The Committee on Governmental Affairs
United States Senate
Wednesday, June 26, 2002
ROLES FOR THE WHITE HOUSE AND THE NEW DEPARTMENT
Ashton B. Carter
Co-Director, Preventive Defense Project
John F. Kennedy School of Government
Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee on Governmental Affairs, thank you for inviting me to appear before you today. My written statement addresses the overall architecture of the federal government for homeland security, including the respective roles of the White House and the proposed new cabinet department. My oral comments will focus on several new types of “intelligence” – which I mean very generally to denote information and analysis bearing upon the successful accomplishment of the mission of homeland security over time – that the new Department of Homeland Security could usefully devise and then practice. These are modes of intelligence that the CIA and FBI are unlikely to practice well by themselves, but to which they can furnish important inputs.
Still homeless after 9/11. Dealing with homeland security is quintessentially a managerial matter, and it is consequently not surprising that Washington has fumbled it so far. Washington is best at tackling policy problems, not managerial problems. In 2000, I made a judgment in Foreign Affairs that I see no reason to amend as yet, two years later and nine months after the disaster of 9/11:
Today some of the most critical security missions – counterterrorism, combating WMD proliferation, homeland defense (including protection against computer network attacks and biological weapons), information warfare, peacekeeping, civil reconstruction, and conflict prevention (or “preventive defense”) – are accomplished in an ad-hoc fashion by unwieldy combinations of departments and agencies designed a half-century ago for a different world. Too many of these missions are institutionally “homeless”: nowhere are the authority, resources, and accountability brought together in sharp managerial focus. Although it is widely agreed that the United States needs the means to accomplish these homeless missions (even if debate continues over exactly when and where it should perform them), the U.S. government is not well structured for these jobs.
Many of the homeless missions, although apparently unrelated, have a key element in common: they cut across different cabinet departments and require the coordinated actions of several agencies. This is hardly surprising, since the problems they address do not respect neat distinctions between foreign and domestic threats, military and economic remedies, or states of war and states of peace. Such distinctions are outdated and merely reflect what the world was like in the era after World War II, when the American national security establishment was founded. It is due to such distinctions than no one agency is automatically in charge of these missions or responsible for developing and directing the capabilities they require.
The nation is still struggling with the organization and management of the “homeless mission” of homeland security. For eight months we have had an Office of Homeland Security (OHS) in the White House, and for some days a proposed Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Congress has long ago proposed an architecture containing both these ingredients. I would agree that both are needed to make a home for this mission, but each has a distinctive role to play. The main points made below are:
· Creation of a DHS in no way supplants the paramount need for a strong White House OHS.
· The key White House OHS role is that of architect, devising an investment program to build new homeland defense capabilities, not “coordinating” the inadequate capabilities that already exist.
· Establishment of a DHS will not bring order to the border, transportation, and emergency management functions unless the reorganization is aggressively implemented.
· DHS should not just bring order and focus to existing functions, but should accomplish new functions, especially development and practice of new types of “intelligence” and new technology and techniques for homeland security.
· Several new types of “intelligence” – red teaming, intelligence of means, countersurveillance, and risk assessment – that should be practiced by the department will be the focus of my oral statement.
THE ROLE OF THE OFFICE OF HOMELAND SECURITY
Coordinating the old versus building the new. The announcement of an intention to create a cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security should in no way obscure the paramount need for a strong White House hand over all aspects of homeland security. It remains unresolved how this function will be exercised.
Governor Tom Ridge’s charter for the Office of Homeland Security uses the word “coordinate” 29 times to describe what its authors imagined was the essence of his managerial task. Much of the commentary on OHS’s slow start has focused on the strength of Ridge’s power to coordinate and the supposed fallacy that a White House staffer, however close to the President, can effectively do so.
A larger fallacy lies in the idea that “coordination” describes what the nation in fact needs. The nation’s capabilities for homeland security, even optimally coordinated, are simply not adequate to cope with 21st century terrorism. What is needed is far less a coordinator of what exists than an architect of the capabilities we need to build. All the managerial models advanced and tried over the past decade for counterterrorism – coordinator, czar, lead agency – have made this mistake. The result is a “come as you are party” in which each agency shows up with whatever capabilities its previous history happens to have bequeathed to it. Tom Ridge needs to position himself as the architect of new capabilities. Only then will his OHS add value and leave a legacy.
As architect, Ridge would first identify needed capabilities and then assign resources to the various agencies to build those capabilities. Where no agency naturally forms the right base to build on, the architect would recommend new agencies. The result, schematically, would be a multi-agency, multi-year investment and management plan that can be arrayed on a spreadsheet as in Figure 1. (Even though the Congress budgets annually, a multi-year program plan is a common and essential tool in procurement management.)
Figure 1 is what we should expect from Tom Ridge. He should create it in collaboration with OMB, take it to the president for approval, and ensure that the president directs his cabinet officers to prepare their budget submissions in accordance with the plan. The Congress has the last word, of course, but experience demonstrates that Congress tends to make only marginal adjustments to a coherent program plan that has presidential backing.
Alas, the money gets appropriated whether there is an architect and plan or not. The FY03 budget provides a clear example, where $38 billion is apportioned largely on the basis of agency and congressional initiatives rather than any overall investment plan emanating from the White House.
Equipping the Office of Homeland Security to do the job. Producing the investment plan represented in Figure 1 is no small job. It cannot conceivably be done by a small White House staff, however talented and focused. To be capable of producing a plan of the requisite scope and complexity, OHS will need an organic analytical and planning capability like RAND provided to the Air Force in the 1950s, the MITRE Corporation provided to the Sage continental air defense system, and the Aerospace Corporation has provided to the Air Force and NRO for space. Without such a new not-for-profit institutional founding, OHS cannot do the job.
A reasonable approach to the task of investment planning is provided in the forthcoming report of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Science and Technology for Countering Terrorism. It examines the vulnerabilities associated with each of the following infrastructures:
o Human, animal, and agricultural health system;
o Toxic/explosive materials and food/water storage, production, and distribution systems;
o Nuclear and radiological hazards;
o Information Technology (IT): Communication, Data, and Identification systems;
o Borders, Transportation and Distribution systems;
o Energy Systems;
o Physical Infrastructure, Cities, Buildings, and Important Events;
o Linked Vulnerabilities, Simulation, and Modeling. This category covers the important interrelationship of different infrastructures which depend upon one another. For example, the energy distribution system depends on an IT system which controls power generation, distribution, and switching. Simulation and modeling are used to analyze and predict the technical response of society’s complex and interrelated infrastructures to terrorist attack.
o People: This category refers to quality of life and morale, as opposed to physical health and safety, and deserves separate consideration.
Washington spending versus state and local spending: the theory of fiscal federalism. Many of the investments needed for homeland security that the architect will identify must be made in state and local governments. After all, terrorist incidents affect first and foremost a particular locality in which the target is located, and the police, fire, emergency management, and other public officials there will be the first on the line. It is not practical for each locality to develop its own comprehensive response to the possibility of terrorism or to engineer protective systems, let alone to develop new tactics, techniques, and technology. Creating common solutions to local homeland security challenges is therefore a logical task of the federal government. The federal role in creating common solutions and providing them (with partial funding) to state and local authorities, or to collective bodies such as associations of governors, fire chiefs, and police chiefs, will be a key task for the architect to sort out. In federalism terms, homeland security will end up somewhere in between education, where everyone talks about it and does research on it at the federal level but the real action is local, and national defense, where all the action is at the federal level.
Spending on homeland security by the private sector. The architect also needs to take account of the fact that the critical societal infrastructures that are the target for the terrorist are largely owned and operated by the private sector, not government. Much of the needed investment and adaptation to protect these infrastructures will have to be made by private companies. The funds for these investments will need to come from some mixture of funds provided by the federal government and funds provided by the companies themselves. The private sector’s own investments will arise in several ways, either because they are mandated by law or regulation, or because incentives are provided (e.g., tax relief), or because insurance companies require them, or because competitive business practices recommend them. The experience of the “energy crisis” in the 1970s, when similarly large and pervasive investments were seen as needed, provides a useful caution here: the key will be consultation between the architect and private parties. This is another key role for the White House architect.
THE ROLE OF A DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
Three Provisos. A DHS can be a constructive addition to the federal architecture, but only subject to three provisos.
A Department of Homeland Security is an appropriate ingredient or output of the architect’s plan, but not a substitute for the architect. While the proposed DHS contains much, it also omits much – the CIA, DOD, and FBI, in particular. An architect is needed for all the agencies involved. The first proviso is that the founding of the DHS not be viewed as supplanting the OHS.
This second proviso is that the administration successfully complete the reorganization of the border, transportation, and emergency management agencies that are supposed to go into DHS, improving their management and focusing them on their new priority. Most reorganizations in the federal government are only partially completed. Agency heads, after first fighting the merger, will next aim to send their weakest performers to the new agency and keep their very best. Temporary inconveniences associated with reorganization – moving people into new office buildings, for instance – will be argued as detracting from day-to-day pursuit of the urgent mission of homeland defense. Government unions, strong in some of the agencies proposed as part of the new DHS, will scrutinize personnel policies. Congress will need to disband influential committees with established relationships to constituencies. All this is necessary but difficult. A reorganization done halfway could make things worse.
The third proviso is that the DHS do truly new things and not merely gather together old functions under one roof. The new department’s most important contributions could be in intelligence analysis and science and technology. Indeed, two of the four proposed undersecretary positions in DHS are assigned these functions; the other two undersecretary positions are in charge of aggregating existing border/transportation and emergency management functions, respectively.
Developing and Practicing Alternative Conceptions of “Intelligence”. There is considerable debate in Washington over whether the United States could plausibly have “connected the dots” leading to 9/11. Useful insights have emerged from this debate. One insight is the danger of continuing to separate foreign and domestic intelligence related to terrorism, the institutional reflection of which is the separation of the national security and law enforcement functions. Steps are underway to bridge this historical chasm. Another insight, stressed by the Attorney General and FBI Director, is the need to encourage and reward FBI agents to prevent terror crimes from happening in the first place rather than “solving” them after they have occurred.
However, these important insights, and most of the debate over intelligence, conceive of intelligence as perpetrator-centered and event-focused: locating individuals associated with terrorism and uncovering their plots. Debate centers on whether those collecting such intelligence, chiefly the CIA and FBI, are sharing the information. There are, however, other concepts of “intelligence” of great potential importance to homeland security which, at first approximation, are not currently accomplished anywhere in the federal government. A clear and valuable role for the new DHS would be to develop and practice some of these “intelligence” techniques, among them red teaming, intelligence of means, countersurveillance, and risk assessment.
RED TEAM/BLUE TEAM. Most Americans were probably not shocked to learn on September 12 that the U.S. government did not have advance information about the dozen or so individuals residing in the country who plotted and took part in the airline suicide bombings of September 11. They probably were deeply disturbed to learn, however, that the government was as heedless of the tactic used as it was of the perpetrators. The airline security system inspected for guns and bombs, not knives; aircrews were trained to deal with hijackers who sought hostages or conveyance to Cuba, not kamikaze attack. In retrospect, a huge gap existed in the U.S. air safety system. Terrorists detected it before the security system did—and exploited it.
Marshaling Science and Technology. While the advance of science and technology (S&T) is the reason that terrorism has the potential to be catastrophic in the 21st century, S&T is also America’s critical tool for safeguarding society against that threat.
America surely has weaknesses compared to other societies when it comes to facing terrorism. Its vulnerability is connected to many of the characteristics that its people also treasure: openness and mobility, freedom and personal initiative, and an emphasis on economic efficiency that relies on complex and technologically advanced social systems. America likewise has several inherent strengths as it approaches reducing this vulnerability – its immense size and wealth, its high level of education, its political cohesion and values.
But a critical comparative advantage of this country in facing challenges has traditionally been its strength in science and technology. In traditional national security affairs, for example, S&T has long been the key to America’s preeminence. During the Cold War, the United States decided that it could not match the Soviet Union and its allies man for man, or tank for tank, in the defense of western Europe. Moreover, Warsaw Pact forces could invade from territory contiguous with western Europe, whereas U.S. forces were separated from the battlefield by an ocean. Finally, neither the United States nor its allies wished to live perpetually on a war footing like the Soviet Union. The solution to these military disadvantages was to offset them with superior U.S. technology – precision munitions, stealth aircraft, spy satellites, and so on. Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has continued to rely on S&T to give this nation an asymmetric advantage that offsets an opponent’s superior number of soldiers, favorable geographic access to the battlefield, and greater willingness to accept casualties and to impose sacrifice in the citizenry – whether Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in 1991 or Afghanistan’s Taliban in 2002.
In the effort to counter catastrophic terrorism, as in traditional military affairs, S&T can offset the vulnerabilities that unavoidably arise from America’s best characteristics of openness, freedom, and economic efficiency. In many cases, S&T provides vital alternatives to other protective measures that, were we forced to adopt them, would alter the quality of American life.
DHS therefore needs to develop a strong contract research program. Much of this program should cover entirely new technology, but it should be coordinated with ongoing research, especially that sponsored by DOD.
 “Keeping America’s Military Edge,” Foreign Affairs, January/February 2001, p.94.
Analysis and invention involves the systematic learning from incidents that do occur, studying terrorist tactics and devising countermeasures through “red team versus blue team” exercises, understanding motivations and modes of deterrence, eliminating vulnerabilities revealed through past attacks, and developing systematic plan for ongoing operations, future investment, and scientific and technological innovation.
 Laura K. Donohue, “Civil Liberties, Terrorism, and Liberal Democracy: Lessons from the United Kingdom,” BCSIA Discussion Paper 2000-05, ESDP Discussion Paper 2000-01 (Cambridge, Mass.: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and Executive Session on Domestic Preparedness, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, August 2000).