Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

July 8, 2014

The Schneierites on the 2014 QHSR

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on July 8, 2014

Bruce Schneier writes what I consider one of best security-related blogs on the web, “Schneier on Security.”

Over the years, I’ve found most of the people who comment on his blog are serious, generally knowledgeable, and suspicious of unsupported assertions.

A few weeks ago, Schneier told his readers

“The second Quadrennial Homeland Security Review has been published by the Department of Homeland Security. At 100+ pages, I’m not going to be reading it, but I am curious if there’s anything interesting in it.

I’ve been gushing about the QHSR for the last few weeks.  Schneier’s readers are significantly less impressed. Here are some of their comments (italics are intended only to separate the comments):

  • “We have reviewed ourselves and found ourselves to be in compliance.”
  • Nothing of value in most sections I read. It reads like an incredibly long Homeland Security brochure you pick up in their lobby.
  • It says nothing. It reads like an annual report for the Girl Scouts. “We are protecting you… all 1000 federal agencies.” But I especially liked the part about the commitment to human rights… even as the administration justifies drone attacks on civilians.
  • I don’t think I’ll bother trying to read it. Internal reviews are always going to try and put the agency in a positive light, since if they say “This agency is completely useless” then they are all out of a job. Half of their job seems to be to recommend products that various lobbyists promote, the other half is to give an appearance of “We are doing something to combat terrorism” – in reality, I think all we have managed to do is label more and more of the population as potential terrorists, probably making it even more difficult to track real threats.
  • Maybe what’s left out is most interesting. Only a single mention of the “Constitution of the U.S.”
  • Tried to read it, but got bored very quickly. Maybe that’s part of the strategy! Reminds me of a quote from Wittgenstein:”If a lion were able to speak, we would not understand him.”
  • I know that ‘boring your enemy’ is a legitimate tactic. Hell, lawyers have been doing this by handing over large amounts of irrelevant material for the other side to trawl through.
  • They might as well use one of those automatic paper generators (like mathgen [http://thatsmathematics.com/mathgen/] or scigen [http://pdos.csail.mit.edu/scigen/]). [One] wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

I tried the automatic paper generator suggestion in the last comment.  The results were disappointing. One can easily tell the difference between the automatically generated essay and the 2014 QHSR.  There were fewer pictures.

I tried a different generator, found here.  That program produced a 530 word report, also without pictures, but disturbingly connected – in more than a few instances — to homeland security.  Here is a link to that randomly generated homeland security report.

But don’t waste your time.  It’s nowhere near as interesting as the 2014 QHSR.

I’m going back to my echo chamber now.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • Print
  • LinkedIn

July 4, 2014

The music of Independence: six short videos for July 4th

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on July 4, 2014

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • Print
  • LinkedIn

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on July 4, 2014

On this day in 1776 fifty-six insurgents meeting in Philadelphia declare rebellion against their lawfully established government.

What’s on your mind related to homeland security?

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • Print
  • LinkedIn

July 3, 2014

Hope, fear, and prospect theory

CBP and 8 year old

Photograph by Jennifer Whitney  for the New York Times

Chris Bellavita hopes the QHSR  will advance homeland security.  I fear too few will engage the QHSR to produce a sufficient effect. (Chris, btw bases his hope on evidence from the first QHSR while I deploy mostly worry and cynicism.)

Parents in Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and elsewhere hope their children will find a better life in the United States. Others in Virginia’s Seventh Congressional District, Murietta, California, and elsewhere fear these children will unravel the rule of law.

Some Sunni Salafist fighters hope they are creating the foundations of a just and righteous society across what is now Northern Syria and Iraq, eventually the whole world.  Many Shia faithful and others fear they are numbered among the unrighteous to be converted or killed.

Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter and many geeks still unknown, hope to bring the whole world into our hand-helds, opening exciting opportunities for meaningful relationships and untold riches.  Some of us fear our credit-scores — and more substantive identities — are being delivered into the hands of criminals, terrorists, con-artists, corporate voyeurs, NSA spooks and more.

The current Executive hopes to establish and consistently apply a rigorous set of principles and due process by which evil can be prevented and sacred values preserved (while sources and methods are protected).  Senators Paul and Wyden among others fear that any hidden act claimed as lawful is a hot-house of hubris where the very best intentions will be incrementally reversed.

They want to retire to the beauty of the shore or mountainside or river or forest or such.  The prospect of hurricane, flood, earthquake, and fire prompt some second-thoughts.

We are tempted — especially those of us in homeland security — to treat risk as something that might be measured as accurately as an average shoe-size… if only we can gather enough shoes.  Imelda where art thou?

But the risk that matters most may be imagined more than measured.  Big hirsute Hobbit feet may be the common heuristic, no matter how many ballerinas bounce about us.

Over thirty years ago Tversky and Kahneman showed us, “Decision making under risk can be viewed as a choice between prospects or gambles.”  It is how we frame our expectations that decide our perspective on risk and thereby determine what choices seem rational.

For most our frame-on-reality is decided by a reference point: typically an expectation of the status quo persisting.  If we are more-or-less satisfied (or psychologically risk-averse) we worry more over the prospect of losing than embrace an opportunity to gain.  This can apply even if we have little to lose.  We  tend  to over-weight the downside and under-estimate positive likelihood.

Unless we are risk-seeking. As is typical with criminals, terrorists, and teenage boys. By the early 1990s Tversky and Kahneman had found, “Risk-seeking choices are consistently observed in two classes of decision problems. First, people often prefer a small probability of winning a large prize over the expected value of that prospect. Second, risk seeking is prevalent when people must choose between a sure loss and a substantial probability of a larger loss.”

There are other variations of human rationality that do not square with “expected utility” (rationality according to economists).  But risk-seeking has particular relevance for homeland security.

When my great-grandfather returned to England from another colonial war and had the audacity to marry a Scots seamstress of another (Christian) faith, they faced the disdain of family and very constrained prospects. Perceiving only losses to lose, he and she set out for Philadelphia.  The risk was real, but seemed less to them than remaining in Newcastle.

Nineteenth century Newcastle had a murder-rate considerably less than today’s Tegucigalpa (10 per million versus 1690 per million).  Who says the parent of the eight-year-old in the picture above has not made a reasonable calculation?

Today I will purchase a lottery ticket with a small probability of winning a large prize.  Early this week a new Caliphate was proclaimed.  Was the self-styled Caliph’s reasoning all that different than mine?

There are too many whose reference point is a land-of-loss, especially loss of hope.  The risks they are willing to take — heroic or demonic depending on taste — are worth our notice, a touch of fear, and some courageous creativity.  If reduction of risk-seeking is a goal, our target is their prospective imagination.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • Print
  • LinkedIn

July 2, 2014

QHSR: tension between HS and hs

Filed under: Congress and HLS,General Homeland Security,Strategy — by Arnold Bogis on July 2, 2014

I’m a week late to the QHSR discussion and while I don’t have any big thoughts, I do have a few small ones.

- – - – - – - -

There are some problems at the foundation of the QHSR. Issues that point to underlying confusion of what homeland security is, or at least an unclear characterization of what it should be, at the federal level. However, this isn’t the fault of the DHS staff who put together the review, but rather the direction of Congress. As readers are reminded of in the report itself, the scope of the QHSR is:

Each quadrennial homeland security review shall be a comprehensive examination of the homeland security strategy of the Nation, including recommendations regarding the long-term strategy and priorities of the Nation for homeland security and guidance on the programs, assets, capabilities,budget, policies and authorities of the Department.

Soooooo…the Department of Homeland Security (let’s call it capital HS) is mandated by Congress to review the current Administration’s homeland security strategy that includes the work of other agencies (counter-intuitively, I’m going to refer to the whole enchilada encompassing what anyone might wish to include in homeland security as lowercase hs), while at the same time providing DHS-specific recommendations on force structure, authorities, budget, etc. I haven’t checked the authorizing language, but on a quick review of the last DOD QDR (which is supposedly the model for the QHSR) , it pretty much focused entirely on the last half of that charge.  There was little to no language that pointed to the concerns of their national security “partners” or the military’s analysis of the National Security Strategy. Instead it focused on questions of force structure and the impact of sequestration on the military.

In this matter, the important difference between DOD and DHS is that DOD has a long tradition, and specifically, a mature relationship with Congress.  DHS, on the other hand, seems to be generally regarded by many (if not most) lawmakers as the sole actor in the hs sphere.  The consequence being that anything that is considered a hs issue by Congress often becomes a HS issue by default.  A dumping agency.  Even if it is a topic long worked by experienced professionals elsewhere in the government.

- – - – - – - – - -

Contrasting examples of this can be seen in the chapters on bio and nuclear threats. At it’s creation, I do not believe any of the agencies or offices brought to DHS a primary role in either arena (outside of FEMA’s responsibility post nuclear attack).  But in the wisdom of a few, since that time the agency has grown both an Office of Health Affairs (OHA) and the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO).

I can see the utility of a health office for the protection of the DHS workforce, not unlike the equivalent in DOD.  Perhaps over time they develop particular expertise to contribute to the larger efforts of the government as a whole.  Instead, projects such as the never-quite-right Biowatch placed them in a bureaucratic competition with agencies with long-standing expertise in public health, such as the CDC (the center of biosurveillance), and those newer offices with a concentration of expertise and responsibility, like ASPR (ESF-8 lead, partner in the National Disaster Medical System, and the government developers of new medical countermeasures through BARDA). The QHSR seems to acknowledge this, as it stresses a whole of government approach to public health and bioterrorist threats. DHS went hs rather than HS in addressing biological threats.

The reverse is true for nuclear terrorism. After identifying the issue and stressing the importance due to the possible consequence of such an attack (if this is so important to HS you’d think FEMA would have gotten it’s act together by now regarding planning for such an event…but I digress), the QHSR takes an entirely parochial view of the subject.

We prioritize a sustained, long-term focus on preventing nuclear terrorism through two foundational capabilities: (1) nuclear detection and (2) nuclear forensics. These capabilities are aimed at preventing our adversaries from developing, possessing, importing, storing, transporting, or using nuclear materials.

In stark contrast to bio-events, nuclear terrorism can and must be prevented.  And that prevention is likely not to occur along the pathways of the “Global Nuclear Detection Architecture” or due to forensic capabilities. It happens because while large, the amount of special materials required for a nuclear terrorist attack are finite, thus possible to secure or eliminate at the source.  Hoping that THE major plank in preventing such an attack is detection of very hard to detect materials with the cooperation of others sitting along a spectrum of competence, corruption, and cooperation would be unwise.

I am not suggesting detection and forensics are unimportant, only that they are secondary to securing and eliminating fissile material.  Yet the QHSR focuses on these capabilities because that is what the DNDO does.  So DHS went HS for addressing the nuclear terrorism threat.

- – - – - – - – - – - – -

One last small quibble with the Review: why did they have to include a “Black Swans” section?  I don’t mean addressing potential future events that could have a significant impact on homeland security.  Rather, why did they have to attempt to co-opt the term itself?  Hasn’t the mess everyone has made with “resilience” taught us anything?

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of the book “The Black Swan” that popularized the term, summarizes the attributes of these events: “rarity, extreme impact, and retrospective (though not prospective) predictability.” The QHSR has already violated the third attribute, and their list of four potential Swans have been previously suggested and analyzed elsewhere.  They are neither unforeseen or unexpected.

Personally, I’d prefer to think of Natalie Portman when considering Black Swans.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • Print
  • LinkedIn

July 1, 2014

A Collage of QHSR 2014 numbers

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on July 1, 2014

I’ve read the QHSR three times since last week. I continue to think it’s an almost ideal marker for what homeland security (as opposed to the Department of Homeland Security) attends to.

Like “A Perfect Day for Banana Fish,” every time I read the QHSR I see something new.

This week I want to focus on the QHSR as a numerical collage. I offer the numbers — all taken from the QHSR — without context,  with a minimum of comment, and with an appreciation for the information patterns they represent and ignore.

  1. According to Section 707 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, the number of national homeland security strategies the QHSR is supposed to “delineate and update”: 1              (I don’t believe we’ve had a formal national homeland security strategy since President Bush left office; I think we now have a national security strategy, with homeland security strategy sprinkled inside).
  2. Number of times the National Security Strategy is mentioned in the QHSR report: 2
  3. The number of enduring national interests of the United States: 4
  4. Number of homeland security visions in the QHSR: 1
  5. Number of basic and enduring homeland security missions: 5 (all of which advance each of the 4 enduring national interests)
  6. Number of trends driving change in homeland security’s strategic environment: 6       
  7. Number of challenges posing the most strategically significant risks through 2019: also 6
  8. The not exhaustive number of potential black swan events that could fundamentally alter the the homeland security strategic environment described in the QHSR: 4
  9. Based on the drivers and challenges, the number of strategic priorities that affect the five homeland security missions:  5
  10. Number of areas of ongoing strategic priority and emphasis (beyond the other five strategic priorities): 3
  11. Number of principles that should guide efforts to address the strategic challenges to a secure homeland: 6  —————————————————————————————————————————————-
  12. Estimated number of people killed by Hurricane Sandy: 117
  13. Number of people Sandy left without power: more than 8,500,000
  14. Number of combined gallons of sewer overflows caused by Sandy in eight northeast states and the District of Columbia: 11,000,000,000
  15. Damage Sandy caused: tens of billions of dollars (I think that means somewhere between $10,000,000,000 and $99,000,000,000)    —————————————————————————————————————————————-
  16. Estimated number of major roads in the United States in poor or mediocre condition: 1 out of every 3 major roads
  17. Number of the nation’s bridges that are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete: 1 out of every 4
  18. Increase in blackouts and other electrical disturbances since 2007: 140%
  19. Estimated “funding gap” for electric infrastructure costs between now and 2020: more than $100,000,000,000
  20. Estimated costs of wastewater and drinking water infrastructure improvements needed over the next 20 years: $682,000,000,000    —————————————————————————————————————————————-
  21. Increase in the value of U.S. exports between 2005 and 2012: 72%
  22. Increase in the value of goods imported to the United States between 2005 and 2012: 36%
  23. Increase in lawful travel to the United States between 2005 and 2012: 36% 
  24. Expected increase in lawful travel to the U.S. 2012 and 2018: 25%
  25. Increase (measured in “folds”) of rail intermodal traffic  - transporting shipping containers and truck trailers on railroad flat cars - between 1980 and 2012: nearly 4 (as in “fourfold”)    ———————————————————————————————————————————————————————-
  26. Number of the nation’s 30 largest metro regions whose municipal government revenues have not returned to pre-recession levels: 20
  27. As of 2011, the number of the nation’s 30 largest metro regions who reduced public safety spending: 20   —————————————————————————————————————————————-
  28. The estimated number of people in the world who have at least 12 billion computers and other internet devices: 2,000,000,000 (or about 30% of everyone in the world)
  29. Desired change in the speed of providing information to machines to help block cyber threats: milliseconds (one thousandth of a second) instead of hours or days      —————————————————————————————————————————————-
  30. Number of priority biological threats and hazards: 4
  31. Number of goals in the homeland security strategy for managing biological risk: 6      —————————————————————————————————————————————-
  32. Estimated number of undocumented immigrants in the nation: 11,500,000 (many of whom have been here more than 10 years and came here as children)
  33. Number of “deferred action” requests for undocumented childhood arrival processed by DHS in less than a year: more than 500,000
  34. Increase in the number of Border Patrol agents from 2004 to 2014: From 10,000 agents in 2004, 21,370 in 2014
  35. Number of employers and worksites, respectively, enrolled in the E-Verify program: 520,000 employers, representing 1,400,000 worksites
  36. Number of core objectives for strengthening the US immigration system: 4       —————————————————————————————————————————————-
  37. Number of distinct but interrelated types of flows of people and goods based on an in-depth look at legal and illegal flows: 3
  38. Number of partnership archetypes that encompass the types of relationships government shares with the private sector: 5     —————————————————————————————————————————————-
  39. Minimum number of elements in the National Preparedness System: 4
  40. Number of key elements in the Campaign to Build and Sustain Preparedness: 4
  41. The number of core principles in the Whole Community approach to preparedness: 3  —————————————————————————————————————————————-
  42. Estimated number of people responsible for carrying out the missions described in the QHSR: “hundreds of thousands of people from across the Federal Government; state, local, tribal, and territorial governments; the private sector; and other nongovernmental organizations are responsible for executing these missions.”
  43. Number of individuals, agencies and other entities who have key roles and responsibilities in homeland security: 32 (according to Appendix A)
  44. Number of phases in the development of the 2014 QHSR: 4
  45. Number of people asked by the QHSR development group to contribute to the report: Hundreds of key organizations; tens of thousands of practitioners, hundreds of federal advisory committee act committee members, several international partners, and a few other organizations and individuals.
  46. Number of unique stakeholders who a) registered for IdeaScale and Communities of Practice, b) number of comments they provided, c) number of source documents used, and d) number of votes: a) more than 2,000, b) thousands, c) more than 100, and d) more than 10,000
  47. Number of sources provided for the numbers cited in the QHSR: 0      (but I’m sure they exist somewhere among the literature, academic work and experts consulted in the making of this QHSR)  —————————————————————————————————————————————-
  48. The number missing from the QHSR that I miss the most: 85%

Instead of prolonging the myth that 85% of critical infrastructure is owned by the private sector, the QHSR authors simply wrote:  ”The majority of the Nation’s infrastructure is owned and operated by private sector entities.”  

Thank you to whomever insisted on that language.  It still might not even be “the majority.”  I mean, what’s the evidence?  But — like the rest of the homeland security enterprise characterized in the QHSR — small improvements may be the right path for now.  It’s a big nation.  Small improvements everywhere start to add up after awhile.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • Print
  • LinkedIn

June 28, 2014

QHSR at CSIS

Filed under: Strategy — by Philip J. Palin on June 28, 2014

Cohn_dhsreport_video

On Friday, June 27 Alan Cohn, DHS Assistant Secretary for Strategy, Policy, Analysis and Risk (above at the microphone) made a presentation on the QHSR.  A panel discussion followed.  There is a video and audio version of the two hour engagement available at:

http://csis.org/event/discussion-2014-quadrennial-homeland-security-review

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • Print
  • LinkedIn

June 26, 2014

QHSR: Translating the archetypes (especially anima/animus)

Filed under: Preparedness and Response,Private Sector,Resilience,Strategy — by Philip J. Palin on June 26, 2014

FRIDAY, JUNE 27 EDITORIAL NOTE:  The Friday Free Forum is on vacation this week, luxuriating in the quiet of a cool mountain glade beneath a sweep of stars, seeking to reclaim social and spiritual equanimity.  You are invited to join the QHSR discussion that is already underway below.

–+–

ORIGINAL THURSDAY POST:

How do we anticipate what we cannot predict?  That question animates the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review. Strategy generates benefits to the extent it accurately anticipates.  An effective strategy generates an initial — sometimes persisting — advantage in dealing with whatever specific challenges unfold unpredictably.

The QHSR is a bureaucratic document. This description is not meant as pejorative.  There are various DHS components, other national security agencies, White House and Congressional concerns, and many other stakeholders.  While the QHSR wants to accurately anticipate, it is not a prophetic text.  Rather than speaking truth to power, this is power in search of truth.  It can be cumbersome.

Meaningful interpretation recognizes the limitations — and opportunities — of the bureaucratic genre.  Much must be said. Where have the authors moved beyond the minimum requirements? Bureaucracies tend toward girth, but are sensitive to hierarchy.  What or who is given more attention?

The QHSR reviews previous challenges and outlines what it considers important shifts in the risk environment.  It gives particular priority to the following (page 28):

  • The terrorist threat is evolving and, while changing in shape, remains significant as attack planning and operations become more decentralized. The United States and its interests, particularly in the transportation sector, remain persistent targets.
  • Growing cyber threats are significantly increasing risk to critical infrastructure and to the greater U.S. economy.
  • Biological concerns as a whole, including bioterrorism, pandemics, foreign animal diseases, and other agricultural concerns, endure as a top homeland security risk because of both potential likelihood and impacts.
  • Nuclear terrorism through the introduction and use of an improvised nuclear device, while unlikely, remains an enduring risk because of its potential consequences.
  • Transnational criminal organizations are increasing in strength and capability, driving risk in counterfeit goods, human trafficking, illicit drugs, and other illegal flows of people and goods.
  • Natural hazards are becoming more costly to address, with increasingly variable consequences due in part to drivers such as climate change and interdependent and aging infrastructure.

Lots on the plate even here.  But these six risks are segregated from the rest. There is also a full page text-box highlighting Black Swans.  Words are carefully chosen to avoid accusations of being alarmist, but the visual rhetoric is emphatic. When push comes to shove, here are the risks  that this QHSR seems intent to especially engage.  How?

At different places in the document (especially page 16 and again in the conclusion) the following “cross-cutting” strategic priorities are articulated:

  • An updated posture to address the increasingly decentralized terrorist threat; 
  • A strengthened path forward for cybersecurity that acknowledges the increasing interdependencies among critical systems and networks; 
  • A homeland security strategy to manage the urgent and growing risk of biological threats and hazards; 
  • A risk segmentation approach to securing and managing flows of people and goods; and 
  • A new framework for strengthening mission execution through public-private partnerships.

What does “updated posture” mean?  Read pages 33-38. Compare and contrast with QHSR vers. 1.0 and your own counter-terrorism experience.  There are others better able to read-between-these-particular-lines.  I hope you will do so in the comments.

The attention to biological threats is not new, but concerns related to pandemic are even more acute. (“Of the naturally occurring events, a devastating pandemic remains the highest homeland security risk.”)  Urgent and growing are almost prophetic terms.  But once again, others are better prepared to give you the close-reading of how we are to be biologically battle-ready.

In my reading the most notable shift in this QHSR, and on which the rest of this post will concentrate, is the priority given so-called public-private partnerships (which I strongly recommended be amended to “private-public relationships”).

I perceive this enhanced priority emerges from a confluence of cyber-threats, disaster-management, and catastrophe preparedness.  In each of these domains the public good largely depends on private sector capacities and potential collaboration between private and public.

Flows of people and goods are given significant analytic attention. Flow-of-goods is treated mostly as a matter of economic security.  In time of significant crisis this is also the source-of-life.  The capacity to maintain a sufficient flow resides almost entirely with the private sector. In case of crisis, the public sector may be able to lead.  But in many cases the public sector will do better to follow and support.  Sometimes the best possible is for the public sector to get out of the way.  The latter alternative is most likely when there has been minimal private-public efforts in joint preparedness.  Leading or supporting require much more joint engagement than currently anticipated.

Being strategically prepared to — depending on context — lead, follow or get out of the way does not come easily.  Even the insight is atypical.  In advancing this insight the QHSR is making a potentially major contribution to safety, security and resilience.

Here is how the QHSR frames the issue (page 60):

At a time when we must do more with less, two guiding principles help public-private partnerships maximize the investment by each partner and the success of the partnership: (1) aligning interests and (2) identifying shared outcomes.

By focusing on how interests align, we can provide alternatives to costly incentives or regulations and help ensure a partnership is based on a solid foundation of mutual interest and benefit. There are many examples of public and private sector interests aligning in homeland security. Common interests include the safety and security of people and property, the protection of sensitive information, effective risk management, the development of new technology, reputation enhancement, and improved business processes. New ways of thinking about corporate social responsibility—in which societal issues are held to be core business interests rather than traditional philanthropy—also present an opportunity to identify shared interests.

Where interests do not directly align, potential partners can often be motivated by shared desired outcomes, such as enhanced resilience; effective disaster response and recovery; and greater certainty in emerging domains, such as cyberspace and the Arctic.

Aligning interests and identifying shared outcomes are absolutely a big part of effective collaboration.  But behind this reasonable rhetoric is a complicated, often treacherous cross-cultural tension.  I once spent a few years brokering decision-making between Japanese and Americans.  The intra-American — and perhaps global — private-public cultural divide is at least as profound.

The QHSR helpfully identifies five “archetypes” for framing relationships between private and public (see page 60-61).  A “Partnerships Toolkit” has also been developed.  All of this is potentially constructive.  When DHS folks started talking to me about archetypes I immediately thought of Jungian archetypes.  This matches my sense that to really work together private and public will usually require the institutional equivalent of long-term joint counseling.  But this analogous leap seemed to make some of my DHS colleagues uncomfortable.

Some were even more uncomfortable when I suggested private/public is the equivalent of the anima/animus archetype. C.G. Jung wrote, “The anima gives rise to illogical outbursts of temper; the animus produces irritating commonplaces.”  I’ll let you guess which I associate with private and which with public.

But C.G.’s most important insight regarding these contending archetypes is that each depends on each, each is fulfilled in relationship with the other, and robust elements of both are required for ongoing creativity and growth.  The recurring clinical problem is an inclination to diminish, suppress or oppress one or the other.

In the life of an individual failure to meaningfully engage both anima and animus is self-subverting and can become tragic.  Our current failure to effectively engage private and public presents a similar social threat.  To suggest why — in less than another thousand words — here’s yet another analogy:

I happened to be reading about the Battle of Austerlitz when the QHSR was released last week.  In the summer of 1804 the British Prime Minister, William Pitt, accurately anticipated Napoleon’s expansionist ambitions.  He effectively forged a strategic alliance with Austria-Hungary, Russia, and Sweden. In October 1805 the British Fleet soundly defeated a combined French and Spanish naval force at Trafalgar.  It was the right strategy and the strategy was proving effective. But then in early December on a cold fog-drenched Moravian bottom-land the entire strategy unraveled.  Europe was, once again, transformed.

There are many reasons for the Third Coalition’s failure at Austerlitz. My particular author focuses on a clique of over-confident young nobles around the Russian Czar who seriously underestimated the practical requirements of deploying two emperors and their very different armies into actual battle.  The practical requirements of a national capacity for effective private-public collaboration in crisis are much more complicated.

The QHSR has articulated the right strategy.  We will undermine the strategy by minimizing challenges involved in making the collaboration operational.

On July 16 there will be an early signal of our operational readiness and sophistication.  That’s when new applications for the Homeland Security National Training Program: Continuing Training Grants are due.  This includes Focus Area 4: Maturing Public-Private Partnerships.  Will be interesting to see what’s submitted.

Brian, please be very cautious of any proposals received from twenty-something Russian princes.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • Print
  • LinkedIn

June 24, 2014

2014 Quadrennial Homeland Security Review – a dialogue worthy report

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on June 24, 2014

It’s only 103 pages.  Plus it’s a government report with a lot of pictures.   And there’s probably not much in it that’s new.

How long can it take to read something like that?

Turns out, longer than I expected.

After about 3 hours, I’m on page 68.  It’s not that I’m an especially slow reader.  I think it’s because the 2014 QHSR is an important and an exceptional document.

In my still forming opinion, this QHSR invites a move into Homeland Security 3.0.  It offers a strategic intent  – and the evidence to support it — that is compelling and, in a 21st century way, visionary.  It provides people who think and care about the entire enterprise subtle, refined ways to think about homeland security.  I expect that some of those ideas are already familiar to people who work with them daily.  But I have not seen them all in one place. Not before the 2014 QHSR.

I’m trying to think of an analogy to capture the feeling tone of the report.

To me it’s like the difference between someone talking about marriage while on his honeymoon, compared with someone else describing what a moderately successful marriage is like as it heads resolutely into its second decade.   Same institution, infused with time and experience.  The honeymoon is exciting and boundless.  A committed marriage takes work and a maturity that can embrace — not always willingly — ideals and reality.

That’s the sense I’m getting so far from the QHSR.

I know those are imprecise generalizations.  But it’s Tuesday, my day to post, and the other homeland security watch writers would like this week to be about the QHSR. Rightly so.

(Did you ever have one of those weeks — even on a Tuesday — when there were a dozen important things to do, but you couldn’t clone yourself because your 3-D printer was out of PolyJet photopolymers? Well, it’s something like that.)

The second QHSR took two years to put together.  And it shows.  In a good way.

I was prepared initially to dismiss the report as another check the box exercise.  But — even after only 68 pages — I can’t. It’s worth a deliberate read.

I do have to dismiss any temptation to comment before I’ve finished reading the entire document. (OK, Islam and Muslim are not mentioned, but terrorism shows up over 4 dozen times)

Thoughtful reflections will have to wait on such QHSR topics as:

  • Lone offenders
  • Drivers: of change, of challenges, of risk, of budgets, of markets
  • Cyber law enforcement incident response
  • The lack of public confidence in the government’s ability to function
  • Exchanging information at machine speed
  • Whether there is a national homeland security strategy, and if there isn’t so what?
  • Growth in domestic energy supplies
  • Universal values, enduring missions, enduring national interests
  • Risk segmentation
  • A “clean” audit opinion (apparently a good thing)
  • Nuclear terrorism and bioterrorism
  • Three dimensional printing (and supplies, of course)
  • Expansion of electronic payment systems
  • Pandemics
  • Climate change
  • Disaster driven migration
  • Cyber-physical convergence
  • Eroded public health capacity
  • Seriously deteriorated (past tense) infrastructure
  • Panama Canal expansion
  • Four (potential) black swans
  • Economic security
  • Priority biological incidents
  • Networked communities
  • National risk management
  • Rapid escalation of biological events
  • Faint signals
  • Risk informed
  • Information-driven community oriented policing
  • Publicly communicate tailored descriptions of homeland security capabilities
  • Emphasize strategic communications that project the effectiveness of homeland security capabilities
  • Weather maps for cyberspace
  • Ensuring a healthy cyber ecosystem
  • Self-mitigating, self-healing cyber systems
  • Mid-range incidents and levels of risk
  • Improving the confidence of our partners
  • Five (public-private) partnership archetypes for homeland security
  • Flexible models
  • “Immigration will always be, first and foremost, and opportunity for our country.”

And lots more to discuss, disagree with, and argue about.

Or maybe a better word is “dialogue.”

In a 1996 essay called “On Dialogue,” David Bohm distinguishes between discussion and dialogue.

Discussion is almost like a ping-pong game, where people are batting the ideas back and forth and the object of the game is to win or to get points for yourself.  Possibly you will take up somebody else’s ideas to back up your own – you may agree with some and disagree with others – but the basic point is to win the game. That’s frequently the case in a discussion.

“In a dialogue, however, nobody is trying to win. Everybody wins if anybody wins. There is a different sort of spirit to it.  In a dialogue, there is no attempt to gain points, or to make your particular view prevail. Rather, whenever any mistake is discovered on the part of anybody, everybody gains. It’s a situation called win – win, whereas the other game is win – lose.  If I win, you lose. But a dialogue is something more of a common participation, in which we are not playing a game against each other, but with each other. In a dialogue, everybody wins.”

The 2014 Quadrennial Homeland Security Report is worthy of much dialogue.

 

 

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • Print
  • LinkedIn

June 23, 2014

Legal opinion supporting extrajudicial execution of a citizen

Filed under: Legal Issues,Radicalization,Terrorist Threats & Attacks — by Philip J. Palin on June 23, 2014

In response to a FOIA-related court order a key Justice Department legal opinion has been released. The July 2010 memo was the basis for the government’s extrajudicial killing of an American citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, in 2011. The Washington Post provides a PDF of the memo here.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • Print
  • LinkedIn

June 21, 2014

QHSR Context

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on June 21, 2014

In the Homeland Security Act of 2002 the Department of Homeland Security is required to undertake what is clearly intended as a thoughtful reconsideration and anticipation of reality.  According to the law:

Each quadrennial homeland security review shall be a comprehensive examination of the homeland security strategy of the Nation, including recommendations regarding the long- term strategy and priorities of the Nation for homeland security and guidance on the programs, assets, capabilities, budget, policies, and authorities of the Department. 

The entire legislative mandate is provided in the new QHSR.

Congress was inspired by the preexisting Quadrennial Defense Review.  You can find the QDR here.  Despite a similar purpose, the QHSR and QDR are apples and oranges in terms of resources inputted and product outputted.   But precisely because of their differences, comparisons and contrasts between the two documents can point to potential “creative tensions” between Homeland Defense and Homeland Security.

Probably worth at least scanning the first QHSR released in February 2010.

While you’re at it scan the National Security Strategy, also from 2010.  Are the Quadrennials coherent with it? Consistent?  Where do you perceive one or both of the Quadrennials suggesting something different?  Very different or just a nuance?  Significant nuance or just a gloss?  A new NSS is in draft… will be interesting to compare the new with the current.

Where you agree with the QHSR but perceive a problem with implementation, how would you better ensure effectively advancing the effort?

Where you disagree with the QHSR, please explain what you perceive is wrong in the underlying analysis and/or outline your alternative.

Chris, Arnold and I have exchanged notes and hope to give most of the first week of summer to the QHSR (pending of course personal or planetary explosions). Given the emails I have received from many of you since Thursday there seems to be a lot to say.  I hope you will say it here.

Feedback — especially thoughtfully (concisely) argued — can have an impact.  Positive or negative and I urge you not to forget the positive.  Do not underestimate how difficult the fight may have been to get into the QHSR something that seems to you self-evident.

Full Disclosure: I was involved in preparing the QHSR, at least enough to receive a thank you email.  I also received a modest honorarium for a specific engagement with prior drafts.   My work focused almost entirely on private-public relationships.  I tried to have influence on supply chains and catastrophe preparedness but totally failed.  Even on private-public — where I was given considerable time and opportunity — I cannot find where the QHSR reflects any specific recommendation that I made.  So no pride-of-authorship.

But I did come to respect — and appreciate — the process and people doing their best to fulfill the mandate and serve the nation.  At least some of them are as frustrated as some of you seem to be, so don’t over-do an inclination to question intent or effort.  It is much more constructive to focus on the meaning or implications of what is actually in the document.  As you will see on Thursday, while they may not have listened to me, I perceive there is much to commend in how the QHSR anticipates the challenges ahead.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • Print
  • LinkedIn

June 20, 2014

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on June 20, 2014

On this day last year the Canadian province of Alberta experienced the start of a period of sustained flooding that displaced more than 100,000 and caused damage exceeding $5 billion.

On this day, also last year, the Colorado Black Forest Fire was declared 100 percent contained after burning more than 14,000 acres, destroying 486 homes, and resulting in two deaths.

Symantec, the computer security firm, has released a warning related to cyberattacks planned for today.  According to the warning the target will be the global energy industry.

What’s on your mind related to homeland security?

 

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • Print
  • LinkedIn

June 19, 2014

What’s a comma worth? Or “Re-visioning the homeland security vision”

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on June 19, 2014

As Phil noted, it is now time for the commentariat to dig into the 2014 Quadrennial Homeland Security Review.

My initial spoonful is hope.  Someone fixed the comma problem with the 2010 Vision.

Here’s the 2010 vision for homeland security:

 

2010 QHSR homeland security vision

 

 

Here’s the 2014 vision:2014 qhsr homeland security vision

 

Thank you to whoever  fixed that.

Or is it whomever?

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • Print
  • LinkedIn

Quadrennial Homeland Security Review

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on June 19, 2014

This afternoon the QHSR has been released.  It is available for your consideration at:

http://www.dhs.gov/quadrennial-homeland-security-review-qhsr

The document will be the focus of my post next Thursday.  I hope we can generate some thoughtful discussion.

As you will see, the QHSR highlights some key issues — especially related to risk and collaboration — that will certainly frame how both Homeland Security and homeland security unfold in the years ahead.

It is worth your careful consideration and some further conversation here (and elsewhere).

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • Print
  • LinkedIn

Warlords, tribes, contending gods, battles and a besieged city

Filed under: Radicalization,Terrorist Threats & Attacks — by Philip J. Palin on June 19, 2014

mask_of_agamemnon

In the midst of mayem and deep uncertainty, as nations tremble and empires flail, it may be worth revisiting the Iliad.

But if you do, resist (briefly) the poetic allure.  Instead give more attention to the convoluted plot, human psychology, and social anthropology of the Great Tale. (I prefer Robert Fagles translation.)

Is Abu-Bakr al-Bagdadi our new Agamemnon? Is ISIS the Mycenaean wedge at the fore of loosely assembled Sunni tribes? Is Maliki a misunderstood Priam or is Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani more analogous? Who is your Hector? Who is the Paris we can all agree to blame.

Instead of playing Baghdad for Troy, you might want to consider Kabul or Bangui or Bamako.  Dare we imagine Islamabad or Abuja?  Damascus or Jerusalem?  Some shining city on a hill. Maybe Troy is Kurdish. Your hometown?

Who are your heroes?  Your villains? In Homer’s telling every god and mortal — Greek and Trojan — is capable of conceit, self-delusion, and brutality… and their opposites.

Are we so different now?  There are many more of us. Our weapons are surely more horrible.  Has our heroic capacity matured with our capability to kill?  Achilles is the best known of Homer’s so-called heroes.  But he spends much of the war sulking. When vengeance pushes him furious into battle he sadistically sullies his win; as we have seen this week in Mosul and many places before.

That this story has in some form persisted these — what, 3000? — years must reflect some realism and recurring relevance of the text.

Especially in its current form the Iliad is a product of the Axial Age. Looking back five (or 30) centuries the supposed casus belli — Helen’s kidnapping — is as absurd as the assassination of an Archduke. Battle is opportunity for personal valor, compelling comradeship, and even stirring pageantry.  But warring is also reduced to the reality of individual encounter and inglorious gore, any alleged greater purpose somehow receding.  Socrates fights valiantly at Delium, but Sparta still wins the war.  Socrates saves the life of Alcibiades at Potidaea and he, who will drink hemlock rather than depart his homeland, becomes teacher, friend, perhaps lover, of that most ambiguous of men. Awareness of — even comfort with — such ambiguity Homer offers as civilizing: probably a Fifth Century theme added to older, less self-critical verse.

The Axial Age, at least as conceived by Karl Jaspers, brings us greater integration and more alignment of belief and behavior.  Quarreling gods, random warlords and associated violence are gradually supplanted by purposeful principles and imperial command: Cyrus, Ashoka, Alexander, Qin Shi Huang, Augustus and their successors.  Certainly we continue to pillage, rape and murder. But we are rather more organized about it. Boundaries —  political, physical, philosophical — are put in place (with significant exceptions, some extending over thousands of miles and centuries).

According to Stephen Pinker, Joshua Goldstein, Norbert Elias and others we can measure — despite all the bloody brutality — real long-term reductions in violence. The Westphalian consensus retrieved and strengthened Axial values. The survivors of the European wars of religion deciding  that violence ought be a State monopoly has been especially hard on warlords.  Until recently.

Maybe it is the result of that Archduke’s assasination, but however it happened we seem to have entered a transaxial, post-Westphalian period.  Era or interlude?

By transaxial I mean the once-upon stand-alone axes which cultures use to mitigate internal strife now intersect and conflict and — so far — no Frank Gehry is emerging to transform multiple axes into beautiful torque (think Bilbao Guggenheim or LAs Disney concert hall).  The contradicting lines are dramatic just now along the Tigris, Indus,  Niger  and Nile rivers.  But something similar can erupt even along the Danube or Ohio or Dnieper or James.

This crossing of axes made more dangerous as violent capabilities are more widely distributed.  In many cases, the State being only one of many deadly players.

All of which is difficult enough.  But what — even in this long-view — has recently caused me particular concern is for transaxial and post-Westphalian to merge with what might be neo-Manichean.

At the heart of the Axial transformation was a rough sense of shared humanity.  Whether it was Buddha, Zoroaster, Confucius, Deutero-Isaiah, or Socrates/Plato each recognized in others a reality deserving respect.  In the Treaty of Westphalia the signatories pledge to honor their heretical adversaries and solemnly undertake “Universal Peace, and a perpetual, true, and sincere Amity.”  Whatever they felt toward lousy Lutherans or corrupt Catholics, they were encouraged in what came to be known as Humanism.  It could and did fail, but as Pinker might say, “It could have been — had been — much worse.”

Today with Boko Haram, the Anti-Balakas, ISIS, and others — some closer to home — there is a growing conception of being engaged in cosmic conflict between “us” and “them” — Good and Evil — that justifies, even galvanizes mass murder.  This is not just ancient tribalism, but apocalyptic wish-fulfillment.  This is an ideology of annihilation.  It is Achilles mocking Hector’s offer of mutual honor.  It is a shrill chorus of pre-historic savagery.  It must be rejected… especially if noticed in ourselves.

–+–

Overpowered by memory
Each man gives way to grief.
Priam weeping for man-killing Hector
Throbbing crouching before Achilles’ feet
As Achilles himself also weeps
Now for his father
And again for Patroclus
Their sobs rising and falling throughout the house.

(Book XXIV)

May we be able to share, even with our enemies, more than grief.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • Print
  • LinkedIn

June 18, 2014

House Homeland Security hearing: “The Critical Role of First Responders: Sharing Lessons Learned from Past Attacks”

Filed under: Congress and HLS — by Arnold Bogis on June 18, 2014

Earlier today the House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing on “The Critical Role of First Responders: Sharing Lessons Learned from Past Attacks.”

What I thought was particularly interesting was in the current political climate this hearing is not about any contentious issue or other fodder for cable news pundits.  Rather, it actually seems to be a relevant review of local responder knowledge.

Okay…there might have been an underlying current regarding potential changes to homeland security grant funding.  But considering the low bar set these days, this hearing actually suggested that Congress was doing it’s job.

Witnesses

Deputy Commissioner John Miller
Intelligence and Counterterrorism
New York City Police Department
New York City, New York
Witness Statement [PDF]

Chief James Schwartz
Arlington County Fire Department
Arlington, Virginia
Witness Statement [PDF]

Chief James Hooley
Boston Emergency Medical Services
Witness Statement [PDF]

Dr. Brian A. Jackson
Director
RAND Safety and Justice Program
The RAND Corporation
Witness Statement [PDF]
Witness Truth in Testimony [PDF]

Jackson Lee, Representative from Texas, noted that first responders are not only providing homeland security but should be considered national security.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • Print
  • LinkedIn
« Previous PageNext Page »