Notes from the Editor (Vol. V, Iss. 1)

Download the full issue. In this issue of Homeland Security Affairs we offer one essay that outlines some of the important homeland security issues of 2008 and a set of essays that describes a potentially significant change in the national homeland security architecture. This edition also has two essays about homeland security technology. One applies coevolutionary theory to the strategic question of how to defend against an adaptive adversary; the other discusses policy and technology changes that could improve aviation safety. We present an article that demonstrates how to determine the benefits and costs of homeland security spending and an article that discusses threats from China to American corporations and to homeland security. The issue concludes with an analysis of how Community Health Centers can be an integral part of the nation’s public health preparedness.

In our second annual “Changing Homeland Security: Year in Review — 2008” Christopher Bellavita reports on what a selected group of homeland security professionals considered 2008’s top stories. Their survey responses included the presidential election and its impact on homeland security, the terrorist attack in Mumbai, the domestic and international economic meltdown, chaos on the southern border, the continued quest to define homeland security, and an expanding threat spectrum. Bellavita also includes three candidates for the “Homeland Security Image of the Year.”

Should the Homeland Security Council (HSC) and the National Security Council (NSC) merge? As we prepare to publish, most signs indicate the merger will take place. Christine E. Wormuth and Jeremy White present the argument in support of the merger. In “Merging the HSC and NSC: Stronger Together”, the authors note that at the federal level homeland security is essentially an interagency activity. White House leadership is the only practical way to ensure unity of effort among federal agencies. Merging the NSC and the HSC into one organization can end the bifurcation of national security and homeland security. A single council will give the president a way to develop and implement homeland security policy that is integrated with other national security initiatives.

Paul Stockton, in “Beyond the HSC/NSC Merger: Integrating States and Localities into Homeland Security Policymaking,” agrees that merging the NSC and the HSC seems inevitable. But the change brings risk. Stockton argues that if the councils are combined, administration officials will need to pay special attention to a number of issues, including the danger that homeland security will take a back seat to traditional national security priorities. The president and the newly structured council will also need to address significant challenges of horizontal integration (i.e., across federal agencies) and vertical integration – the inclusion of state and local representatives in the work of the council. Stockton reviews the possible problems with a merger and suggests solutions.

In “Technology Strategies for Homeland Security: Adaptation and Coevolution of Offense and Defense,” Brian A. Jackson frames the dynamic between terrorist groups and security forces as a coevolutionary process. Highlighting the use of technology by both homeland security organizations and terrorists, Jackson describes how terrorists adapt to defensive technologies and how homeland security organizations must then develop measures to counter those adaptations. He argues that trying to create impenetrable defenses for every target is futile. Instead he suggests that defensive technology strategies should exploit evolutionary dynamics by shaping adversary choices and by using defensive approaches that are insensitive to terrorist adaptation strategies.

Anthony M. Fainberg’s essay, “The Terrorist Threat to Inbound U.S. Passenger Flights: Inadequate Government Response,” illustrates the interface between technology, politics, and security. He writes that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) seems reluctant to focus on security for aircraft flying into the United States from abroad. Reviewing the decades-long history of terrorist attacks on commercial aviation, Fainberg notes how al Qaeda has tried more than once to simultaneously destroy several U.S. aircraft, in flight, by using suicide bombers ticketed as regular passengers. He argues that countries from which inbound flights depart should agree to security standards that match those applied to domestic flights, including using explosive trace detectors to inspect passengers and their carry-on items.

In “Just How Much Does That Cost, Anyway? An Analysis of the Financial Costs and Benefits of the “No-Fly” List”, Marcus Holmes offers a unique financial cost and security benefit analysis of the United States government’s “no-fly” list. On September 11, 2001 the no fly list contained sixteen names of terrorists and other individuals deemed threatening to the states. Since then, the list has had more than 755,500 names. Holmes writes that while there has been considerable interest in the social costs of the list, there has been little attention paid to the financial costs relative to the benefits. He claims it is unclear how one can create a strategy for how national security dollars should be spent without knowing how many dollars are involved and where they are going. Holmes’ study is a path-setting step in asking and answering an important question: what are the costs, relative to the benefits, of anti-terrorism policies and security strategies?

Robert C. Slate is the author of “Innovating with Intelligence: New Directions in China’s Quest for Intangible Property and Implications for Homeland Security.” He argues Chinese corporations that use intellectual property theft and infringement in their business model are significant threats to the intangible property of the American corporate world and pose a serious threat to homeland security. Slate describes how Chinese corporations, universities, and research institutions use intelligence principles to help China become an economic superpower. He calls for the U.S. intelligence community to rethink its traditional approach to collecting and analyzing information about China.

Homeland Security Presidential Directive 21 outlines a new approach to public health and medical preparedness in the United States. In “Community Health Centers: The Untapped Resource for Public Health and Medical Preparedness,” Karen M. Wood writes that the more than 1,200 community health centers (CHC) in the nation are well-positioned to play a significant role in that effort. Wood describes how CHCs can improve biosurveillance, countermeasure distribution, mass casualty care, and community resilience. She argues that aggressive investment in the centers and their emergency management programs can make public health emergency management more accessible to special-needs populations and support many of the objectives identified in HSPD 21.

We hope you find the articles in this issue of Homeland Security Affairs informative and thought provoking. As always, we invite you to contribute your own research and ideas to the continuing conversation about homeland security.

The Editor

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