Homeland Security Experts Expect Disaster or Attack Within Next 4 Years
by Jim Kouri, CPP
Book Hill Partners and the Homeland Defense Journal released the results of a survey of 122 homeland security experts on priorities for the next administration in protecting the American people and homeland.
The results of the survey -- including the fact that 83 percent expect a disaster/terrorist attack -- were released at a Homeland Defense Journal-Book Hill Partners briefing held at the National Press Club on Thursday.
Some the its findings mirror the results of a poll by the National Association of Chiefs of Police which revealed that almost 87 percent of our nation's police commanders and security directors expect a catastrophic terrorist incident within the continental United States (2005 NACOP Poll).
"The purpose of the survey is to help set the priorities for homeland security as the next president and the next Congress take office," said Don Dickson, publisher of the Journal.
"This will be the first time that any administration other than the Bush administration has taken charge of the Department of Homeland Security and its important responsibilities. As a result, this transition presents unique challenges," Dixon added.
"While the economy and Iraq are dominating the headlines and the campaign at this moment, we cannot lose sight of the critical importance of homeland security. Historically, al Qaeda and other terrorist groups have exhibited a tendency to strike around election and transition years. It is vital that the next administration - be it President Obama or President McCain - be ready to defend our nation from the moment the oath of office is taken," said Rob Housman, a partner with Book Hill Partners.
The survey results reflect the views of 122 homeland security professionals, of which 36 percent had ten or more years and 32 percent had five or more years experience in the field. Respondents came principally from private sector homeland security professionals, federal, state and local homeland security officials, and the military.
Key findings of the survey include:
-- Over 83 percent of experts surveyed expected a major disaster of some kind in the United States within the next four years, within the term of the next president.
-- Roughly 58 percent of respondents said that the most probable scenario for a major disaster was a natural disaster. More surprisingly almost 22 percent of experts said that the most probable scenario for a major disaster was a terrorist attack with a weapon of mass destruction (chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear specifically).
-- Almost 72 percent of respondents expect major changes if Sen. Obama is the next president. In contrast, over 80 percent of respondents believed that homeland security policies under a McCain administration would be largely unchanged from those under the Bush administration.
-- More than half of respondents (54 percent) said DHS should be maintained but reorganized; roughly 30 percent said the agency should be unchanged; and almost 15 percent said the agency should be split up.
-- The next administration's top four homeland security priorities should be border security, emergency response, development of medical counter-measures to weapons of mass destruction, and port security.
-- Respondents said the most important expertise and experience for the next secretary of DHS are: managerial experience; military experience; and critical infrastructure experience. Respondents also placed a priority on intelligence and state-level homeland security experience.
"The real value of this survey is the breadth and depth of expertise represented in the results," Dickson remarked.
"We believe that this is the first such survey of homeland security experts, and it certainly is the first one looking at the direction for homeland security under the nextadministration," Housman said.
"We hope that the results will inform and guide the policies of the next administration and Congress," Housman added.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.