How Safe Are We?: Homeland Security Since 9/11

Lecture | April 2 | 12-1:30 p.m. | Goldman School of Public Policy, Room 250

 Goldman School of Public Policy

Join UC President, former US Secretary of Homeland Security and former Governor of Arizona Janet Napolitano for a lunchtime talk on Homeland Security since 9/11.

A sushi lunch will be served at 12:00pm and the lecture will begin at 12:30pm. This event is free and open to the public but you must RSVP to attend.

It has been nearly twenty years since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. As the first U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security during the Obama administration and the third in the department’s history, Janet Napolitano shows in HOW SAFE ARE WE?: Homeland Security Since 9/11 (written with Karen Breslau; on sale March 26, 2019) what we have accomplished since that awful day, where the critical security gaps remain, and where dangerous new ones have opened—and how to close them. While the devastation at Ground Zero is etched in our collective memory as the image of terrorism, the threat landscape has evolved dramatically since the Department of Homeland Security was created in 2003. “Rather than collapsed buildings,” Napolitano writes, “today we face collapsed faith in our democratic institutions,” caused by cyber-intrusions into U.S. elections and into other areas of critical infrastructure, including our energy, financial and communications networks.

Since 2001, global terrorism evolved from what Napolitano calls Terrorism 1.0—the elaborate international plot behind the 9/11 attacks—to Terrorism 2.0—the homegrown, ISIS-inspired and Internet-mobilized “lone wolves” such as the shooters at an Orlando nightclub and a San Bernardino Christmas party. Now, she writes, we face Terrorism 3.0: mass violence inflicted by Americans on Americans, including recent massacres at a Pittsburgh synagogue, Las Vegas hotel, a Texas church and Parkland High School, among many, many others. These events may be inspired by any of several ideologies—or none at all—and threaten virtually every public space in America.

Napolitano argues that political blind spots abound in homeland security. A persistent and willful misreading of the threat environment has left American policymakers focused disproportionately on Islamic extremism, while failing to contain other forms of violent extremism and domestic terrorism. Our leaders obsess over physical fortifications to the U.S.-Mexico border rather than the more complex and invisible cyber-fortifications needed to protect critical infrastructure, like elections, power grids, and communications networks. And they permit a colossal waste of resources and moral capital through a “zero tolerance” immigration enforcement policy. The emergent effects of climate change and the increasingly severe natural disasters resulting from it pose the most pervasive threats, affecting every community in the U.S. Yet leaders fail to enact policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; to adapt land use policies and building codes; and Americans remain ill-prepared for predictable natural disasters, while persistently misjudging how much help government can deliver in a crisis. Napolitano shows how the American people also compromise their own security by carelessly sharing personal data online and failing to practice rudimentary digital security measures.

HOW SAFE ARE WE? is peppered with stories from Napolitano's time in public service—from her time as two-term governor of Arizona to her service in the Obama administration—to help illustrate and answer the titular question: are we safer and more resilient today than we were on 9/11? In doing so she also grapples with how security efforts enacted after the 9/11 Commission have changed our country and society—the failures that leave us vulnerable and what our 1 trillion dollar investment has yielded over the last 15 years. In our current political climate, where Donald Trump has politicized nearly every aspect of the department, Napolitano’s clarifying, bold vision is needed now more than ever. Here she delivers a roadmap for putting U.S. homeland security back on track for a new era.

  RSVP online by April 1

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