As a new DHS Secretary takes the helm, Security Debrief contributors came together for the First Chris Battle Homeland Security Colloquium. In the spirit of the late Chris Battle’s vision for debate and discussion on pressing homeland security matters, contributors weighed a series of important questions about DHS’ future.
The House Homeland Security Committee did something yesterday it has not done in the past several years, for anyone: it came out in full force for DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson’s maiden appearance before the committee. It was a positive performance by the Secretary, who showed himself adept at answering questions, even as his lawyer’s instincts kept him from falling into political traps.
On Thursday, February 27, 2014, Security Debrief and Catalyst Partners will host the First Annual Chris Battle Homeland Security Colloquium. Security Debrief’s expert contributors will come together to discuss and debate the current state of U.S. homeland security, DHS, and the threats and priorities the country will face in the year ahead.
Security is high for the Sochi Olympics, but the TSA’s ban on toothpaste and other gels on flights to Russia is not so much a deterrent as it is an insurance policy against blame should something happen. Meanwhile, metal detectors will be in use at Major League Baseball stadiums come 2015. For both Sochi and U.S. baseball, I am worried we are creating bigger problems down the road in terms of public cynicism and policies that actually increase risk.
As 2014 begins, it is tempting to comment on trends and things one hopes will happen, or do not happen. A few things have occurred that have me thinking overtime on the latter – such as hesitancy to attend the Olympics given terrorism fears or TSA looking for marijuana from Colorado.
Paul Anthony Ciancia, the 23-year-old who shot TSA agents at LAX, made his first court appearance this month. Since the shooting, news outlets have reported on the attack itself, on Ciancia’s mental state and on methods for improving security. Yet, in the extensive coverage of the shooter’s actions, there is one word that is conspicuously and erroneously absent: terrorist.
For all the talk and clichés about a global market and a global economy, the talk and clichés have morphed into truth. How do we stack up in the United States? Not so good. We are hampered by our out-of-date approach to customs and immigration. Unless we make some changes, the United States will remain on the sidelines of a global hub system. And if you are not a hub, you are a spoke.
The TSO represents not only our last, but also our most vulnerable, line of defense against attacks on the aviation system. The shooting at LAX last week was an attack on the most public faces of our efforts to protect the homeland. Before the collective policy-making community proposes additional changes or federal mandates, they should lead the effort to change the focus and tenor by which they level criticism against TSA.
Just after 9 AM on Friday, November 1, a gunman walked up to a screening checkpoint at Los Angeles International Airport and opened fire. The attack by Jason Anthony Ciancia, a 23-year-old New Jersey native living in Los Angeles, resulted in the first on-the-job death of a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer. The utility of attacking a critical point in the aviation system is enormous, and Ciancia’s attack is evidence of why securing the aviation domain is so important.
Five years ago, I could have written that CBP was the worst agency in the federal government, almost hopeless. It was not responsive to stakeholders, seemed resistant to doing business new ways, and was being starved of resources by Congress. Fortunately, recent leadership at CBP has been much more open to new thinking. Old policies and staffing models remain a frustration, but the attitude has changed for the better.