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9/11, A Decade Later -- The Homeland Security & Defense Business Council’s 9-10-11 Project

Marc Pearl

During the past year, the Homeland Security & Defense Business Council has issued a series of monthly papers encapsulating the major topics that have shaped our nation’s approach to homeland security. Thirteen monographs have highlighted industry and government’s joint effort to confront the challenges, and develop solutions to successfully focus on the historic mission to create a more prepared, responsive, resilient, safer and secure homeland. 

The 9/10/11 Project has examined how far we’ve come as a nation and how much more prepared we are a full decade since the day before the devastating attacks of 9/11. The project emanates from the perspective of those who have been providing homeland security solutions, in partnership with our public sector leaders.

Underlying homeland security issues 

Three of the monographs cover aviation security, border protection, and information sharing -- key issues that changed the way we view our security today. 

Vulnerabilities in the aviation system provided the catalyst for our current homeland security enterprise, and the monograph on aviation security looks at how we responded and changed air travel, including reinforcing cockpit doors, increasing detection efforts and deploying new technologies to mitigate threats. 

Concerns along our Southwest border regarding violence, smuggling and undocumented workers have made border security a top priority. Though the issue receives a lot of attention, reaching any semblance of consensus on the matter has been elusive. The Council’s monograph points out that in order to successfully address these problems, even greater cooperation and coordination among all levels of government -- as well as the private sector -- is necessary. 

The 9/11 Commission pointedly found that our nation’s information sharing environment (ISE) impaired the ability to prevent terrorist attacks. Industry, working with government leaders, has created solutions that allow the nation’s intelligence and law enforcement communities to distribute information more efficiently and effectively. The Council’s information-sharing monograph examines the evolution of the nation’s ISE as well as industry’s contributions. 

Bringing light to new, pressing issues 

Cybersecurity, biometrics and privacy monographs pointed to the exponential growth of these issues since 9/11. 

The Stuxnet virus made headlines as a ground-breaking piece of malware -- showing that as the complexity of information systems increases, so do the threats. The complexity and sophistication of cyber threats demand even greater cooperation between industry and government. Everyone has a stake in the safety of information networks, and everyone must do their part to ensure the integrity of cyberspace.   

The need to quickly and accurately identify a person seeking access to critical facilities and networks has increased dramatically over the past decade. The Council issued a monograph on the private sector innovations that exist within the field of biometrics.   

While industry innovations and security screening measures instituted by government have served to better protect the nation, the deployment of advanced technologies have also highlighted the complicated relationship between privacy and security. Our country’s desire to balance security and privacy has prompted debate, led to new legislation and caused many people to re-examine how they value privacy and security. The Council’s monograph on privacy looks at this relationship and identifies how industry and government must work together to maintain a proper balance. 

Preparing for all-hazard events

Preparedness and resiliency extend to all manner of natural catastrophes and man-made disasters, and the Council’s monograph on preparedness examines how far the public and private sectors have come to improve efforts to address all hazards. In order to achieve a greater level of preparedness and resilience, our nation -- at all levels and among all sectors -- needs to actively foster greater, more transparent public-private partnerships, and think more strategically about how resources and relationships can be leveraged to an even greater degree. 

Chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive (CBRNE) threats make an all-hazards approach to preparedness that much more critical. As a result of 9/11 and the anthrax attacks that followed a week later, the federal government has invested substantial time, funding and resources to make our nation safer. We are vulnerable to other biological threats, including food supply contamination and viruses such as H1N1. The Council’s monographs on biosecurity and CBRNE show that the private sector has a responsibility to help the government protect the U.S. from pandemics, bioterrorism, threats to our food supply and other risks across the CBRNE spectrum. 

Additionally, attacks on our nation’s critical infrastructure can undermine, disrupt and threaten our very way of life. The Council’s monograph on critical infrastructure protection highlights our nation’s efforts to protect our physical infrastructure and describes how the issue has become an important avenue for strengthening public-private partnerships. 

Transportation, energy and commercial networks are particularly vulnerable because of their reliance on -- and the expanse of -- U.S. waterways and mass transit systems. Because of the variety of threats to these physical networks, the Council wrote monographs on maritime and mass transit security.   

The U.S. maritime system includes more than 3,700 cargo and passenger terminals and more than 1,000 harbor channels, along thousands of miles of coastline. Providing the strongest security, combined with fast and efficient commerce, has become a priority for both industry and government. Businesses and government agencies have implemented technologies, policies and plans to prevent and detect any type of attack on our nation’s ports. 

Enhanced security for our maritime systems has received significant attention, while mass transit system security could receive more. Despite the frequency of attacks on mass transit systems abroad, security measures in the U.S. have been somewhat limited, which should be of concern, given the recent discovery of Al Qaeda plans to attack passenger trains. The Council’s monograph urges that we place more emphasis on understanding terrorist tactics, training employees to handle threats and educating the public through efforts such as the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) public awareness campaign that calls for citizens to report suspicious activities. 

The homeland security enterprise 

The Council’s current monograph, featured in Government Security News this month, describes the evolution of homeland security and the stand-up of DHS itself. The series’ final monograph will focus on the successful public-private partnerships that have served to better prepare our nation during the past decade, highlighting the work of homeland security solutions providers who support the government and its missions by developing the technologies, products and services that keep America safe. 

In the face of looming budget cuts and ever-evolving threats, the need for greater cooperation between the public and private sectors could not be more evident. While learning from the past is critical, we must also begin to look forward, utilizing all of the capabilities and resources that we can muster in order to make homeland security that much more effective, efficient and smarter in the decade ahead. The next 10 years will test our resolve, focus and ability to advance the mission to a level that empowers every citizen, while maintaining the achievement of a more secure and safer nation. 

The Council thanks our writers, graduate fellows, staff, members and friends -- as well as our graphic artist and Web designers -- who contributed to this project. We especially are grateful to our member companies that sponsored the monographs. To read our entire series and view interactive timelines on each issue, visit http://homelandcouncil.org/91011-project.html.

 

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