Yesterday, the House Homeland Security Committee held the first in what will likely be a series of hearings on the Boston Marathon bombing. Other congressional committees will want to hold separate (and probably duplicative) hearings on the tragic event as well. As I (and others) have written before, in an era when all federal agencies are being forced to cut programs and spending, it would behoove Congress to lead by example and consolidate its oversight, per the 9/11 Commission’s advice offered nearly a decade ago.
Congress and Politics
May 10th, 2013 - by David Olive
May 10th, 2013 - by Jeffrey Sural
This week, the House Homeland Security Committee held its hearing examining the Boston Marathon bombing. Parts of the testimony at the hearing focused on the motives of the bombers and the current belief that the brothers Tsarnaev were radicalized Islamists. Congressman Peter King has focus on this issue, for which he has been regularly criticized. Has he been vindicated?
The Center for International Policy recently released a report entitled “Drones Over the Homeland,” which provides an excellent analysis of CBP’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicle program from inception to the present. It adds significantly to the debate Congress should be having about the wisdom of using UAVs for surveillance. I hope congressional appropriators will take note.
When I attend various meetings around DC on cyber issues, I often see confusion and challenge – good people trying to resolve confusing issues, wrestling with individual – as well as the country’s – social and political demons. Cyber is a new kind of land. It has no physical dimension. There are no borders or boundaries, and everyone seems to be a part of something that no one can control. People in DC are bit lost right now, and there are some distinct cultural reasons why.
March 18th, 2013 - by Jeffrey Sural
The Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) most recent decision regarding the prohibited items list has drawn the ire of some in the Congress, as well as the flying public. Critics argue any vulnerability is unacceptable, but from TSA’s risk-based perspective, there are other aviation stakeholders who shoulder the safety responsibility. Recognizing that most people, even those with knives, do not run around stabbing others, from whom does non-explosive threat largely stem? In short, drunks on planes.
March 7th, 2013 - by David Olive
This past Monday, Politico hosted a Playbook breakfast conversation with the three individuals who have served as DHS Secretary since its inception – Tom Ridge, Michael Chertoff and Janet Napolitano. Former Governor Ridge who addressed why America needs a cabinet-level agency to address homeland security issues. While I am a firm believer that America needs a Department of Homeland Security, I am also a believer in continuous improvement, and in that respect, congressional oversight should rightfully be focused on asking questions about DHS as it starts its second decade.
The Jainists of India have a parable. It is the story about the blind men feeling the elephant – each one feels something different. Watching the Federal government roll out a cyber “strategy” over the past couple of week has felt just that way. The cyber-elephant is a vast and ever-expanding body, and Washington is mucking around this way because of two basic problems. In its simplistic form, the first challenge is definitional and the second challenge is doctrinal.
March 1st, 2013 - by Justin Hienz
The sequester has nearly arrived with little sign officials in Washington will reach an agreement to amend the billions in spending cuts. While both sides of the aisle have speculated on how these cuts will impact the U.S. economy, TSA Administrator John Pistole recently testified about how the sequester will impact airport security, echoing a warning from DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano that security lines at airports will grow longer post-sequester. Yet, the length of airport security lines are a result of TSA’s screening methodology, not its budget and staff.
February 20th, 2013 - by L. Vance Taylor
National security leaders like Leon Panetta, Janet Napolitano and even President Obama have been telling members of Congress and the country that unless immediate action is taken, the United States will suffer cyber attacks guaranteed to shut down our power, communication, financial and water infrastructure sectors. Well, I’m not buying it. The politics of fear is a D.C. classic.
Almost as soon as the 2012 presidential election wrapped up, pundits and reporters began speculating about likely candidates for the White House in 2016. Among the names tossed around inside and outside the Beltway is Janet Napolitano, the current DHS Secretary. Sec. Napolitano may at first glance seem an unlikely choice for the presidency, but in fact, her past work makes her a strong candidate for the highest office in the land.
In the old adage, “the only constant is change,” the word “change” could very easily be substituted with: “Congressional excoriation of TSA.” As the 112th Congress drew to a close, I imagine some at the Transportation Security Administration – those who have been there since the beginning – anticipated an end. Not of the Mayan variety, but of the Mica variety. Congressman John Mica may have finished his term as Chairman of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, but sorry TSA, this may only be the beginning again.
January 2nd, 2013 - by Rich Cooper
Rep. Peter King (R-NY) is mad as hell. Joining him in his anger are the congressional delegations from New York and New Jersey, who are enraged at the last minute maneuvering by House Speaker John Boehner to not act upon a $27 billion dollar aid package for victims of Hurricane Sandy. New York and New Jersey members had been shepherding the package through legislative processes for weeks, but when it came time to vote, some of the legislators in the nation’s capitol literally walked away. It’s no wonder Congress has the dismal approval rating it does.
December 10th, 2012 - by Ronald Marks
There are few spots left around the world without Internet access, and few people who cannot reach out to access it. It has been relatively free of state interference and American dominated. However, the Net has had mounting problems, and 2012 has marked the end of the old Internet as we knew it. The days of an American-controlled freewheeling Internet with unlimited access and relatively cost-free access are over.
December 5th, 2012 - by Guest Contributor
By Michael Beland
With Election Day behind us, Washington is engaging in the Potomac Two-Step that is the Interregnum—with one foot dancing to the tune of the 112th Congress and the other to the potential activities of the 113th. There are areas, especially in the homeland security arena, where the Executive and Legislative Branches should plan to work together to make significant progress for the country in the next Congress.
October 22nd, 2012 - by Stephen Heifetz
U.S. government agencies often seek more power. They generally do that by asking Congress for a new law conferring additional authority or by simply asserting the power based on old law. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, has made a recent bold play that follows the second path. CFIUS now has asserted that it is a full-scale regulator, with the power to issue orders on its own.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his congressional colleagues’ proposed Cyber Security Act of 2012 is the wrong solution for America’s cybersecurity problem. The split is not between Democrats and Republicans; it is between competing views of the way to better security. The main reason these efforts are wrong is that they are based on a regulatory model. This sort of solution is a 19th-century answer for a 21st-century problem.
October 1st, 2012 - by Ronald Marks
After twenty years of rapid growth, we now stand with an unregulated and uncontrolled Internet vulnerable to attack and disruption from anywhere and by anyone on the planet. We have minced around the edges of doing something about this essential part of our daily lives for years. The time has come to declare reality. It is a public utility. It affects all Americans lives. It needs to be regulated by the government.
September 11th, 2012 - by David Olive
The Heritage Foundation’s Jessica Zuckerman posted an Issue Brief on the need for reform of Congressional DHS oversight jurisdiction. Zuckerman calls the morass of overlapping, uncoordinated and unnecessarily expensive oversight the result of “Politics Over Security.” She’s right – and Congress ought to be ashamed that it has allowed this situation to continue for as long as it has.
The 2012 presidential campaigns are heating up, with taxes and economic growth dominating the debate. One issue that is just as important but somewhat less present in the ongoing discussion is homeland security. Here is a piece I wrote for Defense Media Network about how homeland security fits into the race for the presidency.
August 17th, 2012 - by Steven Bucci
The Smart Grid is the way of the future in electricity management, but it also presents cybersecurity challenges. A recent report on Smart Grid Cyber Security from the Government Accountability Office cautioned against using regulation to bolster security. There is a “default setting” on businesses and government entities that seems to drive them toward regulatory solutions. It is a harmful tendency in our modern world, and it is not the right approach for improving U.S. cybersecurity.