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Homeland Security: Assessing the First Five Years Hardcover – August 28, 2009
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"Michael Chertoff offers a clear-eyed assessment of the threats we face and how to confront them. Among his good ideas are the use of soft power to project and protect America's values, and improved efforts to prepare—rather than scare—an anxious public. In contrast to the toxic political environment that surrounded him, Chertoff's pragmatism and lack of partisanship are on full display, and he has written a valuable primer for his very able successor."—Representative Jane Harman (D., Calif.), chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence and Terrorism Risk Assessment
"America's response to the 9/11 tragedy was the establishment of a new Department of Homeland Security created from 22 separate federal agencies. Just about every issue imaginable came to this new department, from protecting our borders and ensuring the safety of passengers in the air from terrorist attacks to maintaining defenses against natural disasters. Michael Chertoff, only the second person to serve as secretary in this office, describes with penetrating analysis the strategy that has emerged from this huge challenge, the eyes-open risk-costs analysis that has made it manageable, and the steps that have been taken to turn this gigantic effort into a well-coordinated and effective line of defense for our citizens. What a useful gift to his new successor, former Governor Janet Napolitano."—William Webster, chairman, Homeland Security Advisory Council, former FBI director, former CIA director
"As memories of 9/11 fade, the nation has required a tough-minded realism against growing complacency. In Michael Chertoff, the nation had a keen thinker, a straight talker, an honest broker, and a diligent doer at the head of the Department of Homeland Security. Michael Chertoff remains driven to inform and persuade. In comprehensive fashion, this book tells America and the world what we've been doing and what we still must do to enhance our safety and security."—Frances M. Fragos Townsend, former homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush
"In terms of insight, intellect, and experience, Michael Chertoff is uniquely placed to undertake diagnosis and offer prescriptions for the range of contemporary dangers to our security. He addresses those threats, both man-made and natural, with a clarity of thought and conviction of purpose that provides an immense service and inspiration to all of us, far beyond the shores of his own homeland."—John Reid, former UK Home Secretary and Defense Secretary
"A valuable tool for emergency management and homeland security practitioners in all sectors and of all levels. It addresses a wider audience by challenging policymakers to continue crafting workable solutions. . . . It also provides a starting point for scholarly research. But, most important, it makes you think."—Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
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Chertoff's assessment is questionable however in that he actually appears to know very little about the mechanisms and processes that drive DHS. He devotes an entire chapter to risk management without ever giving any indication he really understands what risk management means. He briefly discusses Hurricane Katrina as an example of the failure of all levels of government to retrain "risky housing development' and "to invest in maintaining New Orleans' levees. " Yet he says nothing of the failure of DHS to step in with a risk mitigation plan or of the disastrous failure of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to manage the aftermath of the hurricane. Indeed in a separate chapter on FEMA, Chertoff allows that, "By all accounts FEMA has acquitted itself well", a clear indicator that he does not know what he is talking about.
The message that one takes away from this book is that Chertoff was perfectly content to sit in his office everyday and have his staff brief him on what they thought he needed to know without really troubling himself to determine how the disparate components of DHS actually worked. He clearly had no interest in developing anything like a risk management strategy for DHS. This book provides an excellent insight into the mentality of the man who was responsible for homeland security yet had no clear picture of what that responsibility actually involved. This is a fascinating book for aficionados of government incompetence.
Chertoff discusses the Department of Homeland Security from its beginning in January 2002 through January 2008.