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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

In Brief: Redefining Homeland Security

Note: this is a response to a PSU course prompt requesting a redefinition of homeland security.


As defined in the Homeland Security Council’s 2007 National Strategy for Homeland Security, homeland security is “a concerted national effort to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce America’s vulnerability to terrorism, and minimize the damage and recover from attacks that do occur."  This definition is explicitly and exclusively tied to terrorism, although the Strategy notes “that effective preparation for catastrophic natural disasters and man-made disasters, while not homeland security per se, can nevertheless increase the security of the Homeland.” Such a limited, non-inclusive definition is easily identified as out-dated in the modern environment, particularly when non-terrorist issues and incidents are enumerated in various and evolving definitions of homeland security. Moreover, when the Executive Branch -- in President Barack Obama -- has merged the national and homeland security strategies, while incorporating homeland security into the more generalized concept of national security, such a limited definition of homeland security is not only outdated and unhelpful, but also restrictive and limiting.

Therefore, a new, unified definition of homeland security must be developed that incorporates all aspects of the modern threat environment. A simple approach to this definition may, in fact, be best: homeland security is the domestic theatre of concern, with an interest in deterring, detecting, preventing, mitigating, and responding to sizeable incidents that harm the nation, its people, and its fabric from within its own borders. By defining homeland security in such a fashion, the differences between homeland and national security are made clear, particularly in that homeland security regards events strictly within American borders; so, too, is the non-terrorist aspect of homeland security made clear. Terrorism sourced abroad that engages with the American people in their own country becomes a homeland security concern as soon as the borders are crossed; however, other incidents, such as natural disasters or industrial accidents, are also part of homeland security, since they inherently create negative, damaging results in a domestic context. Not all incidents pertaining to homeland security -- the security of the nation and its people at home -- can be deterred, detected, or prevented, but they all can be mitigated and responded to in ways that optimize the outcomes. Homeland security does not have a narrow focus on a range of subjects, in the way that national security often does; rather, homeland security broadly surveys the many different ways in which various actors, human and natural, may harm domestic tranquility and the ways in which such harm can be lessened.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Publishing Note: On the Intelligence Community's Information Sharing Issue

My latest paper, "Better Integrating American Intelligence Agencies and Products: Revising a Recurring Solution for a Recurring Problem", is now available on  It addresses the use of a cloud-based platform for the intelligence community as a possible solution to the IC's perennial problems.

In the United States, the intelligence community (IC) is invariably tasked with the impossible: ensuring the full and unwavering protection of all aspects of American life from myriad threats and threat actors that are both known and unknown. Although the activities and accomplishments of the IC are not typically discussed or questioned, the failure to mitigate or fully prevent an incident inevitably results in high-level, public investigations and inquiries. When such investigations find that the IC had sufficient evidence, if piecemeal and spread unevenly across agencies, to take action, there is often an outcry from both within and without the government, demanding solutions to ensure such an incident never again occurs. Since the very inception of the American intelligence community in the 1940s, the solution has always been the same: intelligence agencies need to better coordinate and share information with each other, while eschewing institutional conflicts over jurisdiction, pride, funding, and other comparatively trivial matters. However, if the solution prescribed and the problem, itself, both remain, unchanged, after more than half a century, then the question remains whether the prescription is, in fact, a true solution.

Brady, K. (2015). Better Integrating American Intelligence Agencies and Products: Revising a Recurring Solution for a Recurring Problem. Retrieved from

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Theorizing a Federal Law Enforcement and Intelligence Community Reorganization

Note:  this is a response to a PSU course prompt requesting brief outlines for new Congressional acts designed to improve homeland security functions.


The modern homeland and national security environment of America requires, and has for decades, improved efficacy in both federal law enforcement and the intelligence community. Thirteen years after the events of September 11, 2001, only small achievements have been made in either area, despite legislation, demands, and an acknowledged need for unification, information sharing, and modernization. Marginal improvements and continual promises do nothing but place additional American lives at increased risk. Therefore, two separate acts should be passed by the Congress: the Federal Law Enforcement Reorganization and Improvement Act of 2015 (FLERIA) and the National Intelligence Community Efficacy and Reform Act of 2015 (NICER Act).

FLERIA would consolidate all civilian federal law enforcement agencies into two distinct organizations with two distinct missions: Homeland Security Law Enforcement (HSLE, a Department of Homeland Security component) and National Law Enforcement (NLE, a Department of Justice component). The primary mission of HSLE would be homeland security and all functions this includes, with the intent to prevent, intercept, and mitigate threats rather than pursue and prosecute them afterward. NLE would primarily focus on more traditional law enforcement activities, such as the investigation and prosecution of federal crimes. All pre-existing federal law enforcement agencies would have all resources divided between the two new agencies, as appropriate, and both HSLE and NLE would have directorates specifically dedicated to subject-areas, such as HSLE Directorate of Terror Activities, HSLE Directorate of Border Protection, NLE Directorate of Child Abuse and Trafficking, and NLE Directorate of Organized Crime. Both agencies would be required, from inception, to share pertinent information with each other and this would be facilitated by a centralized, compartmentalized database of all information used by each agency. FLERIA would not affect law enforcement agencies within the Department of Defense.

The NICER Act would consolidate all civilian intelligence agencies and all non-combat-related Department of Defense (DOD) intelligence agencies into two distinct organizations with two distinct missions: Homeland Security Intelligence Agency (HSIA, a Department of Homeland Security component) and National Security Intelligence Agency (NSIA, a Department of State component). The primary mission of HSIA would be all intelligence activities within the borders of the United States, including activities involving only one party within American borders and the remaining in a foreign theater, and coordinating with both HSLE and NLE as the intelligence vehicle of each law enforcement agency. The primary mission of NSIA would be all foreign intelligence activities. All pre-existing intelligence agencies would have all resources divided between the new agencies, as appropriate, and both intelligence agencies would be divided into four directorates specifically dedicated to subject-areas: analysis, collections, technology, and languages. Neither agency would have field activities beyond the theatre of intelligence, as HSIA would require HSLE and NLE for preventative action or arrests, and NSIA would require DOD resources for non-intelligence mission execution. Furthermore, the NICER Act would merge all DOD branch-specific intelligence agencies -- including personnel, technologies, missions, and budgets -- and miscellaneous DOD intelligence agencies with the pre-existing Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), which would remain the sole military intelligence agency.

Through these two acts, FLERIA and NICER, the federal law enforcement and intelligence communities can be streamlined and coordinated in all of the ways required to produce more effective, timely results for a national environment that demands more than the present system can provide. Although each act would be extraordinarily controversial and would receive pushback from the affected communities, as well as those against more centralized governmental control, these steps are necessary. A decentralized, federal nation of states and an array of governmental abilities has worked for two and a half centuries, but a new era requires new actions. The enemies -- both states and non-states -- are often more organized, more focused, and more dedicated than the United States’ ability to centrally coordinate against them. This must change.