Friday, July 25, 2008

House Homeland Security Committee Hearings – 7-28-08

The House Homeland Security Committee released their hearing schedule for next week. Nothing directly dealing with Chemical Facility Security, but there are two hearing that may have an oblique, long-term impact. Both of them are sub-committee hearings that will be held on Wednesday, July 30th.


Future of Al Qaeda


The Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment is holding a hearing on the future of Al Qaeda and the implications for Homeland Security. This is a topic that should be reviewed periodically to ensure that we focus on the present and the future, not the past.


There are two witnesses listed for this hearing:


  • Peter Bergen, Senior Fellow, New America Foundation
  • Lawrence Wright, Fellow, NYU Center on Law and Security

Anyone responsible for anti-terrorist security planning at chemical facilities should at least read the published remarks of these two witnesses after the hearing next week. We certainly won’t expect tactical level intelligence, but this would fall under the heading of ‘Know Your Enemy’. Testimony like this is usually fairly short and easy to read; a good summary document.


Homeland Security Quadrennial Review


One of the many tasks facing the incoming administration next year will be the conduct of the first Quadrennial Review of the Department of Homeland Security. This is patterned after the same review conducted at DOD. It will allow the new administration to put their stamp on the future development of the department.


This hearing will be conducted by the Subcommittee on Management, Investigations, and Oversight. They are currently showing three witnesses:


  • Alan Cohn, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy (Strategic Plans), Department of Homeland Security
  • Christine E. Wormuth, Senior Fellow, Center for Strategic & International Studies
  • Major General Michael Sumrall, Assistant to the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff for National Guard Matters

General Sumrall’s appearance is kind of interesting. The National Guard is an organization undergoing its own redevelopment. The large number of deployments of National Guard Units in support of military missions in Iraq and Afghanistan along with a variety of homeland security missions (guarding the border, bridges and nuclear power plants) has stretched that organization well beyond its pre-9/11 character. It will be interesting to hear Gen. Sumrall’s views on the future of Homeland Security.

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