Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

October 31, 2013

Prosaic sight and poetic insight

Filed under: Catastrophes,Futures,Strategy — by Philip J. Palin on October 31, 2013

risingwaters_full

Once Again by Amy Medina

Tuesday an exhibition of photographs related to last year’s assault by the one-time Hurricane Sandy opened at the Museum of the City of New York. It will run through March 2, 2014. I saw a sort-of-preview at the International Center of Photography in September.

The photography critic, James Estrin, headlined his blog post on the exhibition, “A Prosaic View of Hurricane Sandy.” The title provokes several questions, including: Is it possible the results of Sandy point toward a future when similar events will become ordinary, everyday, vapid, humdrum, tedious, tiresome, uninteresting… prosaic?

Based on our behavior, this is how most of us perceive 150 murders a day in Syria (in the US three people are killed by gun per hour) or the continuing suffering in Haiti or the accelerating entropy of US infrastructure or… another choice from a long list of seemingly intractable crises.  Plenty of prose is available on each.  But persuasive insight?

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Photojournalism by Matt Nighswander/NBC News

Many — maybe most — of the more than 200 images in the exhibit are amateur color digitals of Americans in the midst of circumstances we still consider far outside the ordinary: destroyed homes, flooded streets, surrounded by mountains of donated clothes, waiting in long lines for water or food or fuel. The images personalize vulnerability (or should I write threat or consequence or simply stick with risk?).

Because you read Homeland Security Watch, you would probably do what I did with most of these photographs: Connect each human face and its context to a policy, strategy, or tactic. Consequence of subsidized insurance. Consequence of delayed maintenance. Consequence of unsolicited donations. Consequence of coordination failure. Consequence of faulty problem analysis. And so it goes, cause and effect unfolding.

None of this is necessarily wrong. Observation and analysis are among the best bets in the human toolkit. Lessons-learned can be very important the next time.  But I suggest this is seeing — and thinking — in prose.

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Image_DSC6477b.jpg by Alex Fradkin

Prose is where most of us should spend most of our time and energy.  There are ordinary, everyday, tedious problems and issues to engage.  A bit more time and energy on a disciplined process of risk analysis for fuel distribution in the New York metro area would have paid big dividends twelve months ago.

But there is also a profound need for more poetic seeing, thinking, and doing.

Prose can be good at breaking apart the complicated into its component parts.  Prose alone is usually insufficient for perceiving — in any meaningful way — the whole or envisioning entirely new possibilities.  Prose needs at least a touch of poetry to move from understanding to transforming.

The classical Greeks understood poiesis, from which our poetry is derived, as any kind of creating or making.  Trying to interpret the Greek sense of the term, Martin Heidegger blends making (machen), production (herstellen), and power (macht).  Does anyone anymore even aspire to this sort of poetics?

The problems and opportunities of homeland security need both prose and poetry.  But we are especially deficient in poetry.

jet-star-roller-coaster-Alex-Fradkin

Jetstar by Alex Fradkin

October 29, 2013

“If we weren’t doing what we now do, would we want to start doing it?”

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on October 29, 2013

Peter Drucker emphasized the importance of continually challenging one’s assumptions. He said “Make yourself capable of doing this by building organized abandonment into your system. By asking yourself every few years, If we weren’t doing what we now do, would we want to start doing it? And if the answer is ‘probably not,’ then maybe it isn’t the right thing to do anymore.”

How would you apply Drucker’s guidance to homeland security?

That’s the question the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security selected for its 7th annual essay contest.

Contest details (including how to send in your essay) can be found at this link: https://www.chds.us/?essay/overview.

Guidelines
Your response may be general or focus on a specific aspect (organizational, policy, strategy, practice, technological innovation, social impact, etc.) or discipline/field, (emergency management, public health, law enforcement, critical infrastructure, intelligence, etc.). Essays may be written from any perspective – e.g. government, private sector, cultural, local community,  citizen, and so on.

Who may enter:

The competition is open to everyone with an interest in homeland defense and security. Current Center for Homeland Defense and Security faculty, staff, students and graduates (of the Master’s or Executive Leaders Programs) are not eligible.

Fine print:

The essay should be no more than five pages, single spaced, in twelve point type and in Word or PDF format. Do not include your name on the essay. Essays must be original and not published elsewhere. Submission implies permission to publish.

Timeline:

The deadline for submission is 31 January 2014. Finalists will be announced no later than 31 May 2014.

Criteria:

Essays will be evaluated on relevance to the question, innovation of the idea(s), strength of the argument, and quality of the writing.

 

October 25, 2013

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on October 25, 2013

On this date in 2012 Sandy plowed across Southeastern Cuba as a CAT-3 hurricane. She would later come ashore in the Northeast United States as a serious subtropical storm. Over the hurricane’s entire track more than 140 deaths were tied directly to the storm, another 138 deaths were indirectly related. Estimated financial losses exceeded $68 billion.

On October 24, 1960 at least 100 were killed by the premature ignition of an ICBM test rocket at the Bainkonur Test Range in the then Soviet Union.

On this date in 2009 155 people were killed and more than 720 were injured in a double car bombing in Baghdad, Iraq.

October 24, 2013

An Open Letter to Jeh Johnson

Filed under: General Homeland Security,Organizational Issues,Resilience,Risk Assessment — by Philip J. Palin on October 24, 2013

October 24, 2013

Mr. Jeh Johnson, Esq.
Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
1285 Avenue of the Americas
New York, New York

Dear Mr. Johnson:

There are some professional advancements that prompt more sympathy than celebration. I will not congratulate you on your recent nomination as secretary of homeland security. But I certainly wish you well.

Your nomination prompted reading again your remarks of last November before the Oxford Union. I had forgotten your closing reference to Martin Luther King’s November, 1957 sermon on “Loving your enemies.”   It is a great sermon with profound implications for counter-terrorism.

Dr. King’s comments are equally well-suited for aspects of the homeland security mission at some remove from counter-terrorism. Early in the sermon, he asked and answered, “How do you go about loving your enemies? I think the first thing is this: In order to love your enemies, you must begin by analyzing self.”

It is this aspect of love that best differentiates your new homeland security role from your long-time role in national security.

You have considerable experience in the Department of Defense. It is entirely appropriate that the Pentagon and military services be primarily concerned with external threats.  Your Oxford Union address communicates this threat-focus quite effectively. Homeland security certainly needs to be aware of external threats, but this is not its primary domain.

There are also internal threats. I would argue these are primarily the object of local, state, tribal, and federal systems of justice.  Homeland security has a collaborative and constructive role to contribute here, but — once again — this is not its primary domain.

The differentiated role of homeland security is to systematically and thoughtfully engage our vulnerabilities. Just as Dr. King advocated, homeland security begins by analyzing self, as expressed in neighborhoods and networks spanning the nation. There are threats. There are enemies. But that is not where we should begin.

We best begin by acknowledging our failures, short-comings, and weakness. We begin by carefully examining our most important relationships.  We even take a critical look at our greatest strengths, considering how and where they might lead us astray. We begin by uplifting ourselves, especially our ability to love.

Because you are familiar with Dr. King’s rigorous definition of love more explanation is not needed. But clearly it is difficult for a speech, strategy, or testimony to give priority to love.  Too many will not take you seriously. Fortunately the wonk’s code-word for the kind of love advocated by Dr. King is resilience: much easier to reference than love (but just about as complicated).

At Oxford you mentioned the moral conundrum a career in national security had presented you.  I hope your time in homeland security may offer creative resolution… for all of us.

Yours in resilience,

Philip J. Palin

Mr. Johnson Goes to Oxford

Filed under: Legal Issues,Terrorist Threats & Attacks — by Philip J. Palin on October 24, 2013


Video of Mr. Johnson’s address to the Oxford Union

Nearly eleven months ago Jeh Johnson, then coming to the close of his tenure as DOD General Counsel, addressed the Oxford Union on how the conflict with al-Qaeda and its affiliates will end.

Mr. Johnson has now been nominated to serve as the secretary of homeland security.

Following is most of that speech.  I do not include a long preface of administration priorities achieved nor any of the twenty-five footnotes.  Other lacunae are noted below.

–+–

The United States government is in an armed conflict against al Qaeda and associated forces, to which the laws of armed conflict apply. One week after 9/11, our Congress authorized our President to “to use all necessary and appropriate force” against those nations, organizations and individuals responsible for 9/11. President Obama, like President Bush before him, as Commander-in-Chief of our Armed Forces, has acted militarily based on that authorization. In 2006, our Supreme Court also endorsed the view that the United States is in an armed conflict with al Qaeda.[7] Therefore, all three branches of the United States government – including the two political branches elected by the people and the judicial branch appointed for life (and therefore not subject to the whims and political pressures of the voters) – have endorsed the view that our efforts against al Qaeda may properly be viewed as an armed conflict.

But, for the United States, this is a new kind of war. It is an unconventional war against an unconventional enemy. And, given its unconventional nature, President Obama – himself a lawyer and a good one – has insisted that our efforts in pursuit of this enemy stay firmly rooted in conventional legal principles. For, in our efforts to destroy and dismantle al Qaeda, we cannot dismantle our laws and our values, too.

The danger of al Qaeda is well known. It is a terrorist organization determined to commit acts of violence against innocent civilians. The danger of the conflict against al Qaeda is that it lacks conventional boundaries, against an enemy that does not observe the rules of armed conflict, does not wear a uniform, and can resemble a civilian.

But we refuse to allow this enemy, with its contemptible tactics, to define the way in which we wage war. Our efforts remain grounded in the rule of law. In this unconventional conflict, therefore, we apply conventional legal principles – conventional legal principles found in treaties and customary international law.

As in armed conflict, we have been clear in defining the enemy and defining our objective against that enemy.

We have made clear that we are not at war with an idea, a religion, or a tactic. We are at war with an organized, armed group — a group determined to kill innocent civilians.

We have publicly stated that our enemy consists of those persons who are part of the Taliban, al-Qaeda or associated forces, a declaration that has been embraced by two U.S. Presidents, accepted by our courts, and affirmed by our Congress.

We have publicly defined an “associated force” as having two characteristics: (1) an organized, armed group that has entered the fight alongside al Qaeda, and (2) is a co-belligerent with al Qaeda in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.

Our enemy does not include anyone solely in the category of activist, journalist, or propagandist.

Nor does our enemy in this armed conflict include a “lone wolf” who, inspired by al Qaeda’s ideology, self-radicalizes in the basement of his own home, without ever actually becoming part of al Qaeda. Such persons are dangerous, but are a matter for civilian law enforcement, not the military, because they are not part of the enemy force.

And, we have publicly stated that our goal in this conflict is to “disrupt, dismantle, and ensure a lasting defeat of al Qaeda and violent extremist affiliates.”

Some legal scholars and commentators in our country brand the detention by the military of members of al Qaeda as “indefinite detention without charges.” Some refer to targeted lethal force against known, identified individual members of al Qaeda as “extrajudicial killing.”

Viewed within the context of law enforcement or criminal justice, where no person is sentenced to death or prison without an indictment, an arraignment, and a trial before an impartial judge or jury, these characterizations might be understandable.

Viewed within the context of conventional armed conflict — as they should be — capture, detention and lethal force are traditional practices as old as armies. Capture and detention by the military are part and parcel of armed conflict. We employ weapons of war against al Qaeda, but in a manner consistent with the law of war. We employ lethal force, but in a manner consistent with the law of war principles of proportionality, necessity and distinction. We detain those who are part of al Qaeda, but in a manner consistent with Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions and all other applicable law.

But, now that efforts by the U.S. military against al Qaeda are in their 12th year, we must also ask ourselves: how will this conflict end? It is an unconventional conflict, against an unconventional enemy, and will not end in conventional terms.

Conventional conflicts in history tend to have had conventional endings…

(Here Mr. Johnson provides a quick summary of how a few prior wars have ended.)

We cannot and should not expect al Qaeda and its associated forces to all surrender, all lay down their weapons in an open field, or to sign a peace treaty with us. They are terrorist organizations. Nor can we capture or kill every last terrorist who claims an affiliation with al Qaeda.

I am aware of studies that suggest that many “terrorist” organizations eventually denounce terrorism and violence, and seek to address their grievances through some form of reconciliation or participation in a political process.[20]

Al Qaeda is not in that category.

Al Qaeda’s radical and absurd goals have included global domination through a violent Islamic caliphate, terrorizing the United States and other western nations from retreating from the world stage,[21] and the destruction of Israel. There is no compromise or political bargain that can be struck with those who pursue such aims.

In the current conflict with al Qaeda, I can offer no prediction about when this conflict will end, or whether we are, as Winston Churchill described it, near the “beginning of the end.”

I do believe that on the present course, there will come a tipping point – a tipping point at which so many of the leaders and operatives of al Qaeda and its affiliates have been killed or captured, and the group is no longer able to attempt or launch a strategic attack against the United States, such that al Qaeda as we know it, the organization that our Congress authorized the military to pursue in 2001, has been effectively destroyed.

At that point, we must be able to say to ourselves that our efforts should no longer be considered an “armed conflict” against al Qaeda and its associated forces; rather, a counterterrorism effort against individuals who are the scattered remnants of al Qaeda, or are parts of groups unaffiliated with al Qaeda, for which the law enforcement and intelligence resources of our government are principally responsible, in cooperation with the international community – with our military assets available in reserve to address continuing and imminent terrorist threats…

(Here Mr. Johnson considers legal issues in making the transition from war time to peace time.)

For now, we must continue our efforts to disrupt, dismantle and ensure a lasting defeat of al Qaeda. Though severely degraded, al Qaeda remains a threat to the citizens of the United States, the United Kingdom and other nations. We must disrupt al Qaeda’s terrorist attack planning before it gets anywhere near our homeland or our citizens. We must counter al Qaeda in the places where it seeks to establish safe haven, and prevent it from reconstituting in others. To do this we must utilize every national security element of our government, and work closely with our friends and allies like the United Kingdom and others.

Finally, it was a warfighting four-star general who reminded me, as I previewed these remarks for him, that none of this will ever be possible if we fail to understand and address what attracts a young man to an organization like al Qaeda in the first place. Al Qaeda claims to represent the interests of all Muslims. By word and deed, we must stand with the millions of people within the Muslim world who reject Al Qaeda as a marginalized, extreme and violent organization that does not represent the Muslim values of peace and brotherhood. For, if al Qaeda can recruit new terrorists to its cause faster than we can kill or capture them, we fight an endless, hopeless battle that only perpetuates a downward spiral of hate, recrimination, violence and fear.

“War” must be regarded as a finite, extraordinary and unnatural state of affairs. War permits one man – if he is a “privileged belligerent,” consistent with the laws of war — to kill another. War violates the natural order of things, in which children bury their parents; in war parents bury their children. In its 12th year, we must not accept the current conflict, and all that it entails, as the “new normal.” Peace must be regarded as the norm toward which the human race continually strives.

Right here at Oxford you have the excellent work of the Changing Character of War program: leading scholars committed to the study of war, who have observed that analyzing war in terms of a continuum of armed conflict — where military force is used at various points without a distinct break between war and peace — is counterproductive. Such an approach, they argue, results in an erosion of “any demarcation between war and peace,” the very effect of which is to create uncertainty about how to define war itself.

I did not go to Oxford. I am a graduate of a small, all-male historically black college in the southern part of the United States, Morehouse College. The guiding light for every Morehouse man is our most famous alumnus, Martin Luther King, who preached the inherent insanity of all wars. I am therefore a student and disciple of Dr. King – though I became an imperfect one the first time I gave legal approval for the use of military force. I accepted this conundrum when I took this job. But, I still carry with me the words from Dr. King: “Returning hate for hate multiples hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars … violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction … The chain reaction of evil—hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars—must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.”

October 22, 2013

Ten reasons the Senate should reject the nomination of Jeh Johnson to be DHS Secretary

Filed under: Humor — by Christopher Bellavita on October 22, 2013

What follows reflects some of the reaction — in news stories and in blogs — to the nomination of Jeh Johnson to be the 4th Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

 

October 18, 2013

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on October 18, 2013

What’s on your mind related to homeland security?

October 17, 2013

Jeh Johnson nominated for DHS Secretary

Filed under: DHS News,General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on October 17, 2013

Several news outlets are reporting the President will nominate Jeh Johnson as Secretary of Homeland Security.  Mr. Johnson served as DOD Chief Counsel from 2009-2012.

Lots to talk about in tomorrow’ Friday Free Forum?

The following is taken verbatim from the website of the law firm with which Mr. Johnson has been affiliated since departing the Department of Defense:

Jeh Johnson’s career has been a mixture of successful private law practice and distinguished public service. In private practice, Mr. Johnson is a nationally recognized trial lawyer, having personally tried some of the highest stakes commercial cases of recent years. At age 47, he was elected a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers. In public service, Mr. Johnson was appointed by President Obama to serve as the General Counsel of the Department of Defense (2009-2012), by President Clinton to serve as General Counsel of the Department of the Air Force (1998-2001), and he served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York (1989-1991).

EXPERIENCE

As General Counsel of the Defense Department in President Obama’s first term, Mr. Johnson was the senior lawyer for the largest government agency in the world, responsible for the legal work of more than 10,000 military and civilian lawyers. With the nation in armed conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, and against al-Qaeda during his tenure, Mr. Johnson was responsible for the prior legal review and approval of every military operation approved by the President and Secretary of Defense.

Mr. Johnson is credited with spear-heading reforms to the military commissions system at Guantanamo Bay adopted by the Congress in 2009, and co-authoring the 250-page report that paved the way for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” by the Congress in 2010. The report was hailed by the Washington Post editorial page as a remarkable document for its “honest, thorough and respectful handling of a delicate subject.” Mr. Johnson’s November 2012 address at the Oxford Union in England, “The Conflict Against al-Qaeda and Its Affiliates: How Will It End?,” received national and international press attention and wide editorial acclaim.

In private practice in 1984-1988, 1992-1998, 2001-2008 and now, Mr. Johnson has been a Paul Weiss litigator and civil and criminal trial lawyer. His career as a trial lawyer began when he was an Assistant U.S. Attorney. In three years as a federal prosecutor, Mr. Johnson tried 12 jury cases and argued 11 appeals before the Second Circuit. Building on that experience, Mr. Johnson has continued to try significant civil and criminal cases in private practice.

–+–

Homeland Security Watch has one prior post dealing with Mr. Johnson, from February 23, 2012.

Polycentric Resilience

Filed under: Resilience,State and Local HLS,Strategy — by Philip J. Palin on October 17, 2013

Reflections on resilience emerging from the shutdown:

You probably saw the story where the State of Arizona did a deal to reopen the Grand Canyon to tourists.  New York and South Dakota made similar arrangements for the Statue of Liberty and Mt. Rushmore.

In Utah and Wyoming visits to state parks exploded after nearby national parks were closed.

Over the last two weeks I have been busy working with state and local homeland security officials preparing for a big regional exercise in late October.  (Admittedly important federal funds had already been transferred.)

According to the Global Post, some Chinese envy the resilience of American society in the midst of the federal government shutdown:

Since the shutdown began nine days ago, Chinese social media have been full of wistful, almost admiring remarks about how the shutdown could only happen in a democratic country with a resilient economy and responsive political representation… 

Many posts discussed how such a shutdown could never happen in China, because the country would immediately be plunged into chaos. The fact that many state and local government functions have continued despite the shutdown was a particular object of marvel. One Chinese author who resides in the US expressed wonder that “in the days since the government closed, everybody is unconcerned.” 

“The reason is simple,” he continued. “Just because the federal government shut down, that doesn’t mean the local government is shut down. The various levels of government do not depend on each other.” Alluding to Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America,” he concluded that “by understanding local autonomy, you understand America.” 

Some see federalism as an inefficient way to govern a modern nation.  But as seen during the shutdown,  diversity of jurisdictions can be a source of resilience.  Moreover, several studies have found that “polycentric” political structures are often more efficient than most centralized systems.

In her 2009 Nobel Lecture, the late Elinor Ostrom reported:

The most efficient producers supply more output for given inputs in high multiplicity metropolitan areas than do the efficient producers in metropolitan areas with fewer producers… Metropolitan areas with large numbers of autonomous direct service producers achieved higher levels of technical efficiency… We demonstrated that complexity is not the same as chaos in regard to metropolitan governance.  That lesson has carried forth as we have undertaken further empirical studies of polycentric governance of resource and infrastructure systems across the world. (Beyond Markets and States: Polycentric Governance of Complex Economic Systems)

Part of what’s happening here, it seems to me (but I have never read Dr. Ostrom suggesting anything similar), is an echo of the Jeffersonian notion that government closest to the governed is the most  efficacious government.  What has surely been found is that governance does not always involve government.

Elinor Ostrom and colleagues have found — and confirmed again and again — that communications, trust, and mutual monitoring are crucial in sustaining any resilient system. From the same Nobel Lecture:

Where individuals do not know one another, cannot communicate effectively, and thus cannot develop agreements, norms and sanctions, aggregate predictions derived from models of rational individuals in a  non-cooperative game receive substantial support… On the other hand, the capacity to overcome dilemmas and create effective governance occurred far more frequently than expected.

In particular cooperation and shared compliance with self-generated boundaries and rules increase when six specific conditions are achieved.  (See page 433 of the lecture text and my final paragraph below.)  Having observed these outcomes in a wide-range of different contexts and cultures, Dr. Ostrom concludes her lecture with:

A core goal of public policy should be to facilitate the development of institutions that bring out the best in humans.  We need to ask how diverse polycentric  institutions help or hinder the innovativeness, learning, adapting, trustworthiness, levels of cooperation of participants, and the achievement of more effective, equitable, and sustainable outcomes at multiple scales.

More resilience emerges from more communication — especially face-to-face communications — with people who know each other or are at least familiar with each other’s backgrounds, where each person’s contribution can be significant and each can come and go without much risk, yet where long-term engagement has a reasonable opportunity for generating greater value than disengagement (regardless of how value is defined), and those involved can largely self-sustain a sanctioning system for boundaries and norms mutually accepted.

What does the evidence of the last three weeks tell us regarding the state of polycentric resilience in the United States?

October 16, 2013

Upending the Natural (and National Security) Order of Things: A Harvard Forum on the NSA, Privacy, and the Press

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Arnold Bogis on October 16, 2013

A few weeks ago, Harvard’s Institute of Politics (an enduring legacy of the Kennedy family that is unique in higher education) held a panel discussion in Washington (instead of Cambridge) on “The NSA Conundrum: National Security vs. Privacy and the Press“ (in their language a “Forum,” and it was hosted in DC for Harvard alumni only…so not exactly in the spirit of the vast majority of such events at Harvard’s Kennedy School that are open to the public and allow for anyone to ask a question of the invited guests). It was an interesting conversation moderated by Harvard professor Graham Allison that included former DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff, former Representative (and rumored future DHS Secretary) Jane Harman, and New York Times journalist David Sanger.

The official description:

In the flurry of leaks, leakers, and prosecutions, it is difficult to get one’s bearings. To explore some of the key questions beneath the surface, the Institute of Politics and Harvard Kennedy School has assembled a panel of thoughtful participant observers for this Forum on the Road including Harvard Professor Graham T. Allison, former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, former US Representative Jane Harman, and The New York Times Journalist David E. Sanger.

Among the questions moderator Graham Allison will put to the panel are:

  • Was Scott McNealy (founder of Sun Microsystems) correct two decades ago when he said: “privacy is history: if you liked privacy, forget about it,” or would that mean resignation to life in Orwell’s world of 1984?
  • Is the concept of a journalist as a “aider, abettor, or co-conspirator” conceivable?
  • Should Americans think of Edward Snowden (the NSA leaker) as a “traitor” or as a “whistleblower?”
  • Has the net effect of WikiLeaks and the NSA releases on American national security been negative or positive?
  • Has the emergence of a pervasive, invasive 24/7 Washington news cycle and a culture of leaks provided more sunshine and better national security deliberations and choices—or alternatively, degraded the process of analysis and deliberation essential to sound national security decision making?

Here is the video of the entire event:

 

As someone in the audience, what struck me afterwards was that the entire panel could not bring themselves to utter the name “Glenn Greenwald.”  He is the lawyer, blogger, and journalist working for the British paper The Guardian who has been heavily involved in releasing the Snowden leaks. Instead of using his name, he was referred to as “a blogger,” especially by Harman.  I’m guessing the national security types on the panel feel angered or insulted by his actions while Sanger does not appreciate that someone outside of the elite journalistic establishment is in large part driving a national, and even international, discussion.

October 14, 2013

Ballplayers Building Resilience: Does the Whole of Community Include the Red Sox?

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Arnold Bogis on October 14, 2013

Embedded image permalink

— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) October 14, 2013

The man, Stan Grossfeld, with the #RedSox shot of the night: pic.twitter.com/KoOOsFGYJ4

After last night’s Red Sox come from behind victory Pete Abraham, a Boston Globe reporter, tweeted the above image of Boston police officer Steve Horgan celebrating David Ortiz’s game tying grand slam (along with the legs of Detroit Tiger outfielder Torii Hunter).

While Officer Horgan certainly captured the mood of Red Sox Nation, what struck me more (in terms of this blog) were remarks by Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s (“Salty”), who hit the walk off single in the bottom of the ninth.  In particular, his remarks on resilience: “this city has been so resilient all year long.”

I know it’s easy for any sports team to describe themselves as “resilient.”  Usually the words used are “tough” or “never surrender or quit” or even “relentless.”  This is certainly also not the first instance where sport teams has provided an emotional lift to a city or even nation after a traumatic event – see President Bush throwing out the first pitch during the World Series at Yankee Stadium following 9/11 (even as a Red Sox fan I loved this: “Derek Jeter, however, was less awed than amused. “Don’t bounce it,” the shortstop told Bush. “Or else they’ll boo you.””)

But to my thought/idea/suspicion(?), this is also not the first time since the Marathon Bombings that local sport teams in Boston have been explicitly connected not with just the strength, emotional, or psychological well being of the area’s residents, but to resilience. “Boston Strong” was quickly adopted as a motto for the city in general and for all the sport teams.

Here is the Obnoxious Boston Fan to explain:

A city that was blasted to pieces on Patriots’ Day has roared back on so many levels in the almost six months to the day since. None of us would trivialize what happened to those whose lives where shattered by the Brothers Grim that day, or in the ensuing craziness. But Boston’s pro sports teams have been a spearhead in everyone’s recovery. And even those who lost loved ones, or limbs, or peace of mind, have found solace, comfort and support by throwing out the first pitch, standing on the Gillette sidelines or waving the Boston Strong flag before a Bruins game.

Grit and balls?

More like molecular iron and testicular grandeur.

 

The meaning of #BostonStrong has been watered down in the eyes of many.

But it’s just that mentality that makes being a sports fan in or of Boston, or one who has kept his Boston roots firmly planted across three time zones as a journalist, so special.

Tough, Resilient. Loyal to a fault. Caustic, profane and sarcastic, yet not afraid to cry once everyone else has left the room. Blue-collar even when we’re white collar. Always trying to make things better, even when they keep getting worse.

It’s that “never-say-die” mentality we all grew up with that Brady and Ortiz exhibited Sunday.

As kids, we were never allowed to quit. Anything. Ever. As adults, we’re able to make rational decisions on the best time to cut our losses. Leaving Fenway Park or Gillette Stadium early on Sunday was one of those adult mistakes that those who made it may never live down in their minds.

Whether or not there have been truly observable, measurable, and/or quantifiable aspects of whatever one wishes to define as “resilience” I’ll leave up to others.  However, I will throw out for consideration that “Boston Strong” and the statements of Salty and David Ortiz and the Boston Bruins have done so much more to advance resilience in New England than anything yet accomplished by any programs implemented by the Federal government – FEMA, ASPR, etc. – or the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or the City of Boston.

This is not to take a thing away from all of their efforts.  In particular FEMA Deputy Director Richard Serino, a lifelong resident and public servant in Boston, or anyone at the State or Boston area levels of government.

Maybe I’m just becoming a bit disenchanted with efforts labeled as “resilience” in the bureaucracies I’ve seen up close (e.g. can we not include resilience in strategic documents without first determining what it means?!?).

But if there happens to be another terrorist attack in the Boston area, or this winter a blizzard strikes, I would bet that the residents of the area will have closer connections (that’s the idea of “social capital” folks are pushing) and even more willingness to help their neighbors and listen to authorities’ instructions than ever before.

Is it time for homeland security professionals to begin casting even a wider net in search of resilience building partnerships?  For every innovative idea there must be ten legacy programs re-labeled “resiliency” because it is the buzz word of the moment.  For every Red Sox or Boston Bruins team bringing a community closer together, there are ten programs aimed at convincing residents to build kits, make plans, and stay informed.

At the very least, can someone bridge the difference?

[Apologies for the rambling nature of the above post - I was moved both as a Sox and resilience fan by yesterday's win.  I'm still working out the actual meaning for what traditional actors in homeland security consider non-traditional actors in promoting resilience...and even what means "traditional" and non-traditional" actors in homeland security...]

[Update: I should clarify/confuse my argument a little bit further: what I did not set out to do was speak poorly about those existing efforts at every level of government that aim to further preparedness.  For example, while Chief of Boston EMS Rich Serino put into place a number of innovative public-private partnerships that furthered what is now considered the "resilience" of the community.  When he developed them, however, he was improving something called "preparedness" or "preparedness and response."  It is this continuing confusion about what resilience means at the programmatic level, and the readiness for bureaucracies at all levels to claim that legacy programs build "resilience" that is leading me to believe that the quantum jumps in this field are occurring at the Red Sox level and not in the local FEMA or ASPR Rec office.]

October 11, 2013

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on October 11, 2013

On October 12, 2000 the USS Cole was attacked by a small craft while being refueled in the harbor at Aden (Yemen).   A shaped explosive did extensive damage to the Navy destroyer, killing 17 sailors and injuring thirty-nine. Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack, two years after the East Africa embassy bombings and eleven months before the attacks on New York and Washington.

What’s on your mind related to homeland security?

October 10, 2013

Completing Critias

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on October 10, 2013

Dissatisfied even disgusted by the political system of his time and place, Plato composed his Republic. This systematic expression of political philosophy is often credited as the source of several American constitutional principles, including the separation of powers currently so prominent.

But Plato was evidently soon dissatisfied even with his own self-styled Politeia (“life as a citizen”). He embarked on a set of three dialogues to amend and clarify his description of an ideal state. The first of these is the Timaeus. The second is the unfinished Critias. The third, Hermocrates, was never written or has been lost.

Timaeus is a personification of Pythagorean science. Less dialogue than monologue the text sets out the ordered, rational, understandable and thereby beautiful character of creation. In particular Timaeus describes how our intellect can engage with necessity to fulfill the potential of creation, even to being co-creators.

While as far as we know the third dialogue was never begun, the character of Hermocrates appears in the first two parts of the planned trilogy and is almost certainly based on the Greek Sicilian statesman and general of the same name who Thucydides quotes at length. Faced with internal discord and the prospect of civil war, Hermocrates was a passionate advocate for pragmatic peace and amicable problem-solving even in the midst of profoundly conflicting interests.

Critias is named for another contemporary of Socrates, a leading conservative politician and intellectual of the crucial period when Athens had been humbled by the consequences of the Peloponesian wars. The philosopher, playwright, and general was a leading member of the tyrannical Thirty (memorialized as “noble men who restrained the hubris of the accursed Athenian Demos a short time.” Xenophon describes Critias as an amoral and brutal man.  Philostratus called him “the most evil of all men.”

In his private letters Plato points to the career of Critias as one of the reasons he avoided active politics. But Critias was also Plato’s second cousin and, however fierce his public persona, Critias is depicted in the Dialogues as a refined and thoughtful man.

The narrative given to Critias — only twelve pages in my translation — envisions a Golden Age nine-thousand years prior when a virtuous people demonstrated an intelligence, courage and resourcefulness so sorely lacking in the present.  ”They aimed at the mean between splendor and poverty, dwelling in decent houses where they grew old, themselves and their children’s children, each succeeding generation leaving them to another like itself. ”  It was, according to Critias, “their own commonwealth in righteousness.”

Here is my reading — and attempt to relate to homeland security — reduced to blog-like length:

Timaeus offers our thesis.  The universe consists of being and becoming.  Being is good.  Becoming is problematic, potentially either good or bad.   To embrace the good and avoid the bad we must engage “the thoughts and harmonies of the universe.”  In this way we will, “correct the courses of our head that were corrupted at our birth, and should assimilate the thinking to the thought, renewing our original nature, so that having assimilated them we may attain to that best life which the gods have set before mankind…”

Critias is our anti-thesis.  The best life is not so exalted.  We are not meant or able to know the way or intention of the universe.  Our place is with our families and neighbors, living well but modestly in accordance with the circumstances into which we have been born.  The tragic temptation according to Critias is “the infection of wicked coveting and pride of power.”

This middle dialogue closes with a dramatic scene.  Disgusted by human pride, the god-of-gods gathers a great cosmic council “at the world’s center overlooking all that has part in becoming, and when he had gathered them there, he said …”

And that’s where Plato leaves us.

I am probably being too Hegelian, but I speculate that in the unread (unwritten?) Hermocrates we might find our synthesis.  In 424 BC the historical Hermocrates addressed the Congress at Gela saying,

Now if some man be strongly conceited to go through with some design of his, be it by right or by violence, let him take heed that he fail not… knowing that many men ere now, hunting after revenge on such as had done them injury, and others trusting, by some strength they have had, to take away another’s right, have instead of being revenged been destroyed, and instead of winning from others, left behind them what they had of their own. For revenge succeeds not according to justice… nor is strength therefore sure because hopeful. It is the instability of fortune that is most predominant in things to come, which, though it be the most deceivable of all things, yet appears to be the most profitable. For whilst every one fear it alike, we proceed against each other, each conceiving the greater care of providence. (Original translation of Thucydides by Thomas Hobbes, 1843, slightly updated by me)

Perhaps we can know the way of the universe.  Perhaps we are meant to be god-like in our knowledge and action.

Or perhaps we are better called to restraint.  Human experience demonstrates the extraordinary risks involved even in well-intended change.

Being and becoming each have their reality.   The aspirational thesis and the skeptical anti-thesis are strength or weakness depending on context; especially depending on the decision at hand.  What is required in the case of either inclination is an exercise of reason that excludes over-confidence or vengeance and honors the “instability of fortune.”

Whether homeland security is narrowly or broadly defined, this seems to me reasonable, even wise.

–+–

A Personal Note:  In recent weeks I have considered and sometimes started posts with a, let us say, less expansive purpose than what is outlined above.  There are important issues of leadership (and lack thereof) at DHS, Congressional oversight, the role of counterterrorism compared with other HS missions, the practice of CT at home and abroad, the use and abuse of intelligence capabilities and much more.  I have begun to share absurd stories of real-life bureaucratic encounters.  I have been tempted to share amazing details of readiness, resilience, and their opposite.  For better or (probably) for worse, I have been drawn back again and again to other admittedly abstract concerns.  I worry these choices have too often been self-indulgent and do not fulfill my appropriate role. (Roles were a very big deal for Plato.)  But at the same time, these choices reflect a judgment that wicked problems at the core of homeland security are made even more difficult by our own unthinking banality.  We do not need a special operator worrying over Platonic notions of justice as he approaches low over Tripoli.  But most of us are not often in such a role.  And too often, given our roles, we allow activity traps to distract us from thinking.  Which is not to say that even the most serious thinking would suddenly unveil solutions.  But just a bit more thinking — especially together — might allow us to avoid being ourselves the source of our worst problems.

October 8, 2013

Eleven books to read during the shutdown

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on October 8, 2013

Some of my friends are heading workless into week two of the Great Shutdown.  The week after that may take us into Act 2: The Great Default.

I doubt that will happen because… well, … reasonable people….  I mean, responsible people will….

Well, I try to stay positive about these things.

If you’re looking for something to read as the rest of us whistle past the graveyard, here are eleven good reads.  And they all have something to do with homeland security.

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1. The Politics of Crisis Management: Public Leadership Under Pressure, Arjen Boin, Paul ‘t Hart, Eric Stern, and Bengt Sundelius

Any leadership crises going on? If so, here’s a book for you.  I think its the best book I’ve ever read on crisis leadership.  I like it because it blends scholarship with practicality, and it’s written by academics to help, not impress, the reader.

Here’s a description from Amazon.

In times of crisis, communities and members of organizations expect their leaders to minimize the impact of the crisis at hand, while critics and bureaucratic competitors try to seize the moment to blame incumbent rulers and their policies. In this extreme environment, policy makers must somehow establish a sense of normality, and foster collective learning from the crisis experience. This uniquely comprehensive analysis examines how leaders deal with the strategic challenges and political risks they face. It is based on over a decade of collaborative, cross-national research.

2. Thinking Fast and Slow,  Daniel Kahneman

Any thinking going on these days?  Either fast or slow?

I cannot recommend this book strongly enough.  It may be overwritten — as only a Nobel Prize winner can get away with — but I don’t believe you can read it without changing the way you think about your own thinking.

In the international bestseller, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, the renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. The impact of overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning our next vacation—each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems shape our judgments and decisions.

3. The Story of America: Essays on Origins, Jill Lepore

Where did we come from again?

A collection of American history stories you probably have not read anywhere else.  Lots of leisurely drawn portraits of the people who shaped the nation.  It can easily be read one bite at a time.

Jill Lepore investigates American origin stories–from John Smith’s account of the founding of Jamestown in 1607 to Barack Obama’s 2009 inaugural address–to show how American democracy is bound up with the history of print. Over the centuries, Americans have read and written their way into a political culture of ink and type. Part civics primer, part cultural history, The Story of America excavates the origins of everything from the paper ballot and the Constitution to the I.O.U. and the dictionary. Along the way it presents fresh readings of Benjamin Franklin’s Way to Wealth, Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe, and “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, as well as histories of lesser-known genres, including biographies of presidents, novels of immigrants, and accounts of the Depression…. Lepore argues… Americans have wrestled with the idea of democracy by telling stories. 

4. Little Brother, Cory Doctorow

Last week’s reality may be stranger than any fiction. Speaking of fiction…

This one is like reading a dime novel. I am sort of surprised how many homeland security professionals really enjoy this book. Maybe it’s because the villain is DHS.

Marcus, a.k.a “w1n5t0n,” is only seventeen years old, but he figures he already knows how the system works–and how to work the system. Smart, fast, and wise to the ways of the networked world, he has no trouble outwitting his high school’s intrusive but clumsy surveillance systems. But his whole world changes when he and his friends find themselves caught in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco. In the wrong place at the wrong time, Marcus and his crew are apprehended by the Department of Homeland Security and whisked away to a secret prison where they’re mercilessly interrogated for days. When the DHS finally releases them, Marcus discovers that his city has become a police state where every citizen is treated like a potential terrorist. He knows that no one will believe his story, which leaves him only one option: to take down the DHS himself.

5.  Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War, Andrew J. Bacevich

Back to reality. A West Point graduate, a retired Army colonel, a Catholic conservative, a critic of American militarism. All in one increasingly popular voice.

A… challenge to the conventional wisdom that American security requires the United States (and us alone) to maintain a permanent armed presence around the globe, to prepare our forces for military operations in far-flung regions, and to be ready to intervene anywhere at any time. Adopted by administrations on both sides of the political spectrum during the past half century, this Washington consensus on national security has become foreign policy gospel when…it has outlasted its usefulness.

6. Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power, Rachel Maddow

Yes, that Rachel Maddow.  And her voice in this book sounds just like her TV voice. Did  System 1 or System 2 activate?

Maddow argues that we’ve drifted away from America’s original ideals and become a nation weirdly at peace with perpetual war. To understand how we’ve arrived at such a dangerous place, Maddow takes us from the Vietnam War to today’s war in Afghanistan, along the way exploring Reagan’s radical presidency, the disturbing rise of executive authority, the gradual outsourcing of our war-making capabilities to private companies, the plummeting percentage of American families whose children fight our constant wars for us, and even the changing fortunes of G.I. Joe. Ultimately, she shows us just how much we stand to lose by allowing the scope of American military power to overpower our political discourse.

7.  Illuminating the Dark Arts of War: Terrorism, Sabotage, and Subversion in Homeland Security and the New Conflict, David Tucker

David’s a colleague.  He’s a historian who has as much intellectual integrity as anyone I’ve met.

The opening chapter shows that every threat to American security has led to an increase in governmental power. Is there an alternative approach? The book argues there is. It shows the inherent limits to terrorism, sabotage and subversion and argues for a correspondingly limited response by government. It takes this argument further by contending that since the “dark arts” it discusses are used by those who hide among the people, the people and not the government are the best way to uncover and neutralize them. The conclusion discusses ways this could be done. Overall, the book argues that the decentralization of power, not its increase and concentration in the Federal government is the best way to make America resilient and more secure. The book also makes a useful comparison between the threat of communist subversion in the 1930s and 1940s and the supposed threat of religious subversion (Christian and Muslim) today. by Peter Schramm

8.  Intelligence and Surprise Attack: Failure and Success from Pearl Harbor to 9/11 and Beyond, Erik Dahl

Erik’s another colleague.  He’s a former Naval intelligence officer who approaches the successes, failures, and troublesome developments in U.S. intelligence with academic rigor and objectivity, infused with practitioner knowledge.

How can the United States avoid a future surprise attack on the scale of 9/11 or Pearl Harbor, in an era when such devastating attacks can come not only from nation states, but also from terrorist groups or cyber enemies?  Intelligence and Surprise Attack examines why surprise attacks often succeed even though, in most cases, warnings had been available beforehand. … Dahl challenges the conventional wisdom about intelligence failure, which holds that attacks succeed because important warnings get lost amid noise or because intelligence officials lack the imagination and collaboration to “connect the dots” of available information. Comparing cases of intelligence failure with intelligence success, Dahl finds that the key to success is not more imagination or better analysis, but better acquisition of precise, tactical-level intelligence combined with the presence of decision makers who are willing to listen to and act on the warnings they receive from their intelligence staff.

9. Enemies Within: Inside the NYPD’s Secret Spying Unit and bin Laden’s Final Plot Against America, Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman

I’m reading this one now.  “Beware of the words ‘internal security,’ for they are the eternal cry of the oppressor.” Voltaire wrote that, the authors remind us. If you pick this one up (or download it to a Kindle), it may be difficult to put it down.

In Enemies Within, Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman lay bare the complex and often contradictory state of counterterrorism and intelligence in America through the pursuit of Najibullah Zazi, a terrorist bomber who trained under one of bin Laden’s most trusted deputies. Zazi and his coconspirators represented America’s greatest fear: a terrorist cell operating inside America.

10. America the Vulnerable; New technology and the next threat to National Security, Joel Brenner

I read this for the second time last month. The book’s two years old.  It’s still relevant, but reading it reminds me how fast the cyber world is changing.  I wonder if congress, the executive, the courts, the states and localities, the private sector, and the people can keep up.

“Cybercrime, espionage, and warfare are among the great challenges of this century, but as Joel Brenner argues, we are woefully ill-prepared to meet them. Drawing on history, law, economics, common sense, and his rare experience in counterintelligence, Brenner deftly describes the problems and offers a series of very practical solutions. This book is both well written and convincing.”
(-Joseph Nye, author of Soft Power and The Future of Power )

“If you have a responsibility for protecting intellectual property, trade secrets and other instruments of successful business; if you are responsible for protecting national information and technology interests then you have a responsibility to read this book. Bring a change of underwear.”
(-Vint Cerf, chief Internet evangelist at Google )

“America the Vulnerable offers an expert’s keen insight into the netherworld of cyberrisk. Rich in facts, stories, and analysis, the book is a clarion call for more effective cyberpolicies and practices in both the government and private sector. America should take heed.”
(-Ambassador Henry A. Crumpton, author of The Art of Intelligence )

11.  The Psychology of Dictatorship, Fathali Moghaddam

Let’s say it all goes to garbage.  Congress can’t get its act together, the economy free falls, something huge and ugly happens in the nation, we-the-people demand that ever elusive “strong leadership.”  Write your own scenario.  What happens next?

Ali Moghaddam is also a colleague.  He’s written a very readable book on a difficult issue.

Fathali Moghaddam presents his springboard model of dictatorship, derived from both a substantive analysis of the common structures underlying dictatorial regimes and his own personal experience of life in a modern dictatorship. He discusses the importance of psychological processes such as displacement of aggression, conformity, obedience, fear, and cognitive dissonance as tools that aid the development and maintenance of dictatorships, as well as the crucial role of ideology in cementing the allegiance of elites. Since even democracies contain an ever-shifting relationship between democratic and dictatorial tendencies, with elements that can pull democracies back to dictatorship, this book has important implications for citizens of all nations, even our own.

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I put the last sentence in bold.  I doubt anything like that will happen because… well, … reasonable people….  I mean, responsible people will….

Well, I try to stay positive about these things.

October 7, 2013

Obamacare and Resilience, Ctd.

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Arnold Bogis on October 7, 2013

Via Andrew Sullivan of The Dish, here is a Vanity Fair piece by Kurt Eichenwald on how Obamacare benefits those who already have insurance. In a nutshell:

In fact—if you have insurance—the more uninsured who live in your community, the lower the quality of care you receive. Again—if more people in your community are uninsured, your care will be worse. In other words, if you want to go to the places with the worst medical care, hightail it to states like Texas that are fighting Obamacare, making it difficult for their residents to figure out how to use the Obamacare insurance exchanges, and refusing to expand Medicaid. The insured folks in that state will get worse care than one with more people insured.

Before quoting anyone on that, follow the logic. Hospitals don’t have poverty wards; if a patient comes in the door in bad shape, they don’t do a wallet biopsy before deciding what care that person should receive—everyone at a hospital receives the same quality. But if a community has a higher number of uninsured, that means the latest and greatest technology and treatments will drive up the amounts of unreimbursed care. In essence, hospitals that provide the best, most modern, and most expensive treatments in an area with lots of uninsured will be forced to pass unsustainable amounts of cost to their prices. Insurance companies won’t pay it, local governments won’t finance it, and the hospitals will go out of business.

The only option then? Don’t provide the top-quality care to anyone—insured or not. That keeps the cost of uncompensated care down and lets the hospital stay in business.

I’ll be honest.  I have no problem with Obamacare.  I lived for many years in Massachusetts under “RomneyCare,” upon which it was based on.  I never felt my healthcare coverage was unduly affected, nor felt my personal rights were under attack (likely because I always maintained my employer-provided insurance and the only added burden was filling in one line of my Massachusetts tax return with the number of my health insurance plan).

However, the case I’m building for resilience is not based on the particulars of Obamacare.  Instead, it is the community benefit provided by expanded insurance coverage.  For this, I don’t care if aliens come down from Mars, win Powerball, and then buy everyone insurance.  The end result will remain the same: increased insurance coverage = decreased stress on the health care system = increased community health resiliency.

Resiliency is such a big, overarching issue.  It involves everything from critical infrastructure to supply chains to social capital to ______ (fill in the blank).  In one particular area of this issue, increasing the number of medically insured members of our communities will only add to the common good.  Getting more people to not take their health for granted, to learn about their own and their loved ones’ medical vulnerabilities, and potentially care for themselves and others during an emergency can only INCREASE our overall resiliency.

The road taken in this journey matters less then the taking the journey itself.  If responsible policymakers do not like the road Obamacare takes us down, I sincerely hope they provide a plausible alternate route.

October 4, 2013

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on October 4, 2013

On this day in 1995 Hurricane Opal came ashore near Pensacola, Florida as a CAT-4 Hurricane.

On this day in 2010 in Western Hungry roughly 35 million cubic feet of liquid alumina sludge was released when a holding dike collapsed. Nine died and more than 100 were injured. The Danube and Marcal rivers were contaminated resulting in significant loss of aquatic life.

On this date in 2003 a suicide bombing at Maxim’s Restaurant in Haifa, Israel killed 21 and injured 51.

What’s on your mind related to homeland security?

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