This post was written by Charles Eaneff. Among his other accomplishments, Chuck is the former Acting Executive Director DHS Office of State and Local Law Enforcement and a Naval Postgraduate School alumnus.
From Defining Homeland Security: Analysis and Congressional Considerations, CRS, Washington, DC, 2013,
Homeland security as a concept suggested a different approach to security, and differed from homeland defense… “Homeland defense is primarily a Department of Defense (DOD) activity and is defined as “… the protection of US sovereignty, territory, domestic population, and critical defense infrastructure against external threats and aggression, or other threats as directed by the President.” Homeland security, regardless of the definition or strategic document, is a combination of law enforcement, disaster, immigration, and terrorism issues. It is primarily the responsibility of civilian agencies at all levels. It is a coordination of efforts at all levels of government. The differences between homeland security and homeland defense, however, are not completely distinct. An international terrorist organization attack on and within the United States would result in a combined homeland security and homeland defense response, such as on 9/11 when civilian agencies were responding to the attacks while the U.S. military established a combat air patrol over New York and Washington, DC. This distinction between homeland security and homeland defense, and the evolution of homeland security as a concept, was reflected in the strategic documents developed and issued following 9/11.
After 9/11 the Bush Administration, by creating DHS and reprioritizing government functions, began the transformation of Treasury Agents and Department of Transportation regulators into Security agents. At the same time, the Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS) was created within the Naval Postgraduate School reflecting the CRS observation that “The differences between homeland security and homeland defense, however, are not completely distinct.” The CHDS program, in admitting civilian and DoD employees from all levels of government, clearly represents the CRS contention that homeland security is a coordination of efforts at all levels of government. In 2009, the Obama Administration continued the merger of national security and homeland security, integrating the White House Homeland Security Council into the National Security Council.
A recent survey of over 1,000 homeland security professionals by the CHDS Futures Advisory Committee noted that the merging of national security and homeland security was one of the critical (existing or anticipated) trends within the Homeland Security Enterprise:
As domestic and foreign threats run together, it is not clear whether it makes sense to view these as separate issues. Also, increasing numbers of National Security issues (such as global trade, migration/travel, climate change, pandemic threats, access to natural resources, etc.) relate directly to Homeland Security issues. Geography will become less viable as a concept (in terms of threats, attacks, etc.). American tourists and diplomats may be threatened overseas.
As homeland security has matured since 9/11, the insights in the CHDS survey that the wall between national security and homeland security is coming down is undoubtedly accurate. A foundational challenge of the next decades is that those bricks between national and homeland security are being tossed aside and building a functional wall between justice and security. Whether or not we would collectively agree with the insights of former Shin Bet leadership expressed in the “Gatekeepers” movie, two major themes reinforced by their edited observations were that security and justice are inexorably intertwined, and that leadership all too often reflects “all tactics, no strategy” in pursuit of short term security. If the diverse community of homeland security practitioners does not heed lessons about the importance of legitimacy learned by the police segment of the homeland security enterprise, we risk achieving neither homeland, nor national, security.
Consistent with Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and Sir Robert Peele’s “The police are the public and the public are the police,” our historic security strategy has been justice supplemented by 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 interests of community welfare and existence.”) combined with strong external defense capability. Domestically, justice has not been just a desired outcome, but a strategy to achieve an outcome of security. The separation of justice and security is cementing itself as more than different missions of two Federal Departments.
Justice driven discretion in the application of law increasingly exists side by side, and often at odds, with national security driven rules in the application of control.
The recent TSA decision to permit some knives on passenger aircraft makes this point quite clear. CNN reported that former Bush Administration head of TSA Kip Hawley concurs with this Obama Administration decision,
“In retrospect, I should have done the same thing,” Hawley said of the rule, which allows passengers to board aircraft with certain small knives, as well as sports equipment such as ice hockey and lacrosse sticks.
“They ought to let everything on that is sharp and pointy. Battle axes, machetes … bring anything you want that is pointy and sharp because while you may be able to commit an act of violence, you will not be able to take over the plane. It is as simple as that,” he said.
“So my position would be bravo on the 2.6 inch knife. But why not take it all the way and then really clean up the checkpoint where officers are focusing on bombs and toxins, which are things that can destroy an airplane. And it would smooth the process, cost less money, and be better security.”
Asked if he was using hyperbole in suggesting that battle axes be allowed on planes, Hawley said he was not.
How is it possible that across two Administrations, in the largest law enforcement agency in the United States (DHS has more law enforcement officers than any other department, Federal, State or local), with a law enforcement professional of impeccable credentials at the helm of TSA, that foundational principles of public safety and the well documented relationship between enforcement legitimacy and public compliance are ignored?
Might it be possible because the CHDS Futures Committee was correct, and we are well on the road to “Merging of Homeland Security with National Security”, but we are doing it at the expense of public security and legitimacy?
The most significant partners in establishing and maintaining security in the operation of passenger airlines has to be the flight crews and the flying public. A flight attendant’s primary duty is the safety of passengers. Flight Attendant Union outrage over this knife decision appears to reflect an understanding that if they ever believed that the government was a partner in their efforts to protect themselves and their passengers, that this is no longer the case. National Security is threatened if an aircraft is destroyed; the loss of cabin crew or passengers does not threaten national security.
TSA focus on national security in this “knife fight” comes at some loss of DHS/TSA legitimacy as a public safety provider.
However, as “homeland security” regulatory and enforcement continues to merge with and resemble “national security” rather than the public’s security, there are bright spots in the integration of justice, legitimacy, and security.
Department of Defense literature on counterinsurgency, including the US Army and Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual, reflects a deep understanding of legitimacy and the role it plays in security. When Craig Fugate of FEMA extols his approach to “whole community,” what I hear is “FEMA, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that emergency managers are the public and the public are emergency managers; FEMA employees being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.”
In this version of Alice in Wonderland Homeland Security, the Marines and Emergency Managers are driving toward Peelian principles of trust and accountability, paying close attention to their legitimacy, and DHS enforcement is driving toward national security at the expense of public safety.
Evolving security, both national and homeland, ensured by State control has a complex relationship with our historic strategy of security ensured by the public perception of justice supported by law enforcement’s use of discretion and the law. It is a relationship worthy of the same examination as the relationship between security and defense.
Going forward, academic examination of the relationship between defense and security without including justice as an “equal” is increasingly an examination of a two legged stool.