Letter to the editor

A Cabinet-level position for the Office of Homeland Security should align the charter of the office with other Cabinet-level offices. A clear directive -- beyond just an executive order -- should make it possible to pursue coherent strategies when it comes to implementation and management.

Otherwise, I can only see more of the fractional approach that so often plagues such things as information security. It may also provide a broader scope of participation, which is a requirement when it comes to developing security policy.

On the downside, every department does to some degree take the position or charter that it is responsible for security. This makes the security pie that much larger -- Defense Department does it with the Defense Information Systems Agency, the CIA and National Security Agency use their own systems, and the FBI yet another. Not that different systems cannot be integrated; it is just more difficult to integrate the processes around these systems. Whether it is hardware, software, human intelligence or management practices -- a single vision is necessary to drive any successful attempt at addressing both near- and long-term security.

Last, it is my hope that our constitutional sense of democracy is not lost to the needs, or the perception, of increased domestic security. In fact, rename it the Department of Domestic Tranquility (NASA would approve).

Dave Williams Claremont McKenna College Claremont, Calif.

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