Democracy and Homeland Security: Strategies, Controversies, and Impact

Part II. Keynote Speeches

Democracy and Homeland Security: Strategies, Controversies, and Impact

Admiral Loy

Keynote speech, April 26, 2004

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 Kent State is part of the United States, which is part of the world, good for a geography lesson there. Perhaps most correctly and most prophetically, and I quote again, “we are part of this world and anything that happens to the world can happen to us.” I am afraid that that’s the cold reality of this post-9/11 security environment in which we live. Finding our way through that environment is the twenty-first century’s challenge for our generation, or maybe our generations, plural. Not unlike navigating the cold war was the work of the fifty years leading up to 1989. The simple reality is hard work for over fifty years, maybe our first hint of the truly awesome scope of our collective challenge. Debating how best to do that, grappling with bright ideas, and forging a sound direction as a result seems fundamental. Therefore, I’d like to do just three simple things in the next twenty minutes or so. First, introduce some context and to offer some scope of the problem. Second, to offer some factual review of the vision and direction that Secretary Ridge has for this newest cabinet level agency, the Department of Homeland Security. Finally, to use a specific example—or two—to display that our intentions are balanced and enormously conscious of the requirement to recognize that America truly requires better security, but never at the expense of liberty.

In many ways, democracy and homeland security in the United States are synonymous. After all, what is worth protecting if not the principles of democracy on which this country has existed for some 227 years? What would our democracy be worth if we could not, or chose not, to provide protection and security for our citizens? The short answer, in my opinion, is obvious: for us to remain America in concept we must have both a thriving, learning democracy and the security apparatus necessary for the United States to continue as the world’s greatest home for freedom and all the ideas this word represents. Thankfully, our founding fathers had virtually the same conversation in the eighteenth century and came to the same conclusion. Benjamin Franklin famously stated, “he who would give up even a moment of liberty to purchase temporary safety deserves neither.” Franklin and others were also smart enough to write these important concepts down, articulating for eternity the essential tenets of democracy. The constitution lays out plainly this purpose by stating, “in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” Let me repeat the last phrase: “secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” It was an obligation for them in their time, as it is for us in our time and it’s our obligation to carry that forward for generations to come. Homeland security, as the president so rightly notes, was perhaps a passing phrase five years ago, perhaps a cottage industry three years ago, but is a phrase on virtually everyone’s lips today. Today, the department with the same name, Homeland Security (DHS), must secure democracy from those who wish the concept, and us the citizens, harm. On our first anniversary in early March, we at the Department of Homeland Security published a strategic plan. It offers this vision and it’s very simple: “preserving our freedoms, protecting America . . . we secure our homeland.” Notice what’s first and what follows. First, is preserving our freedoms, what follows is protecting America to secure our homeland.

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 on September 11, 2001. That morning, we passed into a far more menacing frontier of warfare, with a potential for far more horrifying consequences. International terrorism had become the new totalitarian threat. Fact number one: this threat is very real. I spend the first forty-five minutes or so of every day of my life, reviewing the intelligence stream going by. The day that follows has become simply the next chance to learn about and try to understand this new enemy’s reasoning and intent. Learning is a constant dimension of a dynamic challenge, and that is what we are at the very, very beginning of.

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 America, Bali, Baghdad, Istanbul, or Madrid. Each terrorist attack is a vivid reminder of our emotions of September 11, 2001. Nothing, including the passage of time, should allow these emotions to be dulled.

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 Ireland, or tribal terrorism in Africa or even the Middle East. It is something very different and something, I believe, that is much more sinister.

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 University of Southern California will assess the level of risk associated with terrorist scenarios as well as their potential economic consequences. Others about to be announced will concentrate on our food supply or our water supply. These are priceless requirements often taken for granted, but now on the target menu for the terrorists. What do we do about it? How do we include the world of academia in helping us forge our way ahead? With a new enemy, there is always much to learn. Terrorism has no one flag, no border, no president, nothing but a deeply held hatred and a desire to see our country and our citizens harmed.

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 America are their objectives. Further, the very openness of our society is perceived by them as our greatest weakness. It may be, in fact, the truth. They also understand the importance of the economic underpinnings to our democracy and to our quality of life. They are smart, thoughtful, and capable, as well as seemingly without any moral foundation, at least as we understand morality. In response, immediately following 9/11 we understood that to secure our country we would have to become increasingly adaptable, rapidly innovative, and decisively responsive. In other words, we would have to fight this new twenty-first-century enemy in some new twenty-first-century way that we were literally learning day by day. What that means, we continue to unravel, and that’s okay. We work at it daily; we work at it very hard, and as we do, the picture gets clearer and clearer.

One aspect of the picture that has become increasingly clear over the past month in the wake of the train bombings in Madrid is the relentless requirement to hold on to a sense of urgency. In Spain, terrorists struck innocent people only days before the free and democratic elections in that country. Some would offer that political ends were achieved by terrorists’ behavior. Here in America, we will soon enter a season that is rich with symbolic opportunities for the terrorists to try to shake our will. Americans will dedicate the World War II memorial in Washington, will host the International Monetary Fund’s meetings in Washington and the G8 summit in Georgia, celebrate Independence Day, travel to Athens for the Olympics, hold political conventions in Boston and New York, followed, of course, by holding our own elections, celebrating the traditional holidays of the winter, and holding the inaugural in 2005. With so many symbolic gatherings in the next few months, we plan to accelerate our focus on critical infrastructure protection. These events are all targets of opportunity for the terrorists. Our challenge is to translate each one into an opportunity to accelerate and focus our work.

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 America to know and support the longer-term plan. What is this new responsibility that this new secretary and this new department have? What is the game plan? Secretary Ridge chose our first anniversary last month to mark his interpretation of the president’s direction to DHS and the national strategy for homeland security. This is the second topic I wanted to discuss. The plan includes seven enunciated goals. Please listen carefully to these notions, these concepts of what we think our work should be all about. The seven goals are termed awareness, prevention, protection, response, recovery, service, and organizational excellence. Let me repeat them, awareness, prevention, protection, response, recovery, service, and organizational excellence. Each one of those goals deserves its own speech and I’ll be happy to offer an elaboration of any of these during Q & A. These concepts describe our organizational vision and direction for the Department of Homeland Security workforce and for America to rally behind. The old paradigm that used to run these kinds of things when all we were worried about inside America were natural disasters was a notion of prevention, response, and consequence management. We don’t believe those are adequate to the task of the new 9/11 security environment. This new vision starts with a blueprint for this upcoming year, the second year of this department.

Secretary Ridge has identified several key priorities for the department, each with specific actions that we are committed to achieving by the first of March 2005. First, we will improve information sharing and infrastructure protection by improving partnerships both horizontally, around the federal government, and vertically, with state and local governments, as well as with the private sector; and by hardening protections around our nation’s most vital assets. In days past, threats to the United States were dealt with in a 100 percent fashion and we eliminated the threat shortly thereafter. I would offer that the kind of threats we are dealing with today only offer us opportunities to get close to that 100 percent, because today’s notion is to always recognize that the enemy is gaming us in the same fashion that we are attempting to protect ourselves from them.               

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 New York City and even in northern Virginia at the Pentagon site. Fire department radios couldn’t transmit or receive calls from police department radios, and the couplings that attach hoses to hydrants were sometimes not compatible, even between nearby neighborhoods. Those are unsatisfactory circumstances. We must work together to establish truly interpretable communications, equipment, and training systems to give first responders the tools to do their jobs in a way that replaces the outdated, outmoded relics of the past with an innovative and integrated system of response.

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 United States of America. It is currently at 114 different airports, it is currently at fifteen different seaports, and it will be at our fifty busiest land crossings by the end of fiscal year 04, and in all of the rest by fiscal year 05. The second, FAST Lanes, stands for Free and Secure Trade Lanes. They allow the trucks and trains that form our commerce with both Canada and Mexico to flow freely because the owners have established themselves with the right information up front to facilitate their passage across the border. It’s almost counterintuitive. We are not necessarily looking for the needle in the haystack. We are basically trying to get most of the haystack off of the needle so we can concentrate the resources that we have to find that needle with much less hay on it. The third program, called the Container Security Initiative, is all about our intention to try to push our borders out so that the first time something is encountered it’s not inside the ports of the United States. Today as I speak, it is in sixteen different countries, soon to be twenty-four. There are literally U.S. custom agents working with their colleagues in foreign countries in those ports that ship most of those containers to this country watching what goes into the containers and then watching the containers go on ships bound for the United States. The Container Security Initiative will be improved, will be refined, and will be expanded over this next year.

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 Portland, Oregon, turned up evidence about a local man who was planning attacks on Jewish schools and synagogues and on American troops overseas. Because of the surveillance tools enacted by the USA PATRIOT Act, the FBI learned that this man was part of a seven-man terrorist cell. In this case, the USA PATRIOT Act gave local and federal law enforcement officials the capacity to better understand the intelligence they received and to disrupt a potentially dangerous terrorist cell before it was able to hurt innocent Americans. Many of the important provisions in the USA PATRIOT Act are set to expire next year. The president has begun urging Congress to renew the USA PATRIOT Act so that intelligence agencies and law enforcement will continue to have the tools they need to stop terrorists before they strike and to make America more secure. Further, the USA PATRIOT Act must also guarantee our liberties.

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 United States is and continues to be the world’s greatest home for freedom and for those who seek the blessings of liberty. It is important that such work be done in Washington, D.C. It’s important that such work be done at Kent State University.

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 13 September 2001. And in my briefcase, I have kept for many years a copy of the constitution that almost naturally opens to the Bill of Rights, because that’s where I have turned so often. Both the picture and the Constitution remind me daily of how important this work is for America’s future. One of my favorite heroes from our civil war is General Joshua Chamberlain, volunteer with the 21st Maine, a hero at the left of the Union line on the second terrible day at Gettysburg. He said once, “we know not the future or can we plan for it much, but we can determine and know what manner of men we will be whenever and wherever the hour strikes.” On September 11, 2001, the hour struck for our generation. What manner of men and women are we? Our country calls us to renew commitment to the concepts of freedom and liberty in Washington, D.C., and across this great land. Franklin speaks loudly for each of us every day: “He who would give up even a moment’s liberty for temporary safety deserves neither.” There’s no need to give up anything when all the voices are heard. Raise your voice; raise your voice until it’s heard. That’s what democracy is all about and that’s why it is worth protecting. Thank you very much. I look forward to your questions.

1. The Stater is Kent State University’s daily newspaper.