Tom Kean, former governor of New Jersey, and Lee Hamilton, a former congressman from Indiana, are co-chairs of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Homeland Security Project. Both are members of PSA’s Advisory Board. Kean was chairman and Hamilton was vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission. This article originally appeared in The Plain Dealer.
U.S. must adapt, prepare for future terrorist attacks
It’s hard to believe that more than 11 years have passed since the devastating terrorist strike to our homeland on 9/11. Overnight, homeland security became a top priority. Yet, until last month’s Boston Marathon bombings, the issue of terrorism had faded from the front pages. The terrorist threat barely surfaced in the debates leading up to last November’s presidential election. While we have long been warning of it, the tragic events in Boston have jolted others, including those running in today’s Cleveland Marathon, to realize that the threats to our homeland have not disappeared — rather, they have evolved. Our public debate needs to evolve along with them.
The killing of Osama bin Laden and many other terrorist leaders seriously damaged al-Qaida, but did not destroy it. Today, smaller al-Qaida offshoots flourish in South Asia, Yemen and North Africa, and are dreaming up diabolical new ways to hurt us. The Christmas 2009 “underwear bomber,” who nearly killed 290 people on a Northwest Airlines flight into Detroit, and the 2010 plot to use explosive printer cartridges to blow up cargo planes over American cities are just two examples. Serious concerns remain about terrorists acquiring nuclear or biological materials and directing them against one of our cities. While the likelihood of such an attack might be remote, it would inflict catastrophic damage. Continued chaos in countries like Syria and Pakistan increases the risk that these weapons could fall into the wrong hands. (more…)
By Former Sens. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) and Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) Domenici is a senior fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center, and Nunn serves as a PSA Advisory Board Member and co-chairman of The Concord Coalition. This Op-Ed originally appeared in The Hill.
Congress’s budget process broken because it’s ignored
After trying private negotiations, bipartisan commissions, informal “gangs” and a supercommittee, the search for a long-term federal fiscal plan has come full circle back to where it started — regular order under the budget process in Congress.
Or has it?
We hope it has, because regular order ensures that every member of Congress gets to participate in the final form of any fiscal agreement, grand or otherwise. (more…)
Former Senator, and PSA Advisory Board Member Gary Hart is currently President of Hart International, Ltd. He is chair of the Threat Reduction Advisory Council at the Department of Defense, was vice-chair of the Secretary of Homeland Security’s Advisory Council, former chair of the Council for a Livable World, chair of the American Security Project, and co-chair of the US-Russia Commission. For the past five years, he was a Scholar in Residence at the University of Colorado Denver. This was originally posted on the Huffington Post website.
Weep for the Senate
Generations of United States Senators now past would view with dazed wonder at what the world’s greatest deliberative body has become. Virtually all struggled to serve their and many struggled even more to stay there. Throughout the nation’s history the prestige of such service was second only to the presidency itself, and some preferred the Senate over the White House.
By the time we reach the 2014 election, almost one-third of the current Senate will have resigned in the past three elections. Recent reports indicate that those formerly considered to be virtually automatic candidates are rejecting the opportunity to seek the vacated Senate seats.
A variety of explanations are offered for this extraordinary situation: the financial costs of campaigns; the viciousness of political attacks; the toll taken in self-respect and dignity; media sensationalism; polarization leading to paralysis in the Senate itself.
At least for the present, the United States Senate is neither what it traditionally has been nor should be. (more…)
Lee Hamilton is Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University and a PSA Advisory Board Member. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years. This originally appeared on the Center on Congress’ blog.
How Politics Has Changed
When two senators recently got into a spat over whether the Boston Marathon bombings were being politicized, the news was everywhere within minutes. Reams of commentary quickly followed. In the maneuvering over gun-control legislation, every twist and turn was instantly reported and then endlessly debated. As the effects of the federal sequester start to make themselves felt, outlets in every medium — print, television, online — are carrying both the news and the inevitable partisan sniping over its meaning.
This is political reality today, and when people ask me how politics has changed since I first ran for Congress in 1964, it’s the first thing that comes to mind. Back then, when you spoke to the Rotary in a small town, you were speaking to a few members of the Rotary. Today, you might well be speaking to the world. A debate on Capitol Hill back then might or might not have made the news, but even if it did, days could go by before the rest of the country reacted. Today, the response is instantaneous, often hot-blooded, and almost inconceivably far-reaching. (more…)
Lee Hamilton is Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years, and PSA Advisory Board member. This article was originally published in the Alexandria Echo Press
Commentary: Tired of budget shenanigans? Here’s an answer
With the formal release of President Obama’s budget, the pieces are finally in place for a reprise of the Washington drama we’ve all come to know. There will be high-stakes negotiations, lines in the sand, and enough intrigue to keep Beltway insiders riveted by every piece of breaking news.
The rest of us, though, are already worn out. In repeated conversations with ordinary people, I’ve been struck by the immense frustration I’ve encountered. They’re tired of brinksmanship and constant fiscal crisis. They’re fed up with accusations, spin, fear mongering, and intransigence. They’ve had it with a complex, opaque process when the outline of a solution — controlling spending and entitlements, raising revenues to meet the country’s obligations, and investing in economic growth — seems evident. Above all, they’re weary of a government that appears addicted to crisis. Why, they wonder, can we not pass a budget in an orderly, rational way?
Thomas R. Pickering is a member of the Constitution Project’s Task Force on Detainee Treatment. He was undersecretary of state for political affairs from 1997 to 2001 and served as ambassador and representative to the United Nations from 1989 to 1992. Ambassador Pickering is also a member of the Partnership for a Secure America Advisory Board. This article was originally published in the Washington Post.
America Must Atone for the Torture it Inflicted
It’s never easy in this volatile world to advance America’s strategic aims. For more than four decades, in the service of Democratic and Republican presidents, it was often my job to persuade foreign governments to adhere to international law and observe the highest standards of conduct in human rights — including the strict prohibition of torture. A report released Tuesday by an independent task force on detainee treatment (to which I contributed) makes it clear that U.S. officials could have used the same advice. (more…)
By LEE HAMILTON
Lee Hamilton is Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.
March 20, 2013| Cypress Creek Manor
Congress Falls Short on National Security
Wherever you stood on Sen. Rand Paul’s 13-hour filibuster to delay John Brennan’s confirmation as CIA director, or on the Senate’s confirmation hearings for Brennan and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, they all serve as a reminder of just how feeble Congress has proven to be when it comes to foreign policy.
This wasn’t immediately obvious, of course. Paul’s speech questioned whether there are limits on the President’s power to use drones to kill Americans who’ve been declared “enemy combatants.” But the CIA and military have been using drones overseas for years and this was the first time Congress really pondered the issue. That’s a measure of its dereliction, not of stepping up to the plate. Why has it taken so long to see significant congressional review of the President’s power to use drones?
Lee Hamilton is the Co-Founder of Partnership for a Secure America and Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years. This article was originally published in the Winona Daily News and can be found here.
Lee Hamilton: Some Suggestions for Improving Congress
A few weeks ago, the survey firm Public Policy Polling made headlines when it released a poll comparing Congress’s standing to a variety of unloved things.
Respondents did prefer our national legislature to the ebola virus, but otherwise the news was grim: Americans, the survey suggested, have a lower opinion of Congress than of head lice, Genghis Khan, used-car salesmen and root canals.
This article was written by three Participants in PSA’s Congressional Partnership Program. All CPP articles are produced by bipartisan groups of Democrat and Republican Hill Staff who were challenged to develop opinion pieces that reach consensus on critical national security and foreign affairs issues.
A Security Broach:
How Security Clearance Reform Can Address Employment Challenges, Reduce Costs, and Improve National Security
In 1953, Hemingway won the Pulitzer Prize, the Crucible debuted on Broadway, and Queen Elizabeth was crowned. Stalin died; a cease-fire agreement was reached on the Korean peninsula; the Rosenbergs were executed; Che Gueverra was touring Latin America, and the first color television made its debut.
The Cold War was a grave reality for all Americans; McCarthyism was at its peak, and the question of how to protect American national security interests and secrets was a serious test. It was in this environment that the newly inaugurated President Eisenhower issued an historic and often overlooked Executive Order to establish security standards for federal employees and contractors.
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This article was written by Caitlin Poling, a Participant in PSA’s Congressional Partnership Program.
The U.S. Needs a More Broad-based Strategy to Combat Al Qaeda in Yemen
For most of the past decade, Yemen has remained on the periphery of American national security policy. During this time, officials in the administration, Department of Defense, State Department, and Intelligence Community have been unable to devote as much attention as needed to Yemen due to American engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the Arab Spring uprisings that began in 2011 along with the September 2012 protests and embassy attacks in response to an American-made anti-Muslim video have demonstrated the importance of security in states like Yemen.
All blog posts are independently produced by their authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of PSA. Across the Aisle serves as a bipartisan forum for productive discussion of national security and foreign affairs topics.