Notes from the Editor (Vol. IV, Iss. 3)

Download the full issue. The articles in this issue of Homeland Security Affairs explore a wide range of homeland security and defense strategic policies, including the detention of possible terrorists, our level of national preparedness, the use of the military in guarding our borders, and how we might better implement and measure homeland security strategies.

Stephanie Blum looks at U.S. treatment of enemy combatants in the war on terror, questioning policies that allow for indefinite detention. In “Preventive Detention in the War on Terror: A Comparison of How the United States, Britain, and Israel Detain and Incapacitate Terrorist Suspects”, Ms. Blum shows that other democracies have found ways to implement preventive detention policies that are not based on unilateral executive usurpation of power and makes recommendations for the next presidential administration.

Recommendations are also offered by Samuel H. Clovis, Jr., in “Promises Unfulfilled: The Subobtimization of Homeland Security National Preparedness.” Homeland security preparedness, he argues, is sub-optimized because of flawed assumptions and perceptions within the federal government’s policy environment, and specific policy-distorting institutional pathologies. Officials at the national level have lost track of the original goals established after 9/11; the resulting policy failures have led to missed opportunities, intergovernmental tensions, and disincentives for state and local governments to pursue enhancements to homeland security national preparedness. The federal government, Clovis argues, must revise the flawed operating assumptions driving current policies and work with state and local jurisdictions to put in place preparedness programs that are attainable given the level of local resources available. These state and local governments, in turn, need to adopt contemporary public management models for planning and augmenting preparedness from the bottom up.

Applying planning models at the national level is the focus of Sharon Caudle’s article “The Balanced Scorecard: A Strategic Tool in Implementing Homeland Security Strategies.” Using the “balanced scorecard” advocated by Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton in the early 1990s, Caudle shows how existing strategies can be translated into specific and measurable strategic objectives. The balanced scorecard, she argues, stresses the drivers of future organizational performance (capabilities, resources, and processes) and the outcome results of those drivers, providing a tool to better implement homeland security strategies.

Bert Tussing addresses one particular strategy: utilizing the military to protect U.S. borders. “New Requirements for a New Challenge: The Military’s Role in Border Security” looks at how the concerns and assumptions relating to border security have changed in the past three decades. Securing the nation’s borders was once viewed as both a humanitarian and a security issue, best handled through law enforcement. But border security now faces the challenges of paramilitary violence, organized crime, and international terrorism. These new security challenges require the federal government to re-think how to best use the depth and breadth of its capabilities — up to and including the active and reserve components of the military — to meet the trials that lay ahead.

The challenges of border security are also addressed in a new book by Edward Alden, The Closing of the American Border: Terrorism, Immigration, and Security Since 9/11, reviewed in this issue by Randy Beardsworth and Theophilos Gemelas. Alden attempts to “examine comprehensively the set of issues and problems confronting border security” and “brilliantly frames for the reader the struggles” between advocates of opposing strategic approaches to border security.

Also in this issue, Philip J. Palin reviews Terror and Consent: The Wars for the 21st Century by Philip Bobbitt. According to Palin, the central premise of this “big book full of big ideas” is that those in power have developed a tendency to patronize those they protect: the citizens of the U.S. “Rather than citizens to be engaged, the American People have been treated as consumers to be assuaged. This approach [Bobbitt argues] only increases our vulnerability to terrorism.”

Yet our attitudes toward terrorism — and the measures the government is taking to fight terrorism — may be changing, as Judy Boyd argues in her review of the 2008 comedy film Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay. “If popular culture serves as a reflection of public concerns on a continuing basis,” Boyd posits, “then this film demonstrates that terrorism may no longer hold the tight grip it once did on American society.”

Finally, we are pleased to publish two letters from our readers. Based on insight gained from his years with DHS, Derek Rieksts offers one answer to Christopher Bellavita’s question “What is homeland security?” In response to Adam Crowe’s recent essay on national strike teams, CWO Zacharias Fuentes suggests the strike team concept should be expanded to include intelligence strike teams working in tandem with local law enforcement agencies.

As always, we welcome the comments, suggestions, and reflections of our readers.

The Editors.

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