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Congress and Politics

Good Idea, Bad Idea – Bioterrorism and UACs

Good Idea, Bad Idea is a weekly recap of the brilliant and stupid things America’s homeland security community does every day, because sarcasm is good for the soul. This week, a cat catches the tongue of OHA’s Dr. Kathy Brinsfield and Sen. Chuck Schumer gets a paper cut.

Congress Heal Thyself – New Voices Convey an Old Message

A full page Wall Street Journal ad last week, signed by 61 former elected and administration officials, including all three previous DHS Secretaries, added a number of new voices to the almost decade-old message that Congress needs to “fix” the overlapping committee structure morass it created to oversee homeland security issues.

Rep. Jim Oberstar – Good Friend, Great American

A couple of Fridays ago, I was scheduled to have a call with former U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar. I was shocked to learn the next morning that he had passed away in his sleep. I will always remember this about Jim Oberstar: whenever a change to our aviation system was proposed, the lens he would use to examine it was, we have the safest, most secure system in the world, and we need to keep it that way.

Security Debrief to the Rescue – Advice for DHS in the Years Ahead

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.

DHS Secretary Johnson’s First Time Before House Homeland Security Committee

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.

Announcing the First Chris Battle Homeland Security Colloquium

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.

Border Surveillance is Necessary But at What Price?

There are a host of questions Congress ought to be asking about DHS’ use of Predator unmanned aerial vehicles to provide border surveillance. Congressional staff should know how the Predator’s cost stacks up against other alternative means of surveillance. Perhaps the problem is that decisions on what platform to use for border surveillance are not being made on the basis of risk-reward or cost-benefit.

CBP Ditches Predator in the Pacific Ocean

News reports are trickling out about a decision by a Customs and Border Patrol Predator operator to send a multi-million dollar unmanned aerial vehicle into the Pacific Ocean when it became clear it could not make it back to its home base. This incident demands serious questions from Congress about the future of CBP’s Predator drone use.

Congressional DHS Oversight is Overkill

Former DHS Secretary Tom Ridge testified before the House Homeland Security Committee about the many leadership vacancies at DHS and Congress’ overlapping, uncoordinated legislative oversight. His testimony is absolutely right.

DHS Nominee Johnson Shy of Expertise in Key Areas

The Honorable Jeh Johnson has been nominated to replace the long departed Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Janet Napolitano. Strangely, President Obama has portrayed Johnson as a highly qualified candidate. The President seems to be the only one who is impressed. There are a couple of major holes in Johnson’s resume.