New homeland security strategy lacks focus

By Freedom New Mexico

In a world of common sense, there would be little reason for the administration to announce an update of its homeland security “strategy,” in a document that reads more like hope and aspiration than actual strategy, just 15 months before the current president leaves office.

In the world of Washington bureaucracy, however, the reasons look transparent. Expand the scope of homeland security goals and aspirations so that the sprawling department — cobbled together from existing agencies and a bureaucratic nightmare that defies rational management — can continue to expand and spend more money.

The original homeland security document, promulgated in July 2002, focused on the threat of terrorism, especially transnational terrorism planned overseas. The new document emphasizes recurring events such as natural disasters, along with the threat of domestic radicalism that could lead to terrorist incidents.

One can understand the political impulse. The federal response to Hurricane Katrina two years ago was incredibly incompetent and wasteful — and money is still being wasted in ways that don’t help people. Putting natural disasters front-and-center in a new homeland security document is like a promise to do better next time.

However, a hurricane, while destructive enough, is not a national security issue. The new document not only conflates national security and natural disaster, it increases federal and executive-branch power and authority, downgrading the kind of local and voluntary efforts that are almost always more effective.

Creating the Department of Homeland Security was a dubious proposition in the first place, but if there must be such a department it should be focused on threats emanating from foreign terrorists and hostile states. The new “strategy” widens the scope of federal responsibility, making it less focused rather than more focused. It’s a formula for unaccountable bureaucratic sprawl.