Protecting the Homeland 2006/2007

Homeland security is among the most important, complex, and politically charged issues facing the United States today. Building on the insightful analysis of Protecting the American Homeland (Brookings, 2002 and 2003), this important new book examines the current homeland security concerns and the adequacy—or inadequacy—of policies designed to address them.

In terms of the nation's efforts to date, the glass is perhaps half full. Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, domestic and international intelligence sharing has improved, resources devoted to counterterrorism have increased, and numerous new policies and procedures have been implemented to protect the country. The absence of further attacks on American soil suggests that security is better. But while many measures taken thus far have been designed to prevent a recurrence of a similar strike, much less has been done to thwart other plausible kinds of attacks. Brookings experts argue that the future efforts should focus on stopping catastrophic threats such as hits on chemical plants and other private-sector infrastructure, large-scale effects from biological pathogens, radiological or nuclear attacks, and (when the technology is ready) surface-to-air missiles—and should emphasize early prevention rather than later response. Looking at both the big picture and the smaller components of this issue, they call for the U.S. government and its Department of Homeland Security to work more closely with key partners such as local and state officials, foreign governments, and the private sector.

Protecting the Homeland 2006/2007 reviews the current state of homeland security, assesses America's remaining vulnerabilities, and suggests new policies to improve security in the United States. It presents specific recommendations for reforming intelligence; fostering international cooperation; increasing infrastructure and border protection; developing technology; and formulating countermeasures against specific types of aggression. Written with a sense of urgency, the book warns that while Americans can feel somewhat safer today than they did in 2001, much more needs to be done in improving the nation's defenses against terrorism.