During his formative years, Founding Father Ben Franklin is reputed to have said, “out of adversity comes opportunity.” From a homeland security standpoint, we saw this parable in operation over the past week.
DHS and the Administration lost an opportunity to have completed the appointment of permanent leadership for TSA; the post has now been vacant for one year. Next, Congress took the homeland security and intelligence community to task for failing in their mission of information sharing and analysis with respect to the attempted bombing of Northwest Flight 253 on Christmas day.
Later in the week, DHS Secretary Napolitano traveled to Europe to meet with colleagues in Spain and to engage with the International Air Transport Association, IATA and their membership. What came of the meetings in Spain and later with IATA in Geneva may well prove to be the most proactive opportunity for aviation security since 9/11. It appears that IATA, in conjunction with the CEOs of 20 international airlines, has agreed to enter into global public-private collaboration to strengthen security. This is an epoch event and a solid-gold opportunity to seize an initiative long over due.
Bringing together industry experts on operations and security with the USG is the Holy Grail of homeland security. To not fall back into the abyss of adversity, it is imperative to establish a non-political public-private partnership that manages this information sharing and analysis operation. I recommend forming an independent body reporting to the Office of the Secretary, DHS, comprised of experienced experts from industry and government, as well as from our international colleagues. This council will become the nexus for data sharing and a single point of contact between government and the aviation industry.
I applaud the Secretary for taking this opportunity to move forward. We cannot relive the past, but we can learn from it. The global terrorist network has clearly demonstrated that they have every intention of continuing to attack the aviation industry. We now have an opportunity to leverage a collaborative effort to fight back. It takes networks to fight a network.