Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

September 19, 2011

Aspen Homeland Security Group

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Arnold Bogis on September 19, 2011

The Aspen Institute has announced the formation of an “Aspen Homeland Security Group:”

Modeled on the longstanding Aspen Strategy Group, a bipartisan group of foreign policy experts, the Aspen Homeland Security Group is a bipartisan group of homeland security and counterterrorism experts whom the program periodically convenes in Washington, DC and at our Aspen campus to discuss issues in depth and make recommendations to policymakers. The Aspen Homeland Security Group is co- chaired by former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and former Congresswoman Jane Harman.

The list of participants is very impressive, however two thoughts came to mind upon review: it is heavy on the “security” and light on the “homeland.”  The members predominately have focused on terrorism or other security issues in their distinguished careers, and even the ones with a mix of experience still lean toward the terrorism side of the risk ledger.

There is one member with a lifetime of experience at the local level, but even he comes out of a security-focused discipline.  Two businessmen made the group, but where are those with backgrounds in response, public health, emergency management, etc.?

The advice this group will provide is likely to have depth but lack breadth.

The list of members:

Madeleine Albright
Former Secretary
Department of State
Albright Stonebridge Group

Charlie Allen
Former Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis
Department of Homeland Security
The Chertoff Group

Zoe Baird
Former Member
Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board
Markle Foundation

Stewart Baker
Former Assistant Secretary for Policy
Department of Homeland Security
Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Richard Ben-Veniste
Former Commissioner
National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States
Mayer Brown LLP

Peter Bergen
Director, National Security Studies Program
New America Foundation
Terrorism Analyst

Samuel Berger
Former National Security Advisor
Chair, Albright Stonebridge Group

Dennis Blair
Former Director of National Intelligence

William Bratton
Former Commissioner
New York Police Department
Former Chief
Los Angeles Police Department

Michael Chertoff
Former Secretary
Department of Homeland Security
Chairman and Co-founder
The Chertoff Group

Richard Clarke
Former National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism
Former Special Advisor to the President for Cyber Security
Good Harbor Consulting

P.J. Crowley
Former Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs
Department of State
Former Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
General Omar N. Bradley Chair in Strategic Leadership
Dickinson School of Law, Penn State University

Jack Goldsmith
Former Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel
Department of Justice
Henry L. Shattuck Professor of Law
Harvard Law School

Stephen Hadley
Former National Security Adviser
Rice Hadley Group LLC

Jane Harman
Former Representative
36th Congressional District of California
Director, President, & CEO
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Michael Hayden
Former Director
National Security Agency; Central Intelligence Agency
The Chertoff Group

Brian Jenkins
Former Adviser
National Commission on Terrorism
Senior Adviser
RAND Corporation

Michael Leiter
Former Director
National Counterterrorism Center

Stuart Levey
Former Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence
Department of the Treasury
Senior Fellow for National Security and Financial Integrity, Council on Foreign Relations

James Loy
Former Deputy and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security
Former Administrator
Transportation Security Administration
Former Commandant
Coast Guard
Senior Counselor
The Cohen Group

Paul McHale
Former Representative
15th Congressional District of Pennsylvania
Former Assistant Secretary for Homeland Defense
Department of Defense
President, Civil Support International, LLC

John McLaughlin
Former Deputy and Acting Director
Central Intelligence Agency
Distinguished Practitioner-in-Residence, Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies

Jeanne Meserve
Former Homeland Security Correspondent
Senior Fellow
George Washington University Homeland Security Policy Institute

Philip Mudd
Former Deputy Director of National Security
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Former Deputy Director, Counterterrorist Center
Central Intelligence Agency
Senior Research Fellow, Counterterrorism Strategy Initiative
New America Foundation

Marc Nathanson
Homeland Security Advisory Council, Los Angeles County
The Aspen Institute
Mapleton Investments

Daniel Prieto
Former Professional Staff Member
Homeland Security Committee
House of Representatives
Vice President and Practice Lead
Public Sector Strategy & Innovation
IBM Global Business Services

Suzanne Spaulding
Former Assistant General Counsel
Central Intelligence Agency
Former Executive Director
National Commission on Terrorism
Former Executive Director
Commission to Assess the Organization of the Federal Government to Combat Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction
Bingham Consulting Group LLC

Marin Strmecki
Former Special Advisor on Afghanistan
Office of the Secretary of Defense
Former Staff Member
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Senior Vice President, Director of Programs
Smith Richardson Foundation

Guy C. Swann III
Lieutenant General, US Army Commanding General
US Army North (Fifth Army)

Fran Townsend
Former Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism
Senior Vice President
Worldwide Government, Legal, and Business Affairs, MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings Inc.

Juan Zarate
Former Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser for Combating Terrorism
Senior Adviser
Transnational Threats Project and Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies

Philip Zelikow
Former Executive Director
National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States
Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of History
University of Virginia

(h/t to Rich Cooper at “Security Debrief.”  However, I do disagree with his assertion that official federal homeland security advisory groups such be allowed to provide all their services hidden from public view.  These groups are not advising a private corporation but the government, an entity that serves all citizens and one that we support through our taxes and influence through our votes.  While sensitive information should be protected, citizens are entitled to know who is telling which departments what information that may impact our lives and liberties.)

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Comment by William R. Cumming

September 19, 2011 @ 4:39 pm

Well a talented group. Some long in the tooth and some who apparently profited in some way off of 9/11/01! Since many are holders of federal pensions interesting how they keep digging into the trough of federal funding.
ASPEN has a record of wonderful facilities and accomadations and interesting meetings–Is not Clark Ervin also with ASPEN doing homeland security type work as a principal.
Some of the members I do think highly of and respect their insights and judgements. Some I would argue won’t add a great deal to the policy debate but will be defending their past decisions and policies. But hey let’s give this group a chance!

So here is my list that a pro or con debate might well be of interest with this group!

First demilitarization of US foreign policy and foreign relations with the STATE Department getting the staffing and funding it needs to be proactive!

Second, doing a comprehensive review of domestic INTEL collection, analysis and dessimination and determining whether changes are necessary or desirable.

Third, how many of the 16 member of the INTEL community actually have adequate staff with language and cultural training to deal with the hot zones the US is involved with? And can technicians have a career without being forced to abandon INTEL ops and functions and activities in order to play the bureaucratic game?

Should DHS be demilitarized? Almost half or more of the department has a 20 year and out retirement system and wear uniforms, have guns and or badges or all of the above!

Should HOMELAND SECURITY continue to rely on STATES and their local governments for essential functions or is this just a waste of time and effort?

What programs, functions and activities should be moved out of DHS that have NO Homeland Security purpose? Example the NFIP [National Flood Insurance Program]!

How should the lines be drawn between DHS and the federal law enforcement community generally, including drug enforcement, and the military and DOD?

Why has cyber security failed as a primary mission of DHS?

Why has protection of privacy, civil rights and civil liberties failed in domestic collection of INTEL?

Why should those programs, functions, and activities listed by GAO as high risk and repeatedly identified in GAO reports be continued under the current arrangements and how could they be improved?

What is the domestic crisis response system and who is in charge of its development, implementation and operation, if anyone?

What is the domestic chain of command for domestic crisis response, for example explosion of a NUDET in any large scale American city?

How does DHS cooperate and collaborate with the other FEDERAL components that have key HS roles, like HHS/CDC and DOJ? This would start with those components interacting with DHS being reviewed and given opportunity for comments first.

How does DHS relate to the NSC and NSS and how are its policy questions resolved both within DHS and when required to be at the WH and involve a number of other federal components?

Why do so many cultures and personnel systems continue to exist in DHS and should retired military in DHS continue to get full military retirement with no set off for their federal civil service salaries?

What do the 600 PFT with the title management analyst give to DHS and how are statistics collected, gathered and analyzed?

What is required of DHS in its international ops?

Why does DHS find Congressional and statutory deadlines meaningless?

WELL you get the idea!

Comment by Alan Wolfe

September 20, 2011 @ 7:27 am

Agree with your assessment of the group, Arnold. Not a lot of diversity there, we have liberal hawks and conservative hawks, largely focused on federal policy on combating terrorism. I’m sure they will all get along famously, recommending extensions of the PATRIOT Act and continued use of Gitmo’s country club.

Comment by Dan O'Connor

September 20, 2011 @ 10:12 am

It’s tough not to be initially impressed with the bona fides of the group. However, they all appear to be of the same ilk and disposition. It’s difficult not to be acerbic or sarcastic when we see, quite routinely and as a matter of fact influence peddling and former high ranking government officials gathered to exploit their former positions for personal financial gain.

It may not be that at all. They may be just earnest former public servants who find patriotic reward serving beyond their former positions.

I’d be curious how much of their organizations funding comes from lobbyists and government contracts. Should we be surprised such a group has coalesced or should we be grateful?

With no disparagement towards Bill, there also appears to be too many lawyers…(insert humorous chuckle). There are roughly 330 million Americans. Of these, more than 1 million are lawyers. As one of the world’s most litigious societies, I wonder what adding more law and policy to homeland security does for us in making us a more robust, resilient, can do Nation.

We often see many of them on different talk show circuits and pontificating endlessly about their inside point of view or highly refined expertise. They also have a disbarred National Security advisor who was convicted for stealing classified documents, so I wonder how that works. There is irony in having someone who stole classified security documents being an advisor on homeland security. Or maybe not.

Peter Bergen may be the only one whose ascension is based more on performance than acquaintance, but again that’s based on my information shaped observations.

In terms of their effectiveness; if they are all such experts on their subject matter and previously politically aligned to an ideology, how much true collaboration and consensus can be gained? How effective can they be if they all believe themselves to be an authority on their subject matter?

It’s hard not be impressed…then again it’s not hard at all to dismiss them all as profiteers.

Perhaps it’s my age, my ignorance, or my disposition, but groups like this are more likely to get us into conflict than to avoid it. Is that the reality we avoid or the reality we’ve created by not holding officials accountable?

Are we really able to hold anyone of power accountable?

I am also aware of my growing cynicism with policy makers, politicians, and ideologues. Is it my cynicism or dare I say, jealousy that colors my point of view or are these institutions valuable in coping with the growing complexity of government, governance, and homeland security?

And if I were in their position, would my disposition change and would I align myself with them or outside of their influence?

I weigh all those vectors carefully but still find myself not placing great value in their assembly and find concurrence with Mr. Wolfe last two sentences or so.

Guess its wait and see.

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 20, 2011 @ 2:49 pm

Well this way all will be up-to-date when some return to government in January 2013!

Any of these look like Republican VP picks by the Republican Presidential candidates?

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