Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

April 11, 2013

The President’s Budget

Filed under: Budgets and Spending — by Philip J. Palin on April 11, 2013

You can read the proposed FY2014 Budget here. The President has teed-up $39 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Homeland Security, a decrease of 1.5 percent over the most recently enacted budget.

Under the specific heading for the Department of Homeland Security I was struck by the use of the following phrase, “[This budget]… continues a commitment to core homeland security functions, such as transportation security, cybersecurity, and border security.”  Sounds like DHS is conceived mostly as a boundary-maintaining agency, where boundaries assume a variety of forms.

Reviewing the full document it is interesting how much of what I consider homeland security is mostly part of budgets other than the Department of Homeland Security, especially the National Intelligence Program, Department of Health and Human Services, and even the Department of Transportation.  Starting on page 14 give a particular look at the section on “Building a 21st Century Infrastructure.”

There are other elements worth future attention.  I have several emails out asking questions.  What questions does the budget proposal prompt by you?

FRIDAY UPDATE ON DHS BUDGET SPECIFICS

On Thursday April 11 Secretary Napolitano testified before the House Appropriations committee.  A video is available from the committee website.  Her prepared testimony is available here.  Following are three excerpts that I found interesting.  These are simply in the order that I encountered them in the testimony.

In support of the Administration’s Campaign to Cut Waste, DHS strengthened conference and travel policies and controls to reduce travel expenses, ensure conferences are cost-effective, and ensure both travel and conference attendance is driven by critical mission requirements. During 2012, DHS issued a new directive that establishes additional standards for conferences and requires regular reporting on conference spending, further increasing transparency and accountability. The Department’s FY 2014 budget projects an additional 20-percent reduction in travel costs from FYs 2013–2016.

I understand why this is being done, but it is in my judgment a cause for real regret and almost certainly a case of being penny-wise and pound foolish.  Given the DHS mission there is a need for more travel, engagement, and discussion with state, local and private sector stakeholder… not less.

The Budget re-proposes the National Preparedness Grant Program (NPGP), originally presented in the FY 2013 Budget, to develop, sustain, and leverage core capabilities across the country in support of national preparedness, prevention, and response, with appropriate adjustments to respond to stakeholder feedback in 2012. While providing a structure that will give grantees more certainty about how funding will flow, the proposal continues to utilize a comprehensive process for assessing regional and national gaps; support the development of a robust cross-jurisdictional and readily deployable state and local assets; and require grantees to regularly report progress in the acquisition and development of these capabilities.

Everyone who I have talked to yesterday and today — both advocates and opponents of the NPGP — say there is no chance of it passing Congress.

Following from the testimony is the five-mission overview the Secretary has been repeating mantra-like for awhile now.  I was not a big fan of this at first, but with repetition it is beginning to have its desired affect.

Mission 1: Preventing Terrorism and Enhancing Security – Protecting the United States from terrorism is the cornerstone of homeland security. DHS’s counterterrorism responsibilities focus on three goals: preventing terrorist attacks; preventing the unauthorized acquisition, importation, movement, or use of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear materials and capabilities within the United States; and reducing the vulnerability of critical U.S. infrastructure and key resources, essential leadership, and major events to terrorist attacks and other hazards.

Mission 2: Securing and Managing Our Borders – The protection of the Nation’s borders—land, air, and sea—from the illegal entry of people, weapons, drugs, and other contraband while facilitating lawful travel and trade is vital to homeland security, as well as the Nation’s economic prosperity. The Department’s border security and management efforts focus on three interrelated goals: effectively securing U.S. air, land, and sea borders; safeguarding and streamlining lawful trade and travel; and disrupting and dismantling transnational criminal and terrorist organizations.

Mission 3: Enforcing and Administering Our Immigration Laws – DHS is focused on smart and effective enforcement of U.S. immigration laws while streamlining and facilitating the legal immigration process. The Department has fundamentally reformed immigration enforcement, focusing on identifying and removing criminal aliens who pose a threat to public safety and targeting employers who knowingly and repeatedly break the law.

Mission 4: Safeguarding and Securing Cyberspace– DHS is responsible for securing unclassified federal civilian government networks and working with owners and operators of critical infrastructure to secure their networks through risk assessment, mitigation, and incident response capabilities. To combat cybercrime, DHS leverages the skills and resources of the law enforcement community and interagency partners to investigate and prosecute cyber criminals. DHS also serves as the focal point for the U.S. Government’s cybersecurity outreach and awareness efforts to create a more secure environment in which the private or financial information of individuals is better protected.

Mission 5: Ensuring Resilience to Disasters – DHS coordinates the comprehensive federal efforts to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate a terrorist attack, natural disaster, or other large-scale emergency, while working with individuals; communities; the private and nonprofit sectors; faith-based organizations; and federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal (SLTT) partners to ensure a swift and effective recovery. The Department’s efforts to help build a ready and resilient Nation include fostering a whole community approach to emergency management nationally; building the Nation’s capacity to stabilize and recover from a catastrophic event; bolstering information sharing and building unity of effort and common strategic  understanding among the emergency management team; providing training to our homeland security partners; and leading and coordinating national partnerships to foster preparedness and resilience across the private sector.

Hal Rogers, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee was clear in his opening statement that the President’s budget proposal would be altered.  The Chairman gave particular attention to:

“Once again, the Department has proposed to decimate Coast Guard and ICE funding that supports the men and women who bravely defend our homeland on the frontlines, in favor of headquarters pet projects and controversial research programs.”

“Once again, the budget request uses phony, unauthorized offsets to pay for critical aviation security measures.”

“Once again, the Department has failed to submit a number of plans and reports required by law, which are essential to help this Committee do its work – and do its work well.”

“And once again, this budget submission would add layers of bureaucracy to the already tangled web of agencies under your purview at DHS headquarters.”

Chairman Rogers continued in a prosecutorial — if civil — mien throughout the hearing.  Unfortunately I had a very difficult time hearing the video.  I hope this was a local problem and you do better.

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Redundant from L. redundantem (nom. redundans), prp. of redundare “come back, contribute,” lit. “overflow,” from re- “again” + undare “rise in waves,” from unda “a wave”

Filed under: Budgets and Spending,Intelligence and Info-Sharing,Technology for HLS — by Philip J. Palin on April 11, 2013

You may have seen the headlines:  Redundant Federal Programs Waste Billions (USA Today).

Or heard something similar:  Latest GAO report reveals 162 areas of redundancy across government (Federal News Radio).

Most of the broadcast news mentioned something about catfish inspectors and each military branch developing its own camouflage  uniform. Conservative or liberal — from inside or outside government — it is the kind of “news” that fails to create any new brain synapses and, probably, calcifies our current neural networks.

This lack of real thinking reflects the way information is headlined and how we typically receive the information, not what GAO is actually reporting.

The Government Accountability Office study released on Tuesday references several Department of Homeland Security practices.  In addition to a list from prior years, two more are highlighted in this most recent report:

Department of Homeland Security Research and Development: Better policies and guidance for defining, overseeing, and coordinating research and development investments and activities would help DHS address fragmentation, overlap, and potential unnecessary duplication.

Field-Based Information Sharing: To help reduce inefficiencies resulting from overlap in analytical and investigative support activities, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security and the Office of National Drug Control Policy could improve coordination among five types of field-based information sharing entities that may collect, process, analyze, or disseminate information in support of law enforcement and counterterrorism-related efforts—Joint Terrorism Task Forces, Field Intelligence Groups, Regional Information Sharing Systems centers, state and major urban area fusion centers, and High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Investigative Support Centers.

I am sure any post-hoc study of  research-and-development or intelligence-gathering (even more-so intelligence creating) activities will always find a wide range of decisions and actions  hard to defend.   Any careful audit should find hundreds or thousands of hours obviously lost on following bad leads, interminable meetings, unnecessary travel, dysfunctional turf protection, and much, much more (or actually less and less).  A thorough analysis could authoritatively map how one failure led to another and another.

R&D and the intelligence process share a concern with anticipating, even creating the future.  Once we arrive at the future we can usually look back and bemoan (or self-justify) the dead-ends and circuitous paths chosen.   We may even be able to recognize how alternate — preferable? — futures were very close-at-hand, but have now receded in our wake.

Malcolm Gladwell argues that ten years and 10,000 hours are — along with other crucial inputs — prerequisites to “outlier” success.  What  would an audit at five years and 5000 hours find? What does a half-made success look like? Thomas Edison famously said, “I failed my way to success.”

In the commercial world “redundancy” is often called competition.  In biology redundancy is very closely related to diversity.  In engineering and other design applications redundancy is sometimes valued rather than maligned.

This is not to discourage DHS from looking hard at its research-and-development policies.  The improved coordination of field-based information-sharing sounds like a win-win.  But fragmentation, overlap, and duplication are not always net negatives.  Elinor Ostrom and her colleagues found that polycentric governance — featuring considerable fragmentation, overlap, and duplication — is often more effective at achieving policy goals than more centralized and “efficient” structures.

[Redundancy = Bad] is a dangerous heuristic.  Stop using it.

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April 9, 2013

No Do Overs

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on April 9, 2013

Today’s post is from a Colorado firefighter named Jeff Cole.

Jeff created the video in response to a course assignment that asked him to reflect on “My place in the homeland security project, and the place of the homeland security project in my world.”

Watch the video. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a better use of four minutes and nineteen seconds.

 

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April 5, 2013

Friday Free for All

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

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

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April 4, 2013

Industry Consolidation: Implications for deadly violence in the United States

Filed under: Border Security,Risk Assessment — by Philip J. Palin on April 4, 2013

Monday the Associated Press released an investigative piece on the role of Mexican drug cartels in the United states.   According to this report,

Mexican drug cartels whose operatives once rarely ventured beyond the U.S. border are dispatching some of their most trusted agents to live and work deep inside the United States — an emboldened presence that experts believe is meant to tighten their grip on the world’s most lucrative narcotics market and maximize profits.

If left unchecked, authorities say, the cartels’ move into the American interior could render the syndicates harder than ever to dislodge and pave the way for them to expand into other criminal enterprises such as prostitution, kidnapping-and-extortion rackets and money laundering…

“It’s probably the most serious threat the United States has faced from organized crime,” said Jack Riley, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Chicago office.  MORE

(For much more detail on the Mexican drug cartels please see a March report by the International Crisis Group: Peña Nieto’s Challenge: Criminal Cartels and Rule of Law in Mexico.)

One way to view Mexican drug operations in the United States is as an increasingly concentrated source of supply for a popular and high margin consumer product. In most major US cities — and increasingly in suburban and rural areas too — the Sinaloa Cartel is the primary source while a range of street/prison gangs handle wholesale and retail sales.

According to the 2011 FBI National Gang Threat Assessment,

There are approximately 1.4 million active street, prison, and Outlaw Motorcycle Gang (OMG) gang members comprising more than 33,000 gangs in the United States. Gang membership increased most significantly in the Northeast and Southeast regions, although the West and Great Lakes regions boast the highest number of gang members. Neighborhood-based gangs, hybrid gang members, and national-level gangs such as the Sureños are rapidly expanding in many jurisdictions. Many communities are also experiencing an increase in ethnic-based gangs such as African, Asian, Caribbean, and Eurasian gangs. Gangs are responsible for an average of 48 percent of violent crime in most jurisdictions and up to 90 percent in several others, according to NGIC analysis.

The financial returns of the drug trade — and increased concentration of supply — is reflected in a more streamlined retail network.  This rationalization of major US regional markets is, among other results, producing what can be seen as significant Merger & Acquisition activities across the retail environment.  According to the National Gang Threat Assessment:

Mexican Drug Trading Organizations (MDTOs) are among the most prominent Drug Trading Organizations (DTOs) largely because of their control over the production of most drugs consumed in the United States. They are known to regularly collaborate with US-based street and prison gang members and occasionally work with select OMG and White Supremacist groups, purely for financial gain… The prospect of financial gain is resulting in the suspension of traditional racial and ideological division among US prison gangs, providing MDTOs the means to further expand their influence over drug trafficking in the United States… Gangs’ increased collaboration with MDTOs has altered the dynamics of the drug trade at the wholesale level. US gangs, which traditionally served as the primary organized retail or mid-level distributor of drugs in most major US cities, are now purchasing drugs directly from the cartels, thereby eliminating the mid-level wholesale dealer. Furthermore, advanced technology, such as wireless Internet and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) capabilities, has made the recruitment, collaboration, and coordination of criminal activity more efficient and lucrative, and allows direct contact between the gangs and DTOs.

One outcome of this radical shift in the supply chain for illicit drugs is the emergence of ongoing collaboration between Mexican sources, long-time African-American regional wholesalers, and several white Aryan retail networks (with lots of others in the mix).  But some suggest intense local violence — such as that experienced over recent years in Chicago — can also be understood as competition over market share.

For the most radical White Supremacist organizations this collaboration with the “lesser races” is a case of the ends justifying the means.  Drug profits are a lucrative way to fund the coming revolution… as well as the current lifestyle.  In the annual estimate of the Texas gang threat released earlier this week, the state Department of Public Safety provides this quick overview of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas:

The Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT) was formed as a prison gang and places its racist ideology secondary to its everyday criminal activities. ABT is not considered a significant threat to the border areas of Texas but is considered a prevailing gang that threatens Texas internally because of its involvement in violent crimes, the methamphetamine business, and frequent property crimes.

For what it’s worth, most of my personal contacts in Federal and Texas law enforcement do not believe the recent assassination of Kaufman County, Texas prosecutors will actually be traced to the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas — as frequently mentioned in recent days — much less the killing of the Colorado prisons director.  The assassination yesterday of a West Virginia sheriff has, however, spurred concerns related to copy-cat killings.

“While I don’t think they were involved this time, I’m sure,” said one long-time DEA official, “the drug-lords are watching very carefully how this all plays out. “

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April 2, 2013

“I am homeland security.”

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on April 2, 2013

Today’s post was written by Veronica Epley.  Veronica is a homeland security analyst.  She is also an artist. She created the sculpture pictured at the end of this post.

 

I am homeland security. I prevent, respond, recover, deter, monitor, mitigate, advocate, facilitate, cooperate, evaluate, confiscate, activate, aid, assist, assess, administer, implement, complement, rescue, screen, classify, justify, quantify, unify, indemnify, inspect, detect, protect, direct, suspect, advise, revise, compromise, train, maintain, manage, confer, defer, defend, inform, inspire, influence, educate, investigate, communicate, collaborate, coordinate, legislate, validate, vaccinate, regulate, execute, prosecute, prohibit, exhibit, confine, align, arrest, attest, fund, grant, gather, share, shelter, warn, welcome, keep out, remove, detain, deport, import, export, transport, support, report, research, review, rethink, rebuild, advise, revise, devise, develop, deconstruct, exercise, analyze, strategize, publicize, immunize, and break ice on frozen waterways. I am Ridge/Chertoff/Napolitano/and the next Secretaries, plus the 240,000 Feds they lead, the armies of contractors they hire, and the Presidents they answer to. I am thousands more from State and local governments that have been working homeland security since before the 9/11 attacks and before the mission had this name. I am tribes and territories. I am firefighters and law enforcement, public health officials, mayors, governors, EMTs, and white hats. I am advisors, academics, councils, counselors, consultants, and canines. I am waterworks, ball parks, and the grid, and owners and operators and security specialists who safeguard critical infrastructure and cyber security, and the millions more whose jobs support those vital functions. I work at headquarters and I work around the corner. I am air marshals and antidotes. I am guards, gates, guns, and guidelines. I am competence and intelligence and arrogance. I am vigilant and vulnerable. I am the Congress that controls the power and money, and their staffs, and their constituents. I am many thumbs in an enormous dike. I am the passengers who take off their shoes and the bloggers who ask “Are we really any safer?” I am technology and look for solutions. I am art and look for more questions. I shimmer in the sunlight and slide through the shadows, ever watchful. I am soul. I am sanctuary. I am an endless catalog of characters.

I am the monster. I am an ever-adaptive adversary. I am snakes with box cutters on a plane. I am flood and drought, hurricane, tornado and earthquake, ice storm, snow storm and storm surge. I alarm, aspire, conspire, inspire, instigate, delegate, watch, wait, hate, outrage, panic, petrify, terrify, target, taunt, plot, provoke, scheme, hurt, harm, hide, conceal, kill, show up, blow up, disturb, disrupt, destroy, and devastate. I am terrorists and fanatics and ills of all ilk. I am plague, ricin, anthrax, avian flu, and foot and mouth disease. I am threatened. I am threatening. I am fear and dread. I am drug traffickers and human traffickers and people just looking for better opportunities on the other side of the border. I am the crazy shooter in a movie theater, the crazy shooter at Fort Hood, and the guy who flew a plane into the IRS building as a tax protest. I am the lone wolf and the wolf pack, immoral and amoral. I am chemistry, biology, and nuclear physics gone wild. I am dirty bombs and pipe bombs. I am contraband and IEDs and danger, danger, danger. I am violent extremists. I am insiders and foreigners, here and there. I am aging infrastructure that doesn’t need a reason to fail. I am hackers who hack to steal and do harm and hackers who hack just because they can. I am surveillance and surprise. I am a trickster, a shifter. I am weather and whether. I am a hybrid, the integration and the intersection of accident and evil intent. I, too, am an endless catalog of characters. I am global. I am local. I am constantly changing. I am uncertainty. I am coming, and you don’t know when or where.

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March 29, 2013

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on March 29, 2013

Last Friday’s first foray into an open forum elicited considerable comment.   Mr. Grattan’s question — understood or misunderstood — initiated a lively exchange.  What’s your homeland security (or Homeland Security) related question, concern, or comment?

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March 28, 2013

On catastrophe’s eve

Filed under: Catastrophes,Preparedness and Response — by Philip J. Palin on March 28, 2013

In my religious tradition today is Maundy Thursday.  This is when many Christian churches remember the celebration of Passover by Jesus and his disciples.

I “do” catastrophe preparedness, this has become my principal role in homeland security. In this context the Maundy Thursday narrative has some resonance.

The perennial story begins with a long celebratory dinner recalling liberation and forty years in the wilderness. After dinner, recognizing he is on the edge of an agonizing choice, Jesus asks his best friends to help him. But they keep falling asleep. Later that evening he is betrayed by a long-time friend. As a very dark night unfolds religious hypocrisy and political expediency conspire toward profound injustice. Trusted followers flee and deny any relationship with their one-time hero. Expectations are shattered. Hopes are dashed. The most cynical outcomes are — with wonderful exceptions — confirmed.

Friday is even worse.

The consequences are catastrophic. At least in the Euro-American context, this death and what happened next was until recently (still, in some quarters) widely understood as precipitating a fundamental shift in ultimate reality.

My own strategy for “managing” catastrophe involves individual, family, neighborhood, organizational, regional, and national resilience. I’m all in favor of prevention (up to a point, at some point many efforts at prevention become as bad or worse than the threat). But prevention will fail. There will be another seriously successful terrorist attack on the United States. I don’t know when or where, but it will come. Much worse than any terrorist attack will be when earthquake or pandemic or epic flooding or you name it de-link a major urban area’s supply chains for several weeks.

Mitigation, response, and recovery are, for me, all important components of resilience. But resilience starts, I increasingly perceive, with the stories we tell each other over meals together. Such as Passover when the story is told again and again of courage and cowardice, loyalty and betrayal, victory and defeat.

There’s a new book out called “The Secrets of Happy Families.” It’s another example of delving into social science research to reclaim common sense that was widely accepted until distracted by earlier versions of social science research. According to the author:

Psychologists have found that every family has a unifying narrative… and those narratives take one of three shapes.

First, the ascending family narrative: “Son, when we came to this country, we had nothing. Our family worked. We opened a store. Your grandfather went to high school. Your father went to college. And now you. …”

Second is the descending narrative: “Sweetheart, we used to have it all. Then we lost everything.”

“The most healthful narrative… is the third one. It’s called the oscillating family narrative: ‘Dear, let me tell you, we’ve had ups and downs in our family. We built a family business. Your grandfather was a pillar of the community. Your mother was on the board of the hospital. But we also had setbacks. You had an uncle who was once arrested. We had a house burn down. Your father lost a job. But no matter what happened, we always stuck together as a family.’ ”

Dr. Duke said that children who have the most self-confidence have what he and Dr. Fivush call a strong “intergenerational self.” They know they belong to something bigger than themselves.

For the last sixty years or so the Ascending narrative has dominated the American imagination.  In the last six or seven years the Descending narrative has exerted amazing power.  But as with most families, our national narrative is more complicated.

Reality oscillates. Catastrophes come. Seventy-two hours later or 40 days-and-nights (or years) later, even 1900 years later reality may take another turn. There are no guarantees of “success”. There are resilient and non-resilient choices.

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March 27, 2013

Web slows under ‘biggest attack ever’

Filed under: Cybersecurity — by Philip J. Palin on March 27, 2013

The following is the current lead in The Telegraph (London).  For the record, I am online, have been online all day (it’s now 1705 Eastern), and have not noticed a problem. I’ve checked a couple of US-based tech sites and a quick scan shows nothing or only a minor mention.  The New York Times is, however, giving major attention. Perhaps this is — so far — mostly a European phenomenon?

–+–

A Dutch web-hosting company caused disruption and the global slowdown of the internet, according to a not-for-profit anti-spam organization.

The interruptions came after Spamhaus, a spam-fighting group based in Geneva, temporarily added the Dutch firm, CyberBunker, to a blacklist that is used by e-mail providers to weed out spam.

Cyberbunker is housed in a five-story former NATO bunker and famously offers its services to any website “except child porn and anything related to terrorism”. As such it has often been linked to behaviour that anti-spam blacklist compilers have condemned.

Users of Cyberbunker retaliated with a huge ‘denial of service attack’. These work by trying to make a network unavailable to its intended users,overloading a server with coordinated requests to access it. At one point, 300 billion bits per second were being sent by a network of computers, making this the biggest attack ever.

MORE

THURSDAY UPDATE

Two morning after reports:

The San Jose Mercury tells us what happened in brief.

The Christian Science Monitor asks if it was overblown

Information Week tells us about the implications of what (apparently) happened

Sounds like it was much more a Eurasian event this time.

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March 26, 2013

Homeland Security Legitimacy

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on March 26, 2013

This post was written by Charles Eaneff.  Among his other accomplishments, Chuck is the former Acting Executive Director DHS Office of State and Local Law Enforcement and a Naval Postgraduate School alumnus.

 

 

From Defining Homeland Security: Analysis and Congressional Considerations, CRS, Washington, DC, 2013,

Homeland security as a concept suggested a different approach to security, and differed from homeland defense… “Homeland defense is primarily a Department of Defense (DOD) activity and is defined as “… the protection of US sovereignty, territory, domestic population, and critical defense infrastructure against external threats and aggression, or other threats as directed by the President.” Homeland security, regardless of the definition or strategic document, is a combination of law enforcement, disaster, immigration, and terrorism issues. It is primarily the responsibility of civilian agencies at all levels. It is a coordination of efforts at all levels of government. The differences between homeland security and homeland defense, however, are not completely distinct. An international terrorist organization attack on and within the United States would result in a combined homeland security and homeland defense response, such as on 9/11 when civilian agencies were responding to the attacks while the U.S. military established a combat air patrol over New York and Washington, DC. This distinction between homeland security and homeland defense, and the evolution of homeland security as a concept, was reflected in the strategic documents developed and issued following 9/11.

After 9/11 the Bush Administration, by creating DHS and reprioritizing government functions, began the transformation of Treasury Agents and Department of Transportation regulators into Security agents. At the same time, the Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS) was created within the Naval Postgraduate School reflecting the CRS observation that “The differences between homeland security and homeland defense, however, are not completely distinct.” The CHDS program, in admitting civilian and DoD employees from all levels of government, clearly represents the CRS contention that homeland security is a coordination of efforts at all levels of government. In 2009, the Obama Administration continued the merger of national security and homeland security, integrating the White House Homeland Security Council into the National Security Council.

A recent survey of over 1,000 homeland security professionals by the CHDS Futures Advisory Committee noted that the merging of national security and homeland security was one of the critical (existing or anticipated) trends within the Homeland Security Enterprise:

As domestic and foreign threats run together, it is not clear whether it makes sense to view these as separate issues. Also, increasing numbers of National Security issues (such as global trade, migration/travel, climate change, pandemic threats, access to natural resources, etc.) relate directly to Homeland Security issues. Geography will become less viable as a concept (in terms of threats, attacks, etc.). American tourists and diplomats may be threatened overseas.

As homeland security has matured since 9/11, the insights in the CHDS survey that the wall between national security and homeland security is coming down is undoubtedly accurate. A foundational challenge of the next decades is that those bricks between national and homeland security are being tossed aside and building a functional wall between justice and security. Whether or not we would collectively agree with the insights of former Shin Bet leadership expressed in the “Gatekeepers” movie, two major themes reinforced by their edited observations were that security and justice are inexorably intertwined, and that leadership all too often reflects “all tactics, no strategy” in pursuit of short term security. If the diverse community of homeland security practitioners does not heed lessons about the importance of legitimacy learned by the police segment of the homeland security enterprise, we risk achieving neither homeland, nor national, security.

Consistent with Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and Sir Robert Peele’s “The police are the public and the public are the police,” our historic security strategy has been justice supplemented by police (“the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent upon every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.”) combined with strong external defense capability. Domestically, justice has not been just a desired outcome, but a strategy to achieve an outcome of security. The separation of justice and security is cementing itself as more than different missions of two Federal Departments.

Justice driven discretion in the application of law increasingly exists side by side, and often at odds, with national security driven rules in the application of control.

The recent TSA decision to permit some knives on passenger aircraft makes this point quite clear. CNN reported that former Bush Administration head of TSA Kip Hawley concurs with this Obama Administration decision,

“In retrospect, I should have done the same thing,” Hawley said of the rule, which allows passengers to board aircraft with certain small knives, as well as sports equipment such as ice hockey and lacrosse sticks.

“They ought to let everything on that is sharp and pointy. Battle axes, machetes … bring anything you want that is pointy and sharp because while you may be able to commit an act of violence, you will not be able to take over the plane. It is as simple as that,” he said.

“So my position would be bravo on the 2.6 inch knife. But why not take it all the way and then really clean up the checkpoint where officers are focusing on bombs and toxins, which are things that can destroy an airplane. And it would smooth the process, cost less money, and be better security.”

Asked if he was using hyperbole in suggesting that battle axes be allowed on planes, Hawley said he was not.

How is it possible that across two Administrations, in the largest law enforcement agency in the United States (DHS has more law enforcement officers than any other department, Federal, State or local), with a law enforcement professional of impeccable credentials at the helm of TSA, that foundational principles of public safety and the well documented relationship between enforcement legitimacy and public compliance are ignored?

Might it be possible because the CHDS Futures Committee was correct, and we are well on the road to “Merging of Homeland Security with National Security”, but we are doing it at the expense of public security and legitimacy?

The most significant partners in establishing and maintaining security in the operation of passenger airlines has to be the flight crews and the flying public. A flight attendant’s primary duty is the safety of passengers. Flight Attendant Union outrage over this knife decision appears to reflect an understanding that if they ever believed that the government was a partner in their efforts to protect themselves and their passengers, that this is no longer the case. National Security is threatened if an aircraft is destroyed; the loss of cabin crew or passengers does not threaten national security.

TSA focus on national security in this “knife fight” comes at some loss of DHS/TSA legitimacy as a public safety provider.

However, as “homeland security” regulatory and enforcement continues to merge with and resemble “national security” rather than the public’s security, there are bright spots in the integration of justice, legitimacy, and security.

Department of Defense literature on counterinsurgency, including the US Army and Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual, reflects a deep understanding of legitimacy and the role it plays in security. When Craig Fugate of FEMA extols his approach to “whole community,” what I hear is “FEMA, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that emergency managers are the public and the public are emergency managers; FEMA employees being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.”

In this version of Alice in Wonderland Homeland Security, the Marines and Emergency Managers are driving toward Peelian principles of trust and accountability, paying close attention to their legitimacy, and DHS enforcement is driving toward national security at the expense of public safety.

Evolving security, both national and homeland, ensured by State control has a complex relationship with our historic strategy of security ensured by the public perception of justice supported by law enforcement’s use of discretion and the law.   It is a relationship worthy of the same examination as the relationship between security and defense.

Going forward, academic examination of the relationship between defense and security without including justice as an “equal” is increasingly an examination of a two legged stool.

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3000 Homeland Security Watch posts, and counting

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on March 26, 2013

According to the data bots behind the Homeland Security Watch curtain, this is the 3,000th post.

Here is the first post on this blog — 7 years, 3 months, and 25 days ago (my comments added):

 

December 2, 2005

Homeland Security Blogs

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christian Beckner on December 2, 2005

One of the reasons that I decided to start HLS Watch was the paucity of good blogs on the subject of homeland security. However, there are a few that are worth reading, which I list below:

1. W. David Stephenson. A thoughtful and frequently updated blog focused on the idea of ‘smart mobs for homeland security.’

[David’s blog has evolved and is now presented as “stephenson blogs on Internet of Things, data, et al.musings on the Internet of Things, data liberation, and miscellany.”]

2. Bruce Schneier. A well-trafficked blog by a solid expert on homeland security, focused mainly on the intersections between privacy and security.

[Bruce continues to write about the intersections, but as his most recent posts declares (Arnold noted this a few days ago), Bruce thinks privacy lost:

The Internet is a surveillance state. Whether we admit it to ourselves or not, and whether we like it or not, we’re being tracked all the time. … This is ubiquitous surveillance: All of us being watched, all the time, and that data being stored forever. This is what a surveillance state looks like, and it’s efficient beyond the wildest dreams of George Orwell.]

3. Counterterrorism Blog. This group blog covers a wide range of opinion, and is the first place to go for rapid-reaction expert analysis on terrorist attacks.

[This blog stopped publishing about 2 years ago. Last time I checked, the original url was being used to sell air hockey tables, boots, baskets, awnings and gout treatment.]

4. Secondary Screening. A blog focused largely on TSA issues and now and then focusing on other aspects of homeland security.

[This blog’s url now resolves to a place holder for Ryan Singel’s Singel-Minded]

5. Early Warning (on the Washington Post site). Has a lot of very inside-the-Beltway on DOD and intelligence activities related to the broader war on terrorism. Occasionally touches on issues of homeland security.

[This blog stopped publishing in 2008.  But the author, William Arkin, is the co-author of Top Secret America — the most readable description I know of about the post 9/11 growth of the security state.]

6. Open Society Paradox. A good blog on privacy and security issues – but on hiatus right now.

[Apparently this blog remains on hiatus; the most current post describes “Yoga’s Breathtaking Effects.”]

I’ve been looking for homeland security blogs for the last two years, and these are the only bookmark-worthy ones that I’ve found so far. It’s a short list. If you have any more to add to it, please suggest in comments. At some point soon I’ll start a HLS Watch blogroll.

 

Thanks to Christian Beckner for starting this blog.  And thanks to all the people who have written for it, both above and below the comment line.

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March 25, 2013

DOD Strategy for Homeland Defense and Defense Support of Civil Authorities

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Arnold Bogis on March 25, 2013

Last month the Department of Defense released a new “Strategy for Homeland Defense and Defense of Civil Authorities.”

Like most DOD policy documents, this ain’t short.

Okay, I have to admit I haven’t read it yet and if you plan to, you might want to consider pouring yourself a glass of whatever you prefer, get a bag of snacks, and pick a comfortable chair.

Okay…it’s only 25 pages.  But a dense, jargon filled 25 pages. Maybe I’m just getting lazy.

But here are a few interesting points from the sections I’ve read. It is only a coincidence that the first has to do with the blending of national and homeland security:

We are now moving beyond traditional distinctions between homeland and national security.National security draws on the strength and resilience of our citizens, communities, and economy. This includes a determination to prevent terrorist attacks against the American people by fully coordinating the actions that we take abroad with the actions and precautions that we take at home. It must also include a commitment to building a more secure and resilient nation, while maintaining open flows of goods and people. We will continue to develop the capacity to address the threats and hazards that confront us, while redeveloping our infrastructure to secure our people and work cooperatively with other nations.

National Security Strategy May 2010

Phil should be at least intrigued by the following section:

Vulnerabilities: Contemporary threats and hazards are magnified by the vulnerabilities created by the increasingly interconnected nature of information systems, critical infrastructure, and supply chains. The information networks and industrial control systems owned by DoD, and those maintained by commercial service providers and infrastructure operators, are subjected to increasingly sophisticated cyber intrusions and are vulnerable to physical attack and natural and manmade disasters. A targeted cyber or kinetic attack on the nation’s commercial electrical infrastructure would not only degrade DoD mission essential functions but also impact DoD sustainment operations that depend on commercial electricity for fuel distribution, communications, and transportation. In the context of this increasingly interconnected security environment, seemingly isolated or remote incidents cancause substantial physical effects, degrade Defense systems, and quickly be transformed into significant or catastrophic events.

The oft-stated concern that citizens are too reliant on government help after a disaster has seeped into DOD strategies:

Public expectations for a decisive, fast, and effective Federal response to disasters have grown in the past decade, particularly in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Although DoD is always in a support role to civilian authorities (primarily the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA) for disaster response, the capacity, capabilities, training, and professionalism of the Armed Forces mean that DoD is often expected to play a prominent supporting role in response efforts. The prevailing “go big, go early, go fast, be smart” approach to saving lives and protecting property in the homeland – evident during the preparations for and response to Hurricane Irene in August 2011 and particularly Hurricane Sandy in October 2012 – requires DoD to rapidly and effectively harness resources to quickly respond to civil support requests in the homeland.

The full document can be found here: http://www.defense.gov/news/Homelanddefensestrategy.pdf

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What if you could talk about homeland security without using the words homeland security?

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Arnold Bogis on March 25, 2013

In her latest Boston Globe column, Juliette Kayyem discusses the official recognition that the effects of climate change will impact national security.

Now, in this year’s Worldwide Threat Assessment, issued last week by the office of the director of national intelligence, a new risk has been highlighted, marking a historic shift in how we think about our enemies: the weather — more specifically climate change. And the fact that America’s entire national security apparatus has embraced it as a threat is, in the end, good news for local communities.

The United States now concedes that the security of nations is “being affected by weather conditions outside of historical norms, including more frequent and extreme floods, droughts, wildfires, tornadoes, coastal high water, and heat waves.”

And we are not the only ones:

The American Security Project, a bipartisan think tank, analyzed military assessments worldwide. From China to Rwanda, Belarus to Brazil, over 70 percent of nations view climate change as a top threat to their national security.

Yet this isn’t a challenge for what is currently understood as our national security apparatus.

Unlike responses to most other national security threats, those that guard against climate change are local in nature.

And we still must become a more resilient society, one whose basic building blocks cannot be knocked out by threats that are utterly predictable.

So she talks about weather, critical infrastructure, resilience, and local action.  Sounds like a lot of topics that come up in conversations about homeland security definitions and education.  But the phrase “homeland security” appears nowhere in the piece.  I’m certain that is not out of ignorance of the topic or an aversion to the field–she is a former Massachusetts homeland security adviser and DHS Assistant Secretary.

Instead she frames the topics of climate change, natural disaster, critical infrastructure, and resilience as “national security” issues.  On one hand, this can be interpreted as weakening the notion of a distinct field of homeland security, as well as the need to precisely define it.  On the other, it represents an opportunity to focus attention on those areas that have been considered as not directly related to traditional national security.

Since 9/11 and the resulting evolution of the general field of homeland security, there has existed a tension between the security side and (for the lack of a better term) the rest.   Terrorism, border security, and other activities carried out by law enforcement personnel has existed in a not always smooth relationship with emergency management, non-police first responders, and the broad array of disciplines interested in building resilience.  Immediately after the Katrina’s and Sandy’s much hang wringing is accomplished concerning our preparedness for natural disasters.  However, the security side of the house (across departments and levels of government), with its connection to the military and intelligence worlds, always seems to retain cachet and policy priority.  Protecting us from the bad person rather than the bad weather is more exciting.  For example, there has been more ink spilled concerning the TSA’s decision to allow some sharp objects to be carried on planes versus the opportunities to build resilience in those communities impacted by Superstorm Sandy.

Protecting us from terrorism at home has always been considered a part of both homeland and national security.  Protecting us from natural disasters and pandemics, building resilience, etc. was often left to those  without security clearances.  Instead of proposing definitions that only build walls between disciplines, might it be better to expand the idea of what we consider important to security and future of our country?

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March 22, 2013

Open-mike at Homeland Security Watch

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on March 22, 2013

When Christian began HLSWatch, Bill Cumming emerged from primordial Logos fully formed. When Jonah invited me here, Bill Cumming welcomed me to what was much more his home than mine. While writers on the front page come and go, Bill persists with questions, analysis, and (sometimes trenchant) commentary. When the cosmos is recumbent in quiet, Bill will eventually speak. He is the Higgs Boson of this parallel universe.

So… when Bill has the good idea of using Friday for an open thread, I am happy to begin the sewing…

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March 21, 2013

The homeland security conversation

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on March 21, 2013

This afternoon I’m giving a presentation to the Virginia Emergency Management Association.  My topic is the strategic capacity of supply chains in potentially catastrophic events.  A Virginian heard me give a similar presentation on the West coast and asked for an update.

In mid-December I was pushed onto a stage in front of a bunch of scientists.  From the (lack of ) questions and the open-mouth stares encountered, I must have lapsed into glossolalia… their reaction perhaps being similar to your reaction to my use of glossolalia.  In any case, they were paying attention, but I failed to make a relevant connection.

I prefer open-mouth stares to dropped-dead heads working on their texts. This is my principal recollection of a session with “senior leadership” of an important organization.  The only person actually making eye-contact with me was the Big Guy.  Later he and I had an interesting conversation.  When I sought out the executive responsible for the core of my presentation she mostly wanted to talk about the weather.

Dead-heads are increasingly common, despite a colleague’s description of my presentation style as being “as much dancing as talking.”  The senior guy who put me on the agenda was sure the audience was listening. “We’re expert multi-taskers,” he explained.  Maybe.  I perceived a strong intellectual force-field seeking to exclude anything that might pierce the current consensus.  I left plenty of time for questions, there were none.

This afternoon I’ve been given 60 minutes.  I intend to present some supply chain findings specific to Virginia.  In rehearsal I’ve been able to do this in 17 to 20 minutes.   I think there are some provocative findings.  Then I plan to give the rest of the time to questions and answers.  I would prefer to focus on issues that are relevant to the audience.

Related to relevance: I hope a conversation might begin.  Supply chain is not — yet — a typical EM issue. I would like to hear some local supply chain stories and respond with stories of my own.  I would like to hear some catastrophe stories and ask some questions of the audience.  I would like to hear some questions I have not previously considered. Conversation is derived from root words meaning “to turn”.  In a conversation we are turning a topic upside-down, right-side-up, and every which way, thinking together about all the different angles.  Questions are the keys to the kingdom of new knowledge and potential wisdom.

There is too much information (at least too much for me).   There is an amazing amount of knowledge (information-in-context).    There is too little wisdom (ability to apply knowledge), which I perceive is one of the outcomes of too little conversation.

We gather information, analyze, report, present, argue.   We defend hypotheses and theories.  We marshal arguments and propose solutions.    There are times and places for all these.

But without a parallel process of conversation — including the casual give-and-take of uncertainties and unknowns — the analytical process leaves us with little more than separate pieces and divided lives.

Conversation is, I perceive (argue?), especially important to homeland security.   If there is any value-added to homeland security it is as an integrative, questioning, creative influence on disciplines related to the field.   Disciplines seem naturally — and rather helpfully — inclined to reductionism.  What works?  What’s the best formula for success?  Define, train, exercise, and deploy it.  In other words, be disciplined.

And even in the most hard-core disciplines, conversations are a regular part of life in the firehouse, police precinct, and at other grass-roots.   But these are usually discipline-specific (or community-specific) conversations.  The homeland security conversation, if it happens at all, is mostly the outcome of inter-disciplinary conferences; where we have often adopted an anti-conversational approach.

About two-thirds of the presentations I have heard over the last 120 days might accurately be entitled: “Let me introduce myself/my workplace/work assignment/tribe/INSERT”.  Even when their work clearly had merit, the presentations often communicated navel-gazing self-absorption (and defensiveness).  In several cases I know the presenters were specifically invited to present on topics other than their organization, were coached through mini-presentations to emphasize the other purposes, but once they were given the stage they defaulted to the cult of self-aggrandizement.  Not a very effective conversation-starter.

After one recent conference a female colleague commented, “None of these guys seem to know the way to get attention is to pay attention to what the other person considers important.”  I had a sense she might have been making a broader critique.

At one recent multi-disciplinary conference there were no breaks scheduled, so as not to interfere with the “transfer of information.”  Stop with the inert and self-referential information! Give me an opportunity to engage, question, and play with your knowledge.   Schedule more coffee-breaks, not fewer.  Have more small groups and fewer keynote speeches.  TED talks have their place.  But I would rather talk with Ted.

Mark Twain offered, “Let us make a special effort to stop communicating with each other, so we can have some conversation.”

I’ll let you know how it goes this afternoon.

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March 20, 2013

Our context: Five of hundreds

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on March 20, 2013

Here are a few bookmarks that caught my attention today:

Sun Storm Forecast (Tuesday New York Times): “Scientists say it is impossible to predict when the next monster solar storm will erupt — and equally important, whether Earth will lie in its path. What they do know is that with more sunspots come more storms, and this fall the Sun is set to reach the crest of its 11-year sunspot cycle.”

US Earns a D+ on Infrastructure (American Society of Civil Engineers): “The 2013 Report Card grades are in, and America’s cumulative GPA for infrastructure rose slightly to a D+. The grades in 2013 ranged from a high of B- for solid waste to a low of D- for inland waterways and levees. Solid waste, drinking water, wastewater, roads, and bridges all saw incremental improvements, and rail jumped from a C- to a C+. No categories saw a decline in grade this year.”

Terrorism is an Expression of Middle Class Frustration (Sultan Mehmood writing in DAWN): “The simple positive relationship between poverty and (material) crime could not be extrapolated… Not a single study could make a cogent case that terrorism had economic roots. This lack of evidence culminated in a recent review of the literature by Martin Gassebner and Simon Luechinger of the KOF Swiss Economic Institute. The authors estimated 13.4 million different equations, drew on 43 different studies and 65 correlates of terrorism to conclude that higher levels of poverty and illiteracy are not associated with greater terrorism. In fact, only the lack of civil liberties and high population growth could predict high terrorism levels accurately… It is not that most terrorists have nothing to live for. Far from it, they are the high-ability and educated political people who so vehemently believe in a cause that they are willing to die for it. The solution to terrorism is not more growth but more freedom.”

More Boko Haram Bombings in Nigeria (AFP): “A series of blasts targeting buses full of passengers in Kano, Nigeria has killed at least 20 people and sources say the toll is expected to rise. Initial reports indicated that two suicide bombers drove a car packed with explosives into a bus at the New Road station in Sabon Gari, a predominantly Christian neighbourhood in the majority Muslim city. Several explosions were heard following the initial blast, sparking panic as bloodied bystanders including some with serious injuries fled the scene as soldiers arrived to cordon off the area. Kano, the largest city in Nigeria’s north, was repeatedly targeted by Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, blamed for killing hundreds in the region since 2009.  (See related stories in sidebar.)

Pyongyang Pushes Buttons:   Last week several Washington D.C.  (aka as “Hollywood for ugly people”) luminaries took time out for the premiere of Olympus Has Fallen, a film featuring a North Korean terrorist attack on the US capital.  This week the real North Koreans (apparently, but not yet confirmed) launched a cyber attack on South Korea and a YouTube attack on Washington.  Frankly,  I preferred last month’s North Korean YouTube attack on New York… especially the musical soundtrack.

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