The future of homeland security

Our November edition will go to press before the election results are known (although, as always, you can see breaking news on our website,, so for this edition writers Anthony Kimery and Dennis McCafferty spoke to experts, campaign operatives and administration officials in an effort to scope out the likely forms that homeland security will take, depending on the winner.
Either winner will confront the same essential task of building homeland security and countering the threat to America. As a result, thecourses of action can differ only within relatively narrow parameters.
Another constant will be the continued existence of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). During its year and a half of existence, the department has succeeded in setting down roots sufficient to prevent its being overturned for light and transient reasons. Too much has already been invested in the department and the work of consolidation has gone too far for that to happen. It’s difficult to imagine a politician demanding a return to the fragmented and stovepiped setup of the past.
The candidates
Our concern at HSToday is not necessarily with the presidential candidates but with the candidates likely to take the helm of DHS, and in this edition we offer the names of people mentioned as possible successors to Secretary Tom Ridge, who has indicated that he’d like to step down after the election.
We think our survey of the field is as sound as anyone’s, given the nature of prophesying. Cabinet secretaries are usually selected by what in Washington is known as a BOGSAAT—a Bunch Of Guys Sitting Around A Table. We’ve already sat around that table.
One person who would be a reasonable candidate in either administration is Adm. James Loy, the current deputy secretary of homeland security. He is respected, non-partisan and one of the few people who really knows DHS. He would, however, have to overcome the Washington aversion to appointing deputies to top jobs.
No matter who is picked, however, secretary of homeland security will remain one of the biggest, most difficult and potentially most thankless jobs in Washington.
The FBI model
It has always been our belief that the first homeland security secretaries would step on all the political and bureaucratic land mines as they explored their new path. The department was too new and too hastily formed for it to be otherwise.
In this, DHS probably resembles the FBI, which in its early years was subject to cronyism and political interference until J. Edgar Hoover was appointed director in 1924. While Hoover remains a controversial figure, he did professionalize, stabilize and de-politicize FBI operations and built it into an effective, efficiently managed organization.
Secretary Ridge has done much to build DHS during his tenure. The Department will always bear the imprint of its founding secretary and this secretary brought integrity and a committed work ethic under very trying circumstances. He raised public awareness of the need for security and began the massive job of integrating its 22 agencies. To date, under his tenure, there has not been aterrorist attack on American soil.
However, it is not yet “the end of the beginning” as Winston Churchill would have said. The next secretary will have to continue the work that has only just begun of stabilizing and building the department’s management and operations.
It’s our guess that ultimately, the Department of Homeland Security will find its J. Edgar Hoover—omeone who makes a career in its ranks and brings stability and continuity to its operations. The people who will walk that career path are only just now starting out. From the time of its founding in 1908 until Hoover was appointed director, it took 16 years for the FBI to establish itself. It may take that long for the final shape of DHS to emerge.
Meanwhile, our enemies will not wait and the winner of the 2004 presidential election will have to continue to prosecute the war on terror as well as build security here at home. HST

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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