Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

March 28, 2016

Risk management or why we can’t expect to be 100% safe

Filed under: General Homeland Security,Resilience — by Arnold Bogis on March 28, 2016

This past weekend homeland security expert Juliette Kayyem had an op-ed in The Washington Post unfortunately titled (by the editors I’d assume…), “No, America isn’t 100% safe from terrorism.  And that’s a good thing.

Obviously provocative but, in my view, unnecessarily vague in regards to the point of the piece.  But whatever.  The important thing is the message:

Is my family safe?The answer is both simple and liberating: No, not entirely. America was built vulnerable, and thank goodness for that.

The flow of people and things, the movement to and within cities, the congregation of the masses that makes our lives meaningful, whether at church or at Fenway Park, are inherently risky. Our system (a federal government with limited powers, mayors overseeing police departments, governors directing National Guards) wasn’t designed to produce a seamless shield against every conceivable threat. Every day, more than 2 million passengers board planes at U.S. airports. The movement of goods and services — the expectation that everything from airline tickets to groceries can be purchased with just a few mouse clicks — is our lifeline. We’ve traded a measure of safety for convenience. And in our America, there are sometimes monsters under the bed.

Kayyem identifies the problem as the unwillingness of our leaders to speak the truth about our situation:

Threats constantly change, yet our political discourse suggests that our vulnerabilities are simply for lack of resources, commitment or competence. Sometimes, that is true. But mostly we are vulnerable because we choose to be; because we’ve accepted, at least implicitly, that some risk is tolerable. A state that could stop every suicide bomber wouldn’t be a free or, let’s face it, fun one.

And she suggests a path forward:

Yet we still live, often joyfully, in a world with gun violence. And drunk drivers. And disease. We implore government to allocate resources as best it can to minimize those risks. Once we move past our angst, this becomes the most rational way to approach terrorist violence.

Accepting these vulnerabilities means our safety can be measured and evaluated on three core premises: how well we minimize our risks, maximize our defenses and maintain our spirit.

The entire piece is worth your time reading, and worth sharing with friends, family, and loved ones who might not have a grasp on the concept of risk management.

March 25, 2016

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Arnold Bogis on March 25, 2016

William R. Cumming Forum

March 21, 2016

President Obama’s visit to a mosque

Filed under: General Homeland Security,Radicalization,Resilience — by Arnold Bogis on March 21, 2016

With the declining state of campaign rhetoric during this political season, especially as it concerns immigration, Islam, and terrorism, I thought it appropriate to bring attention back to President Obama’s visit to the Islamic Society of Baltimore last month.

If you missed it behind the sheer volume of campaign and other news, it is a speech worth reading or watching.  The President hits on several important homeland security topics, while at the same time resisting the urge to frame the speech in simple security terms.

As a reporter from the Washington Post described it:

President Obama Wednesday delivered the comforting sermon to U.S. Muslims that their community leaders have been requesting for years, framing Islam as deeply American and its critics as violating the nation’s cherished value of religious freedom. Obama’s comments came in his first visit as president to a U.S. mosque.

The historic 45-minute speech at a large, suburban Baltimore mosque was attended by some of the country’s most prominent Muslims. In what appeared to be a counter to the rise in Islamophobia, Obama celebrated the long history of Muslim achievement in American life from sports to architecture and described Muslims as Cub Scouts, soldiers and parents, pointing out the mother of the pre-med college student who introduced him at the podium.

“There are voices who are constantly claiming you have to choose between your identities…. Do not believe them…. You fit in here. Right here. You’re right where you belong. You’re part of America, too,” Obama said, his volume rising as he said he was speaking in particular at that moment to young Muslim Americans. “You’re not Muslim or American, you’re Muslim and American. And don’t grow cynical.”

You can read the text of the speech at the White House website here:


Or you can watch it below:

March 18, 2016

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Arnold Bogis on March 18, 2016

William R. Cumming Forum

March 11, 2016

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Arnold Bogis on March 11, 2016

William R. Cumming Forum

March 4, 2016

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Arnold Bogis on March 4, 2016

William R. Cumming Forum