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.

Good Idea: Rep. Susan Brooks led a hearing for the Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications regarding how to address bioterrorism in the aftermath of BioWatch Gen3’s cancellation.

Bad Idea: During the hearing, Office of Health Affairs Administrator Dr. Kathy Brinsfield refused (without explanation) to answer Rep. Brooks’ question about who was leading the White House effort to complete the Implementation Plan for the National Strategy for BioSurveillance, which is currently more than two years behind the scheduled release date. Really Dr. Brinsfield? Just didn’t like the question? It is really surprising that someone who was detailed to work on the White House NSS staff on the Implementation Plan would be so ashamed of her colleague that she wouldn’t even say her name. But don’t worry. I’m sure OHA has a long and bright future ahead of it. It takes a very special agency to tie itself in knots over “process” and then refuse to answer questions.


Good Idea: DHS Sec. Jeh Johnson appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday to discuss how the United States will address the dramatic influx of unaccompanied children flooding across the border from Mexico and Central America. While there were plenty of partisan comments on both sides of the isle, there were some important points of agreement, such as the need for a public relations campaign to explain to the world that UACs do not get a free pass to residency.

Bad Idea: During the hearing, Sen. Chuck Schumer asked Sec. Johnson whether DHS could provide “premium staffing on [Buffalo Bills] game days” so as to shorten the lines of Canadians coming across the border to see the game. Um, weren’t we just talking about a humanitarian crisis of tens of thousands of children coming to America? Is your question really appropriate in this setting, Sen. Schumer? That’s like interrupting a brain surgeon to ask for a bandaid for a papercut. That’s like approaching your CO during a firefight to ask for help making your bed. That’s like…the most irrelevant question given the seriousness of the hearing. Well done, Senator. Applause all around.