"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 AssessmentIn 2003, the President and the U.S. Congress established the Department of Homeland Security. From the beginning, its mission was clear: prevent terrorist attacks, protect against threats to America's safety and security, and prepare the nation to respond effectively to disasters, both natural and man-made. This monumental mission demands a comprehensive strategy. It also requires a crystal-clear explanation of that strategy to Americans and their allies worldwide. In a revealing new book, Homeland Security: Assessing the First Five Years, Michael Chertoff provides that explanation. In a refreshingly candid and engaging manner, America's former homeland security secretary depicts the department's long-term approach, what it has achieved, and what it has yet to do.
"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
The strategy begins with the threats America faces, from terrorist groups like al Qaeda to hurricanes like Ike or Gustav. "Once these threats are identified," Chertoff writes, "we can confront them, using every tool at our disposal. We can stop terrorists from entering the country, and discourage people from embracing terrorism by combating its lethal ideology. We can protect our critical assets and reduce our vulnerabilities to natural disasters. We can plan and prepare for emergencies and respond in a way that minimizes the consequences. And we can work closely with our allies abroad to reduce the risk of future disasters." In each of these areas, Chertoff informs the reader what the nation has done and what it still must do to secure its future.
How well has this strategy fared in a post-9/11 world? Since that fateful day, there have been no global terror attacks on American soil. Yet in the face of continued dangers, Michael Chertoff warns repeatedly against complacency. He urges America and its leaders to strengthen their resolve, stay the course, and build creatively on past successes.
Michael Chertoff is a former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security.
Lee H. Hamilton served as Vice Chairman of the 9/11 Commission and is President of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.