Quadrennial Homeland Security Review

The second Quadrennial Homeland Security Review has been published by the Department of Homeland Security. At 100+ pages, I'm not going to be reading it, but I am curious if there's anything interesting in it.

Posted on June 23, 2014 at 1:12 PM • 30 Comments

Comments

Brent LongboroughJune 23, 2014 1:36 PM

Tried to read it, but got bored very quickly.

Maybe that's part of the strategy!

Reminds me of a quote from Wittgenstein:

"If a lion were able to speak, we would not understand him."

Substitute the animal of your choice...

Mike the goatJune 23, 2014 1:44 PM

Brent: ditto. I know that 'boring your enemy' is a legitimate tactic. Hell, lawyers have been doing this by handing over large amounts of irrelevant material for the other side to trawl through.

Mark GJune 23, 2014 1:46 PM

Maybe what's left out is most interesting. Only a single mention of the "Constitution of the U.S." It's within the mission of the FBI.

jmvJune 23, 2014 1:53 PM

Nothing of value in most sections I read. It reads like an incredibly long Homeland Security brochure you pick up in their lobby.

ArtJune 23, 2014 2:35 PM

Presumably it says 'Woe is us, our security is irrevocably ruined by Snowden's revelations. Run for the hills!'

AnuraJune 23, 2014 2:36 PM

I don't think I'll bother trying to read it. Internal reviews are always going to try and put the agency in a positive light, since if they say "This agency is completely useless" then they are all out of a job. Half of their job seems to be to recommend products that various lobbyists promote, the other half is to give an appearence of "We are doing something to combat terrorism" - in reality, I think all we have managed to do is label more and more of the population as potential terrorists, probably making it even more difficult to track real threats.

DBJune 23, 2014 5:33 PM

ALL of the population, both citizen and non-citizen, worldwide, are "potential" terrorists.... Not a single individual can ever be immune to that charge (or "potential" charge, depending on how you look at it).

DBJune 23, 2014 5:55 PM

@Anura

Exactly! :)

My point is, obviously, that if we are "going after" people for merely having the POTENTIAL of committing crimes, then we are going after literally everyone. You, me, everyone... repeat after me: e-v-e-r-y....o-n-e....

This is why crime fighting in a free society must be a reactive thing, not a proactive thing. You cannot prevent all crime and not turn into a totalitarian dictatorship.

Mike the goatJune 23, 2014 6:17 PM

DB: I was trying to make this argument at a dinner party a while back, and it ended in an argument. I'd rather have a regrettable crime occur than deprive everyone of their privacy and prevent it. It's just the price of admission for having a relatively free society.

Performing unconstitutional actions (warrantless surveillance, torture, etc) with the excuse that it is for 'national security' and that we somehow shouldn't care because they are protecting our 'way of life' is inane, and these actions actually threaten our 'way of life' much more than a few terrorists ever could.

whprattJune 23, 2014 6:31 PM

Correction:
You cannot prevent all crime. Period. That a government goes totalitarian attempting the impossible just compounds a tragedy of errors.

AnuraJune 23, 2014 6:32 PM

"You cannot prevent all crime and not turn into a totalitarian dictatorship."

I don't think you can prevent all crime in a totalitarian dictatorship.

JoeJune 23, 2014 7:29 PM

It says nothing. It reads like an annual report for the Girl Scouts. "We are protecting you... all 1000 federal agencies." But I especially liked the part about the commitment to human rights... even as the administration justifies drone attacks on civilians. Utter Bu44$h1+.

DBJune 23, 2014 8:27 PM

Well yes, obviously, when I said "prevent all crime" I really implied "[try to] prevent all crime [and fail]"... I was just making a different point about it...

Also, for those NSA-defenders here who respond "but we're not trying to prevent all crime, just all terrorism"... yep... "terrorism" is a certain "class" of crime, the way we're using that word... you cannot prevent all crime, and you cannot prevent all of a certain supposedly "more serious" class of crime, by turning into a totalitarian dictatorship. And even if you thought you could... you're NOT saving a free society by doing it, you're destroying a free society--which was my original point.

AnuraJune 23, 2014 9:31 PM

You can prevent all crime and live in a society that is even more free than the one you live in today. All you have to do is get rid of law.

Okay, yes, now I'm being deliberately difficult.

mozJune 24, 2014 1:40 AM

Simple suggestion:

if your name easily maps to an ascii alphabetic character set:
   base=102
   big_del = mod 10 ( position in alphabet of first char of your name)
   small_del = mod 10 ( position in alphabet of second char of your name)
   read_pos = base - ( big_del * 10 ) - small_del
   read_until_bored_from(read_pos)

else:
page = generate a decent random number between 4 and 103
read_until_bored_from(read_pos)

Thus mod(10, m =13) -> 3 and mod (10, o = 15 ) -> 5

Moz starts reading from 102 - 30 - 5 = page 67

Read in detail at least two

mozJune 24, 2014 1:47 AM

On page 67 we learn

* the Border Patrol has doubled in 10 yrs; 20k people - lots of happy voters!!
* "unmanned aerial surveillance" can cover the entire width of the Southern USA!

On page 68 we learn

* 520,000 companies have access to a database of non citizens with work permits (E-Verify)

OohJune 24, 2014 5:16 AM

@moz: Wait, what??? 520,000 companies have access to personal data of several thousand people although most of them surely don't need it?

Wesley ParishJune 24, 2014 5:22 AM

@Brent Longborough

*Eunuchs Unleashed - The lawyer-fanatics of the SCO Emperor. They were men from an educational background of such boredom that it killed six out of thirteen persons before the age of eleven. Their legal training emphasized ruthlessness and a near-suicidal disregard for personal integrity. They were taught from infancy to use stupidity as a standard weapon, weakening opponents with boredom.

(With profuse apologies to Frank Herbert ... :)

jbmartin6June 24, 2014 7:31 AM

"I don't think you can prevent all crime in a totalitarian dictatorship." In this case, the totalitarian dictatorship IS the crime.

StanJune 24, 2014 8:09 AM

They might as well use one of those automatic paper generators (like mathgen or scigen). Eugene wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Come to think of it, I wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

fajensenJune 24, 2014 10:26 AM

@Anura:

I don't think you can prevent all crime in a totalitarian dictatorship.

Crime is necessary to stabilise the a totalitarian dictatorship - basically, "they" need to have something on everybody so that there is always a ready reservoir of subversives, terrorists and counter-revolutionaries to make examples off.

By having crimes - even stupid ones like hanging a picture higher than The Great Leader - enough people will say: "They brought this on themselves", "They should have just followed the instructions of the officer" and there is hope that they will not be next and when they are arrested they can buy their way out of some beating by ratting out their friends for something.

If the secret police just disappeared people purely at random - even though this is effectively what "they" do with sufficiently stupid laws - then everybody would realise that they were in it together and there would be effective opposition.

SJJune 24, 2014 1:26 PM

As an aside:

Why is this a quadrennial review?

I can see why longer-term reviews might be necessary, but there is an interesting correspondence between the pace of the review and the national elections.

Notably, the review doesn't come out in a Presidential election year. But if a particular candidate wants to tout/disparage the contents of the review in public, he/she has two years to do so...

Am I cynical for suspecting that Presidents don't want reviews of this type to come annually? Or every two years?

IncredulousJune 24, 2014 3:35 PM

Re: Preventing crime and/or terrorism

Crime is necessary for the evolution of a society. Teaching African-Americans to read, helping slaves escape, African-Americans using many public conveniences, homosexuality and other sexualities, pot smoking, vociferous protest, and many more things were once serious crimes and undoubtedly would still be if they could have been successfully repressed.

Crime is important feedback that certain populations are alienated or under-served. Terrorism is important feedback that actions of power are unwelcome.

I am not justifying all crime, and certainly not killing of innocent parties, nor even any particular crime. I don't want my stuff stolen or my body harmed, nor that of other people. But an all-powerful government will inevitably steal and harm people. There has to be a balance of power between government and the governed. There has to be a certain amount of crime to keep the tension between what is and what could be so that can blossom into a better what will be tomorrow.

The process of the world is evolution. Nothing evolves without evolutionary pressures like crime, dissent, and a certain amount of disorder. Of course, too much of these is also pernicious.

Balance. Our minds get lost in black or white thinking while the reality of the world remains grey.

name.withheld.for.obvious.reasonsJune 24, 2014 4:23 PM

@ fajensen

By having crimes - even stupid ones like hanging a picture higher than The Great Leader
Funny...
Have a suggestion, change the "Great Leader" to "Fearless Leader" and throw in Moose and Squirrel...so right. --Boris Badinoff

SpencerJuly 2, 2014 6:26 PM

Mike the goat: Per your argument with your family:

There is this notion in the intelligence community that if some information proves useful (in enforcing the law) then the end automatically justifies the means. Now let's look at Riley v. California...

Conservative and liberal Supreme Court justices unanimously rebutted the "end justifies the means" argument. In Riley v. California the felon's phone (which was searched without a warrant) actually provided law enforcement with crucial evidence in an unsolved murder. Nonetheless, the Supreme Court ruled that a warrant was necessary. And, no, the FISA rubber-stamped warrants simply don't count. The FISA court is a joke -- even its own (secret) opinions are selectively allowed to stand.

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