Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Difficult Issues Ahead for Next Homeland Security Chief

Michael Chertoff, President Bush's new nominee to head the Department of Homeland Security, faces many unresolved challenges in better protecting Americans at home. As a new report by the Center for American Progress argues, homeland security requires a greater sense of urgency and commitment of resources. The government must increase efforts to prevent catastrophic terrorism against targets where the threat and consequences of attack are most significant, primarily port security, air cargo, and chemical facilities. The private sector must be better prepared, since 85 percent of our critical infrastructure rests in private hands. And federal, state and local governments must work together to create more integrated and efficient security efforts.

  1. The Bush administration is spending more to secure Iraq than it is to secure the American homeland. Unfortunately, the Bush administration up to this point has created a false division between homeland security and other dimensions of national security. The first order of business for Chertoff should be to raise the sense of urgency about critical gaps in our own security; set clear security standards and require mandates where voluntary approaches fall short; and seriously increase funding commitments to help plug these gaps over the long term.
  2. Preventing a catastrophic terrorist attack on our soil is our number one priority. Chemical and nuclear facilities, ports, air cargo and railways remain extremely vulnerable to terrorist attack. With potentially millions of lives and billions of dollars in the domestic economy at stake, we must take all necessary steps to increase security measures at our weakest points.
  3. America needs an integrated national security budget and strategic planning process to fully protect us at home and abroad. The administration should provide the Congress a consolidated national security budget (including the Departments of Defense, State, and Homeland Security and other relevant agencies) to fully assess the trade offs and needs for genuine national security. The National Security and Homeland Security Councils should be combined to streamline strategic planning and a new national security strategy should be developed that recognizes challenges both at home and abroad.

Source: Center for American Progress

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