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National Security: Deeds Not Words

We can do nothing if nothing is being done.

By Michael Tanji | August 1, 2007
How to gauge if our congressional leadership is taking national security seriously? Some basic indicators:
  • They listen to as wide an array of opinions as possible and only then make objective decisions
  • They deal with security issues head-on
  • They focus on real security, not security theater
Yet in the past few days we have seen little indication that our national security is being addressed in an effective manner by national legislators:
Members of Congress who have already conducted data-free analysis about the war cannot be viewed as serious about national security. They are practicing domestic partisan politics on issues of international scope; and they claim that it is the administration that is hurting US credibility abroad.

Absent drastic reforms, politicians will always view bringing home pork as a part of their jobs, but pork is only good if you live long enough to enjoy it. Gaming the threat assessment process to feather the nests of cronies back home (who can then turn around and do the same for you) is essentially turning anything that might be good about anti-terrorism and intelligence reform legislation into a “terrorism enabling act.”

Our intelligence system is trying to evolve from the industrial into the information age. It is simultaneously trying to combat terrorists who have already mastered information technology. Preventing honest debate about the need for legal reforms necessary to combat modern terrorist tactics hinders our ability to defeat the enemy. Protecting the privacy of innocent citizens is a red herring. Listen to what the intelligence community is asking for: updated, clear guidance to go after known bad actors, not grandmothers.

Arguing about the war and related issues is both desirable and necessary, but absent a certain level of rigor and honesty such arguments serve no meaningful purpose from a security perspective. An ignorant electorate views the stubbornness of their representatives as courageous without understanding that inaction is just what our enemies are hoping for. Regardless of where we stand on the political spectrum, we should all be clamoring for legislative action in one way or another.

With the passage of time we can detect where we might have gone wrong and right our course; we can do nothing if nothing is being done.

United States of America

1 Comment

All good points, Michael. I'm also wondering if the privatization of intelligence through companies like Booz Allen Hamilton, and BlackWater's Total Intelligence Solutions, may be a plus from the perspective of a private firm's more rapid adoption of cutting edge Informatics in Intelligence gathering and analysis?