Tuesday, November 18, 2008
The next Secretary of DHS?
The Obama Administration is beginning to take shape and an interesting name has come up for Secretary of Homeland Security, Senator Chuck Hagel from Nebraska. Senator Hagel was one of four Senate Republicans, along with two Senate Democrats, who felt the US Patriot Act lacked sufficient safeguards to insure civil liberties weren’t violated. I’ve never been a big fan of the US Patriot mainly because it was crafted without much debate. Senator Hagel in 2005 felt the renewal for the US Patriot Act was slanted too heavily in the government's favor when it comes to letting targeted people challenge national security letters and special subpoenas that give the FBI substantial latitude in deciding what records should be surrendered (source: Washington Post). The US Patriot Act was crafted and passed in the days immediately following 9-11. The rapid passage did not allow time to for Congress and Senate to fully exam the bill before it became law. In 2005, it wasn’t popular time to be a Republican and question one of the major pieces of legislation to come from the Bush Administration. He hails from Nebraska which is about close to the center of the Continental US as you can get. Hopefully this means he will look at homeland security and emergency management issues with more of an eye towards the heartland versus typical New York City/Washington DC model under the Bush Administration. I hope the Obama Administration will move away from the terrorist-centric focus of DHS currently and truly embrace an all-hazards approach. I’ve written before about my concerns with focusing exclusively on terrorism to the detriment of other disasters and emergencies. Recent articles have supported the lack of preparedness by most citizens which is caused in part because we have fortunately not seen a terrorist on US soil since 9-11. Changing any bureaucracy though takes time and all bureaucracies are at their hearts all about self-preservation. DHS is no exception, however being a newer bureaucracy it hasn’t had as much time to build a network of defenses. If Senator Hagel does become the new Secretary for Homeland Security he may be able to redirect its focus to have better relevance to the rest of the United States.