Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

April 5, 2013

Friday Free for All

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on April 5, 2013

I have received several suggestions for possible topics.  I would prefer for readers to offer their questions, comments, and concerns…. and see what stimulates interest by others.  If I offer something, I feel the need to remain engaged and this Friday — and many Fridays — I need to be offline quite abit.  Come on down!

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Comment by William R. Cumming

April 5, 2013 @ 1:02 am

What do other HLSWatch.com readers favor for HS blogs?

Comment by John Bradford

April 5, 2013 @ 5:37 am

This is the only HS blog worth reading, but across other topics, Fierce Homeland Security has some interesting topics now and again.

Comment by John Bradford

April 5, 2013 @ 5:46 am

Let me (hopefully) stimulate fire on this Open Mic Friday with two other ideas: 1.) DHS should re-combine the Office of Intelligence Analysis and the Office of Infrastructure Protection (forming IAIP), and 2.) DHS (under the new IAIP) should implement topic/issue managers for the four major disciplines as “Intelligence Managers” similar to National Intelligence Managers for the National Intelligence Council.

The four IMs would cover Terrorism, Cyber and Infrastructure Security, Border Security, and WMD/Catastrophes. They would fall under the (new) IAIP Director and coordinate ONLY strategic intelligence products to be produced through DHS with inputs and contributions from state, local and Component partners on major issues. The overall end state would be the establishment of a fully integrated set of issue managers looking at longitudinal issues affecting the Department’s equities.

In this way, DHS’ functionality would hover somewhere between the “meta-hazards” and “terrorism and catastrophes” definitions by Dr. Bellavita, but as coverage of long-term, strategic “signposts of change” is where the NIC often does best, adopting this sort of form on the myriad issues constituting HS might be the best way DHS–in particular, I&A–can cover down. I welcome all thoughts.

Comment by HGRATTAN

April 5, 2013 @ 8:02 am


DHS’s intelligence requirements are broadly defined as homeland security intelligence (HSINT).

HSINT is not statutorily defined. See Randol http://www.hsdl.org/?view&did=231874

IMHO, DHS should reorganize the nation’s 72 fusion centers into:
1. One (1) national fusion center
2. Four (4)regional fusion centers (NW, NE, SW, SE)
3. Fifty (50)state fusion centers
a. States with more than 1 fusion centers would designate 1 primary and all others would be satellites (secondary)
b. Territories not addressed here (TBD)

At each level, Priority Intelligence Requirements (PIRs) would be identified and collected against.

Each state would contribute to the regional PIRs and each region would contribute to the national PIRs.

Additional thought: all fusion centers and at all levels should be collocated with an emergency operations center. The national operations center (NOC) already exists.

The cumulative product would be “infotell” information and intelligence that might provide decision advantage to HSINT stakeholders.

Comment by William R. Cumming

April 5, 2013 @ 8:11 am

Thanks John and a couple of issues that I think may be imbedded in your thoughtful concept.

First, how would INTEL on Drug Cartels and OC links be covered?

Second, how would Climate Change be covered?

Third, I am somewhat unclear of reporting relationships now and how they would be changed? Both inside DHS and outside to the OFA’ and the DNI?

And fourth how should privacy issues, civil rights, and civil liberties be covered by DHS or is that adequate now?

I am a fan of the US Coast Guard [Milhaven closest to me on the Bay] but think they are way overextended in mission, and way understaffed and funded. Not sure how they cover issues of importantance to CIP and INTEL now but that could be important for domestic INTEL and even on the sealanes and borders. So how are they doing now and how would they related to the new organization you propose?

No RUSH! Just thinking outloud!

Comment by HGRATTAN

April 5, 2013 @ 9:03 am

1. Drug Cartels and OC. Three approaches:
a. Each state independently and regionally identifies immediate OC concerns (realizing that OC is transnational) and identifies PIR’s and collects against them.
b. Simultaneously, the PIRs are forwarded to the national fusion center which would have a nexus to ODNI and especially NCTC.
c. Need to share protocol in effect. Share what you can when you can.
d. Privacy and civil rights issues addressed (beyond the scope of this post)
2. Climate change would mostly a top down issue. Each region and state would identify the implications of climate change for their respective AORs unilaterally and collaboratively, i.e. state to state/region to region.
2a. Bigger issue: cyber threats: same top-down protocol plus private sector nexus
3. USCG (one of my two former positions) is statutory member of IC and has two regional fusion centers (MIFCs) that provide USCG and partners with intelligence (PIR-driven).
*Also agree USCG is overtasked. Three years ago, I asked a certain USCG Admiral if the USCG had considered the implications of incremental burden and tasking and more importantly what missions the USCG should consider (advocate!) deprioritizing. Vehement and nasty response was that we would do it all. I was attacked by several of the high ranking member’s lackeys. That same night, however, I could not buy a beer at the bar. I was a short lived USCG folk hero in a certain venue.
Note: the above is high-level talk (blog talk) and does not address comprehensively the attendant issues.

Semper Paratus

Comment by Philip J. Palin

April 5, 2013 @ 9:56 am

Mr. Bradford:

I like the strategic integration you propose. If the insight you are advocating could be generated, that would be a big win.

Does the strategic integration require the structural “right-sizing” you outline?

Some — Ostrom and Madison, even Mao if you only read rather than watched — have advocated proliferation of parallel authorities and processes as a means of avoiding group-think and encouraging creativity. Does structural efficiency help or hurt the making of intelligence products?

Comment by HGRATTAN

April 5, 2013 @ 10:07 am


Short answer. Both.

Semper Paratus

Comment by William R. Cumming

April 5, 2013 @ 10:32 am

HGrattan! Is the term [which I like] PIR [priority intelligence requirements] one in common usage in the INTEL community now or elsewhere?

And while I don’t need to know of how PIRs are desseminated outgoing or incoming I will give you an example of the problem I am thinking about from my FEMA years.

FEMA was assigned off-site radiological emergency preparedness program [REPP] by a James Earl Carter WH Press Release.

Also assigned by Executive Order to develop,implement, and update the so-called FRERP [federal radiological emergency response plan–that from its inception also included “terroris”]!


The NRC EOC had a plan as to notification of FEMA of a GENERAL ALERT! [And BTW I advocated throughout my career at FEMA that a GENERAL ALERT automatically meant the FRERP was activated. This was never done to my knowledge and the situation remains the same today]!

At any rate in both instances the Alerting message from NRC to FEMA was received at Mt. Weather outside Berryville Va. The Duty Officer pulled out his book and notified the entire membership of the on-call list of the NRC Alert.
100% of the FEMA alerted staff had no idea what the NRC meant because they had been put the list in some routine way normally by supervisors and they had no training or expertise in the FRERP or radiological incidents/events.

This history might have been a tragedy but the two General Alerts were cancelled within a short time.

This background was a factor in my recent offical comments on FEMA Docket 2012-0026 recommending that EPA be made the partner with NRC on REPP and since it is a USER FEE funded program no real budget implications.

So back to a PIR–who gets it and what would they do with it? I have no need to know the answer!

Comment by William R. Cumming

April 5, 2013 @ 10:44 am

And not to dwell on DHS and radiological emergency preparedness and response but my understanding all elements in DHS involved with such an incident/accident, even a NUDET, have never all been assembled and roles and responsibilites assigned or even capabilities verified.

One example again is what capabilities does the US Coast Guard have in radiological response?

We have strong evidence from the BP spill that few understood the NCP even some within the US Coast Guard and few understood its federalism limitiations.

Wondering if just as Michael Chertoff had never read the National Response Plan, wondering how the current Secretary understands the full DHS role in radiological response including a NUDET.

Are N. Korean agents a radiological threat domestically should war break out on the Korean penninsula?

Comment by HGRATTAN

April 5, 2013 @ 11:23 am

PIRs are SOP in the IC (acronym soup was unintentional but makes sense in the community)
Also used are RIFs: request for information (stuff I want/need to know) that someone in the IC might know or have a reach back capability to find out. RFIs are submitted to the community/directly to a specific member of the community. Completed RFIs theoretically could fulfill a PIR (rarely happens: usually there are gaps).
A post-9/11 innovation was intellipedia (intelligence version of the Wikipedia) is also available to the IC.

USCG has CBRNE-detection capabilities but mostly relies on stakeholder partners. USCG relies on significant reach back capability from stakeholder partners. Initial response would be to establish a perimeter and wait for partners. Good question would be a maritime nuclear incident where USCG would be a key player and first on scene = TBD

Note: Notwithstanding, the federalism intergovernmental implications, BP was a private sector organization and largely assumed responsibility for their spill. Louisiana and NOLA learned one lesson from Katrina: yell, holler, and complain: for if you do the feds will come and in this case they came with a private sector that opened their checkbooks.

Comment by William R. Cumming

April 5, 2013 @ 12:02 pm

One more please HGRATTAN! So in the INTEL world is there a range as in the COMSEC world of ROUTINE, PRIORITY, or FLASH INTEL Requirements? Who if such a system exists determines the level of requirement?

Comment by John Bradford

April 5, 2013 @ 12:17 pm

Mr. Palin, all-

Thank you for the comments and the additional ideas. I, for one, think structural efficiency helps the production process for analysis, as the old adage “intelligence is an art, not a science” makes that a more salient point. Without some semblance of boundaries or parameters on definition, it can be scary how tangential and, often, overly ascribed the assessment can go.

The true benefit, in practice, is a bit linked to what Mr. Grattan mentions here. It must be a symbiotic, two way street relationship. At the Federal level, these Functional Intelligence Managers (FIMs, we’ll call them), would set the macro-level Intelligence Questions analysts at HQ use to do their jobs from a strategic sense. The day-to-day, much as it is now, would be fixated on providing tactical leads based on the corroboration of DHS and FBI intelligence reporting, as well as the fusion of state and local inforamtion. The FIMS would essentially be a safety net to ensure that strategic, hard questions were being asked that brought the DHS collective to the table. Components, State and local partners, etc.

And I love the idea of the “infotel” concept. That, in my opinion, is exactly what HSINT can be, and is exactly at the heart of what a FIMS structure–anchored around addressing the strategic problems IAIP would be tasked to monitor reporting against–could help lionize as the unique flavor of DHS.

Comment by William R. Cumming

April 5, 2013 @ 12:30 pm

In partial answer to my original question I find Lawfare.com to be a substantive HS and NS blog.

Comment by Dan O'Connor

April 5, 2013 @ 1:36 pm

I’m in favor of some discussions of harmony and symbiosis as they relate to homeland security and resilience. From a purely biological perspective, when things become disharmonious there is imbalance and therefore vulnerability.

So is maintaining harmony and the panarchy of systems really resilience?

These panarchial systems that make up security and safety are interlinked in continual adaptive cycles of growth, accumulation, restructuring, and renewal…much like the human body.

Complex adaptive systems and the human body can be actual or metaphorical in the discussion. It would certainly broaden the idea and state of what homeland security is and what it means.

Just some abstract thoughts for the day! Good day to all.

Comment by John Bradford

April 5, 2013 @ 2:27 pm

One thought building on Mr. Grattan’s mention of PIRs and RIFs: The key “added value” element for the DHS Enterprise under the rubric of the Strategic/Functional Intelligence Managers mentioned above could be a requirement that they ONLY exist on a two-year, secondment basis from either I&A, a DHS Component, or even a state and local jurisdiction or fusion center into the future. This would keep the main “idea mongers” of the Department’s key equities fresh. Even in the minds of Sherman Kent and Richards Heuer, two of the key CIA ideologues, regular rotations were key towards avoiding cognitive bias and brain warping on one particular analytic line.

The regular rotation cycle every two years would also give the key stakeholders within DHS an equal crack at the bat to provide their unique perspective on core functions and equities. What could possibly be a more symbolic act of good faith across the Department than giving a fair chance to analysts at the GS-15 level within anywhere at DHS the ability to identify cross-cutting intelligence priorities for emphasis? It would also help us adapt more quickly to a world of “meta hazards”, and allow for better political will and the mythical “One DHS” orientation over time.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

April 5, 2013 @ 3:50 pm


Responding quickly after a distracting day: but isn’t there evidence that “balanced” homeostasis can also emerge from a biological system’s experience with recurring collapse and near-collapse? The old notion of a “climax community” crowns a history of considerable ecological conflict. This may sound more Darwinian than I intend. But I am probably more inclined toward strategies that keep the society open and adapting, rather than maintaining harmony per se.

Though at this very moment I would personally welcome quite a bit more harmony.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

April 5, 2013 @ 3:58 pm


All of what you’ve outlined makes sense. I am not inside the current (hydra-headed?) beast, but I hear you saying it is so divided to be deeply dysfunctional and structural reform is needed to allow it to harvest the fields and avoid killing its young. So… in addition to the various elements you have outlined would it also be helpful to embed formal “china breakers” in the system? In the private sector I have seen some fast-risers specifically assigned to lead rotating units assigned to be constructively contrary and challenge emerging consensus.

Comment by John Bradford

April 5, 2013 @ 4:11 pm


As to the “China breakers” (great term), and the need: YES!!!!!!! These issue managers, much like great National Intelligence Managers with the NIC, would essentially have to be Great Collaborators Disguised as Brilliant Bullies. People who care so much about dealing with an issue that they basically discount everything that has been done prior to people getting into the room to talk about that issue today. One of the key concepts within National Intelligence Assessments is the idea of “Signposts and Indicators”. That is, specific game-changers that are totally out of left-field. An example for an NIE, say, on the Soviet Union in 1987 might have been a large-scale drought that led to state-mandated food shortages that begat an uprising. Having that kind of capacity on major homeland security issues, in my opinion, would bring this topic to the next level.

The dysfunction within the DHS Intelligence sphere or HSINT more generally is often a consequence of people talking about the same issue using different terms of art. Having people “pinned” to the major topical areas of the HSA of 2002 (terrorism, cyber+infrastructure security, border security to include drugs and smuggling, and WMD/catastrophe prep and respons) and managed under an umbrella of shared priorities in addition to those mentioned above as PIRs or state/local-directed needs could clear much, if not all, of this up in my opinion.

Comment by Dan O'Connor

April 8, 2013 @ 8:18 am


It’s probably a syntax issue. And, its why I threw it out there…If all things hope to achieve or strive to achieve a ”balance” there is movement and in that movement there is competition. Therefore, that competition, that striving to find harmony is constant and in that constancy emerges adaptation. So in that light and as somewhat metaphorical, the pursuit of harmony has multiple adaptations by multiple systems and growth.

So maybe it’s the pursuit of harmony and maintaining a bigger wobble area where there is more bleed over into other systems…a surplus if you will and in those surpluses, opportunity to always gain and return to “center” and recalibrate. It seems to me that without the larger interface amongst these systems, whether its termed “bleed over”, surplus, loose coupling, or whatever, there is more opportunity to share and transfer.

In the opposite realm, where everything is tightly coupled and there are no margins for error, gaps are created and there is no interface and silo’s start…and in those silos “organisms” no longer seek harmony because there is nothing to interact with.
So in my mind harmony may be more akin to adroit adaptation and not just finding a nice place to “chill”.

Maybe way too esoteric, but organizations do and can act like organisms and complex adaptive systems so in that light the homeland security enterprise may need more interface with its myriad of functions instead of simply trying to define itself as one thing.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

April 8, 2013 @ 10:01 am


Thanks for continuing the conversation. With this further explanation, we are much closer than I first perceived. Over the weekend I was reminded that the “harma” in harmony is an archaic Greek word for the joint that connects a chariot’s axle to its trace. For the chariot, charioteer, and horses to be worth much at all, this one piece needs to be both strong and have a lot of wobble. I am tempted to launch into the implications for homeland security in Plato’s Phaedrus — especially the chariot allegory — but like you, am afraid this is the kind of thing that now just seems esoteric.

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