Party Platforms Have Little to Say About Homeland Security

By Stew Magnuson

Republicans and Democrats released their party platforms at their respective conventions this summer. Neither had much to say about homeland defense. In fact, the Department of Homeland Security was not invoked in either document.

The Republicans, however, did single out the Transportation Security Administration as an agency in need of reform.

“While the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks brought about a greater need for homeland security, the American people have already delivered their verdict on the Transportation Security Administration: its procedures — and much of its personnel — need to be changed,” the platform stated. “It is now a massive bureaucracy of 65,000 employees who seem to be accountable to no one for the way they treat travelers. We call for the private sector to take over airport screening wherever feasible and look toward the development of security systems that can replace the personal violation of frisking.”

Border security elicited only one sentence: “The double-layered fencing on the border that was enacted by Congress in 2006, but never completed, must finally be built,” the Republicans affirmed.

Both parties had more to say about cybersecurity, particularly concerning the need for private companies to share information about network breaches. Legislation that would have enshrined data-sharing between the government and the private sector into law died in Congress this summer.

The Republicans don’t want onerous regulations.

“We acknowledge that the most effective way of combating potential cybersecurity threats is sharing cyberthreat information between the government and industry, as well as protecting the free flow of information within the private sector,” the Republicans said.

“The costly and heavy-handed regulatory approach by the current administration will increase the size and cost of the federal bureaucracy and harm innovation in cybersecurity. … We believe that companies should be free from legal and regulatory barriers that prevent or deter them from voluntarily sharing cyberthreat information with their government partners.”

The Democrats responded with the threat of executive action if Congress does not act.

“The president and the administration have taken unprecedented steps to defend America from cyber-attacks, including creating the first military command dedicated to cybersecurity and conducting a full review of the federal government’s efforts to protect our information and our infrastructure.

“President Obama has supported comprehensive cybersecurity legislation that would help business and government protect against risks of cyber-attacks while also safeguarding the privacy rights of our citizens. And, going forward, the president will continue to take executive action to strengthen and update our cyberdefenses.”

Photo Credit: iStockphoto

Topics: Homeland Security, DHS Policy

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