEMA memo says the homeland security vision is:
“A safe, secure, and resilient homeland where American interests, aspirations, and way of life can thrive.”
I think the FEMA variation is more memorable and more grammatically cohesive than the QHSR version. But if something as basic as the homeland security vision statement is being changed (improved?) by a component agency, could that be Clue 5?
The most interesting part of the FEMA document with regard to the death hypothesis is in the Overview and Context part of the memo. It is there one find these words:
“The capstone document for FEMA’s planning efforts is the National Security Strategy.”
How come the capstone document for FEMA’s planning is not the National Homeland Security Strategy, or at least the QHSR?
The sound I think I’m hearing is Nail number 6.
Where is the new and improved National Security Strategy, the one that will integrate homeland security, counter-terrorism, national security and who knows what else?
The FEMA memo says the new national security strategy is in the drafting phase. I was told it was due in November, but since the world has changed so often since November, the strategy keeps getting pulled back into the White House to be modified and sent back out into the interagency world for comment and coordination.
“I’m troubled by that,” says a friend who works with Congress. “It suggests that events are directing strategy, rather than strategy directing events.”
Not that it matters, but the delay doesn’t bother me. There are almost 50 national security/homeland security related strategies. Integrating them will take awhile.
As Dan O’Connor wrote in Tuesday’s post, “paperwork and bureaucracy are not what stop bad people from doing bad things.”
I think strategic leadership — the people guiding the evolving construction that is homeland security — matters more than strategy — the paper. But I acknowledge there are other views about this.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote “Only when a tree has fallen can you take the measure of it.”
I think the same thing can be said about the National Strategy for Homeland Security.
I liked the National Strategy for Homeland Security. I will miss it.
But life consumes the dead. Homeland security keeps evolving.
If the National Strategy for Homeland Security is dead, long live the National Security Strategy.
Update: The original version of this post incorrectly stated the first National Homeland Security Strategy was published in 2003. The date of course should have been July 2002. The Strategy’s not even dead yet, and I can’t remember its birthday. Thanks to the hypnomogiacally aware Bill Cumming for keeping me honest.