Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

March 22, 2013

Open-mike at Homeland Security Watch

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on March 22, 2013

When Christian began HLSWatch, Bill Cumming emerged from primordial Logos fully formed. When Jonah invited me here, Bill Cumming welcomed me to what was much more his home than mine. While writers on the front page come and go, Bill persists with questions, analysis, and (sometimes trenchant) commentary. When the cosmos is recumbent in quiet, Bill will eventually speak. He is the Higgs Boson of this parallel universe.

So… when Bill has the good idea of using Friday for an open thread, I am happy to begin the sewing…

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Comment by HGRATTAN

March 23, 2013 @ 8:46 am

This blog and the body of knowledge that is known as/referred to as homeland security continues to ask the question what is homeland security. CRS recently revisited this issue. Secretary Napolitano recently said homeland security is about agility.

What then is not homeland security?

Comment by Philip J. Palin

March 23, 2013 @ 9:25 am

What a fabulous question. Is there a via negativa to homeland security… I’m thinking.

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 23, 2013 @ 10:14 am

Thanks Phil and hoping others [rarely myself] willuse the opportunity you have given them.

And yes HGRATTAN thank you for great question.

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 23, 2013 @ 11:34 am

What then is NOT HS? Not sure how bounded but Congress in its infinite wisdome set three or four primary missions for HS in passing the legislation that became the Homeland Security Act of 2002!

First mission! Prevention of WMD incidents and events and response if they occur? Now defined in DoD by the earlier acronym CBRNE! Another earlier formulation was BNICE!

Second mission! Critical infrastructure protection and in particular the subset [or SET?} known as Cyber

Third mission! Collection, analysis, and dessemination of domestic intelligence while preserving Constitution norms and privacy and civil rights and civil liberties.

Fourth mission! Control the borders and illegal immigration.

How well have these missions been accomplished? Eye of the beholder perhaps.

And as to MITGATION and RESILENCE only after thoughts as the Bush/Cheney WH wanted all all costs to eliminate the somewhat successful independence of FEMA and make sure its budget and programs, functions, and activities were captured for the GWOT.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

March 23, 2013 @ 11:41 am

Mr. Grattan:

A couple of possibilities… I’m not trying to be comprehensive, just starting the apophatic analysis:

Homeland security is not conceptually or functionally confined to the Department of Homeland Security.

Homeland security is not coextensive or interchangeable or synonymous with national security.

More to come, I hope.

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 23, 2013 @ 1:46 pm

In my judgment HS is a misnomer and should be CIVIL SECURITY.

HS is neither criminal law enforcement [note that confusingly Immigration Law is not exclusively Civil or Criminal] nor is it the use of the MILITARY except in extremely exceptional circumstances.

But linedrawing between Armed Force, Crimnal Law Enforcement and HS has not been skillfully done. Two primary reasons! Congress and second DoJ and DoD that continue to worry that they are involved with a zero sum game with HS and HS programs, functions, and activities in OFAs [Other departments and agencies]!

This could be quite easily repaired by Congress the President or both but they refuse to do so. THE RESULT IS NO CIVIL DOMESTIC CRISIS MANAGEMENT SYSTEM NOR CHAIN OF COMMAND!

The storm SANDY [note not a Hurrican even a CAT I] is largely federal largess rewarding STATES and their LOCAL Governments negilgence and waste, fraud, and abuse.

But then most if not all federal programs are not designed for efficiency or effectiveness but as political solutions that may or may not create more problems.

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 23, 2013 @ 1:49 pm

And note for the record like particle physics and CERN, HS and civil security as practiced in any nation-state, but in particular a democracy [Republioc actually] is difficult to observe. Walter Heisenberg was correct. The location of the observer impacts what is observed.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

March 23, 2013 @ 2:47 pm

Mr. Grattan:

How about:

Homeland security is not achievable by the federal government acting alone, nor is homeland security achievable by government-at-any-level acting alone.

Homeland security is not in many of its principal characteristics and functions a governmental function.

Still thinking.

Comment by Christopher Tingus

March 23, 2013 @ 9:05 pm

“What then is Not Homeland Security” — I certainly don’t have time to ponder such as I am more importantly interested in what Homeland Security is and should be and the clarity of its mission in serving as a government agency and I submit that Thad Allen said, “Homeland Security is a complex ‘system of systems’ that interrelates and interacts with virtually ever department of government at all levels and the private sector as well.”

Allen then talks of his vision for DHS and priorities focused on ‘mission execution and mission support’ however folks, given at least my reading of Isaiah (verse 5) “The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint” and seeing spending to the extent that impeachment should be imposed and decision-makers watching as four brave Patriots are left behind to be slaughtered at the ‘Benghazi Massacre” w/o any arrests and these blatant lies and an executive branch and state department who have been caught in these lies coupled with the fact that as a citizen of this beloved Republic and seeing such thoughtful discussions, given the calamity which is before us as evidenced by a good description of who truly represents us in government today by acknowledging the words best describing what is taking place and very applicable to Homeland Security, “Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil doers, children that are corrupters; they have forsaken the Lord” – I, a citizen of the United States, aka Joe Citizen are more interested in spending the time in asking and determining the reality of the extent Homeland Security among other agencies of this once great government are prepared and I think not with evidence to support….

I do not ask anything other than to see from ‘entrusted” and precious vote a government and its leadership which does Not promote such divisiveness as Barry Obama et al. Blatant lies….and of course, promoting abortions even into the eighth month and God witness and You expect good things to happen to our nation and once most charitable People….

Homeland Security and the populace must listen attentively to the words of james Madison (1785), “If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be under the guise of fighting a foreign enemy. But, in reality it will be an Enemy from within” – We are a divided nation and a nation addicted to a spending problem which may be keeping with the pledge of Barry Obama to Hussein Obama and his Kenyan socialist and marxist friends such as Bill Ayers, Ungor, Saiid, Soros and so many others who as anti-colonialists, anti-Christian and anti-Zionist have sought to bring America to its knees…

Wake up!

As Samuel Adams said,”no People will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can they be easily subdued, when knowledge is wide spread and Virtue is preserved. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant, and debauched in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without Aid of foreign invaders –

Hold your muskets high and for all lawful purpose….

We need not ask what Homeland Security is, but to have clarity in policies and to assure that DHS is not a political toy as we saw when convicted convicts were released these last few weeks and like the “Benghazi Massacre” – cheap words of “the buck stops here” yet when questioned, those in executive position such as you Madame Secretary, well, like barry Obama nd Hillary Clinton, you learn well, point in another direction and if there is no one to point to, blame the other political party…Oh, how sick the head truly is and how little we can entrust our confidence in DHS or our government which seeks to shred the Constitution when in fact, there should be ongoing and full and objective Congressional Hearings on so many matters regarding the outright deceit and corruption found herein!

At least a few here on “Main Street USA” are not ignorant and biased or divisive in our mannerisms….However, we read history and we do not close the doors of the heart of this once great nation and shutter our children from the richness and pride in which we hold our history which Barry and Michelle Obama is not all about slavery, though in your history book, so evident….

In fact, one of my champions, Frederick Douglass states, “Find out just what People will submit to, and you have found the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those who they oppress” –

Today’s Homeland Security has much to be concerned with and I do not have time to ponder what it is not, but rather what extent it impose itself even among those within who are not – Barry Obama and Hillary Clinton and even you madame Secretary – above the law!

For starters – Open the WH Doors – for you Barry and Michele Obama have played your cards to many times and you are becoming quite evident in your ways and you Joe Biden who spends $500k for one night in Paris and $400k for one night in London this past week….our kids – black, blue, white, green and purple Barry are en route with their school classmates to see not only the cherry blossoms for the very first time and the jefferson and Lincoln memorials, but the White House, our White House, the heart of America where fellow brave citizens yelled “rock ‘n roll” Madame Secretary gave their Life to down a plane with a mission to pierce the heart of this nation… This is to me Homeland Security and shortly, I, too will be en route to the gates of the White House as an elder to hold my sign, “Open The White House Doors” to enable our kids to learn of our cherished and proud history, versus the blatant lies of those who believe they are above the law and our Judeo-Christian values, the politicizing DHS leadership, yes, you Madame Secretary who under your watch, convicted criminals are allowed to walk back into our “Main Street USA” – We shall hold our muskets high – for all lawful purpose – for we have no time to ask questions as to what DHS is not, but what has become of bi-partisan true American spirit in this nation where those before us fled King George II for taxes and fees were imposed without representation and much like today, yet even worse, for those in Rev Wright’s pews for over twenty years could give a damn about what it truly is to be a proud American and with compassion and Respect to those who serve and to those so willingly left behind at the “Benghazi Massacre” and to those who have given Life or limb to preserve our Liberty, our Constitution, our second Amendment Rights and to help the mentally ill….

Folks, what is truly unfortunate, We here on “Main Street USA” have little confidence in any serving in leadership posts to day from the WH tope down for the words of Aubie Baltin come to paper, “Using history as our guide, the new wealthy will be those who had the wisdom to get out of paper money before the Breakdown of the current financial system” –

“I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring ridicule of others, rather than to incur my own abhorrence” – Frederick Douglass

Comment by Philip J. Palin

March 24, 2013 @ 4:39 am

Mr. Grattan:

A proposed fifth station on the via negativa:

Homeland security is not designed to enhance our sense of security (being without care, safe), homeland security’s purpose is to increase awareness of insecurity.

Note: I do not mean to be ironic. Homeland security is innately paradoxical. Irony results from being unwilling or unable to recognize and engage the paradoxical. From the close of the War of 1812 to the Cold War the United States experienced a sense of security vis-a-vis external challenge unusual in human history. There are now real — and insidious — sources of insecurity. Can we recognize the threats and deal responsibly with the threats, while avoiding paranoid excess? Can we achieve greater security by accepting our insecurity? Is homeland security the Daedalus to our high-flying sense of national potential? (Including the role of Daedalus in building the labyrinth as well as warning his son Icarus.)

Not entirely satisfied, but maybe others will help…

Comment by HGRATTAN

March 24, 2013 @ 6:21 am


I appreciate your “civil security” moniker.

I appreciate your sense of homeland security paradox too.

IMHO, both resemble my HLS 101 theory (formerly my COP 101 theory): victims of bad things et al call the cops/people in HLS when bad things happen. They “expect” the cops/people in HLS to fix the bad things or at least make the bad things less bad. Cops/people in HLS and the people that govern mostly do a bad job of managing expectations. Instead of preaching and demanding self-reliance, government largesse breeds dependency. Moreover, civil society writ large has come to perceive a sense of cradle to grave entitlement with little or no sense of responsibility. IMHO, none of the above leaves much (any?) room for what is not HLS.

BTW, the Friday open-mike is an awesome idea.
Afterthought, the Department of Defense, Office of Civilian Defense Planning (1948) civil defense definition is worth a mention:
The preparation for and carrying out of all emergency functions, other than functions for which military forces are primarily responsible, to minimize and repair injury and damage resulting from disasters caused by enemy attack, sabotage or other hostile action, or by fire, flood, earthquake, or other natural causes. These functions include, without limitation, firefighting services, police services, medical and health services, rescue, engineering, air raid warning services, communications, radiological, chemical and other special weapons defense, evacuation of persons from stricken areas, emergency welfare services (civilian war aid), emergency transportation, existing or properly assigned functions of plant protection, temporary restoration of public utility services, and other functions related to civilian protection, together with all other activities necessary or incidental to the preparation for any carrying out of the foregoing functions. (p.280)

U.S. Department of Defense, Office of Civilian Defense Planning. (1948). Civil defense for national security.

http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/dhs/fema/civildef- 1948.pdf

Comment by HGRATTAN

March 24, 2013 @ 7:13 am


Do you know of a circa 1979-1980 FEMA official and citable definition of “emergency management.” If not the earliest known FEMA definition.

Thank you

Comment by Philip J. Palin

March 24, 2013 @ 8:01 am

Mr. Grattan:

Speaking of paradoxes: I share your concern that several aspects of public policy/strategy habituate dependence. On television — and less often in the newspaper — I hear or read of the kind of complaining and unrealistic expectations that reinforces this concern. But in my direct experience these attitudes and behavior are so rare as to be practically nil. In my encounter with real people in real situations I find expectations of government to be very low and self-accountability quite high. I have often worried that my direct experience is too limited to depend upon. But there are some suggestions my experience is not isolated (see Rebecca Solnit’s A Paradise Built in Hell).

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 24, 2013 @ 9:09 am

HGRATTAN! First, thanks! I find the definition from the so-called HOPLEY report of great interest also. Thanks to Steve Aftergood of FAS for helping scan and post the docs on his FAS/FEMA site.

My civil security sense derives in part from MASLOV’s heirarchy of needs.

And I will check the boxes of materials I left here in storage for an early definition of EM. If memory serves it comes from the NGA study of of EM in the late 70’s leading to the formation of FEMA and Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1978. Five [5} or [6] volumes were produced in that study in which if memory also serves Claire B. Rubin took part. So she may also have an answer. She is the Recovery Diva but also may be reached at cbrubin@gmail.com.

Oddly perhaps the NGA devoted a whole volume of their study to domestic terrorism. And Ronald Reagan’s first FEMA Director considered himself an expert on terrorism. His rival to hold that position was Robert Kupperman, PhD, who led the transition from Carter to Reagan but whose mentor was Drew Lewis, later Secretary DoT, but was outranked in the Reagan heirarchy by first Counselor to the President Edwin Meese later AG who was LOG’s [Louis O. Guiffrida] mentor. Until James Lee Witt survived the entirety of the Clinton Administration [being made an Ex Officio member of Clinton’s cabinet in the second term of Clinton] LOG was the longest serving FEMA Director from April 1981 to August 1985.

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 24, 2013 @ 9:17 am

I should also have mentioned that Dr. Kupperman was one of the leading experts on domestic terrorism for three decades before his death.

Largely ignoring other statutory and Presidential mandates, Clinton told James Lee Witt to focus on FEMA’s natural disaster mission. James Lee told me this directive himself.

It was forshadowed by the January 1988 NSEC [national system for emergency coordination] also signed by the President and issued by Edwin Meese to all concerned. This is also on the FAS/FEMA website.

To my knowledge the NGA study is not available as a virtual document but should be made available in that format by the NGA. If anyone has good access to the NGA I would be glad to contribute to that effort financially.

Comment by Donald Quixote

March 24, 2013 @ 11:30 am

I really tried to stay out of this one since I consistently harp on this subject. However, if we do not know what homeland security is, how do we know what it is not? What is your proof that it is not confined conceptually or functionally within DHS or any other organization? Homeland security shall likely include everything that it can fit while there is a value to define it there.

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 24, 2013 @ 11:48 am

Was it Thomas Hobbes that identified the State of Nature as having no civil security?

Comment by Philip J. Palin

March 24, 2013 @ 12:06 pm


I’m not sure of Mr. Grattan’s original intent. But what I heard in his question was an invitation to apophatic reasoning. There are some categories of phenomena that persistently resist positive definition. This is especially true of social constructions that arise spontaneously. In such contexts trying to reach a social consensus as to what something is not, can be helpful in generating shared meaning… and may even move toward definition.

Chris Bellavita introduced me to Richard Rorty’s notion that “truth is what my peers let me get away with saying.” So… I was offering my angle on the truth and seeing what you would let me get away with. I think the proof, such as it is, would emerge (or not ) from the conversation.

Comment by HGRATTAN

March 24, 2013 @ 12:59 pm


Correct, my intent is not apophatic reasoning. My rationale is to help the nation figure out how to best prevent and mitigate bad things and to effectively respond to and recover from those bad things that do happen. I do not know what God’s plan is. IMHO he has one and its up to us (humanity)to figure it (or at least some of it) out.

I too picked up on Bellavita’s (2012) Rorty “truth” and took a second look:

Richard Rorty, reportedly, said that truth is “what your colleagues let you get away with.” (Desmond, 2003, p.280). Rorty (2000), in fact, said that it was unfortunate that pragmatism became thought of as a theory or definition of truth. Pragmatist should have said that we can tell you about justification, but we can’t tell you about truth. “We know how we justify beliefs. We know that the adjective true is the word we apply to the beliefs we justify ….Truth with a capital T is sort of like God. There is not much you can say about God. ….That is why theologians talk about ineffability.”

Bellavita(2012). Waiting for homeland security theory, Homeland Security Affairs, 8(15). Retrieved from http://www.hsaj.org/?article=8.1.15&fromemail=2

Desmond, W. (2003). Art, origins, otherness: Between philosophy and art. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

Rorty, R. (2000). Monologue. Of Beauty and Constellation: Part 23 with Richard Rorty, VPRO. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTSdyxKyHrU&feature=gv

Comment by HGRATTAN

March 24, 2013 @ 1:02 pm

Thanks Bill will e-mail Claire

Comment by Philip J. Palin

March 24, 2013 @ 1:30 pm

Mr. Grattan:

Thanks for the clarification and I will cease and desist with my mis-directed “is not’s”. But I found it a very productive path to take and may return some day. As you can tell, I got a bit excited in my misunderstanding of your question.

In the West apophatic reasoning has probably been most often applied to God. In the East, it has a wider classical application. I have, perhaps eccentrically, seen a kind of apophatic reasoning in Karl Popper’s encouragement to falsifiability, or refutability, or testability.

Regarding Rorty: perhaps it depends on whether we are aiming at truth or Truth.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

March 24, 2013 @ 1:38 pm


Hobbes talked about the state of nature being a State of War, even a State of War of all against all. He wrote that life in a state of nature would consist of, “continual fear and danger of violent death, and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” So… I think that’s who you’re thinking of.

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 24, 2013 @ 2:14 pm

And directly or indirect Hobbes’ logic justify government?

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 24, 2013 @ 3:27 pm

From my permanent website at http://www.vacationlanegrp.com is this definition of EM but never was FEMA’s:

Emergency Management is the organization of the governmental and non-governmental organizational response at the national level (federal, state, and local) to unexpected events that threaten public health and safety and property, and the civil sector preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery to and from those events.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

March 24, 2013 @ 3:59 pm


While I am not inclined to fully adopt Hobbes’ historical anthropology, in the main I agree government is a source of considerable utility. Government plays a necessary — but for me, insufficient — role in a full expression of homeland security. Further, because I perceive homeland security is mostly a function of non-governmental readiness and resilience, I perceive the role of government may be considerably different in homeland security than in other more innately governmental roles.

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 24, 2013 @ 7:48 pm

Thanks to all!

Comment by Donald Quixote

March 24, 2013 @ 8:27 pm

I wonder if we are not attempting to over-think this topic to explain why something so simple has not been accomplished in ten years and shall not likely be in another decade. I am just a simple man. Gentlemen, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. I have considered Hobbes, but I have determined that Calvin and Hobbes were much better suited to resolve this issue.

Homeland security may just be a term such as justice, a general concept that everyone strives for and often claims to be a priority. Justice exists beyond the Department of Justice (maybe even at a much greater frequency and rate).

Homeland security does pay better than justice these days. Do we need a common definition and vision? If there is one, does accountability and results follow? Is anyone naïve enough to be interested in that?

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 25, 2013 @ 2:32 am

Haddow. Bullock, and Coppla in their 2011 4th Edition of Introduction to EM define EM as “The discipline dealing with risk and risk avoidance”!

Respectfully, since two the authors are former colleagues, I would strongly disagree with that definition.

And in their INTRO the authors state in part that in the failed response to Hurricane Katrina that it [it being the failed response]had the effect of recalibrating our [EM practioners]comprehensive approach to all-hazards risk assessment by reminding all EM practitioners that regardless of the public policy and media agendas, EM must be guided by scientific and statistical risk analysis.

Whatever that means it is not found in their book IMO!

Peersonally. I leave formal risk assessment to the quants.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

March 25, 2013 @ 4:42 am


I think a broadly shared definition of homeland security would probably help. Any broadly shared definition would probably also leave out something I consider crucial, but I would almost certainly go along if I perceived something meaningful was emerging from the muck. I would go along because I have observed that better results tend to emerge when a group of people share a similar sense of vision, mission, and purpose.

How do you define justice? It is a rhetorical question, my point being justice has been the object of definitional gymnastics for at least 3000 years. And even with all this effort, I have seen the working definition of justice revolutionized in my lifetime.

Comment by Donald Quixote

March 25, 2013 @ 9:14 am

Many of us hopefully think that a broadly shared definition of homeland security would probably help, but what does that really mean? If we have funding to execute the rather undefined and loosely coordinated mission, whatever it may be today, do we need a common vision and unified goals? We all get paid right?

Should we treat homeland security like justice, another noun that is defined by the user for independent mission focus and delivery? Is justice a broader concept than homeland security or just an older one? A review of the Department of Justice Goals and Objectives: Fiscal Years 2012 – 2016 meanders into the “homeland security” environment:

GOAL 1: Prevent Terrorism and Promote the Nation’s Security Consistent with the Rule of Law;

GOAL 2: Prevent Crime, Protect the Rights of the American People, and Enforce Federal Law; and

GOAL 3: Ensure and Support the Fair, Impartial, Efficient, and Transparent Administration of Justice at the Federal, State, Local, Tribal, and International Levels.


My hesitation to enter this conversation stems from many previous enjoyable discussions which document that there appears to be no desire or requirement for a common definition for the homeland security enterprise that is apparently working at an acceptable level of efficiency and effectiveness without it and not really required today in our troubled fiscal times. Nothing has blown up right?

Being a person never shy about tenderizing a dead horse, I shall ping back to “Second time is a charm” (01/15/13 173989). There have been advantages to not identifying a common definition for homeland security:

1. Few truly care that much as long as they are enabled and funded;

2. It is too complex to define it without damaging fiefdoms and feelings;

3. Chaos and confusion permit concealment and cover;

4. A definition may result in the exclusion of the “next big one” and cause embarrassment and cost elections and promotions;

5. So few (i.e. us) really care or value a common and consistent definition to frame and focus the subject; and

6. If they defined, improved and focused homeland security, what would we blog about (we would have to actually join the rest of the country and watch endless reality TV shows and be glued to social media for our crucial Kardashian fix).

I must learn to accept that having great discussions and greater confusion may be better than obtaining difficult and common definitions for possibly enhanced cooperation, coordination and collaboration.

One day at a time………….



Comment by William R. Cumming

March 25, 2013 @ 9:26 am

P.S. And Phil in theory our government at the federal level is “of the people [note not the STATES], by the people, and for the people”!

Of course the current reality is Of the Lobbyists, by the lobbyists, and for the lobbyists and their clients.

PEASANTS! KEEP BUYING THOSE PITCHFORKS! They [both peasants and pitchforks] may well be needed!

Comment by Dan O'Connor

March 25, 2013 @ 9:31 am

Anything that denigrates or changes the homeostasis of the populous in a negative light, disrupts the mean expectation of safety, security, and wellness, and has negative outcomes could be construed as a homeland security issue.

A case could also be made that any trend that disrupts the stability of the country is a homeland security issue. Dr. Chris Bellavita might refer to these instances or disruptions as meta hazards. If that is the case then it is folly to speculate what isn’t homeland security.

Obesity, debt, income equality, agriculture, water, two party systems, health care, energy, economics, criminal justice etc. all have homeland security implications. The list goes on and on. All these things are interdependent with the others and have profound impact on the country. What is is. What is not has yet to be determined.

Security as a condition is the degree of resistance to, or protection from, harm. It is a state. It applies to any vulnerable and valuable asset, such as a person, dwelling, community, nation, or organization. Establishing or maintaining a sufficient degree of security is the aim of the work, structures, and processes called “security”. Sounds like homeland security to me.

Therefore, if something is in danger of harm and harm can come from many of the aforementioned “things” then homeland security is many things.
Safety is the state of being “safe” (from French sauf), the condition or state of being protected against physical, social, spiritual, financial, political, emotional, occupational, psychological, educational or other types or consequences of failure, damage, error, accidents, harm or any other event which could be considered non-desirable. Sounds like homeland security to me.

Safety can also be defined to be the control of recognized hazards to achieve an acceptable level of risk. This can take the form of being protected from the event or from exposure to something that causes health or economic losses. It can include protection of people or of possessions. That’s a pretty broad definition and has a lot of homeland security theme interlaced in it.

What about health? Health is a state (there’s that word again) of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

So is security, safety, and health(wellness) the “states” of homeland security? If so are they classical mechanical, quantum, excited, dynamical, static, thermodynamic, chemical states? Yes…and many more.

That is why I like homeostasis as an answer… it is a confluence of balance in a complex system. It is the automated tendency to gravitate or regulate toward a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements. That is homeland security. All we do and all we hold as “self evident” is to provide, with government, these opportunities to pursue and achieve the aforementioned states. Perhaps those who govern have lost their compass or ability to measure these desired states and instead have become enamored with establishing an enemy to affix blame and failure on. More time should be used to determine what homeland security isn’t…this way, maybe those who decide might figure out what is, is.

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 25, 2013 @ 10:59 am

Thanks DAN! But do not ever be confused to think that federal programs, functions, activities are designed to accomplish some specific mission or goal. They are designed as political solutions, not necessarily even efficient or effective, and perhaps more accurate to state designed as political solutions to political problems that may or may not be real or just perceived.

So your comment does reflect that underlying principle in that HS was ginned up to prevent, protect, and respond to perceived threats to the HOMELAND. Some perceived these threats as existential and some did not. I do not!

Thus, in trying to define HS the real underlying purpose is to determine whether their continues to be a political need for HS and its staffing and funding.

DHS itself fell into a trap with the BUR in failing to identify how each of its programs, functions, and activities did or did not contribute to HS. Now others will be making those decisions.

Two of the three Secretaries of DHS had not a clue as to how Washington operates, and as neither skilled managers, or policy makers both suffered at the helm of DHS. Chertoff knew the criminal justice system cold and his time at DHS was largely designed to figure out FEMA, which he never did, and protect the Criminal Justice System at the federal level from instrusion by DHS.

Comment by Dan O'Connor

March 25, 2013 @ 11:36 am


No confusion! It is the very political solution that created the discussion.

Comment by Donald Quixote

March 25, 2013 @ 11:55 am

We have yet another opportunity to see if any others are concerned about the lack of a definition for homeland security and its implications. I expect we shall discuss this topic again (and again and again). I will take the first Friday in June of 2018 for the blog, but I may just cut and paste this one then.

DHS Oversight Panel Hears Consequences of Not Having Definition of Homeland Security

By: Anthony Kimery

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) on Thursday issued its second warning in a month that the lack of a statutory definition of homeland security threatens the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) ability to properly manage and prioritize its varied responsibilities.

“The absence of clear definition and concept of homeland security affects DHS’s ability to prioritize and manage the department’s missions,” said CRS analyst Shawn Reese during a hearing Thursday of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs that examined DHS management ten years after the department’s creation. “The absence of an agreed upon comprehensive definition and concept of homeland security … affects how DHS, and the federal government, prioritize homeland security missions,” said Reese.

Earlier this month, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, Issues in Homeland Security Policy for the 113th Congress, embarrassingly detailed that, on the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security, “The definition of homeland security remains unsettled, and questions about the effectiveness and efficiency of the department have been raised since it was first proposed.”

The author of that report, William L. Painter, coordinating Analyst in Emergency Management and Homeland Security Policy at CRS, stated that the question about what constitutes homeland security “has dogged US public policy debates for more than a decade,” yet, “there is no statutory definition of homeland security. Although there is a federal Department of Homeland Security, it is neither solely dedicated to homeland security missions, nor is it the only part of the federal government with significant responsibilities in this arena.”



Comment by William R. Cumming

March 25, 2013 @ 12:01 pm

Still searching for the early FEMA definition of EM!

And note that there was an Office of Emergency Management established in the FDR Executive Offices of the President about 1940 [?}!

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 25, 2013 @ 12:44 pm

I believe the WH Office of Emergency Management was established by E.O. 8248 in September 1939!

War between Germany and Poland having broken out on Sptember 1st, 1939!

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 30, 2013 @ 11:47 pm

A search of the term “Emergency Management” on Wikipedia reveals another EM definition. Still searching for earliest FEMA version.

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