Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

July 1, 2010

Theory to practice 234 years later

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on July 1, 2010

What does it mean to be a “homeland security professional” ?  What does such a person or community presume to profess? 

Traditionally a “profession” is a self-defined community of individuals claiming  common cause to pursue some practice for the common good.

How many of us might share in professing the following?

I resolve to fulfill according to my ability and judgment this public commitment:

I will preserve and protect the Constitution of the United States of America.

I will apply all that I know to preserve and protect the people of the United States; I will keep them from harm and injustice.

I will increase my knowledge of threat, vulnerability, and consequence; seeking to deal responsibly and realistically with risk.

I will increase my knowledge of collaboration, deliberation, decision, and action; seeking to prevent harm and strengthen resilience.

I will honor the relationships that emerge from shared learning and doing.

I will embrace change and variability as susceptible to understanding, imagination, and creativity.

I will avoid mistaking personal preference for considered judgment and will daily endeavor to strengthen the humility, knowledge, awareness, and discipline whereby I may contribute, along with others, to a true and reasoned capacity to act with regard to what is good or bad for humankind.

Mean anything to you?  Just words?

Do these words begin to suggest a sense of what is shared when federal, state, and local governments, the private sector, firefighters, law enforcement, intelligence, emergency management, public health, computer and telecommunications, food production, transportation and distribution, public and private utilities and so many more  begin to think and work together to advance this vaguely supposed end-state called homeland security?

There are a hundred and more hard problems facing homeland security.  Most of these problems do not have anything like a clear right or wrong answer.  There are a hundred and more extraordinary opportunities in homeland security.  The best opportunities are seldom claimed by accident.

If there is a such a thing as homeland security, what is its attractor of meaning?  Around what does our complex system self-organize?  Can there be a homeland security profession?  If so what would be its core characteristics, its sources of integrity, its coherent expression?

On this day in 1776 the Continental Congress began debate on the Declaration of Independence . With these words the Congress sought to articulate how a free people might go about forming a new nation, “laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”  Two-hundred thirty-four years later homeland security continues this effort.  How are we doing?


The homeland security public commitment is duplicated from a previous piece I wrote for Homeland Security Affairs Journal.  Regular readers will not be surprised that several phrases refer to and depend upon various source texts.

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Comment by William R. Cumming

July 1, 2010 @ 3:19 pm

If the Homeland Security paradigm is ever changed to “civil security” perhaps there would more clarity as to the line drawing between law enforcement and military force as a concept! As it is the rivalry sparked by the advent of a FEMA Director in days of its independence between DOJ and FEMA and DOD and FEMA might have laid a more correct foundation for the future. As the post states the HOMELAND SECURITY terminology is beset with conflict in mission and goals with other existing organizations that fought the good fight against terrorism long before 9/11/2001!

Comment by John Comiskey

July 2, 2010 @ 4:21 am

And we are now men, and must accept in the highest mind the same transcendent destiny; and not minors and invalids in a protected corner; not cowards fleeing before a revolution, but guides, redeemers and benefactors, obeying the Almighty effort and advancing on Chaos and the Dark.

–Ralph Waldo Emerson,Self-Reliance(1841)

The rebels –our forefathers (or terrorists depending on your perspective), saw a system of government that wasn’t working. They asked how England failed to anticipate and serve the needs of the governed.

Our forefathers (my preferred term) embraced the complexities of government and sought a different way of organizing government –a republic. The genesis of that idea was the Enlightenment, English Common Law, and the antithesis of cognitive dissonance –cognitive consonance.

Many of those ideas are rooted in ancient Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian ideologies. Thomas Pain made the complex rather simple; he called it Common Sense. In essence that is the premise of a republic –its attractor of meaning. One of the tenets of a republic is the Social Contract wherein citizens acknowledge that the functionality of the State requires citizens to assume certain responsibilities and forfeit certain rights or more precisely degrees of certain rights so that the State may persevere to serve the citizenry. Like our living and breathing Constitution, the Social Contract lives and breathes.

The 9/11 Commission asked:

“How did the U.S. government fail to anticipate and prevent it [the events of 9/11]?”

The Commission called for a Different Way of Organizing Government:”

The first phase of our post-9/11 efforts rightfully included military action to topple the Taliban and pursue al Qaeda. But long term success demands the use of all elements of national power; diplomacy; intelligence; covert action, law enforcement, economic policy, foreign aid, public diplomacy, and homeland defense. If we favor one tool while neglecting others, we leave ourselves vulnerable and weaken our national effort.

Homeland security professionals are an element of the national power necessary for new and successful ways of government. Broadly defined, Homeland security professionals include those who serve the interest of the community’s welfare and existence –their attractor of meaning.

Sir Robert Peel said of the police:

The Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent upon every citizen in the interest of community welfare and existence.

Much the same might be said of homeland security professionals be they law enforcement, fire service, public health, emergency management, military, private sector, and so many others.

But does it work together? Another wise man, Don Corleone, a fictitious Machiavellian Mafia chieftain created by Mario Puzzo, said: “some people teach their children the world as they want it to be, I teach my children the world as it is.”

On Thursday, July 1, 2010, USA Today, page 3 provided three stories that demonstrated part of Don Corleone’s world as it is:

Early Alex could be sign of season: Category 2 storm hits Mexico

Cites Dan Kottlowski, an expert senior meteorologist for AccuWeather.com in State College, Pa that said:

This year, the winds have moved farther north and water temperatures are warmer. “This verifies to some degree that we are going to have an active hurricane season.”

Report: Cop, Harvard prof equally at fault.

References the July, 16, 2009 incident of a chance encounter between a Cambridge, Mass, police sergeant and a black Harvard professor that triggered a national debate on racial profiling.

The report said the case is a “textbook example” of how an officer and a citizen can clash is they “do not share a sense of responsibility” in pursuit of public safety.

Cities brace for summer crime: In Chicago, 40 churches work to cultivate ‘culture of calm’

Chicago copes with rising temperatures and crime. “At least 26 people were shot here last weekend. The previous weekend, more than 50 people were shot at and at least 10 died.

The nation is threatened by hurricanes, the police and citizenry on occasion do not share a sense of responsibility, and the citizenry calls on itself for a “culture of calm” to stop murderous violence during the onset of summers’ high temperatures.

Ultimately, the attractor of meaning for homeland security professionals and humanity is to make sense of days like July 1, 2010.

Comment by Homeland Security and our History

July 2, 2010 @ 10:44 pm

Some facts Homeland Security folks should know –

In 1850, 95% of New Mexico’s population spoke Spanish –

What transpired on September 11th, 1812?

Germany has signed agreements with UAE to build new naval vessels – why is this significant? What has the German defense minister been doing in the last year? Is is true that Germany seeks to become dominant player in Middle East clashing with Iran?

What is the real mason-dixon line and who were these two men and the underlying reason for drawing a line between states long ago?

President Madison, 5’4″ and 100 pounds – what is he most noted for?

Did Congressmen participate in duels on Bloddy Island? Where is Bloody Island?

Where is the former proposed new US state referred to in history as the State of Franklin?

There is so much history that anyone who engages in government and especially Homeland Security should know about and history of who we are is quite important to understanding ourselves?

Is Ellis Island really in New York?

Why did the French sell the Louisina Purchase land deal for $15million and the significance of Haiti and its role in such decision?

If we are to understand our role, then we must first understand our real history, our identity as a Judeo-Christian nation!

God Bless our beloved Republic and all who have served on behalf of us and the nation!

Keep an eye on the 27th September German election as it will affect Homeland Security?

Citizen Joe
Christopher Tingus

Comment by William R. Cumming

July 3, 2010 @ 2:40 am

Yes and the oldest and richest democracy (Republic) has now celebrated July 4th by putting the US Navy in charge of long term recovery in the Gulf of Mexico.
The militarization of US domestic policy continues apace just as in foreign policy and relations.
Salute that flag!

Comment by Philip J. Palin

July 3, 2010 @ 4:16 am

Bill, Where did you see the US Navy assignment? I know about Secretary Mabus’ assignment. But I have perceived that as separate from his SecNav role — and much more connected to his background as a former Governor of Mississippi. If that’s wrong, want to know more.

Comment by William R. Cumming

July 3, 2010 @ 9:30 am

Presidential proclamation published in Tuesday’s Federal Register. Sent it to you and will send again.

John Paul Jones to the rescue!

Comment by Philip J. Palin

July 3, 2010 @ 10:16 am

Bill, thanks for resending the reference.For the benefit of other readers a web version is available at:

As you know, I share your concern regarding militarization of government operations. As such, it is certainly appropriate to raise the concern in this case.

I would offer, however, that based on the (little) I know and my own reading of the President’s memorandum, I understand that Secretary Mabus is, essentially, being seconded from his current role as SecNav to a leadership position for both the National Security Staff and Domestic Policy Staff.

This is my reading of the intent of the following:

“In addition to working with these stakeholders, the Secretary shall coordinate, as appropriate, with the heads of executive departments and agencies, as well as offices within the Executive Office of the President(collectively,executive branch components).”

The reference to Executive Office of the President includes both NSS and DPS, especially a well-established recovery working group spanning the two EOP functions.

I agree the situation is ambiguous. I bet there will be some SecNav staff involved. And this is another example of an increasing tendency for us to turn to military resources (active or retired) for commmand and operational competence. It is a trend that is worrisome.

But, in this particular case, I think the SecNav role is much less germane than the former Governor’s network in and knowledge of the Gulf Coast region.

Will be interested in what others know or perceive to be the case.

Comment by William R. Cumming

July 3, 2010 @ 11:37 am

Having read thousands of these memos it looks like a formal delegation of authority to me. See 3 USC Section 301. By passes SECDEF and others. But hey Phil you could be right and only a designation.

As always I could be wrong but a designation names a person while a delegation names a postion. Basic black letter ADMINISTRATIVE LAW.

I guess this WH knows the difference and did what they wanted to do (accomplish)! Even though Roy Mabus is former governor in a Gulf Coast state I could name perhaps a 100 others better qualified to save the states of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and TEXAS. In fact why not George W. Bush, tan, rested and ready? Give him a chance to redeem his Katrina castrophic efforts! This is not a joke. At least he is not eligible for re-election [but of course Jeb is also tan, rested and waiting his turn)! Hey this is a bipartisan or non-partisan response effort correct?

Comment by Philip J. Palin

July 3, 2010 @ 1:14 pm

I will further note that Title 10 USC, section 5013 (f) as referenced in the President’s memorandum reads:

The Secretary of the Navy may assign such of his functions, powers, and duties as he considers appropriate to the Under Secretary of the Navy and to the Assistant Secretaries of the Navy. Officers of the Navy and the Marine Corps shall, as directed by the Secretary, report on any matter to the Secretary, the Under Secretary, or any Assistant Secretary.

The President’s memorandum explicitly excludes delegation under paragraph 5013 (f), which — at least in my reading — is the White House effort to give the former Governor, who happens to be SecNav, an additional duty, but to avoid militarizing the additional duty.

I wonder if there might not have been a less ambiguous way of accomplishing the same thing, but there seems to me a pretty clear and appropriate effort to focus this additional role outside the Department of the Navy.

Comment by William R. Cumming

July 4, 2010 @ 11:19 am

So I guess Ray Mabus is flying solo and absolutely NO ability even to turn to his personnel secretary to make a phone call or he violates the President’s non-delegation provision. This is the stupidest piece of WH lawyering I have seen in 45 years as a federal lawyer, including military and civilian service and post retirement.

Comment by JulietHowe

December 11, 2012 @ 10:05 am

A Facebook spokesperson sent the following statement. “Earlier today we made a change to our DNS infrastructure knowing the change resulted in some people being temporarily unable to reach days. We detected and resolved hard to recognize quickly, and we are now back to 100 percent. We apologize for any inconvenience.”For those of you still recovering because of the shock of Monday’s Gmail outage, there just might be even worse news — Facebook appears to end up being down for some users, and lacking images for others. The Facebook outage started attracting attention around 5:45pm EST Monday.

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