Security Lessons of the Response to Hurricane Katrina

Security Lessons of the Response to Hurricane Katrina.

There are many, large and small, but I want to mention two that I haven't seen discussed elsewhere.

1. The aftermath of this tragedy reflects on how poorly we've been
spending our homeland security dollars. Again and again, I've said that
we need to invest in 1) intelligence gathering, and 2) emergency
response. These two things will help us regardless of what the
terrorists are plotting, and the second helps in the event of a natural
disaster. (In general, the only difference between a manmade disaster
and a natural one is the cause. After a disaster occurs, it doesn't
matter.) The response by DHS and FEMA was abysmal, and demonstrated how
little we've been getting for all our security spending. It's
unconscionable that we're wasting our money on national ID cards,
airline passenger profiling, and foreign invasions rather than
emergency response at home: communications, training, transportation,

2. Redundancy, and to a lesser extent, inefficiency, are good for
security. Efficiency is brittle. Redundancy results in less-brittle
systems, and provides defense in depth. We need multiple organizations
with overlapping capabilities, all helping in their own way: FEMA, DHS,
the military, the Red Cross, etc. We need overcapacity, in water
pumping capabilities, communications, emergency supplies, and so on. I wrote
about this back in 2001, in opposition to the formation of the
Department of Homeland Security. The government's response to Katrina
demonstrates this yet again.

[Schneier on Security]

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