Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Broken DHS? Placing Blame and Finding Remedies

Posted by K.E. White on January 31, 2008

NPR explores whether or not the Department of Homeland Security is effectively protecting America from terrorist threats.

The article highlights Randy Larson’s new book Our Own Worst Enemy. Larsen argues that the agency’s dirty bomb approach should shift from ‘defensive’ to ‘preventive’:

The main way Homeland Security protects a city like Baltimore from nuclear weapons is by checking cargo containers at the port. Larsen thinks that focus is all wrong.

“The issue must be on preventing terrorists from getting their hands on nuclear materials. That’s not about X-raying and doing radiological scans of containers,” Larsen said.

Larsen’s recent book, Our Own Worst Enemy, bemoans what he sees as a lack of common sense when it comes to homeland security. He thinks the government spends too much on “guns, guards and gates” and not enough on intelligence and nuclear nonproliferation, which might be more effective.

NPR’s Pam Fessler also talks to Stephen Flynn and James Jay Carafano of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Heritage Institute, respectively.

But it seems the real culprit may not be DHS, but rather the United States Congress:

More than 80 committees and subcommittees have some jurisdiction over his agency. He says lawmakers have little incentive to look at the big picture.

“We’re serving so many masters with so many inconsistent positions that it’s very hard to do our job,” Chertoff says.

In fact, almost everyone interviewed for this series cited as a major problem the failure of Congress to consolidate its oversight of Homeland Security. It’s the one recommendation of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission that lawmakers chose to ignore.

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