Leading the Department of Homeland Security:

Report Homeland Security

Leading the Department of Homeland Security:

August 20, 2003 11 min read
Deputy Secretary Gordon England
Senior Policy Analyst on International Economics

Today, we face a threat to the very foundations of our country-liberty and freedom, justice and law-unlike any fight we have ever encountered. 9/11 was the confirmation of these dramatic new threats to America.

In my lifetime, there have been three "isms" that threatened America and the world. It took a world war to defeat the first ism; America entered it when I was four years old. That was the war to defeat Fascism. We prevailed militarily and were ultimately victorious by establishing new governments in Germany and Japan.

In 1950, a few short years after defeating Fascism, the nation found itself in war again in Korea. At that time, we did not know that the Korean War was merely the first bloody battle of a long war that would last until the wall came down-almost 40 years later-in Berlin in 1989.

Korea was the beginning of a cold war when the free nations of the world stood shoulder-to-shoulder to stop Communism, the second ism of my lifetime.

It took a world war to defeat Fascism and a cold war to defeat Communism.

Now we are embarked on the war against terrorism, the third ism, and history has not yet recorded how this war will be characterized. We do know, however, that it will be a long war. It is also a war in which the United States and its allies must and will prevail, because the consequences are so profound. For the first time in the history of mankind, a small number of people with weapons of mass destruction can wreak untold havoc in our cities and against our citizens, against our allies, and against freedom-loving people around the world. The world did change on 9/11. The past is no longer prologue to the future. Relying on past assumptions as we chart the future could be deadly.

During the Civil War, leaders did not adjust to better rifles and much better cannon-with a horrifying loss of life. In World War I, the development of the tank and machine gun had similar results. By World War II, the airplane, rockets, long-range artillery on land and sea, the submarine-and yes, weapons of mass destruction-took the war globally and destroyed whole cities and countries, but only by other countries with resources and technology to raise and transport large military forces. Now that same destruction can be wrought by small numbers of people, without a country and without vast resources.

We have passed over into a far more threatening frontier of warfare and potentially with far more horrifying consequences. President Bush has great clarity of vision in seeing this threat and great resolve in its defeat.

What happened that has altered our world forever? In my judgment, these new threats have been brought about by the convergence of fundamental changes that have taken place in recent years-not the 10-year changes we accept as part of a progressive society, but the following interrelated changes that will have a systemic, long-term effect on America and the world:

· Globalization

· Accelerating rate of technological change

· The Information Age and all it portends

· Non-State as well as state actors

· Asymmetric as well as conventional threats

Also, there are falling global barriers to those that would do us harm.

· Ready access to highly capable, low-cost, and rapidly changing technologies, and

· Most important, weapons of mass destruction

Operation Iraqi Freedom is not the war. Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan are, like Korea, both part of a larger war-this time against terrorism-and it will take determination, persistence, and great leadership to prevail in this larger war. Unfortunately, like Korea, we are likely closer to the beginning of this war than the end. Fortunately, our world community is blessed with the great leadership of President Bush, other committed world leaders, our citizens who willingly serve in the military, and our citizens in our communities and cities, to protect and defend America and our allies.

After the attacks of 9/11, Americans once again reaffirmed our willingness to fight for two things: to make Americans safe and to protect the principles we cherish. We don't fight for land; we don't fight for money; and we won't fight to simply impose our will. But we will take to arms to secure America and for the principles of freedom around the world: freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and the pursuit of lawful self-determination in democracy and free enterprise. And we do this not just for America but for people throughout the world. The world looks to us for this leadership and for 227 years America has responded. And we continue to respond today.

Recently, there have been news reports that some have concluded that the economy is more important than the war on terror. The economy is definitely important, but I would remind all Americans that the vow of al-Qaeda is to destroy the U.S. economic system. It is essential that we first prevail in the war on terror if we are to preserve and grow our economy.

Security and economic development are two sides of the same coin. Security is needed for economic development but economic development is needed to remain secure. But we must have security first.

The greatest threat to America is a short memory. Like the second "ism" of my lifetime, it will take constant awareness of the threat and total global commitment over a long period of time to prevail in this war on terrorism.

Now it is the responsibility of the Department of Homeland Security to transform the government's-and indeed the nation's-organizations to effectively counter the emerging threat of terrorism with weapons of mass destruction.

The new Department of Homeland Security has a budget of some $37 billion and with its 180,000+ employees is the second largest agency in the federal government.

Our vision of a secure homeland is expressed in President Bush's National Strategy for Homeland Security, the nation's first. It identifies critical mission areas the new Department will focus on: intelligence and warning; domestic counterterrorism; border and transportation security; the protection of critical infrastructure and key assets; defense against catastrophic threats; emergency preparedness and response; and science and technology.

In the first six months since the Department of Homeland Security has been in existence, we have made measurable progress towards reaching the high standard of readiness and protection to which President Bush has called us and to which the American people are entitled. We've come a long way; we also have a long way to go. Homeland security is a marathon, not a sprint.

We've moved rapidly to map and protect our critical infrastructures, such as power plants and financial systems; to better secure our borders from terrorists and suspicious cargo; and to prevent and prepare for attacks involving weapons of mass destruction.

Every day Homeland Security's capabilities in intelligence analysis are enhanced. Through President Bush's initiative to create the Terrorist Threat Integration Center, analysts across all agencies now have access to sensitive information compiled by the entire intelligence community. Seemingly unconnected events from varying sources can now be viewed in context, showing a quicker and more thorough picture of the threat.

U.S. VISIT, another program we have launched, will create a "virtual border" using biometrics to confirm the identity and status of travelers both to and from the United States.

To provide increased security at our borders, we are equipping our inspectors and Border Patrol Agents with state-of-the-art technology, including radiation pagers and non-intrusive inspection machines.

As you likely observe whenever you travel, passenger and baggage screeners at airports are better trained and better equipped. Cockpit doors have been reinforced, and air marshals provide an added layer of protection once planes are in the air.

Additionally, under Operation Cornerstone, we are working closely with the private sector to identify and close vulnerabilities that criminals can exploit in our financial systems. This initiative focuses on traditional and new types of money-laundering crimes, including bulk-cash smuggling, commodities-based money laundering and insurance schemes.

This is key, because money is the lifeblood of terrorist networks. A terrorist cannot record a video message, cross a border or obtain a weapon of mass destruction without it. And so, by fighting financial crimes today, we can help eliminate opportunities for terrorists tomorrow.

What's more, to prepare for the possibility of a biological attack, we have stockpiled hundreds of millions of doses of antibiotics and vaccines, and inoculated health care workers against smallpox. We've also installed sensors at strategic locations around the country that can identify the presence of certain biological and chemical agents.

Every day as a nation we make progress to add new layers of protection, both here and overseas, and share more information, all to make our citizens safer from terrorism and other crises.

Last week, we demonstrated our capacity to respond to a crisis. We responded quickly and decisively to the most severe power outage ever to affect the United States. How? Through strong partnerships-between nations, every level of government, and the private sector-that we have created since 9/11.

These partnerships made it possible to share key information, mobilize appropriate resources, and execute emergency response plans. And, in the end, because we had prepared for the worst, we prevented the worst from happening. It was a real display of cooperative leadership.

I think it is also important to mention that many of the citizens of the Northeast acted calmly and executed their own personal preparedness plans in response to this crisis. Just like our Ready campaign emphasizes items like batteries, water, and having a family communications plan, being Ready can help individuals be prepared for any crisis whether it is man-made or natural.

The Administration is now taking aggressive action to investigate the blackout. At this early stage of the investigation we have found no evidence of terrorism

Today, our new United States-Canada Joint Task Force will meet, with representatives from the Department of Energy and the Department of Homeland Security joining our Canadian counterparts.

And we will continue to work with the Department of Energy and industry to close security gaps in the power grid. We are working to map the grid and test its response to both physical and cyber attacks in our effort to both identify vulnerabilities and reduce them.

Since March, we have provided more than $4 billion to train and equip our dedicated local first responders. In addition, we have run more than 400 exercises helping localities evaluate their emergency action plans and make the necessary adjustments to ensure a swift and successful response in the event of a terrorist attack or natural disaster. However, don't look for federal solutions. No one calls area code 202 when a disaster occurs. Our job is to enable national solutions across America, including partnerships with private industry.

Private companies own about 85 percent of our national infrastructure, which encompasses everything from energy and chemical facilities to banking, telecommunications, transportation, and agriculture. Make no mistake, each is a potential target.

Our focus also reaches outward across the world, embracing the international community.

Much of our work at Homeland Security focuses on forging strong international programs and partnerships.

We have "Smart Border" accords with Canada and Mexico. By improving our coordination and cooperation with these two countries we are working to keep criminals, smugglers, and terrorists out while maintaining the free flow of commerce.

Through our Container Security Initiative, we are stationing homeland security inspectors at the world's major ports to work alongside foreign port authorities to identify, target, and search high-risk cargo.

Initially, the Container Security Initiative was launched at the top 20 foreign ports, and in June, we expanded the program to include areas of the Middle East, such as Dubai, as well as Turkey and Malaysia.

Today about 90 percent of all world cargo moves by container. Therefore, identifying and dealing with high-risk containers at the earliest possible point protects the entire international supply chain.

As we continue to pursue greater security for both our individual nations and for the world, it is imperative that we remain true to the principles of justice and law-principles the terrorists seek to destroy; principles we must be committed to uphold.

We must and will always be careful to respect people's privacy, civil liberties, and reputations. Our mission in the Department of Homeland Security is not just to protect America's assets and human capital, but to protect America. That includes freedom, liberty, and privacy-the foundations of our society. We have a great opportunity to use our freedoms to improve our security. I say this because the free flow of information and ideas has great value in the war on terrorism.

Today terrorists hide among us and use our freedoms against us. But they will find fewer places to hide the more we provide accurate, verifiable, and timely information to the people charged with protecting us.

Fear of government abuse of information is understandable. But the antidote to that fear is an open, forthright, honest, and transparent process for our citizens.

If we sacrifice individual freedom for safety then the terrorists win. And they will not win.

Going forward, our objective is to build an ever improving, expanding capability to protect America. The foundation of this capability is an operating structure that fully integrates all the disparate disciplines within the Department. The organization of Homeland Security is defined by law; that is, the boxes and lines between elements. However, the organizational structure is a leadership option. This structure has been under intense development since last spring and is now being implemented. This structure defines roles, responsibilities, authorities, processes, and the like. This is vitally important because it formalizes the decision process within the Department.

We have also initiated a performance measurement system to:

1) Focus all DHS organizations on critical behaviors and outcomes;

2) Provide a means of communicating performance to internal and external stakeholders; and,

3) Help establish funding priorities, corrective action plans, and future strategies.

Organizations get the results they measure.

Before I conclude, let me define a cornerstone capability of our Department; namely, IAIP otherwise known as Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection. Information Analysis is another name for actionable intelligence, essential for homeland security. IAIP will eventually provide an analytical foundation for priority setting and allocation of resources. Combining the understanding of the threat, the probability of the threat occurring, the vulnerability to the threat, and the consequences of that vulnerability allows for a risk-based management system that is efficient, effective, and sustainable.

In closing, the enemies to freedom are organized, cunning, and determined. But they are no match for the hardened resolve of nations and individual citizens who know the value of freedom and who will bear any cost to protect it.

On September 12, 2001, President Bush came to the Pentagon. It was 6:00 p.m. The tragic events of September 11th were still unfolding. The Pentagon was still burning. Red lights were still flashing outside. The smell of diesel fuel was still in the air. It was an emotional meeting-the President of the United States meeting with the military and civilian leaders of the Department of Defense. During the discussion, President Bush pointed his finger as he went around the table, and said to each of us, "Never forget. Never forget. I will never forget what happened yesterday." He said, "You can never forget either, because we are charged with the defense and protection of our nation and our citizens. We must and will prevail in this war against terrorism."

I leave you with the same words of President Bush: "Never forget." Never forget that our world has changed forever and that every American is important in winning the war on terrorism.

God bless each of you for your unwavering support of America, and God bless America.


Deputy Secretary Gordon England

Senior Policy Analyst on International Economics