President Bush's newly released national strategy for homeland
security is an ambitious outline for vast change in many aspects of
The plan, which Mr. Bush unveiled Tuesday, follows on the heels
of a White House proposal to create a new Department of Homeland
But its development began months ago - long before the
administration decided to try to add a security Cabinet seat - and
it is essentially a broad antiterror vision that could profoundly
alter everything from the nation's commercial by-ways to its
military, intelligence, and scientific communities.
"This is what we've been looking for," says Juliette Kayyem, who
runs the domestic preparedness program at Harvard University's
Kennedy School of Government. Although the specifics aren't new, she
says, "What is new is a sense of prioritizing and crystallizing
It's unlikely to be implemented as is. The debate in Congress
over these issues is in many ways just beginning.
But "it becomes the starting point" for debate about how to deal
with terrorism - as well as for election campaigns and politics, for
federal budgeting, and many other issues, says Dave McIntyre of the
Anser Institute of Homeland Security.
Among the strategy's proposed changes: * Bush hopes to harness
the research-and-development power of private industry and
government to develop as-yet undreamed of technologies to help in
such critical tasks as remote detection of smuggled biological and
chemical weapons. For instance, he would create a homeland-security
national laboratory akin to the Los Alamos lab, which pioneered
America's first nuclear bomb.
* Bush wants to have more flexibility to move government
personnel from agency to agency as security needs dictate - a change
which, in essence, could lessen the oversight power of Congress.
* The plan calls for a long-term review of the laws that prevent
the military from engaging in domestic law enforcement.
* In aiming to get various sections of government to talk to each
other, he aims to demolish many bureaucratic barriers at the
federal, state, and local levels. He would start simple - by getting
all first responders on the same communications network.
* In international cooperation - not often seen as a Bush
strength - the plan lays out a rationale for engagement with other
nations. A major element of US foreign policy will now be helping
other countries fight terrorism, getting them to combat passport
fraud, and more.
In a broader sense, the document becomes a standard for Bush
himself to live up to - and be judged against. It will likely impact
election campaigns, as opponents measure Bush's ability to meet the
plan's goals. "He expects to be judged by whether or not he is able
to carry out his own strategy," says Mr. McIntyre.
It's a tall - and often controversial - order. …