Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

June 20, 2010

Another small voice in a chorus of complaints

Filed under: Organizational Issues,Privacy and Security — by Philip J. Palin on June 20, 2010

Secretary Napolitano gave a speech on Friday.   According to Lolita Baldor with the Associated Press,

As terrorists increasingly recruit U.S. citizens, the government needs to constantly balance Americans’ civil rights and privacy with the need to keep people safe, said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

But finding that balance has become more complex as homegrown terrorists have used the Internet to reach out to extremists abroad for inspiration and training. Those contacts have spurred a recent rash of U.S.-based terror plots and incidents.

“The First Amendment protects radical opinions, but we need the legal tools to do things like monitor the recruitment of terrorists via the Internet,” Napolitano told a gathering of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy.

The organization hosting the speech provides access to an audio and video recording of the Secretary’s remarks.  Thank you.

I have been unable to find a transcript of the speech.  April 19 is the last time a speech by the Secretary was uploaded to the DHS “speeches and statements” screen.    The most recent post to the Blog@DHS is ten days old.  There has not been a general press release since June 15.   

As some of you have complained, I hate to complain.  I suppose many staff have been redeployed to support public communications in the Gulf.  But unlike that wonderful Washington figure Chance “I like to watch” Gardner, I much prefer to read. It takes less time and allows for more detailed consideration of what is offered.

Friday, on another topic, I argued for the importance of listening.  When the Secretary of Homeland Security speaks on the topic of balancing security and liberty both she and we should exercise particular care.  I could be more careful in listening if I could read what she said.

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Comment by William R. Cumming

June 20, 2010 @ 7:05 am

Well remember the DHS Leadership blog? Basically all the Web 2.0 stuff out of DHS was largely fire and forget. That said perhaps they can get back on track. Note how the DHS Secretary is not really in the chain of command from the President leading to Admiral Allan in the Gulf oil spill. True he is on-scene commander (OSC) under the NCP [National Contingency Plan] but perhaps its ok with this WH to go directly the persons and organizations designated for technical response. What we do now know from “confessions” of others in the WH under George W. Bush is that the relief of Michael Brown came down to him or Secretary Chertoff [who had been in office for almost 9 months but never read the NRP] issued final final in April 2005 when Katrina hit in late August 2005.
What is interesting is that the largely militarized Coast Guard with its command and control system seems to be the WH preference. All these Presidents without miitary service sure seem fascinated by that approach to a crisis.

So here goes! Admiral Allan’s time in the saddle will soon be done just as Tony Hayward. This largest environmental contamination caused by man in world history will soon if not already be long beyond the capacity of the Admiral and the NCP.

Okay let’s wipe the slate clean as of today and indicate now what should be done by the WH and the Administration and even BP before its finanical collapse or takeover.

First, the worst case analysis should be presented to the American public and the Gulf STATES governors. No more discussion of an unknown spill rate daily let’s have the worst case analysis. Hey for starters Mr. President look to Winston Churchill’s speech to Parliament after the fall of FRANCE and DUNKIRK. Perhaps real leadership is not in you capabiity but you can see in writing when it was in evidence. Get better speech writers by the way.

Second: Stop running a public affairs operations and start running an Emergency Public Information program including rumor control.

Third: Convene all the Governor’s of the Gulf States in Washington in a meeting open to the public and press just as President Clinton did with the upper Mid-west floods in spring and summer 1993. Hey Clinton had twelve weeks notice of that event but soon you will be crossing that line in the BP spill.

Fourth: Get the $20 B in hand and release to the public all documents signed by your administration relating to that “agreement”! Hoping there is a vote of BP Board of Directors agreeing to it because all else may not be worth much.

FIFTH: Declare an Emergency under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act [42 USC 5121 and following].

SIXTH: Tell AG HOLDER that he needs to do better with BP than he has done so far with the collapse of the financial sector in holding people accountable. Hey if BP is too big to fail, how about starting with Cameron, Inc. that built the defective flow shut off equipment. Anyhow lets try and get as much money as we can since until all ENRON executive appeals are decided we really don’t know if corporate fraud statutes are enforceable. One of those cases involves the defense that the lawyers signed off. And in the meantime submit a Professional Conduct draft bill to Congress for all lawyers in the 901 series and those supervising them getting a federal paycheck. Admission to a state bar may be one primary requirement but expect the largely captured state bars to sanction federal attorneys for their misdeeds is too much to ask them. And perhaps a General Counsel Act also. What have the DHS General Counsel, Coast Guard Chief Counsel, FEMA Chief Counsel, EPA General Counsel, and OLC of DOJ put in writing so far on this large scale event? And can that be made public? Transparency? Let’s apply that to the Lawyers!

SEVENTH: Tell the SEC you want finetooth combing of all filings by firms involved in the Oil Spill and appropriate fines and sanctions if not complete or in compliance with law.

EIGHTH: Have the Chief Counsel of IRS and Treasury get together a package and make it public on the Tax implications of the spill for all involved and even citizens. Perhaps the casualty loss provisions of the IRC should be modified for this huge event in US and world history. Especially for victims.

NINTH: Let’s not let Ken Feinberg hold and empty bag. Let him have a couple of billion to start his effort to compensate victims.

TEN: GET the NSC to do a PRESIDENTIAL REVIEW MEMORANDUM to be made public covering the International, Military, and Domestic implications of this event as they impact NATIONAL SECURITY, and this would include analysis of whether BP should be considered a strategic asset by the US and dealt with in some fashion like CIFIUS to determine the National Security Impacts of a buyout offer from whomever.

ELEVENTH: Get the Chairman of the FED to give you his views on econonmic impacts of worst case evaluation of this event and what he intends to do about it. Make that public so WALL STREET and other countries can evaluate it.

TWELVE: Name the VP JOE BIDEN as Crisis Manager and principal for this event and if he is not up to that he is not up to taking over if you die. Get a replacement if he is not up to it.

Of course I can count to 100 but this should be a good start and can all be started or accomplished by the 4th of JULY when everyone in US should fly oil-soaked flags.

Comment by William R. Cumming

June 20, 2010 @ 7:11 am

Oh did I mention in this blog before [thinking I have several times] that the really really tough job given DHS from its inception was the whole issue of domestic intelligenc and balancing the tradeoffs of civil liberties and privacy against those national security needs?

How about a PRESS RELEASE from DHS indicating by Fiscal Year how the OFFICE OF PRIVACY has been staffed meaning FTE and occupants and of course the always essential funding. And of course the same for all Fiscal Years for DHS since inception for its DOMESTIC INTEL OPS and how that has been staffed and funded and what written opinions or guidance have been issued relating to that function.

Yes Congress I know you are up for re-election (all the HOUSE and 1/3 of SENATE) but you could at least write DHS a letter requesting the same!

Comment by William R. Cumming

June 20, 2010 @ 8:36 am

Reuters reporting this AM that BP trying to raise $50 B by various means to cover spill costs.

Comment by John Comiskey

June 20, 2010 @ 3:31 pm

I have no doubt that jihadists will attempt further terrorist attacks. Some will succeed. That is war. But I also have no doubt that these attacks will not defeat this republic or destroy its values without our active complicity, as long as we do not yield to terror.

Michael Brian Jenkins -Testimony to House Homeland Security Committee, May 26, 2010

Jenkins identified a determined, resilient, and opportunistic foe.

It seems as though “Resiliency: The Grand Strategy”is required reading for AQ et al.

Sec. Napolitano is talking about balancing Americans’ civil rights and privacy with the need to keep people safe. That is a good thing. In 2009 DHS released two reports on right and left wing terrorism and was criticized for doing so and especially in the case of the former report. To my mind, the reports were not much of a stretch -they spoke to a minority of veterans that could be radicalized and did not impugn all veterans (by the way, I am a veteran).

Sec. Napolitano distanced herself from the report. It is hard to question her leadership or criticize her actions in this instance. The role of DHS’ Intelligence & Analysis (I &A)is “fudgy” at best. The Intelligence Community and the FBI, with the tacit approval of the WH, relegated I & A to a kid brother position.

In 2007 the NYPD released Radicalization In the West. The report identified a process that modeled Islamic fundamentalist radicalization. The report was criticized for hardball analysis. The NYPD rereleased the report with a statement of clarification that asserted that the vast majority of Muslims were essentially good people and that a small minority of fundamentalists had distorted and hijacked Islam. Otherwise, the report stood as is.

The 9/11 Commission and myriad government strategies call for the P and I words: PREVENTION and INTELLIGENCE.

Neither occurs in the abstract. In many cases they call for a reevaluation to the Social Contract. In the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, homeland security practitioners:

•Are allowed look in places that they might not have looked before;
•Ask questions that they might not have asked before;
•Record things that they didn’t record before;
•Do “other” things that they might not have done before.

Sec. Napolitano asked for the tools necessary to defend the homeland. She is right; doing so is complex. It need not be so. The Patriot Act, Homeland Security Act, Intelligence Reform and Prevention Act of 2004, the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act, and other legislation provide many of those tools.

What we need is leadership and the fortitude to respectively govern the governed within the guidelines.

I’m glad your listening and reading (or in this case the want of reading). I get the impression that most people are watching (TV)and do not understand the real threat of homegrown terrorism -it is real.

Happy Fathers Day

Comment by Online Drugs

June 21, 2010 @ 6:19 am

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