9/11 One Year Later: Progress and Promise

Report Homeland Security

9/11 One Year Later: Progress and Promise

September 10, 2002 About an hour read

Authors: Jack Spencer and Michael Scardaville

On June 6, President George W. Bush unveiled the most extensive homeland security proposal of his Administration--the creation of a Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to consolidate many of the federal agencies that have missions related to homeland security. The President had previously established the White House Office of Homeland Security (OHS) to fill a much-needed coordinating role for those agencies' activities.

Legislation to implement the President's proposal has been passed by the House of Representatives and is being reviewed in the Senate. In addition, the Administration has worked with Congress to pass strong homeland security measures in the USA PATRIOT Act (P.L. 107-56) and Aviation Security Act (P.L. 107-71), and the White House has released the nation's first homeland security budget to focus Washington's energies on a number of long-neglected policies.

Despite such progress, a number of key policy issues and vulnerabilities that were not addressed before September 11 remain to be dealt with this year. For example, federal agencies continue to compartmentalize terror-related intelligence information and block rapid access to it. America's police, emergency medical services, fire departments, and public health workers are not adequately prepared to respond to mass-casualty terrorist attacks of any type, let alone those using a weapon of mass destruction.

Federally sponsored training exercises should be conducted for federal, state, and local personnel to help them prepare for a broad spectrum of possible scenarios. In addition, because there are only very limited means of detecting the beginning stages of a bioterrorist attack, a nationwide health surveillance network should be set up to enable local, state, and federal decision-makers to respond in the early stages when rapid responses are most critical.

The role of the National Guard in homeland security has not yet been adequately defined, despite the fact that the Guard is uniquely positioned to assist state and local efforts during and after such attacks. The Department of Defense (DOD) should redefine the Guard's current support role for the active forces so that Guard units would be better able to respond to homeland emergencies without seriously affecting the military.

Finally, Congress lacks efficient mechanisms to legislate and provide oversight of federal homeland security efforts. It should restructure its committees, with new standing committees to complement the establishment of the new Department of Homeland Security.

All of these areas should be top priorities for the remainder of 2002 and next year to target the federal government's resources more effectively on homeland security.

Federal Homeland Security: A Progress Report

After September 11, the immediate focus of the Bush Administration was on finding ways to protect the country from further terrorist threats, assess the resources available for protecting the homeland, and establish a budget for homeland security. Since the establishment of the Office of Homeland Security last October, the Administration and Congress have sought to address a number of serious related concerns.

The President, for example, included innovative proposals in his first homeland security budget to improve the way Washington assists first responders and to augment the nation's stockpile of medications. New customs initiatives and agreements with America's trade partners sought to improve commercial security. State and local government roles were integrated more fully into federal security strategies for everyday security concerns as well as special events, such as the Olympics. In addition, a new warning system was developed to communicate information about potential terrorist threats.

It is President Bush's proposal for the creation of a Department of Homeland Security, however, that will have the greatest effect by targeting federal resources more effectively to the mission of homeland defense. The consolidation of the majority of the 100 federal agencies with homeland security responsibilities into one department will entail the most massive restructuring of the federal government since World War II and, if implemented correctly, will result in a more effective homeland security policy.

Since President Bush presented his proposal, Congress has been working to implement his vision. The House of Representatives moved quickly by passing the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (H.R. 5005) on July 26, 2002. This bill, while not perfect, closely reflects the President's plan.2 However, the measure is moving more slowly in the Senate.

The Governmental Affairs Committee, led by Chairman Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), spent much of July developing an entirely different proposal for establishing a new Department.3 The legislation currently before the Senate denies the President the ability to consolidate redundant homeland security programs and the flexibility to quickly adapt the DHS's priorities to a changing terrorist threat.4 Wisely, the President has vowed to veto any of the provisions of this bill that would be an impediment to an effective homeland security policy.5

The Office of Homeland Security, which has become an important advisory body for the President on reorganizing the government, should continue to serve in this capacity, working independently from and cooperatively with the new department to coordinate federal homeland security policy throughout the remaining agencies.6 The effectiveness of the President's reorganization in preventing further attacks on America will be affected by the specific details of the restructuring determined by Congress.

Since September 11, Members of Congress have proposed scores of bills, amendments, and resolutions related to homeland security7 but have enacted only a small percentage of them. Congress passed, and the President signed, the USA PATRIOT Act and the Aviation Security Act last fall, and the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act (P.L. 107-173) earlier this year. Each of these laws is designed to address fundamental security challenges facing the country. The USA PATRIOT Act gives law enforcement the ability to combat terrorists with 21st century technology. The Aviation Security Act and the Border Security Act seek to make it more difficult for terrorists and their weapons to enter the country.

These efforts, well-intentioned as they are, are just the first steps the federal government must take to improve homeland security. As Congress debates the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security, many additional efforts should be undertaken. A review of what has been accomplished thus far will be useful in determining what needs to be done next.

Determining Coherent Budget Priorities for Homeland Security

Last February, before announcing his intention to create a new Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security, the President released his fiscal year (FY) 2003 budget request, which included funding for homeland security. This is the first budget proposal ever submitted by a President that seeks to coordinate and prioritize the homeland security policy, and it provides a baseline for future budgets.

For 2003, the President has outlined four new initiatives to address areas in which federal policies before September 11 were particularly weak:

  1. Using 21st century technology to secure the homeland in the future,
  2. Supporting first responders,
  3. Defending against bioterrorism, and
  4. Securing America's borders.

These four areas account for approximately 55 percent of the President's $37.7 billion homeland security budget request. They include a tenfold increase in assistance for first responders and a 319 percent increase in funds for bioterrorism preparedness.8

President Bush and OHS Director Tom Ridge have demonstrated their willingness to tackle the most difficult homeland security problems facing the United States. For example, while more than a half-dozen federal agencies currently operate grant and training programs to support first responders, these programs are neither coordinated nor driven by a common goal. As the Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction (Gilmore Commission) reported last December, this disjointed approach reduces the effectiveness of federal assistance.9

Rather than requesting more money for scattershot programs, the President's First Responder Initiative provides a clear focus for federal first-responder assistance, consolidating these programs within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).10 The Office of National Preparedness has been created in FEMA to manage this initiative and is in the process of developing guidelines for more efficient implementation. Under the President's proposal, the newly organized and improved FEMA would be consolidated into the new DHS, resulting in a concise federal response program more closely linked to general homeland security planning.

The Department of Justice has not actively fought this proposal, despite the potential loss of $3.5 billion in its FY 2003 budget. One reason for its lack of opposition may be the role of OHS Director Tom Ridge in advising the President on homeland security. Many skeptics had predicted that the entrenched federal bureaucracies and their Senate-confirmed leaders would resist initiatives developed by a presidential appointee who lacks statutory authority. Even critics now admit, however, that Ridge "has had his greatest success in the budget and personnel process,"11 the very areas where it was predicted that he would fail. While the creation of DHS may foster fierce turf battles in Washington, the end result may demonstrate that the OHS Director can effectively direct the allocation of federal homeland security money as well as the efficient reorganization of the federal government to enhance national security.

The FY 2003 budget request for homeland security illustrates the Administration's priorities, including working with state and local governments to address the concerns of America's communities. While the federal government can do many things to make the nation more secure, many essential tasks remain the responsibilities of state and local governments and the private sector. Rather than dictating what these entities should do, the Administration is encouraging an active partnership based on cooperation.

The focus on partnerships with state and local governments can result in tighter implementation, more innovation, and long-term attention to the mission. The establishment of a division within the Department of Homeland Security that is committed to working with state and local governments, as proposed by the President, would encourage this process, placing a high priority on communication across the various levels of government. It would facilitate first-responder exercises, strategic planning, vulnerability assessments, prevention, and other homeland security efforts.

Forging a National Strategy

Building on many of the concepts described in the President's budget request for 2003, Governor Ridge released the nation's first National Homeland Security Strategy on July 16, 2002.12 The Strategy provides specific programs for improving homeland security in six areas: intelligence and warning; border and transportation security; domestic counterterrorism; critical infrastructure protection; defense against terrorism with weapons of mass destruction; and domestic preparedness.

The goal of all of these initiatives is to increase the nation's ability to prevent terrorist attacks by reducing America's vulnerability. In accord with the President's priorities since September 11, Governor Ridge and the Office of Homeland Security have emphasized the need to incorporate state and local government, as well as the private sector, as partners in this plan.

The Strategy also lays the groundwork for the 2004 federal budget, identifying the following seven priorities for that year:

  1. Improve the FBI's ability to analyze intelligence and law enforcement information,
  2. Improve intelligence analysis and infrastructure protection efforts through the DHS,
  3. Finalize the "Smart Borders" program,
  4. Secure international shipping and commerce,
  5. Re-invest in the United States Coast Guard to modernize its fleet,
  6. Deploy new sensors and procedures to prevent terrorism with weapons of mass destruction,
  7. Develop modern medicines and vaccines to respond to biological terrorism, and
  8. Improve information-sharing horizontally across the federal government.

The National Strategy builds on many of the programs discussed in this paper and constructs an agenda for immediate implementation and planning for future years. The Strategy should be used, first, to guide the construction of the new Department of Homeland Security and, eventually, to help the DHS to assist state and local governments in implementing their own plans.

Stockpiling Pharmaceuticals

In the wake of the September 11 attacks and the subsequent anthrax attacks, the Administration made it clear that America's lack of preparedness for biological terrorism is an unacceptable vulnerability. In less than two months, the Administration requested an additional $1.5 billion for FY 2002 to decrease that vulnerability. These funds are being used to build up federal and state pharmaceutical stockpiles, expand America's smallpox vaccine supplies, expedite the Food and Drug Administration's pharmaceutical development activities, increase bioterrorism preparedness at the local level, expand the response capabilities of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and improve food safety.13 The Administration should be applauded for quickly laying the groundwork in this critical area.

As the anthrax strike demonstrated, early treatment in the event of bioterrorism is vital. The Administration has been most successful thus far in building up the nation's stockpile of smallpox vaccine, a vital component of the nation's anti-bioterrorism strategy.

On September 11, the national stockpile contained 15.4 million doses, which is woefully inadequate for a population of nearly 300 million people. In November 2001, HHS awarded a contract of $428 million to Acambis, Inc., to produce 209 million doses by the end of 2002. On March 28, 2002, HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson announced that the existing U.S. supply of the vaccine could be diluted up to five times and still retain its potency--essentially expanding the existing vaccine supply from 77 million doses to up to 150 million doses. The next day, the French firm Aventis Pasteur announced that it would donate more than 75 million doses that have been stockpiled in its Pennsylvania facility for the past 30 years. Because reducing America's vulnerability to smallpox was deemed to be a national priority, by the end of 2002 there will be more than enough vaccine available to protect all Americans from a smallpox attack.

In the event that future terrorists use contagious agents as a weapon, having an adequate supply of vaccines will be instrumental in limiting an outbreak. The new Department of Homeland Security should play a central role both in maintaining pharmaceutical stockpiles and in developing and executing a strategy for early treatment.

Strengthening America's Borders

The September 11 attacks shattered the myth that the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans buffered the United States from foreign threats. The 19 terrorists involved in that day's carnage were able to enter the United States legally-although three had overstayed their visas. It became clear that the U.S. border is porous not only to terrorists wishing to enter, but also to their weapons--including weapons of mass destruction. One easy point of entry has been the nation's seaports: As of early 2002, less than 2 percent of the over 11 million cargo containers entering the United States every year was inspected.14

The United States cannot completely close its borders, and stifling immigration and travel contradicts the free and open nature of America's democracy. Moreover, conducting comprehensive inspections of every person and cargo container entering the United States would be extraordinarily expensive and damaging to the economy.

The Administration has faced a daunting task in making the borders more secure against those who wish to cause the country harm while also remaining open to legitimate travel and trade. It has adopted a multi-pronged approach, relying both on traditional means (such as new immigration regulations and additional border security officers) and on innovative approaches (such as using advanced technology, signing new international agreements, and establishing public-private partnerships on security issues).

One of the hallmarks of the Administration's border security policy since September 11 is the signing of the Smart Border Agreements with Canada and Mexico in December 2001 and March 2002, respectively. These agreements, negotiated in large part by Governor Ridge, include both the traditional and innovative measures mentioned above and serve the unique economic and security relationships that the United States has established with its two neighbors. Immediately after September 11, economic relations with these North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners--valued at nearly $1 trillion--appeared in jeopardy, as long lines grew at America's ports of entry. In fact, since September 11, Mexico has experienced a 20 percent decline in trade with the United States.15

The Smart Border Agreements attempt to alleviate the pressure posed by tightened trade and travel security measures. First and foremost, both agreements include new intergovernmental customs standards and public-private partnerships to speed the passage of non-threatening people and products across the border and allow border security officials to focus their efforts on travelers and goods that are suspect. Companies that qualify under these agreements will be permitted in the accelerated inspection lanes at enhanced ports of entry. They must first ensure the government that their entire supply chain--from manufacturing to the showroom floor--is secure. The first operational port with such accelerated lanes is in Detroit, near the border with Windsor. As many as 100 companies have already applied to be part of this program.

While improved security at points of entry will make it more difficult for terrorists to transport personnel or material over the northern and southern borders, they may still find opportunities along America's unguarded borders. To address this danger, the Smart Border Agreements also include provisions for sharing intelligence and immigration information and coordinating visa and asylum policies.

The specific provisions of these agreements are in varying degrees of implementation, but significant progress has been made, and Governor Ridge continues to work with his Canadian and Mexican counterparts. Having similar security standards in all three countries will make it more difficult for terrorists and their weapons to enter any of them.

The Smart Border Agreements also can serve as a model for securing global trade and commerce. Point-of-origin inspections of cargo and travel documents that cannot be easily forged will help secure trade and travel with all of America's friends and allies. The U.S. Customs Container Security Initiative, announced in January 2002, will provide screening services to sea containers before they reach the United States. The objective of this initiative is, first, to target the ports that send the highest volume of container traffic into the United States: Nine ports have already signed on to the program.

In April 2002, the U.S. Customs Service unveiled the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) to provide advantages similar to the Smart Border Agreements with security-minded foreign companies from other nations that trade with the United States. C-TPAT rewards companies that ensure the security of their supply chain, regardless of their location, by accelerating the processing of their products at customs inspections stations at the ports of entry. This multifaceted approach to enhancing point-of-origin inspection systems would allow customs inspectors to focus on cargo originating from sources that are of greater risk because their security measures are not known.

The Administration has also sought to strengthen the federal agencies that are responsible for securing the border. The President's FY 2003 budget request seeks a substantial increase in border security personnel--an additional 1,160 Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) inspectors and 570 Border Patrol agents--as well as a tenfold increase in the federal investment in developing an entry-exit monitoring system.

Congress has also made border security a priority since September 11. The USA PATRIOT Act, passed last October, provides additional personnel for securing the northern border, expresses the sense of Congress that a mechanism is needed to monitor entry and exit of visa holders, requires the FBI to share more information with the Department of State, and makes it more difficult for terrorists to enter the country and easier to deport them by redefining "terrorist activity" for immigration purposes.

On May 14, the President signed the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Reform Act of 2002, an important step in improving border security. Specifically, it authorizes appropriations for additional border security personnel and technology, requires that the law enforcement and intelligence entities more effectively share terror-related information with the Consular Affairs division of the State Department and INS, establishes additional requirements for INS implementation of an entry and exit monitoring system, restricts visas to citizens of countries designated as state sponsors of terrorism, reforms the visa waiver program, and establishes a program for monitoring foreign students studying in the United States.

Consolidating all the agencies that are responsible for securing the nation's borders-- including the services of the Border Patrol, INS, the new Transportation Security Agency, and Visa Processing--under a new DHS would help to ensure that border security personnel are more adequately prepared and better organized to deal with terrorist incidents. Regrettably, both the House and Senate bills establishing the DHS create obstacles to such consolidation.

In the House bill, the Customs Service is retained as a "distinct entity," preventing its consolidation with other border security programs. The Senate bill not only retains Customs as a "distinct entity," but removes the Coast Guard, Border Patrol, and immigration enforcement activities from the authority of the Border and Transportation Security Directorate. The Senate bill further prevents the Secretary of Homeland Security from consolidating functions of programs created by law or transferring authorities between directorates. The result would be an unacceptable disorganization of security efforts at the nation's points of entry.

Developing a Partnership with State and Local Governments

As noted above, both the President and the OHS Director consider the involvement of state and local governments in the development of a coherent homeland security strategy a priority.

Improving communications between local, state, and federal authorities, as well as the private sector, will foster the development of a coherent national strategy and inform officials about what each sector can expect of the others. Currently, a fireman in Nebraska may have a vision of homeland security that is far different from that of a Washington bureaucrat. An agreed upon, or at least formally recognized, vision or definition will be necessary before a strategy can be implemented across all jurisdictional boundaries.

To facilitate communication and coordination among the federal, state, and local governments, the Administration has established the Office of National Preparedness under FEMA. This is an important first step in creating the framework through which local authorities can consult with and receive support from the federal government.

A key component of the President's proposed Cabinet-level DHS is an intergovernmental affairs office that would consolidate and streamline intergovernmental relations and coordinate federal programs with state or local governments. The existence of one central point of contact at the federal level would greatly facilitate the dissemination of information to state and local authorities. Such lines of communication are already being put in place. FEMA sought input from state and local authorities, for example, on how it should spend the $3.5 billion set aside for the First Responder Initiative in the spring of 2002. It held a listening session with over 50 representatives from the first-responder community and relevant federal agencies.16

In a similar outreach effort, the OHS provided a 45-day comment period to get feedback for its terrorism alert system. The office has held less formal meetings with members of the homeland security community and also has addressed numerous state and local associations, including the National Governors' Association and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

In terms of first response, the burden of preparedness ultimately rests with the political leaders of each city and state in the United States. Leaders such as those in Baltimore and New York who have taken the initiative to increase the security of the citizens they represent have found that there are federal tools available to help them. Once established, the DHS would be able to improve these tools and make them more accessible, in addition to facilitating communication among all levels of government.

Securing America's Public Gatherings

In 1998, President Bill Clinton issued a presidential decision directive (PDD 62) to, among other things, address "National Special Security Events."17 These are high-profile events of national interest that attract national and international media, and often thousands of people, and are considered high security risks. The presidential directive established a framework for the coordination of federal, state, and local counterterrorism efforts at these events. Once an event is assigned this designation, the Secret Service becomes the lead federal agency working with local and state authorities to develop and execute a security strategy.

Since September 11, the "Special Event" designation has taken on new importance. In two recent cases, the Administration has had success in working with local and state authorities to ensure the public safety. The 2001 Super Bowl and the 2002 Winter Olympics entailed especially complex security environments. In both instances, good planning, willing cooperation, and proper training resulted in safe events. A total of 5,000 to 7,000 local, state, and federal security personnel were on duty at the Winter Olympics, and approximately 3,000 were on duty at the Super Bowl,18 where representatives of the National Football League, the FBI, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Louisiana State Police, the Louisiana National Guard, the New Orleans police, and private individuals cooperated on security.19 By all accounts, security at these events was stellar.

These successes show how the homeland security community, across all levels of government and the private sector, can train and prepare for large-scale events. Further, they demonstrate the importance of having a guiding framework, such as PDD 62, that delegates responsibilities among the agencies involved. The creation of a Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security would streamline this framework by placing the Secret Service under the direct authority of the Secretary of Homeland Security. The Secret Service would retain its primary mission--the protection of the President and key government leaders--while providing its unique and highly specialized expertise as a complement to the security activities of the new DHS.

Improving Communication and Warning

The new Homeland Security Advisory System (HSAS) announced by Governor Ridge in March should greatly improve communication between the federal government, state and local officials, and the public once it is fully implemented. Though frequently ridiculed, this system will fill a major communication void once it is tied to specific actions.

The consequences of warnings that have been issued in the past highlight the value of establishing a well-defined categorization of threats. Late last year, the FBI issued a warning to Governor Gray Davis of California that it had uncovered a "credible" threat to a number of bridges in that state. The governor took the threat warning to be more severe than the FBI had intended and, in the view of some observers, overreacted. The failure was not in Governor Davis's response, but in the miscommunication.

Similarly, in April, after the FBI had warned banks in the Northeast of potential terrorist attacks, the response was not uniform; some banks closed while others remained open. The FBI failed to coordinate its warning to the banks with a public relations strategy to ensure that the public knew of what was happening and what a proper response to the warning should be. The HSAS should provide detailed mobilization plans and a coordinated public relations strategy when it considers releasing a general warning.

The FBI, in coordination with the OHS, should continue to work on this system. However, with its specific homeland security mission, the new Department of Homeland Security would be better positioned to operate it. The system should be incorporated into DHS operations, and a formal, permanent office should be established to manage it.


Improving the Dissemination of Intelligence

The intelligence community has been the object of increased scrutiny since September 11, with criticism focused largely on the inability of the agencies to predict the terrorists' attacks. However, even if substantial information was available, unless agencies within the intelligence community can share information across departmental and agency boundaries, an accurate assessment of threats to national security would not be possible.

Before September 11, various intelligence agencies had identified specific al-Qaeda operatives as possible terrorists. Nevertheless, a breakdown in interagency communication allowed two people on the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) watch list to board commercial planes and hijack them. The CIA's intelligence on Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi was not collated with that of other agencies (Alhazmi was in the United States on an expired visa) or made available to the end user--in this case, the airline reservation system. There was a failure to link information from various sources because no single agency was tasked with piecing together the bits of information on potential terrorists into a single recognizable picture.

Numerous agencies and departments at the federal level either monitor terrorist activity or respond to terrorist attacks. The Department of Justice controls the FBI, INS, and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). At the CIA, there is an all-source intelligence collection agency, the Counter Terrorism Center (CTC), which is restricted to collecting foreign intelligence. FEMA and the CDC in HHS are essential first responders in the event of an attack. The Department of the Treasury and the Coast Guard also have pieces of the counterterrorism intelligence puzzle.

If U.S. intelligence gathering is to be effective, the federal government must be able to look at all available pieces of the terrorist puzzle and provide the President with a comprehensive and timely analysis. Intelligence fusion for the country is currently the responsibility of the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), who has the resources of a Community Management Staff (CMS), a dedicated Deputy for Collection, and a dedicated Deputy for Production. Although the CMS is responsible for making organizations share intelligence, before September 11, the CMS and the primary agencies within the intelligence community (the CIA, the FBI, and the Departments of Defense, Treasury, Energy, and State) failed to ensure intelligence-sharing. With the Office of Homeland Security, the proposed DHS would be responsible for ensuring that homeland security-related intelligence is shared.

The President has proposed a number of new policies to promote such information-sharing. The most important is the creation of a center that would fuse and analyze terrorism-related intelligence within the Department of Homeland Security. The fusion aspect of this center would remedy part of the problem of compartmentalization that still characterizes the collection of intelligence in the nation. The fusion center should ensure that intelligence is not only collected and analyzed, but also disseminated to appropriate federal, state, and local agencies with homeland security missions, including the FBI and CIA. If the DHS intelligence office does not facilitate the sharing of information, it may do no more than create an additional "stovepipe" that further compartmentalizes the intelligence that is received.20

Other steps taken after September 11 include daily briefings of the President by FBI Director Robert Mueller and DCI George Tenet. Each agency head now knows what is at the top of the other's agenda. In addition, federal intelligence agencies conduct two secure video conferences each day to discuss information related to terrorist threats.

These are good first steps that will improve information-sharing at a number of levels. However, they do not ensure that all necessary information will reach all decision makers in a timely fashion. Midlevel officials in the agencies frequently decide whether or not to pursue the recommendations of field agents and whether a specific issue deserves a director's attention. This was the case regarding the lack of action on FBI Agent Kenneth Williams's July 2001 memo to FBI headquarters on the potential threat of terrorists attending American flight schools.21

To ensure that all federal terrorism officials have access to the full scope of government information related to cases they are investigating, it is necessary to establish an institution that pulls together information from all pertinent intelligence agencies and makes it accessible on a need-to-know basis. Such an institution must be independent of the intelligence community and free from the cultural limitations of the existing bureaucracies within these agencies. Although the establishment of an intelligence fusion center within the new DHS could serve this purpose, neither the Senate nor the House legislation, as currently written, provides the department's Secretary with the authority he would need to implement such a program.22

Conducting First-Responder Exercises

While the federal government has done a commendable job of laying the foundations for terrorism response capabilities, it should expand this effort to reach all levels of government. The funding of these initial activities is targeted to 122 of America's most vulnerable cities. The time has come to ensure that every American community is prepared to recognize and respond to terrorist attacks.

Part of the $3.5 billion in anti-terrorism grant funding in the President's FY 2003 budget request has been earmarked to fund first-responder exercises. What is lacking is a coherent strategy that incorporates all appropriate elements of the local, state, and federal governments and the private sector.

The proposed new department could clear up the confusion about the appropriate roles and responsibilities of the local, state, and federal governments in first responses by establishing a national policy and guidelines. The DHS should direct training exercises and drills for federal, state, and local response teams for attacks using chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) weapons. A mechanism will be needed within the DHS to report the lessons learned from each exercise to all communities. Conducting such exercises will be one of the most important aspects of domestic security.

First-responder exercises will force authorities at all levels to analyze their capabilities, identify where their responsibility lies, and critique the weaknesses in their response structure. By juxtaposing this information with their goals and performance indicators, local, state, and federal authorities will be able to establish more accurate baselines of preparedness that can be used to identify where future federal grant dollars should be targeted.

Although last year's attacks were devastating, they were minuscule in comparison to the carnage that would result from a chemical, biological, nuclear, or radiological event in which the entire first-response community of a metropolitan area could be killed. Were that to occur, it would be up to the surrounding suburban and rural first-response units to react. Cross-jurisdictional exercises must be included in the preparedness planning.

Establishing a Health Surveillance Capability

The community of health providers--including doctors, nurses, veterinarians, and public health workers--may be the first people in a position to detect an environmental contaminant or biological weapon attack in the form of smallpox, anthrax, or some other agent. The damage from such an attack could be reduced significantly if these officials know how to recognize, diagnose, and treat the early symptoms of an outbreak associated with agents that are known to be in the possession of terrorists and the rogue states that support them.23 Individuals equipped with such training would provide the basis for a national health surveillance network.

The Bush Administration has taken several important steps to educate the public health community. Its FY 2003 budget request includes over $500 million for preparing hospitals to respond to CBRN events and another $100 million to train and prepare health care professionals to respond to terrorist attacks.24 Further, the DOD will be establishing such networks in four cities--Washington, D.C.; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and two other cities--as part of a two-year, $300 million pilot program to increase cities' abilities to detect an attack.25

However, the President's proposal for establishing the Department of Homeland Security fails to mention this important element, although the Senate bill does discuss such a capacity. The new department would be a logical place to house such a surveillance system, since it would also have the important communication link with state and local governments mentioned above. Congress should include such a health surveillance system in the legislation establishing the Department of Homeland Security and should duly recognize the health community as a key component of preparedness for CBRN attacks.

Early detection and treatment is vital to mitigate the consequences of a biological attack. A biological incident, unlike other terrorist incidents, is not likely to be marked by a visible or audible event because the delivery of a biological agent does not rely on explosives or other distinguishable means of delivery. Rather, a biological attack is more likely to occur by nondescript means, such as delivery through the mail or the covert release of an aerosol agent. In fact, in 28 percent of the previous terrorist attacks using chemical or biological agents,26 the means of dissemination was not identified.27 Recognition that an attack has occurred happens only after a significant number of people start to become sick and an investigation is begun. By this time, many Americans may have been exposed to the pathogen.

For early recognition of such an attack, a number of states, cities, and communities have established municipal or regional health surveillance networks. Kansas City, Missouri; Baltimore, Maryland; Allegheny County, Pennsylvania; and the state of Florida have established or are developing monitoring and reporting systems. Yet there is no effective way to connect all of these systems into a single national network, and even if there were, there is no guarantee of compatibility since each system is based on different techniques of data collection and distribution.28 It is therefore essential that the federal government develop monitoring standards for state and local health agencies and the health care community, as well as the DOD's new pilot program.

While governors and mayors should designate a top public health official to oversee the development of health-surveillance networks in their communities, the Administration, working with the CDC, should develop and implement a strategy to link existing systems and establish a national system to collect and analyze relevant data. Once established, the Department of Homeland Security should be given the authority to oversee this system jointly with the CDC to ensure its effectiveness and communication among the federal, state, and local levels of government and among all members of the health community.

Improve Enforcement of Immigration Laws

Though all 19 terrorists involved in the September 11 attacks entered the United States legally, a number of them were on federal terrorist watch lists or had overstayed their visas. Since the attacks, the nation's beleaguered immigration system continues to prove that it is not up to the task of monitoring those who cross our borders.

Incredibly, in March 2002, the Immigration and Naturalization Service sent notification to two of the dead hijackers, Mohamed Atta and Marwan Alshehhi, that their student visas for flight training had been approved. By September 11, both men not only had completed that training, but had used their new skills to attack the World Trade Center.

To correct such glaring problems, Congress, the Department of Justice, and the Administration are all seeking to restructure the INS. The centerpiece of all three reorganization proposals is a separation of the INS's enforcement and service functions, which are currently performed simultaneously by all INS officers.

Prior to his recent resignation, INS Commissioner James Ziglar began implementing internal reforms to streamline management and communications. His reforms were designed to create two new bureaus for Immigration Services and Immigration Enforcement. The Commissioner of the INS would still oversee both bureaus, but INS field offices would report directly to the appropriate bureau at headquarters instead of to dual-hatted district and regional directors. Removing layers of bureaucracy should increase the INS's ability to act more swiftly.

Last November, Representative James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) offered legislation that would create a more dramatic distinction between the roles of immigration enforcement and immigration services. The Immigration Reform and Accountability Act of 2002 (H.R. 3231) would abolish the INS and transfer its responsibilities to a Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services and Bureau of Immigration Enforcement within the Department of Justice. A new Associate Attorney General for Immigration Affairs would supervise these bureaus.

Meanwhile, OHS Director Ridge has offered a proposal that would go even further by removing immigration enforcement responsibility from the INS and establishing a border security agency comprised of the Border Patrol, the U.S. Customs Service, and the U.S. Coast Guard.

President Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft have voiced their support for the Immigration Reform and Accountability Act. Both Governor Ridge's consolidation of federal border security programs and Representative Sensenbrenner's proposed reforms of the immigration system have been incorporated in versions of the legislation to establish the DHS.

The President's proposal for the new Department of Homeland Security calls for "an immigration services organization that would administer our immigration law in an efficient, fair, and humane manner" and "assume the legal authority to issue visas to foreign nationals and admit them into the country."29 This important federal consolidation effort would help to improve communication and efficiency in the important task of issuing visas while maintaining a separation between immigration services and enforcement consistent with the restructuring plan proposed by former INS Commissioner Ziglar. As details emerge as to how the proposed new INS structure will function once it is inside the new department, it will be important to make sure that the Service cooperates and communicates with the State Department, which will continue to play a critical role in administering the visa application and issuance process.

As the proposals for the DHS, the INS restructuring plan, and the Immigration Reform and Accountability Act all recognize, separating immigration enforcement from immigration services makes sense. Enforcing immigration laws is different from promoting citizenship and requires unique skills. However, it is not enough simply to separate these two functions. New policies and technologies are also needed. For example, whether the INS Commissioner, a new Associate Attorney General, or a new agency head is responsible for managing immigration policy, accountability on the part of the enforcement arm must be ensured and new technology should be obtained to combat terrorism more effectively.

One of the hallmarks of a strengthened immigration regime must be a mechanism to monitor the entry and exit of visa holders. Currently, once visa holders have entered the United States, the INS has no way to determine whether they leave the country before their visas expire. In 1996, Congress required the INS to establish an entry-exit monitoring system as part of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (P.L. 104-208). No such system was ever implemented. The President's FY 2003 Immigration Budget includes $488 million in resources for the nation's ports of entry, including the development of an entry-exit system.30

Last year, Congress again called on the INS to establish an entry-exit monitoring system in the USA PATRIOT Act and the Enhanced Border Security Act. The visa application and approval process is a vital element in the effort to protect Americans against terrorism. Properly empowered, consular affairs and immigration officials can use this process to determine whether an applicant may be a threat to national security. However, without the means to monitor a visa holder's entry and exit, this system can break down.

The visa renewal process offers immigration officials an important mechanism for continually checking that a visitor is not engaging in terrorist activities. When this process can be circumvented, appropriate law enforcement responses become more difficult. The new DHS and OHS, working with the Attorney General and Congress, should maintain active oversight of the INS or any successor organization to ensure that a comprehensive entry-exit monitoring system is implemented as swiftly as possible.

The INS currently maintains more than 80 computer networks that are poorly connected with each other and rarely connected to other federal agencies. INS's information technology failings complicate accurate record keeping on immigrants and visitors, as well as information- sharing among offices and agencies, and make enforcing immigration law more difficult. INS enforcement officials frequently must sift through large paper files, which in some cases must be transferred between field offices before they can be reviewed.

Past efforts to improve the INS's computer systems have met with only moderate success. The U.S. General Accounting Office and the Office of the Inspector General have been critical of how the INS manages technology upgrades.31 Further, the INS has not taken measures to ensure that its staff are trained in and utilize available technology. For example, Glenn Fine, Inspector General for the Department of Justice, testified before Congress that

[The Office of the Inspector General] had found that the INS was not enrolling all of the aliens apprehended along the U.S.-Mexico border into IDENT [Automated Biometric Identification System]32 and had virtually no controls to ensure the quality of the data entered.... INS had not adequately trained its employees on the system.33

Quick, reliable access to information is vital for making good decisions. The INS must modernize and simplify its computer networks, ensure that they are linked to an all-source intelligence fusion center, and train employees in the use of technology to meet this objective. Since establishment of the DHS would require integrating more than 20 unique federal networks, its creation presents an exceptional opportunity for the government to upgrade the INS's outdated networks. Congress should authorize funds for this purpose as part of the DHS founding legislation.

Reforming How Visas Are Issued

As part of the President's proposal to establish the Department of Homeland Security, responsibility for instituting visa policy would be transferred to the new department while authority for issuing visas would remain with the Consular Affairs division of the Department of State. This arrangement makes sense and has been incorporated within both the House and Senate bills establishing the DHS.

During the 1970s and 1980s, security functions were formally removed from the consular bureau, and the mission of visa officers at embassies overseas shifted away from security concerns and toward facilitating travel. While visa officers continued to enforce provisions of immigration law that excluded certain classes of aliens, far more attention was devoted to "managing" the visa process, which processed over eight million tourist visa applications and nearly a million immigrant visas annually. This meant that a high priority was placed on ensuring the smooth flow of interviews, handling visa application forms, systematizing name-checks, and issuing visas while attempting to maintain the integrity of the physical visa impressions and/or serial-numbered paper visas.

The President's proposed arrangement would strike an appropriate balance between diplomatic concerns and homeland security needs if some additional measures are taken. A security focus could be re-installed in the consular process by making the DHS responsible for ensuring that the State Department's Consular Affairs officials at embassies abroad review visa applications in accord with federal law.

However, the DHS should also be made responsible for developing software and training programs for the consular division and should station an official at each embassy and consulate to conduct on-site training and review. To support these objectives, the State Department's Visa Office, which is currently responsible for setting visa policy, should be transferred to the DHS.34

Defining the Department of Defense's Role

The Department of Defense has a critical role in protecting Americans from foreign threats. Although it has appeared reluctant to adopt the homeland security mission, it does have a role to play in homeland security beyond fighting the war on terrorism. The DOD possesses the domestic infrastructure, equipment, and experience to support and train state and local authorities to respond to large-scale attacks on U.S. soil. In addition, the Pentagon recently established a new force command structure, the Northern Command (NORTHCOM), which will become active on October 1, 2002. NORTHCOM will be responsible for protecting North America from attack and managing the DOD's contribution to the federal response in the event of an attack.

A Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security would not take homeland security responsibilities away from the Department of Defense, which will play a crucial support role in the event of a catastrophic terrorist attack.35 Adequate communications between the two departments, however, will be critical.

The primary military conduit to facilitate the Defense Department's contribution will be the National Guard--the logical element of the armed forces to act as lead military agency for homeland security. By law and tradition, the Guard connects local communities to the federal and state governments. Units are located in every American community and have the capabilities, legal authority, and structure to respond to attacks on the homeland. The Army National Guard has over 3,000 armories across the nation, and the Air National Guard has 140 units throughout the United States and its territories. The close relationship between Guard units and their locales must be leveraged to ensure that local units are prepared and have the capacity to respond to an attack and that they help train other first responders in their communities.

The National Guard's State Area Commands (STARCs) are well-situated to oversee its contribution to such training for WMD-consequence management. Currently, the Guard maintains approximately 30 Civil Support Teams (WMD-CSTs), each with 22 Guardsmen trained and equipped to respond to CBRN events. These units could provide valuable training to state and local first responders.

The Guard also could help state and local authorities understand how to maintain vital equipment and sustain operations in a CBRN environment and to plan for medical treatment after an attack (combat triage). Local health authorities are not adequately prepared to address the mass casualties that would result from CBRN events; many would not know, for example, whether or not to enter a contaminated environment or whether to admit patients to a public facility or send them to an off-site secure facility.

To ensure the Guard's availability, however, its mission must be refocused on homeland security. Currently, the active military force relies heavily on the National Guard and Reserves to carry out its missions. The reserve components cannot easily be extracted from support duties and redeployed for homeland security unless the active force rosters are expanded to provide that support. To alleviate the operational strain on the Guard, rather than deploying units to help active forces meet the operational tempo of continuous deployments for nation-building and peacekeeping missions, President Bush should commit U.S. forces only to missions that advance America's vital national interests.36

The Defense Department's role in homeland security will largely be one of supporting civilian agencies and departments, so it must be able to work cooperatively with state and local officials who must manage the response to an incident. Defense assets will prove useful only if they have been incorporated in local response plans. The entities of the federal government should approach homeland security with a one-voice and one-policy strategy. The Defense Department, therefore, must ensure that its activities complement those of the Office of Homeland Security and the other federal civilian agencies with homeland security roles.

The Defense Department should work more closely with Canada and Mexico, given that terrorist threats against the United States are likely to affect these neighboring countries as well, just as attacks against them could affect the United States. Such cooperation with Canada has a long history of success in the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). However, this cooperation must move beyond air attack and missile warning and into the areas of homeland security, including mutual responses to attacks, coastal defense, and responses against weapons of mass destruction. Similar arrangements must be made with Mexico. As NORTHCOM's structures, policies, and plans develop, these new relationships must be addressed.

The Coast Guard (USCG), which is primarily responsible for defending the country's maritime approaches, has done an admirable job of adapting to the post-September 11 environment. Its National Fleet Concept has enabled it to complement and support the Navy. The USCG should continue to be recognized as the lead element in coastal security, with Northern Command's naval component detailed to support it, just as this relationship has largely worked since the attacks. Arrangements must be made now to define Canada and Mexico's roles in the Northern Command.

Further, NORTHCOM must develop a close relationship with the governors of each state, the Adjutants General, and the State Area Commanders.37 Since most states have designated an official responsible for homeland security, NORTHCOM may want to detail an official to each of those offices. In addition, to ensure that planning is complementary, and to avoid miscommunications, divergent homeland security strategies, or overlapping responsibilities, a liaison element of the Northern Command should also be detailed to the new Department of Homeland Security.

Improving the Congressional Committee System

No single congressional committee has responsibility for homeland security. Instead, responsibility is spread across 88 committees and subcommittees. As a result, it is difficult for the Administration to communicate its plans to Congress. OHS Director Ridge and his staff have had to spend too much time meeting with committee staff, and the senior political leaders of the Cabinet departments are too heavily burdened with other demands to provide testimony.

Unless structural change is implemented, as a new Department of Homeland Security is established, communication could worsen and homeland security efforts could languish, as many DHS officials would have to spend a significant amount of time testifying before the various committees and subcommittees. The best way to deal with this problem would be for Congress to create standing committees in both the House and Senate with specific responsibility for homeland security.

Clearly, the time of the Secretary of DHS and Director of OHS would be better spent in developing solutions to security problems than in delivering the same message to each existing congressional committee. The current structure needlessly slows the legislative process; concurrent referrals of legislation to multiple committees can keep bills from being brought to a vote.

The committee system in Congress complicates the development of a cohesive homeland security policy even more than dividing the authority for implementing policy among dozens of federal agencies does. Any congressional committee can hold a comprehensive hearing on homeland security budgets and policy, such as the one held recently by one of Governor Ridge's most ardent opponents, Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV). That two-day hearing included testimony from every federal agency and department head on their offices' homeland security programs. If every committee with jurisdiction were to hold such a hearing, progress on homeland security would grind to a halt.

Congress should develop a system that will allow agency heads and department secretaries to meet with a single committee in the House and Senate to discuss their involvement in homeland security. Once the DHS is established, each house of Congress should create a standing committee for homeland security, and that committee should establish a subcommittee for each of the four missions described by the President in his proposal.

What Is Needed Next

Despite the progress that has been made on homeland security thus far, much more needs to be done to eliminate blatant vulnerabilities, increase security, boost efficiencies, and facilitate preparedness and response capabilities in every community. To that end, the Administration and Congress should work together to:

  • Establish an effective Department of Homeland Security. The Senate is currently debating legislation to create the President's requested Department of Homeland Security. After they pass a bill, both houses of Congress will need to rectify their versions of the bill in conference to present a final proposal to the President. However, whether the Congress's final draft will actually improve homeland security policy implementation is yet to be seen. If it does not, the President should veto the bill as he has threatened to do.38

    If the version of the National Homeland Security and Combating Terrorism Act of 2002 (S. 2452) now before the Senate survives in its current form, homeland security will be significantly weakened.39 This draft legislation would prevent the necessary consolidation of federal homeland security programs, protect existing information stovepipes and create new ones, create a rigid bureaucracy instead of a flexible agency, and micromanage both the federal government and the interagency process.

    The House-passed National Homeland Security Act of 2002 (H.R. 5005) would establish a much better foundation for the DHS but can still be improved by removing component agencies' status as "distinct entities" and giving the Secretary of Homeland Security the authority he needs to datamine intelligence community databases as part of a fusion capability. The 107th Congress must dedicate the remainder of its term to establishing a Department of Homeland Security that will be effective, promote good governance, be flexible to meet the changing terrorist threat, and protect American civil liberties.40

  • Create a better federal intelligence fusion system. The new Department of Homeland Security should create an intelligence fusion center that brings together intelligence and law enforcement information from across the entire federal government, analyzes it, and shares it on an as-needed basis. That fusion center should work closely with the FBI and CIA, which should remain independent of the new department because their broad missions extend beyond counterterrorism.

    To be effective, the fusion center must be able to maintain a combined intelligence database. Contributing agencies should be able to access this information at a level consistent with their mission and security clearance. The President should direct the Secretary of DHS--working with the Attorney General, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Transportation, and the DCI--to create this fusion center.

    The Secretary of the DHS should have direct access to all information relevant to homeland security, and this information should be made accessible to federal agencies, states, and local law enforcement agencies with homeland defense responsibilities, as required. The final legislation establishing the DHS should incorporate this concept by giving the Secretary the authority he needs to access this information, rather than making the members of the intelligence community responsible for giving it to him.41

  • Consolidate first-responder programs and develop a national training network for state and local first responders. 42 The President's First Responder Initiative is a good first step in boosting federal efforts to prepare first responders for terrorist incidents. The Administration should continue to build on this program to ensure that more first responders receive federal training through a national system of hands-on educational facilities. These facilities could be based on the model of the Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Alabama.

    Each facility should consolidate federal assistance programs for two FEMA regions. FEMA should manage each facility, acting as lead federal agency for consequence management until the new DHS is established. Each facility should function as a "one-stop shop" where first responders in each region can go for training and information on distance-learning programs and available federal grants.

    All first responders--including local law-enforcement and public-health officials, emergency medical services, fire departments, and HAZMAT squads--should be included in this initiative. This would further the President's goal of improving preparedness by increasing the number of first responders who could receive hands-on training almost fivefold while also promoting better coordination and consolidation.

    Rather than making all first responders go to Alabama for training, a regional-based network would provide facilities closer to home for volunteers who are on limited budgets. To keep costs down, the Administration should transfer excess base infrastructure within the Defense Department to FEMA for this training and consider utilizing a portion of the Department of Energy's Nevada test site as a facility.

  • Develop a comprehensive program of terrorism-response exercises. It is not enough simply to earmark funds for training exercises. Because exercises are central to learning how to respond to WMD events, understanding a jurisdiction's deficiencies, and developing mutual-response models, training and response exercises should be instituted as part of the national homeland security strategy.

    The Office of Homeland Security should establish a task force to develop a national strategy that includes a more comprehensive exercise regime. The task force should include representatives from OHS, the Department of Defense, state and local government agencies, National Guard units, the CDC, other relevant agencies, and representatives from local and state governments that have dealt with CBRN-type events--such as officials in Oklahoma City; Arlington, Virginia; Baltimore; and New York. Once the DHS begins operating, it should be responsible for implementing the policies developed by this task force. The task force should establish national standards for what constitutes "preparedness" for CBRN events so that officials can identify what they must do to be prepared.

    The first tool the task force should produce is a short checklist that local and state officials can use to assess their vulnerabilities and determine what they need to do to prepare for CBRN events. For example, among other prevention and precautionary measures, the checklist could ask whether the localities have systems in place to identify open hospital beds, recognize the symptoms of CBRN attacks, provide back-up communications in emergencies, and provide adequate medical supplies.

    Second, the task force should help local, state, and federal officials set up exercises that walk them through different scenarios of attack. These exercises, whether simulated in a classroom or in the field, could help them to identify key weaknesses in their civil defense and response systems and provide guidance on what they should do to improve. It also should offer guidance on how to request federal funds to address specific weaknesses and should serve as a measurement tool for the federal government to gauge the effectiveness of state and local initiatives.

    The Department of Homeland Security, once established, should initiate CBRN response exercises with each state. States deemed most at risk should be among the first to undergo the exercises, and all states should participate in these exercises within the first five years. Over time, multi-state preparedness and cross-border exercises could be held. The governor's office in each state would be responsible for including state and local officials and private-sector or volunteer participants.

    Finally, the DHS should create a center that analyzes the lessons learned from these first-responder exercises. Such a center could be modeled on the Army's Center for Army Lessons Learned, located at Fort Leavenworth, which analyzes Army operations and training exercises. It would have the primary responsibility of evaluating all exercises for which federal assistance is given or in which federal assets participate. It should also be prepared to observe and evaluate independent state and local exercises upon request.

    A library of lessons learned from exercises conducted by other public or private institutions should be created. All of these materials should be made available to all first responders so they can better prepare for any contingencies and avoid making mistakes made by others during their own exercises. Copies of all of the lessons learned should be distributed to the chief homeland security official in each state and the largest 120 cities by FEMA's Federal Response Plan Exercise Planners Working Group.43

  • Expedite the development of a national health surveillance network. Since September 11, concerns about the ability of terrorists to harm large numbers of civilians with a CBRN agent such as anthrax have focused attention on America's lack of preparedness in this area. To mobilize a rapid response to such attacks, officials must be able to recognize the outbreak of a catastrophic CBRN-related illness or the contamination of food and water supplies. Because no system currently exists to detect such early signs, the United States lacks the necessary resources to coordinate and execute an immediate response plan.

    A National Health Alert Network of local surveillance systems should be established to monitor and disseminate such information across all levels of government as it becomes available. First, the federal government should develop a set of monitoring standards for state and local health care officials. Each state governor and the mayors of major cities should designate a top public health official to oversee the development of the surveillance network in their community. The monitoring and reporting standards should be implemented in accordance with the federal guidelines.

    Simultaneously, the CDC, in collaboration with the DHS and the FBI, should develop a national system for collecting and analyzing relevant data from the state and local surveillance systems and federal health networks, such as the Poison Control Center. By monitoring and disseminating such information, all levels of government would be better prepared to recognize and respond to an attack in the earliest stages and thus limit its catastrophic effects.

  • Develop a specific policy for smallpox vaccinations. The United States will soon have stockpiled more than enough smallpox vaccine to protect every American citizen. The next step is to decide whether each American should be vaccinated. According to a recent University of Michigan study, such a vaccination campaign could lead to 200 to 300 deaths and thousands of illnesses.44 On the other hand, should the United States come under a smallpox attack, the vaccinations would save millions of lives.

    The Administration should first establish how safe or risky the current vaccine options are. Based on those conclusions, it should then develop a strategy to allow Americans to receive smallpox vaccines on a voluntary basis. This approach has numerous benefits. In the event of a smallpox attack, it would minimize the panic that would ensue after the beginning stages of the attack are publicized and would significantly decrease the number of citizens who would be infected and the number who would need or want to be vaccinated. Each individual could evaluate the risk involved in receiving or not receiving the vaccine for his or her own case.

  • Expand the role of the National Guard. As a first responder in domestic emergencies, the National Guard is well-positioned to assume the lead military role in homeland security. The Guard, the Department of Defense, and the states already have in place much of the administrative and command infrastructure that is needed to enable the Guard to take on a greater role in homeland security. However, as described in Title 32, Section 102 of the U.S. Code, the National Guard is mandated to focus on supporting the active forces.45

    Today, Guard units are deployed to provide combat support and combat support services for the active duty forces. Additionally, they often make up substantial portions of the forces used for peacekeeping missions. Refocusing the Guard's mission on homeland security would leave the active forces with a shortfall of personnel to perform the services that the Guard currently performs. Therefore, the Guard cannot easily be extracted from its support duties and redeployed for homeland security without either expanding the active force rosters to fill that support role or decreasing the commitments of that active force.

    Moreover, when Guard resources are directed toward homeland security, it will be important to ensure that these resources are not wasted on missions that would be better handled by the private sector or other government agencies. For example, the National Guard should not be guarding airports or the nation's borders. Those jobs should be performed by trained police or security personnel. National Guard members have specialized training and legal standing that gives them a unique role in homeland security that should not be squandered.

    Finally, because the federal government's primary purpose is to protect the people of America, the homeland is the most important theater of war. Active service in defense of the homeland should be given the same weight and respect as service abroad. Those serving in the homeland should receive appropriate benefits, and adequate resources should be dedicated to the mission.

  • Establish a federal team to facilitate state and local strategies that complement the national homeland security strategy. Homeland security responsibilities transcend all levels of government and much of the private sector, and establishing an effective homeland security strategy depends on the willing cooperation of all involved. It will be vital for the success of the national effort to help state and local officials adapt their counterterrorism plans so that they are compatible with the federal homeland security strategy. This will require close coordination between the Department of Homeland Security and state and local government officials.

    Even a mass briefing with all 50 governors would not be sufficient to address the specific needs of each locality. OHS Director Ridge should establish a team of staff members who can travel to the states and local communities to help local homeland security officials develop and implement plans that complement the national strategy. Team members should be able to work with first responders, public health leaders, and law enforcement officials, as well as local and state political leaders. Once the DHS has been established, this team should be transferred to its state and local coordination arm.

  • Establish standing committees on homeland security in both houses of Congress. Homeland security and terrorism transcend all aspects of congressional committee authority. In the House of Representatives, there are at least 14 full committees and 25 separate subcommittees that claim jurisdiction over some aspect of homeland security. To facilitate Congress's legislative and budgetary role in defending the homeland, both the House and Senate should form a standing committee on homeland security with sole jurisdiction for functions assumed by the Department of Homeland Security.

    These committees should establish their own subcommittees that parallel the four divisions proposed for the DHS. Existing committees and subcommittees that currently have authority for these areas should cede them to the new committees. In addition, the appropriations committees should establish their own subcommittees on homeland security to supplement the work of the standing authorizing committees.

    In revising the committee structure, Congress's top priorities should be streamlining the legislative process and providing acute transparency of its workings. Establishing authorizing committees and appropriations subcommittees on homeland security would give the DHS a central committee in each house with which to discuss homeland security legislation. This new system would also make it more difficult for Members of Congress to attach non-homeland security earmarks to homeland security budgets.

    Politically, such structural reform will be challenging because powerful committee chairmen are often reluctant to relinquish power, even for the sake of national security. As Senator James Jeffords (I-VT) noted in describing his reluctance to give up oversight of nuclear power plant, dam, and drinking water security, "we're very jealous about these things."46

    But the jealousy of Members of Congress is clearly not an acceptable reason to forgo necessary reform, especially at such a critical time. All Members have a responsibility to conduct the people's business in an efficient manner and to develop policies that protect their constituents from international terrorism, even if doing so may disrupt the hierarchy of power in Congress. House and Senate leaders should make clear that they intend to match the President's leadership in this matter by streamlining communication and action through the creation of new committees for homeland security.


The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, placed homeland security at the top of the nation's priorities. Since then, the President and Congress have done much to meet daunting new challenges to security, including the development of a bold proposal to create a Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security. They also have established budget priorities, quickly enhanced the nation's stockpile of smallpox vaccine, increased security on America's borders, and increased cooperation and communication with state and local government officials.

At the same time, however, there are many areas that require additional commitment from the federal government. As the proposal for a new homeland security department lies in the balance, it is more important than ever that the right decisions be made in a timely manner.

For example, Washington must do more to improve intelligence-sharing among agencies and with state and local authorities. An intelligence fusion center must be created to collect, analyze, and disseminate intelligence on a need-to-know basis. The federal government should expand its CBRN training programs for first responders and should establish a national health surveillance network that could detect the presence of a bioterrorism agent at the ground level. The Defense Department's role in homeland security should be better defined, especially with regard to the National Guard, which is well-positioned to assume the lead military role in homeland security. Finally, Congress must reform its committee structure to enhance its budgetary, legislative, and oversight functions.

A year has passed since September 11, and while the federal government has done much to increase the nation's security, more still needs to be done. Now is the time to take these next critical steps to ensure the protection of the American people.

Michael Scardaville is Policy Analyst for Homeland Defense and Jack Spencer is Policy Analyst for Defense and National Security in the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

1. The authors would like to thank Melissa Glass, Research Assistant for Homeland Security, for her assistance in researching and drafting this report.

2. See Michael Scardaville, "The Homeland Security Act of 2002: An Analysis," Heritage Foundation Web Memo No. 131, July 24, 2002.

3. For a discussion of the provisions of this bill, see Michael Scardaville, "An Assessment of the National Homeland Security and Combating Terrorism Act of 2002 (S. 2452)," Heritage Foundation Web Memo No. 141, August 30, 2002.

4. For a discussion of the need for flexibility in the DHS, see George Nesterczuck, "A Successful Start for the Department of Homeland Security Requires Management Flexibility," Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 1572, July 19, 2002.

5. Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget, "Statement of Administration Policy, S. 2452--National Homeland Security and Combating Terrorism Act of 2002," September 3, 2002.

6. See Michael Scardaville and Todd Gaziano, "Why the Office of Homeland Security Should Remain Independent," Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 1577, August 23, 2002.

7. See http://thomas.loc.gov/home/terrorleg.htm.

8. The White House, "Securing the Homeland, Strengthening the Nation," at http://www.whitehouse.gov/homeland/

9. Gilmore Commission, The Third Annual Report to the President and Congress of the Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction, December 15, 2001, p. 10.

10. For a detailed discussion of the need to consolidate first-responder training, see Michael Scardaville and Jack Spencer, "Meeting the Needs of America's Crucial First Responders," Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 1548, May 13, 2002.

11. Bob Graham and Paul C. Light, "A New Job for Tom Ridge," The Washington Post, April 24, 2002.

12. The White House, "National Strategy for Homeland Security," at http://www.whitehouse.gov/homeland/book/nat_strat_hls.pdf.

13. For a detailed breakdown of how these funds are being spent, see U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, "Additional $1.5 Billion Proposed to Combat Bioterrorism," HHS News, October 17, 2001.

14. Stephen E. Flynn, "America the Vulnerable," Foreign Affairs, January/February 2002, pp. 60-74.

15. Intellibridge, "The Homeland Security Monitor," e-mail alert dated January 31, 2002.

16. Federal Emergency Management Agency, "FEMA Seeks Input on First Responder Grants Program," Press Release No.
02-036, April 23, 2002.

17. U.S. Department of the Treasury, Secret Service, National Special Security Events, at http://www.secretservice.gove/nsse/shtml (May 7, 2002).

18. Michael Vigh, "Superbowl a Dry Run for Law Enforcement," The Salt Lake Tribune, February 1, 2002, at http://www.sltrib.com/2002/feb/02012002/utah/172522.htm (May 8, 2002).

19. NFL Internet Network, "Security Is Job 1 with NFL's Ahlerich," at http://www.superbowl.com/xxxvi/ce/feature/
0,3892,4897815,00.html (May 8, 2002).

20. See Michael Scardaville, "Principles for Creating an Effective U.S. Department of Homeland Security," Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 1559, June 12, 2002.

21. For example, see Dan Eggen, "FBI Pigeonholed Agent's Request," The Washington Post, May 22, 2002, p. A1.

22. See Larry M. Wortzel, "Creating an Intelligent Department of Homeland Security," Heritage Foundation Executive Memorandum No. 828, August 23, 2002.

23. See Hon. John Bolton, "Beyond the Axis of Evil: Additional Threats from Weapons of Mass Destruction," Heritage Foundation Lecture No. 793, May 6, 2002. See also Jack Spencer and Michael Scardaville, "Understanding the Bioterrorist Threat: Facts and Figures," Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 1488, October 11, 2001.

24. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, "HHS Bioterrorism Preparedness Funding Proposal Includes $518 Million for Hospitals, Up 284 Percent," HHS News, February 5, 2002.

25. Pamela Hess, "Pentagon to Track Disease Outbreaks," The Washington Times, August 28, 2002.

26. For a discussion of past biological and chemical terrorist attacks, see Spencer and Scardaville, "Understanding the Bioterrorist Threat: Facts and Figures."

27. Abraham D. Sofaer, George D. Wilson, and Sidney D. Dell, The New Terror: Facing the Threat of Biological and Chemical Weapons (Stanford, Cal.: Hoover Institution, 1999), p. 45.

28. For a description of Kansas City's computer-based system, see Alan Bavley and Julius A. Karash, "KC Gets Computer System to Warn of Signs of Bioterror Attacks," The Kansas City Star, April 23, 2002. Baltimore, Maryland, has implemented a Web-based system; see http://www.ci.baltimore.md.us/mayor/speeches/t020410.html.

29. See White House proposal for the Department of Homeland Security, p. 11, at http://www.whitehouse.gov/deptofhomeland/book.pdf.

30. Fact Sheet, "The President's Fiscal 2003 Immigration Budget," U.S. Department of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Office of Public Affairs, at http://www.ins.usdoj.gov/graphics/

31. U.S. General Accounting Office, Information Technology: INS Needs to Better Manage the Development of Its Enterprise Architecture, GAO/AIMD-00-212, August 2000. See also U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General, Audit Division, Follow-Up Review: Immigration and Naturalization Service Management of Automation Programs, July 1999.

32. IDENT is a lookout database maintained by the INS to identify aliens who have been apprehended for violations of immigration law. The system uses a biometric identifier (fingerprint) to link aliens to an electronic file and is designed to give immigration enforcement officials rapid information on an apprehended individual.

33. Testimony of Glenn A. Fine, Inspector General, U.S. Department of Justice, before the Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims, Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. House of Representatives, October 11, 2001.

34. See John J. Tkacik, Jr., "Why the Department of Homeland Security Should Control Visas," Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 1569, July 12, 2002.

35. See White House proposal for the Department of Homeland Security, p. 11, at http://www.whitehouse.gov/

36. For an in-depth discussion of the National Guard's role in homeland security, see Jack Spencer and Larry M. Wortzel, "The Role of the National Guard in Homeland Security," Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 1532, May 13, 2002.

37. National Guard State Area Commands (STARCs) are well-situated to oversee the training of state and local first responders in weapons of mass destruction (WMD) consequence management. They function as management and operational coordinating centers for the National Guard and are located in every U.S. state. Led by a State Area Commander and staff, they are a logical place to coordinate federal and state National Guard activities.

38. Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget, "Statement of Administration Policy, S. 2452--National Homeland Security and Combating Terrorism Act of 2002," September 3, 2002.

39. For a discussion of the risks associated with this bill, see Scardaville, "An Assessment of the National Homeland Security and Combating Terrorism Act of 2002 (S. 2452)."

40. See, for example, Scardaville, "Principles for Creating an Effective U.S. Department of Homeland Security," and "Why a Multi-Use Approach Is Essential to the Success of the DHS," Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 1571, July 18, 2002. See also Nesterczuck, "A Successful Start for the Department of Homeland Security Requires Management Flexibility."

41. See Wortzel, "Creating an Intelligent Department of Homeland Security."

42. For a detailed discussion of this issue, see Scardaville and Spencer, "Meeting the Needs of America's Crucial First Responders."

43. An interagency forum for exercise planners from the federal government and national-level volunteer organizations to promote sharing of techniques and lessons learned.

44. Susan Okie, "Studies Cite Smallpox Vaccine Tradeoff," The Washington Post, May 8, 2002, p. A3.

45. Title 32, Section 102 of the law states that, "In accordance with the traditional military policy of the United States, it is essential that the strength and organization of the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard as an integral part of the first line defenses of the United States be maintained and assured at all times. Whenever Congress determines that more units and organizations are needed for the national security than are in the regular components of the ground and air forces, the Army National Guard of the United States and the Air National Guard of the United States...shall be ordered to active Federal duty and retained as long as so needed."

46. Jennifer A. Dlouhy, "Turf Battles Begin Over Homeland Security," CQ Daily Monitor, June 7, 2002, pp. 1-3.


Jack Spencer
Jack Spencer

Vice President, the Institute for Economic Freedom

Michael Scardaville

Former Policy Analyst