Tuesday, August 29, 2006

How to Secure the Homeland


When Bush created DHS, all he did was "move around the boxes," as in simply change the burecratic organization of the departments that made up DHS. That is no policy. Clearly, new policies, which involve large changes in how we think of and operate on our security (domestic analysis only), are necessary. Here they are:
  1. Creation of "Homeland Brigades" made up of fireman, police, first responders (paramedics and the like), and componenets of the National Guard. Most importantly, these Brigades will be organized locally, on the state level, regionally, and nationally, and will have actual live deployment exercises within the US to test their ability to respond. Units in surrounding states will learn to work with each other on regoinal problems, and units far from a disaster site will work on organizing a swift logistical response to a crisis that will be coordinated nationally. No more standing around with total chaos while a disaster continues, as happend in New Orleans. This will be supported with federal funding for more police, fireman, and first responders, so that all communities will be more secure, even when there is no disaster.
  2. Creation of a domestic intelligence agency dedicated to infiltrating, surveiling and eventually arresting those plotting acts of domestic terrorism. All surveilance must be done through warrants, although through a special court process. This system will not be as permissive and secretive as the current FISA courts. If the system is abused, U.S. citizens will have the right to sue over it. If the US is willing to act in its defense, it should own up to if when it gets it wrong. However, appropriate safegurads will exist to protect undercover operations.
  3. A revitalized mass transit and nationwide train system. As we learned during Rita when the evacuation of Houston bogged down, large US cities can't evacuate in a few days relying on automobiles. With a robust mass transit system in cities and a revitalized national train system, mass evacuations will have more options and more ease, especially for poor Americans without cars.
  4. The creation of a civillian coordination agency to harness the power of the average American when disaster strikes. We are a people who are willing to help out in hard times. If the government can coordiante this outpouring of support, it will help aleviate any problem. The agency will be a wing of the Homland Brigades, so it properly coordinates with the professional disaster response team. That way, DHS can use private boats, trucks, helicopters, and cargo jets to quickly leverage aid and assistance. Like a sort of Dunkirk.
  5. No more color coded terror alerts. It serves no purpose but to fear monger. If there is a credible threat, then the proper agencies will be mobilized. Anything else is counter-productive.
  6. Less secrecy. It is the terrorists that do the evil deeds and must plot in the shadows. DHS should be the response of a free society in an attempt to organize the security of its people against physical violence. No byzantine procedures to keep people off, no empowering of faceless burecrats in windowless rooms. DHS should embody the will of the people, and as such, must respect the individual people themselves.
  7. No cosmetic security. For example, at countless airports, people are asked to remove their shoes, even though the equipment that scans the shoes can't detect explosives. This is busy-body intrusiveness at its worst: it is annoying, and it doesn't do anything to help. Any security move or policy should truthfully and honestly answer the question "how does this make my life better?" And sometimes, a slight fraction of an increase in potential personal safety will not outweigh simple convenience and comfort. The logical conclusion of many TSA policies (not to beat a dead horse, but it's just easy to pick on the TSA) enacted in response to the latest potential threat is that we will all be flying naked. When you prevent people from bringing water onto an airplane and take their fingernail clippers away, the terrorists have already succeeded in terrorizing us. Don't help the terrorists inflict terror (see #5).
  8. Change immigration policy so that we actually know who is here. That can be done only in one way: the capitalist way! People pay smugglers vast sums to get them into the U.S. so they can work. We should let people buy work visas (of limited duration, from 6 mos to a year) to come to the U.S. That way, the government captures that money instead of a smuggler, and the worker will be on the books. Immigrants can travel back to their families without fear. They can participate with law enforcement without fear. They can stand up to work abuses without fear. And after a certain number of years, the visa holder can apply for more permanent status. That's much better than an amnesty. This way, a person has to pay the U.S., work in the U.S., and then they can choose to join the citizenship process if they decide to stay. This makes deportation easier to all, even the immigrant community. Now its not a case of someone coming to America at great personal risk to provide for their family. Rather it's someon who cut corners and isn't willing to pay their share. There can even be arangements between an immigrant and the government that the immigrant can pay the fee over time through their wages. An immigrant who isn't paid up won't be allowed back in. Another path of immigration, without a fee, will be open to those who are just applicants to get a green card, but the U.S. can keep quotas on that.

These are all quick and common sense solutions to change the dysfunctional polices we have. I will elaborate more on them at another time.


The Bush creation of the Department of Homeland Security has clearly been a failure. There were three great threats that our nation had to prepare for, a massive west coast earthquake, a terrorist attack in New York, and a big Hurricane in New Oreleans. There was no DHS on September 11, and besides, once the buildings fell, that was it and the destruction was over. The test came in late August of 2005, with Katrina. Bush and the current DHS failed. So how do we secure the homeland?

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