Democracy and Homeland Security: Strategies, Controversies, and Impact
Part II. Keynote Speeches
Democracy and Homeland Security: Strategies, Controversies, and Impact
Thank you, Dr. Cartwright, for the generous introduction. Let me also offer my thanks to the sponsors and organizers of this Symposium. There is no doubt in my mind and Secretary Ridge’s mind that debate, discussion, dialogue, conversation, teaching, and learning: such are the goals of these moments. We try to learn from each other, to deliver ideas, to deliver comments and attentions, perhaps directions or even a vision, and to listen carefully and attentively to commentary, to criticism, to suggestions, to support, and especially to learn. That’s what these campuses are all about. Any chance to be part of such opportunities is priceless, and I appreciate being included in this one.
I see by Friday’s daily Kent Stater1 that my challenge is to present “The
extreme opposite perspective” from David Cole, who gets that legendary chance
to go last and therefore leave the last impression with you all. Professor
Ammar went on to point out that
In many ways, democracy and homeland security in the
At the leadership level when we developed this vision along with mission statements and strategic goals, we referred time and time again to the Constitution and the conversations among the founding fathers in the eighteenth century, as best we could hear them through their writings. As you know, homeland security is not about one department and one level of government or one organization. It is not a federal concept. It is a national concept. It is a call to action, a philosophy of shared responsibility, shared accountability, and shared leadership among elected leaders at all levels, citizens, companies, and neighborhoods. When the terrorist threat is directed at an entire nation, only an entire nation working in close cooperation can expect to deter that threat. Gathering our forces to meet this challenge is an all-hands effort. Not unlike the Rosie the Riveter days of World War II, it is time for each and every one of us, as citizens and as members of those other elements, to stand up and be counted. This is why it is so great to see so many people participating in this Symposium.
I carefully reviewed the list of your panel speakers, and I know a couple of them. The academic community, I believe, has an enormously important role to play. You have to operate as commentators, as participants in policy formulation, and as incubators for future leaders who will one day be in positions deciding which way to go. You must offer novel ideas and new technologies that define our efforts in the coming years and decades. All of these things have always been part of the academic experience and to share them with a nation when times are in need has always been something that the academic community has risen to across this land.
What will that future look like? We began to understand
Lesson number one
The phrase “over there” is no longer applicable to our decision
step. Terrorism anywhere weighs heavily on the hearts of freedom-loving people
everywhere. We are keen of the threat, the shock, and the sadness that each
new attack brings—whether it is in
Lesson number two
Complacency is a dangerous thing, not only in individuals,
but in organizations as well, and even when it manifests itself in nations.
While terrorism is not a new phenomenon, we must recognize that in the twenty-first
century it is altogether different, fundamentally different. It is not the
localized terrorism of
The great forums of academia in this country offer the places
to learn, to create, to innovate, to decide, and to influence, and nothing
should allow you to step away from your responsibility or your inclination
to do so. We have opened university-based homeland security centers of excellence
that will be dedicated to preventing terrorist strikes and minimizing the
consequences of an attack. Each center will have a different research focus.
The first at the
Centers of academic excellence can help guide decision makers
and can help all of us learn about the new enemy. Perhaps never for us as
a nation has Sun Tzu been so right about the value of knowing your enemy.
Perhaps never in our historical reference of the past have we started at
a point where we needed to learn so much. Terrorists, after all, were able
to turn airplanes into missiles with an army of fewer than two dozen men
and a budget of roughly a half a million dollars. They showed that they are
adaptable, patient, and opportunistic. But they also showed that fear, catastrophic
destruction, and mass murder in
One aspect of the picture that has become increasingly clear
over the past month in the wake of the train bombings in
Lesson number three
We did not become vulnerable overnight; and it will, in fact, take this nation awhile to get ourselves protected. This is a journey, not a destination. There will never come a day when Secretary Ridge will walk into the Oval Office and say, “we put the last piece into place last night and now the nation is secure.” That will never occur. The bad guy is as much focused on what we are doing and gaining a means around it as we are with the effort we are undertaking. In order for us to accelerate and focus our work, we will increase our vigilance, we will try to mitigate our vulnerabilities more quickly, and enhance our response capabilities so that they are poised and ready today and better tomorrow. There’s a lot going on around this country already; and wherever possible, we will ratchet it up over the course of these next months.
Against that background, including this commitment to responsible
acceleration of effort over these next eight months, it’s important for
Secretary Ridge has identified several key priorities for
the department, each with specific actions that we are committed to achieving
Second, many of us know that part of the tragedy of September
11 was that equipment simply didn’t work across jurisdictions and disciplines.
Firefighters couldn’t talk to police officers, who couldn’t talk to emergency
medical technicians, who in turn couldn’t talk to their home bases in
Also, we will broaden and enhance the security measures
at our borders and at our ports. These portals of our nation to the rest
of the world both coming and going have attracted an enormous amount of attention
in our first year. Our challenge is to secure those portals at the same time
we actually facilitate the free flow of legitimate goods and people back
and forth to the world economy. I will offer you three programs as quick
examples that you may have already encountered in your travels. The first
is US-VISIT, which is a means by which we secure the entry and exit of visitors
to our country. For twenty-five years or more, the federal government made
significant efforts to establish an entry and exit system. All of them failed.
In this last year, we have established a secure entry/exit system for the
Just as important as local governments and private companies are individual citizens, and so over the next year homeland security will focus its efforts on raising the baseline level of preparedness across the nation through new programs associated with ready for business or ready for kids. Our goal is that nearly half of all Americans in some form or combination be better prepared by the end of fiscal 2004. That’s by preparing family ready kits and emergency plans, by volunteering to aid in disaster planning, by engaging in first aid classes, and training exercises to help someone in a life-threatening situation. In addition, we will be working to improve the service we provide to immigrants to our country, to visitors to our country, and continue our quest to build the Department of Homeland Security as a model cabinet agency for the twenty-first century.
As hard as all of this work has been, the opportunity that has come along with it comes along perhaps once in several generations. With a white sheet of paper, we should not be bound by all those administrative systems of the past that have periled this federal government bureaucracy over time. Rather, we should be designing and building the very best way to do business, including the notion of outsourcing to the private sector those functions that are best done in the private sector.
Fourth and last example of a program is our technology initiative. We operate every day with the knowledge that our enemies are gaining and changing based on how we change and what we do. We secure one vulnerability, and they work to uncover another. And this is why a robust search for new technology and new tools is crucial to winning this new kind of war. Investments in such things are very much what we are about. The work we do at Homeland Security and the partnership with the private sector, with the national laboratories, universities, and research centers helps us push that scientific envelope and drive the development of high technology to combat the weapons of high consequence. That’s our vision and focused attention for our second year. By the way, we are enormously proud of a lot of things we got done in our first year.
Now, the third point in my speech deals with our challenges to the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. All of the additional security capabilities that we are building have not and will not ever come at the expense of our individual liberties. The department strategic plan, which I mentioned earlier, contains powerful statements of our deep commitment to the protection of civil liberties. We are building this commitment into the culture and the very fabric of this new organization. The first of our guiding principles is to protect civil rights and civil liberties and that flows directly from our vision statement that includes preserving our freedoms. In addition, we are the only federal agency that has assigned two senior advisors who report directly to the cabinet secretary. Together with their staff, they focus on helping our leadership shape policy in ways that enhance rather than detract from the personal liberties of all persons protected by our laws. The first is our chief privacy officer and the second is our director for civil rights and civil liberties. These senior advisors are both experts in their respective fields and offer direct counsel to the secretary on virtually every policy issue that goes by. This department has an absolute commitment to the notion that we can dramatically improve our security envelope without abridging freedom and liberty along the way.
I will give you two examples. Example one: I have personally been working to develop a security tool called the Computer-Assisted Passenger Pre-screening System II or CAPPS II as you may have heard or read about it. The purpose of this program is to minimize threats to passengers and aviation security by determining which passengers should undergo additional scrutiny prior to boarding the aircraft. Quite simply, we want to prevent terrorists from ever again boarding a plane with the intention of harming Americans. CAPPS II would conduct risk assessments of passengers before they get onto an airplane using a minimum number of data elements provided voluntarily by the passenger: items such as name, address, phone number, or date of birth. CAPPS II will generate an authentication score that provides us with the indication that passengers seeking to board are actually who they claim to be. Additionally, using watch lists and government databases containing information on known terrorists, CAPPS II will generate a risk score that will determine whether a passenger should receive additional security review before being allowed to board a flight. CAPPS II will provide the information that we can act on to make airline travel safer for everyone. However, when dealing with critical personal information, privacy must be of the utmost concern. It is not enough that CAPPS II makes us more secure . . . it must also protect our liberty. When the Department of Transportation first published notice of the intent to create the CAPPS II database, many people were concerned that it walked too close to the edge of Franklin’s warning about giving up liberty in the name of temporary safety. This is the reason the Department of Homeland Security published a follow-up privacy notice that detailed the strict privacy protocol that would be followed in the development of this critical security tool.
There are basically seven areas of concern to privacy advocates. I have personally sat down with them for weekends at a time, listening to them tell me what their concerns are about such programs as they are developed. In this instance, they’re concerned about whether there is a clear statement of limited purpose to this project as it is being developed. Another concern is about maintenance of records. How long does one have to hold on to private data on traveling citizens, or can you get rid of it very quickly in hours or days? I’ve assured them that the commitment has been made to do so in a matter of days. Access is another concern. Is there a clearly specified and improved means by which we as citizens can access the system and understand what it’s doing and how we might be impacted? Oversight is yet another concern. Is there adequate congressional oversight or even independent third-party oversight to how this system is going to work? Redress is also a concern, and whether you feel you have been wronged by the system. Do you have a simple means of redress? What has been established is a very strong and robust passenger advocacy position inside this project to do exactly that. What is this project’s scope? Is it just about terrorism? Is it about criminal felons? Or is it about deadbeat dads? And the notion is to hold it specifically to those things that we are concerned about, with respect to terrorism. And lastly, how does the public influence the development of this project? And of course, the public comment period to offer privacy notices has been going on since last August.
CAPPS II has evolved into a system that will respect our fundamental right to privacy and provide the additional security we, as citizens, demand. Most importantly, it will give us an excellent tool to help prevent terrorist attacks in areas that continue to hold the fascination of the terrorist. That’s invariably part of what I see every morning. After all, that is what we are all here for in the first place. It is not enough to theorize about the future or to simply resign ourselves to remembering the past. We must take ahold of the present and take action to keep our country and our democracy safe from terrorists.
Another example is President Bush and the Congress’s enactment
of the USA PATRIOT Act. The USA PATRIOT Act brought down the artificial walls
separating law enforcement and intelligence officers. It made major changes
to laws that enable the federal government to better track terrorists, disrupt
them, seize their assets, and share information with partners at the state
and local level. These changes have already paid off. Recently, police in
The Department of Homeland Security has just issued new procedures to govern the way immigrants are arrested as part of a national security investigation. The current rules were forged long before the Department of Homeland Security even existed. But we now ensure that those arrested will have timely notice of the charges against them, adequate conditions while they are confined, and improved access to the legal system. These new procedures also keep attorneys from arguing for blanket policies, for closed hearings, or of denying bond. These are real efforts to protect immigrants and they have been widely praised in the advocacy community, from the ACLU to the leading Arab American organizations. In each of these cases, CAPPS II, the USA PATRIOT Act, and, I might add, many others, we are striving for the same level of acceptance from those most concerned with protecting the liberty all Americans enjoy and expect.
Thomas Paine once said, “Those who expect to reap the blessings
of freedom must undergo the fatigues of supporting it.” The nexus of civil
liberties and homeland security brings up sensitive issues because so much
is at stake and because Americans have always been willing to undergo the
fatigues of protecting our democracy. Today we must be willing to do whatever
is necessary to protect our homeland, but never at the expense of those liberties
and freedoms that we cherish as a nation. The freedom that we inherited from
Thomas Paine’s generation (Franklin and Jefferson and others) brings about
an obligation on our part to pass it on to our children and our grandchildren.
In many ways, academic settings in universities provide the best forum to
do precisely that. We protect it while we’re on watch so it can in turn be
enjoyed by those we love the most and by those we know will be in charge
next time around. Our performance during these times will be evaluated by
those children and by those grandchildren. It is imperative that we each
give our best to ensure that the
May 4th brings memories to the surface at this great institution
about what occurred here. It is a timeless challenge to remember, lest we
repeat. Each such anniversary should be a spiritual renewal, a resurgence
of commitment that right be served. That a sense of urgency be retained in
our work. In my office, I keep a photograph that I took from a Coast Guard
helicopter over Ground Zero on
1. The Stater is Kent State University’s daily newspaper.