Journal on Security and Terrorism Analysis

The National Strategy for Homeland Security:

An Analysis

Jonathan Bertsch

The George Bush School of Government & Public Service, Texas A&M University

In 2007, the Homeland Security Council issued the National Strategy for Homeland Security, which followed the previous Strategy published in 2002.1 The 2002 Strategy focused solely on preventing terror attacks, reducing vulnerability, and improving damage control and recovery following an attack' Between the publication of the 2002 Strategy and the subsequent 2007 Strategy, America suffered no terror attacks on its shores. Several plotted attacks were thwarted through a combination of strategies, intelligence gathering, increased travel security, and interrogation of captured terrorists. On American Airlines Flight 63, Richard Reid, the so-called "shoe bomber", attempted to detonate a shoe filled with C4 explosives, which led to the X-raying of footwear at airport security checkpoints.' Liquids in carry-on luggage were restricted after British authorities disrupted a plot to detonate liquid-fueled bombs on trans-Atlantic flights." However, the first real test of the Department of Homeland Security'S (Homeland Security) response to a crisis came from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. A devastating Category 3 storm, Katrina left much of New Orleans under several feet of water and cut off communications between government agencies. Inter-agency turf wars, misguided (albeit well-intentioned) assistance programs, and heavy media criticism were prevalent for the first few days until a unified

1 Homeland Security Council, "The National Strategy for Homeland Security, 2007," October 6, 2008, 193938363680.s htm (accessed April 27, 2009).

2 U.S. Department of Homeland Security, "The National Strategy for Homeland Security, 2002," October 6, 2008, m (accessed April 27, 2009).

3 Associated Press, "Shoe Bomber' Richard Reid Pleads Guilty,", October 4, 2002, http://www.foxnews.comistory/0.2933 ,64827 ,00.html (accessed April 27, 2009).

4 Bob Sherwood and Stephen Fidler, "MIS tracked group for a year," The Financial Times Ltd., August 10, 2006, http://www.ft.comlcms/s/0/cbed2e 12-28b5- I I db-a2c 1- 000077ge2340.html (accessed April 27, 2009).

response took hold.' Accordingly, the Strategy was updated to include an all-hazards approach: terrorism, natural disasters, and critical infrastructure protection."

This memo will analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the 2007 Strategy; provide possible new goals," objectives, and strategies for ensuring homeland security; and present a critique of stakeholders in homeland security in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

The 2007 National Strategy for Homeland Security: An Analysis

The terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. on September 11, 2001 (September 11) prompted a re-evaluation of United States homeland security. The Strategy opens with an overview of the pre-September II homeland security environment in the United States. Prior to September 11, homeland security was the responsibility of dozens of government agencies at all levels of the federal government.' The United States government created the Department of Homeland Security" to facilitate" the response to a homeland security crisis by providing a unified structure for that response. The Strategy acknowledges the need for collaboration and coordination between the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, as well as state, local, and tribal governments." However, as Boin et aL argues in The Politics of Crisis Management, coordination between government agencies is not as easy as officials make it seem during press conferences. 10

5 Donald F. Ketti, System under Stress: Homeland Security and American Politics, 2nd ed (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2007).

6 Homeland Security Council, National Strategy jor Homeland Security (Washington, D.C.: Homeland Security Council, 2007).

7 Ibid. "

8 U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

9 Homeland Security Council, "National Strategy for Homeland Security."

10 Arjen Boin, Paul t'Hart, Eric Stem, and Bengt Sundelius, The Politics of Crisis Management: Public Leadership under Pressure (Cambridge: University Press, 2005).

The National Strategy for Homeland Security

In some cases, agencies have "legal incentives for them to start pointing fingers at each other." during a crisis, either to avoid public blame or to pin blame on others. I I Still, coordination among the agencies involved in a homeland security response is crucial, something for which Boin and Kettl both argue.

The Strategy also makes the case for private and nonprofit cooperation in a homeland security response. According to the Strategy, private sector entities control a vast majority of critical infrastructure, such as power generation, roads, water, information technology, and others, and have their own interest in securing their holdings." Returning to the Hurricane Katrina crisis, one of the major players in the humanitarian response was the nation's largest retailer, WalMart. 13 Wal-Mart had experience with disaster response, and had developed its own system for damage control and supply distribution." WalMart pre-positioned inventory control and damage response teams just outside the hurricane zone, and these teams quickly moved in, assessed the losses, and began providing supplies to those needing the basic essentials, such as water, clothing, and food. IS The next revision of the Strategy should require the federal government, and DRS in particular, to reach out to major national retailers and distributors in the event of another crisis.

The Strategy then outlines current threats to homeland security, starting with terrorism, both foreign and domestic. AI-Qaida is singled out as the greatest threat to America's security, reminding the reader that although AI-Qaida has been diminished by military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, Al-Qaida is slowly rebuilding its power base within the Pakistani tribal areas. 16 These tribal regions have been the subject of numerous air strikes by the United States military." Still, senior al-Qaida leadership remains in hiding. The Strategy

II Ibid.

12 Homeland Security Council, "National Strategy for Homeland Security."

13 Susan Rosegrant, 2007. "Wal-Mart's Response to Hurricane Katrina: Striving for a Public-Private Partnership," Kennedy School of Government Case Program, 2007 (CI6-07-1876.0-1), 24.

14 Ibid.

15 Ibid.

16 Homeland Security Council, "National Strategy for Homeland Security."

I' Associated Press, "Suspected U.S. Missile Attack in Pakistan Kills 13,", April 04, 2009, http://www.foxnews.comlstory/0.2933.SI2S16.00.htrnl (accessed February 04,2010).


does acknowledge the threat of Hizballah, the Lebanese terror organization responsible for numerous attacks on American citizens and military personnel. 18 Hizballah is believed to be supported by the Iranian govemment.l" though Iran has repeatedly denied any involvement in Hizballah's activities.

The first step in prevention, according to the Strategy, is to deny terrorists entry into the United States." The Strategy mentions port security repeatedly as the key to this step, although the Strategy does not go into detail on how to provide such security, beyond various acts and initiatives already discussed and debated. While it is possible to screen every airline passenger and their luggage, thousands of shipping containers enter the United States that are not physically screened before being unloaded onto trains, semitrucks, and other means of freight transportation. Fonner Homeland Security Secretary, Michael Chertoff, claimed in July 2008 that nearly 100% of all containerized shipping is scanned for radiological threats. 2 1 DHS has made 'strides to improve radiological detection at our nation's ports, but biological and chemical detection is still lagging. According to Chertoff, only thirty cities had, at that time, joined DHS' BioWatch program, which monitors the air in these cities for harmful biological material." If DRS is to deny the entry of terrorists' weapons, then containerized scanning should be expanded to include biological and chemical detection. The Strategy states that private sector cooperation is vital, since they are responsible for their supply chain security.r' However, some private interests may choose to provide only the basic level of supply chain security as a cost-saving measure. In fact, as outlined below, some private entities are already looking for ways to reduce expenses to stay in operation.

Considering the state of the American and world economies, private corporations are looking for ways to cut expenses as much as possible. For example, charging passengers for luggage on domestic flights and the decision by United Airlines to require overweight passengers to purchase an

18 Homeland Security Council, "National Strategy for Homeland Security."

19 Ibid.

20 Ibid.

21 Michael Chertoff, "Clear Benefit," Homeland Security Leadership Journal (July 16, 2008).

22 Ibid.

23 Homeland Security Council, "National Strategy for Homeland Security."

Journal on Security and Terrorism Analysis

extra ticket if they cannot fit comfortably into a single seat." General Motors is closing several of its plants on a temporary basis in order to stay afloat, even in the face of several rounds of governmental bailouts." A disruption in General Motors' operations could lead to massive layoffs and an early bankruptcy for the nation's largest car manufacturer. In an already-weakened economy, job losses on this scale could cripple it for months.

Border security is another step in denying entry to terrorism." Former President Bush called for thousands of additional Border Patrol agents and the construction of a fence along much of the United States' border with Mexico." The Strategy calls for increased international coordination in halting drug trafficking and human smuggling, as well as increased surveillance along our physical borders." Even with heightened border security, the drug-related violence along the U.S.-Mexico border continues to threaten a spill-over. The Strategy needs stronger and clearer language when defining border security as it relates to preventing terrorism. Currently, the Strategy only says which programs DHS will implement, such as REAL ID and tighter document screening, not how it will go about securing implementation. The border with Mexico is a major concern for the federal government, to be sure, but the border with Canada should not be ignored: Ahmed Ressam, who plotted to destroy the Los Angeles International Airport in December 1999, was caught at the Ll.Sc-Canadian border."

Disrupting terrorism operations requires uncovering plots and arresting terrorists before an

24 Julie Johnsson, "United Airlines could require obese passengers to buy a second ticket," Los Angeles Times, April 16, 2009, http://articles.latimes.coml2009/apr/ 16lbusinesslfiunited-obesel S (accessed February 04, 2010).

25 Associated Press, "OM to Close Most U.S. Factories for Nine Weeks,", April 23, 2009, (accessed April 27, 2009).

26 Homeland Security Council, "National Strategy for Homeland Security."

27 Eileen Sullivan, "US-Mexico Border Fence Almost Complete," Associated Press, Washington, D.C., January 27,2009.

28 Homeland Security Council, "National Strategy for Homeland Security."

29 James Vicini, "Court rules against would-be millennium bomber," Reuters, May 19, 2008, hUp:llwww.reuters.comlarticle/idUSN 19540401200805 I 9 (accessed February 04, 2010).

attack can be carried out.30 To do this, DHS makes vague references to legal and regulatory means to stop money laundering, eavesdrop on communications, and use the American legal system to arrest, prosecute, and sentence terrorists for their criminal activities." While laying out the basic methods that DHS will implement to prevent future terrorists attacks, the vague references to a balance between security and liberty are troubling. New laws passed in the wake of the September 11 attacks were criticized for their intrusiveness into personal privacy, and the government has long sought a way to combat and prevent terrorism while assuring the civil liberties of its citizens are not curtailed.f The Strategy refers to striking a balance between liberties and security but does not explain how DHS will go about achieving this goal.

The halting of radicalization, is yet another key to disrupting terror operations domestically. DHS wants to ensure that Muslim American communities and organizations are engaged in the discussion of homeland security while at the same time countering the radicalization of these communities.f The American prison system is recognized, according to the Strategy, as a primary source of radicalization within our own borders, along with overseas influence and the Internet." The Strategy calls for public-private cooperation in engaging the commumties targeted for radicalization, and for continuing' research into radicalization.f What the Strategy does not make clear is if the public-private sector research will include colleges and universities or if nonprofit 'think tanks' would be invited into the' discussion on radicalization. The Heritage Foundation (The Heritage Foundation Research: Homeland Securityi6 and the Brookings Institute (Homeland

30 Homeland Security Council, "National Strategy for Homeland Security."

31 Ibid.

32 Associated Press, "Senate refuses to renew several Patriot Act provisions," USA Today, December 16, 2005, http://www.usatoday.comlnews/washingtonl2005- 12-16-patriot-act-senate_x.htm (accessed February 04, 2010).

33 Homeland Security Council, "National Strategy for Homeland Security."

34 Ibid.

35 Ibid.

36 The Heritage Foundation, "The Heritage Foundation Research: Homeland Security," 2009, http://www.heritage.orgiResearchlHomelandDefense/ind ex.cfm (accessed April 27,2009).



The National Strategy for Homeland Security

Security - Brookings Institutioni7 both conduct independent research into homeland security policy. One would imagine that these 'think tanks' would be consulted on future homeland security policies and research.

Critical infrastructure and key resources protection were the two major additions to the National Strategy in 2007. Infrastructure, as defined by the Strategy, are any "assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would" cripple the entire country.i" Key resources include land, water, air, fuels, and other "resources essential to the minimal operations of the economy and government.'?" One recent event highlights the daily threats to our nation's virtual infrastructure that could compromise our national security for years to come. In April 2009, computer hackers allegedly penetrated encrypted computer networks containing plans for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), a multibillion-dollar weapons system currently being developed and marketed to the Department of Defense and other militaries around the world." In actuality, these cyber spies attempted to steal sensitive data about the aircraft nearly two years ago, but the most sensitive data concerning the aircraft are stored on computers not connected, wirelessly or physically, to the Internet." However, 'Joel Brenner, the current chief of counterintelligence, warned an audience that similar attacks could cripple our national infrastructure just as easily.42 Even though the hackers were unable to gain any sensitive data from government computers, this event highlights the need for constant vigilance and regular upgrades to our nation's cyber security.

The 2007 Strategy calls for deterrence and infrastructure resilience as the methodology to combat threats to our critical infrastructure (CI) and

37 Brookings, "Homeland Security - Brookings Institute," 2009, http://'www.brookings.edultopics!homeland-security.aspx (accessed April 27, 2009).

38 Homeland Security Council, "National Strategy for Homeland Security."

39 Ibid.

40 Associated Press, "Official: Classified Information Not Compromised in Cyber Breach of Jet Fighter Program,", April 22, 2009,!story/0.2933.SI7360.OO.html (accessed April 22, 2009).

41 Ibid.

42 Ibid.

key resources.Y The Strategy once again mentions the importance of the private sector in CI protection, but it is not until the fourth section of the Strategy, Minimizing Consequences, that coordination and cooperation methodologies are discussed."

Minimizing and mitigating consequences should involve all levels of government and the private and nonprofit sectors, for which the Strategy calls." However, beyond a basic statement of better communication between all levels and sectors involved in a disaster response, the Strategy lays out no framework for involving the private and nonprofit .. sectors." It discusses their traditional roles, but no mention of any positive examples, such as Wal-Mart's response to Hurricane Katrina, are highlighted as a model for integrating the private sector into disaster response.


An all-hazards approach needs to have an all-sectors focus. The Strategy repeatedly references the percentage of critical infrastructure that is controlled by the private sector, yet, beyond calls for coordination, few sentences are devoted to integrating the private sector into a disaster response." A private sector corporation may have profit maximization at heart, but Hurricane Katrina proved that even corporations 'with the largest profits sometimes have a better response than the government.

Private and nonprofit coordination are vital to ensuring the success of an all-hazards approach. Nonprofit entities have deep ties to the communities they serve and often know the "lay of the land", as it were, better than the different levels of government." A resident of a community affected by a disaster may trust a representative from a nonprofit organization they are familiar with over a police officer or National Guard soldier. Likewise, a vehicle carrying a Wal-Mart or Target logo on its side would be more welcome than trucks carrying

43 Homeland Security Council, "National Strategy for Homeland Security."

44 Ibid.

4S Ibid.

46 Ibid.

47 Ibid.

48 Jon Van Til, "Nonprofit Organizations and Social Institutions," in The Jossey-Bass Handbook of Nonprofit Leadership & Management, ed. R. D. Herman (San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2005).

Journal on Security and Terrorism Analysis

dozens of police or soldiers.Y Private sector entities have supply and distribution chains in place ahead of a major disaster like a hurricane. For example, Wal-Mart was putting plans in place and people in motion two days before Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana.50 Wal-Mart was prepared to replenish emergency supplies once designated emergency stocks were depleted during the initial response. 5 I As discussed by Rosegrant, the federal government attempted a similar response during the 2006 hurricane season by preemptively placing supplies, but over $40 million of supplies had to be discarded once DHS realized that they were not needed.f The lesson here is that WalMart responded as the disaster reports came in, rather than leaving food and water in place for weeks to spoil.

The Strategy highlights the- need for interoperable communications in a disaster response. 53 When the Strategy was written, communication networks were susceptible to service interruptions if power was lost during a crisis. New technologies are being tested that could mitigate those complications. Wireless mesh networking is designed to give first responders reliable communications with each other even if Internet and cellular phone service is interrupted." A group of handsets can create their own wireless network independent of the major private sector communication providers.f Even if cellular and Internet communications are cut off, disaster responders can communicate and coordinate with one another while working to restore privately-held communication infrastructures. 56 Once cellular and Internet services are restored, these mesh networks can be connected to the larger communications grid. 57 In the next revision of the Strategy, ensuring resilient and interoperable communications should be included.

The Strategy focuses on domestic Islamic radicalization as a major homegrown threat, but

49 Susan Rosegrant. 50 Ibid.

51 Ibid.

52 Ibid.

53 Homeland Security Council, "National Strategy for Homeland Security."

54 Dave Roos, "How Wireless Mesh Networks Work," Discovery Communications, 2007, http://communication.howstuffworks.comlhow-wirelessrnesh-networks-work.htm (accessed April 05, 2009).

55 Ibid.' .

56 Ibid.

57 Ibid.

does not discuss in detail those other threats from American citizens that are unaffiliated with Islamic extremism. In the 1990s, there were a string of militia stand-offs and domestic terror attacks that shook the nation. A former U.S. Army soldier, Timothy McVeigh, drove a rented moving truck to the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City and detonated a massive bomb, killing 168 people.58 Two years prior, federal agents stormed the Branch Davidian compound outside of Waco, Texas following a lengthy standoff with David Koresh and his followers.i"

In the Oklahoma City bombing case, it is obvious why the federal government took over the response and investigation: the site of the bombing was a federally-owned building. However, in the case of the Waco standoff, particularly the final siege of the Branch Davidian compound, the federal response should have included local law enforcement: police from Waco and the surrounding communities or Texas Highway Patrol officers.6o Instead, the government took heavy criticism for the resulting deaths of the Branch Davidians during the FBI-ATF response.t' Incident response involving domestic non-Islamic terrorism should, unless the target is a federal interest, always include coordination with local law enforcement and emergency responders. To critics of governmental expansion, a federal intervention can be seen as a trampling of states' rights. A revised Strategy should also contain language dedicated to the framework of such coordination efforts that does not infringe on local jurisdiction and response.


In a new Strategy, the key stakeholders in implementation: public, private, nonprofit entities, state, local, and the Department of Homeland Security. At all levels of government, private and nonprofit sector coordination is key to response efforts. Private entities control vast amounts of

58 FOX News, "The Oklahoma City Bombing: Fast Facts,", 2001, http://www.foxnews.comlstory/O.2933 ,2681 O,OO.html (accessed September 05,2001).

59 Associated Press, "Six Branch Davidians Due for Release 13 Years After Waco Inferno,", April 19, 2006, (accessed April 27, 2009).

60 Arjen Boin.

61 Ibid.



The National Strategy for Homeland Security

critical infrastructure and key resources." and many nonprofits exist to serve needs in the communities in which they are founded." A major nationwide retailer often has the resources necessary to provide emergency humanitarian aid in the form of basic human necessities like clothing, food, water, and shelter. These resources, combined with a large supply and distribution chain and inventory control system, sometimes place private entities in a better position to respond than state and federal emergency response agencies." Nonprofit organizations, due to their reliance on donations as a primary source of revenue." are often not required to be on the frontlines of an emergency response, but their ties to the community would make them an invaluable partner in the distribution of suppJies and the counting of casualties.

However, we cannot forget the reason why there is a national Strategy being developed and implemented: the Department of Homeland Security. DHS unites twenty-two federal agencies under one proverbial roof, which gives it an enormous nation-wide reach. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Coast Guard now fall under the aegis of DHS. FEMA had a string of successes in hurricane and wildfire response during the 19905 under James Lee Witt; this was accredited primarily to his leadership abilities.66 Admiral Thad Allen of the Coast Guard was appointed by former President George W. Bush to take over the federal response to Hurricane Katrina after the lackluster FEMA response, which included repeated claims of "only" finding out about the human suffering several days into the crisis." The Coast Guard has decades of experience regarding water rescues, and FEMA likewise has years of land-based response experience. These two agencies are perhaps the most vital to DHS in a disaster response on the scale of another hurricane like Katrina.


62 Homeland Security Council, "National Strategy for Homeland Security."

63 Jon Van Til.

64 Susan Rosegrant.

6S James L. Strachan, "Understanding Nonprofit Financial Management," in Skills for Effective Management of Nonprofit Organizations, eds. Richard L. Edwards, John A. Yankey, and Mary A. Altpeter (Washington, D.C.: NASW Press, 1998).

6S Donald F. Kettl.

67 Ibid.

The Homeland Security council issued the 2007 Strategy in the last months of the previous presidential administration. The current focus of homeland security is the drug violence on the U.S.Mexico border and domestic terrorism not linked to Islamic extremism. However, a recent influenza outbreak in Mexico has led to the declaration of a public health emergency by DHS,68 and it remains to be seen how devastating the outbreak will be. The current Strategy does not specifically address a bioterrorism attack or a pandemic outbreak within the United States. After the outbreak is contained, the response should be studied and language developed in order to add a bioterrorism response to a future Strategy.

Political considerations will always hold up implementation of a Strategy. Critics of domestic surveillance programs will call for a reduction in the types of information gathered, while those who support a strong domestic prevention strategy will demand stronger measures be taken, especially if the United States suffers another September 11- style attack. Also, the question of cyber security is a complex one: if the attack originates from outside the United States, does it become an issue of national security, or will DHS have a role in response? If it is domestic in origin and targets local interests across state borders, will legal precedent preclude local law enforcement involvement? Of course, if another terror attack occurs, will the new Strategy continue to be implemented, or will it' be put on hold until an adapted Strategy can be developed that contains language pertaining to the latest attack? The impact of the nation's economic status will always influence the budgeting for homeland security policies and operations, as well. The current economic crisis has led to calls for budgetary and spending cuts from fiscal conservatives, although current spending trends seem to indicate a large increase in federal spending over the next four years."


68 FOX News, "U.S. Declares Public Health Emergency in Wake of Swine Flu,", April 26, 2009 http://www.foxnews.comfpolitics/firstl OOdays/2009/04/2 61napolitano·cdc-hold·joint-news-conference-swine-fluJ ~accessed April 26, 2009).

9 Andrew Taylor, "CBO: Federal Deficit Projected at $1.35T," Associated Press, Washington, D.C., January 26,2010.

Journal on Security and Terrorism Analysis

Homeland security is a much broader topic than it seems at first glance, involving terror prevention and response, disaster mitigation, and securing the safety of American citizens. The 2007 National Strategy for Homeland Security was an excellent update to the previous Strategy issued in 2002, although the 2007 Strategy still has gaps in covering bioterrorism, outbreaks, and port security operations, among others. The public sector should not ignore the private and nonprofit sectors, as they

can be extremely beneficial to disaster response and recovery. Likewise, natural disasters and terror attacks affect states and localities, and these stakeholders have their own agericies that should be included with disaster response. Hopefully, DHS will craft a new National Strategy to respond to the new terror threats facing the United States over the next five to ten years.

onathan Bertsch is currently pursuing a master's degree in public service and. ad~inistrat~on at ~he George Bush ~ChOOI of Govemment & Public Service at Texas A&M University, concentr~tmg I~.secun~ policy .anal~s~s. He aduated from Texas Lutheran University in 2008 with a bachelor's degree In political s.clence. Th~s artie e ~as ~iginany written as a paper for the Homeland Security Policies, Strategies, and Operations class m the Spring

2009 semester at the Bush School of Government.






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