The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold two hearings this week about The Future of Homeland Security.
July 11th features a session on “Evolving and Emerging Threats.” On July 12th, the topic is the “Evolution of the Homeland Security Department’s Roles and Missions.”
Based on the list of witnesses, homeland security’s future looks a lot like its past.
The lineup is only two people short of an all star team:
- Michael Hayden
- Brian Jenkins
- Frank Cilluffo
- Stephen Flynn
- Jane Harman
- Thad Allen
- Richard Skinner
I wonder what these first rate intellects will say. I wonder what they will say that is new or substantially different from what they’ve said and written before.
I wonder where homeland security’s all stars get their new ideas from.
Or maybe their ideas about homeland security’s future won’t be new. Maybe these dedicated, proven and honorable leaders will make the same points about homeland security they frequently make when they write or talk.
Maybe — like major league baseball’s all stars — they are not expected to do anything new. Perhaps it’s enough simply to watch them do again what they do often and well.
Maybe they are all stars because their ideas need to be restated, motivated by the eternal hope that words will lead to behaviors that might influence how homeland security evolves.
I wonder if anyone will actually listen to what these people say.
Baseball’s all star game matters because the league that wins (tonight, 5 pm Pacific time, Fox TV and radio) gets home field advantage for the world series.
Home field advantage matters. It certainly helped St. Louis in 2011 (that, plus the baseball gods smiling on David Freese)
I would like to believe senate hearings matter.
I recall from the “How a bill becomes law” chapter in my 9th grade civics book that congress holds hearings to discover what the problems are, and then writes laws to solve those problems.
I don’t know the political science literature well enough to know how accurately that chapter describes reality.
But, I have my beliefs.
Speaking of beliefs about homeland security, Jonathan Haidt — in his wonderfully written, cognitively disruptive book, The Righteous Mind — cites the work of Tim Gilovich, a social psychologist (p. 84):
His [Gilovich's] simple formulation is that when we want to believe something, we ask ourselves, “Can I believe it?” Then … we search for supporting evidence, and if we find even a single piece of psuedo-evidence, we can stop thinking. We now have permission to believe. We have a justification, in case anyone asks.
In contrast, when we don’t want to believe something, we ask ourselves, “Must I believe it?” Then we search for contrary evidence, and if we find a single reason to doubt the claim, we can dismiss it. You only need one key to unlock the handcuffs of must.”
The best part about the Can I and the Must I reactions is they often happen below the level of conscious awareness.
I’m looking forward to this week’s hearings so I can test myself.
What will I hear that triggers my “Can I believe it” reflex?
What will I hear that triggers my “Must I believe it” reflex?
I wonder what would happen if the Senate held a homeland security hearing and no one listened, because they didn’t know how?