Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

September 27, 2013

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on September 27, 2013

On this date in 1290 an earthquake with an estimated 6.8 magnitude hit northeast of what is now Beijing China.  Approximately 100,000 were killed.

On this date in 1915 a gasoline explosion in Ardmore Oklahoma killed 43 and injured many more. Most of the town was destroyed.

On this date in 1993 separatists and other irregular forces took Sokhumi, the capital of the Georgian province of Abkahzia.  An especially gruesome massacre of Georgian ethnics followed.  The number killed has not been well-established, but prompted significant population displacement.  Abkhazia has since been recognized by Russia and a few other states as an independent nation.

What’s on your mind related to homeland security?

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Comment by Rubin, Claire

September 27, 2013 @ 5:38 am

The world’s getting hotter, the seas are rising and the U.N. climate change report says humans are the likely cause.

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 27, 2013 @ 9:27 am

It would be of great interest to me to know the topics covered in most detail by this blog and whether there is a ranking in the minds of the posters as to their importance.

There does seem to be some interest in reorganizing HS oversight in 2015 when IMO the Republicans will hold both the House and Senate.

So one topic for example that I believe is the top ranking issue in HS is the failure of the authorizing committees to hold adequate oversight of HS and DHS policy and doctrine leading to huge unnecessary exposure domestically to terrorism incidents and events.

Other top ranking issues in order are DHS policy and doctrine on the following [reasons department created]:

(1) Effort on WMD prevention, protection, CIP including cyber security;

(2) CIP including cyber security;

(3) collection, analysis and dissemination of domestic INTEL including protection of privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties.

I would argue that DHS is well documented as largely failing on these seminal priorities. Perhaps others would differ.

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 27, 2013 @ 1:37 pm

The Department of Homeland Security should house some of –the leading expertise on issues of federalism–both law and policy. Sometimes intergovernmental expertise is most important. Just ask Juliette Kayyem now candidate for governor in Massachusetts.

Many components in DHS have federal law enforcement or quasi-military authority. These don’t usually trigger federalism issues but rather issues of comity= an equitable legal principle.

FEMA for example is an administrative grant making agency with no Commerce Clause or regulatory authority although in 983 OLC of DoJ opined that the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act predecessor statute [still effective in part] the Disaster Relief Act of 1974 (Public Law 93-288) could in fact trigger the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution.

After a long time with official silence CRS is now becoming increasing interested in federalism issues and policy. See most recently:

Federalism, State Sovereignty and the Constitution: Basis and Limits of Congressional Power, September 23, 2013

Comment by Philip J. Palin

September 27, 2013 @ 3:34 pm


I’ll leave a substantive discussion of DHS priorities for another day (and perhaps someone else).

But part of your question relates to priorities of HLSWatch posters. I certainly do NOT speak for Arnold, Chris, or Christian.

You may recall that I’ve had two stages of engagement posting with HLSWatch. When I started in 2009 I tried hard to focus on a set of perceived HS (not necessarily DHS) priorities.

Then I resigned from posting for several months. Since coming back I use my weekly post to try to work through an HS issue that is troubling or intriguing me. Resilience, catastrophes, civil liberty and private-public relations tend to be frequent concerns of mine.

I apologize for the editorial focus being quite so self-indulgent. But trying to meet my own expectations of the more priority-oriented approach just left me perpetually frustrated.

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 27, 2013 @ 7:27 pm

Thanks Phil and I think I understand!

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 28, 2013 @ 11:03 pm

As of early Sunday AM predicting a 5 day shutdown of the US government. Tragic for the City on a Hill!

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 30, 2013 @ 1:18 pm

MSM reporting dispute over amount spilled in federal claims against BP!

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 30, 2013 @ 1:20 pm

Revealed in post event reports of WEST, TX chemical explosion the Houston Chronicles assertion that no governmental organization had oversight of safety issues for the plant closer to the truth than the notion that some org somewhere did!

We should all understand that under current Executive Branch doctrine and Congressional oversight interest gaps in public health and safety regulation are almost never disclosed publically.

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