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An Integrated Approach to Homeland Security

In an interdependent global environment, there are no longer bright lines that separate the foreign from the domestic or the public from the private. National security and homeland security overlap.

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In an interdependent global environment, there are no longer bright lines that separate the foreign from the domestic or the public from the private. National security and homeland security overlap. The soldier in Afghanistan is trying to locate and defeat the next terrorist plot, but so is the cop in New York City. Our strategy is self-defeating if we are adding forces on one front while subtracting forces on the other. Likewise, the safety and security of the global food supply rest on robust and responsible action by both governments and private corporations; what government calls food safety, the private sector calls product assurance.

Integrated structures at the federal level are critical to our security. At the White House, this means integrating the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council and their respective staffs. The White House must lead the interagency effort with more effective planning and action by all cabinet departments, from traditional security players such as Defense, State, Justice, and the intelligence community to newer actors in this realm such as Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Congress must also do its part by improving and streamlining oversight.

Federal agencies, state and local governments, and the private sector must all build stronger relationships with one another. The federal government, particularly DHS, must provide better information and analysis to state-run fusion centers in real time. Particularly important during the current economic crisis is that the federal government must provide substantial support to state and local authorities so that critical capabilities—police, fire, medical, emergency management, public health—that have improved in recent years can be sustained.

DHS must also continue to improve its cooperation with the private sector. In critical areas where the risk is most significant, federal regulation of private markets is appropriate. Transportation and nuclear and chemical security are perfect examples. In other areas that are more dynamic, the federal government must set broad national standards, but allow the private sector to find innovative ways to achieve them. The government doesn’t need to tell corporations like Wal-Mart what to do. But if the government and Wal-Mart have an effective and trusting relationship, they will manage any system disruption regardless of the cause in ways that reduce the economic impact and promote rapid recovery.

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