|New American Strategies
for Security and Peace
Governor Mark Warner (D-VA)
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HOMELAND SECURITY BEYOND THE BELTWAY
LOG: RS=Rodney Slater; MW=Mark Warner
RS: I’m very, very pleased to be with you this
morning. First of all I’d like to give John and
Robert Kuttner and also Richard Leone just words of
encouragement in this endeavor. Thanks for bringing
us all together and for their leadership as we have
gathered in this important forum to talk about new American
strategies for security and peace.
As I was sitting there I thought that it’s quite
interesting that we will have a son of Virginia to come
before us in but a second. The first lady, Senator Clinton
in giving her speech made reference to at least two
distinguished Virginians in talking about the foundations
on which we stand, the strength of our nation.
Roughly two hundred years ago a former governor of
Virginia decided to enter into an international agreement
that literally doubled the size of America. From the
Mississippi to the west we moved. In the interim the
stony roads of James Weldon Johnson and the two roads
diverged in a yellow wood of Frost and that historic
flight of two brothers a hundred years ago — those
activities through the mode of transportation they’ve
brought us together.
You couple that with the principles and ideals that
give us inspiration and we are clearly on our way to
becoming that more perfect union — the light up
on a hill. As a former Secretary of Transportation and
thinking about transportation in that way, the tie that
binds, the means by which we pursue happiness, I can
tell you that on 9-11 it was like taking a blow to the
gut. When you reflect on how that movement of the imagination
that would allow us to touch the two coasts and literally
touch the hand and kiss the face of God, transportation
would be used to not serve as a bridge but to actually
seek to bring us to our knees.
Well, I’m pleased that we were able to gather
our resources, our internal resources, and to steady
ourselves and to remain a light upon a hill. But the
light and its glow both are being challenged in this
day and in this time with all of the storm clouds around
us. We have come to seek a balance, to deal with being
stronger as we must be on the offensive.
But to also deal diplomatically with our foes as well;
to stem the tide of nuclear proliferation and chemical
and biological weapons; to balance our military forces
and to encourage our—and strengthen our diplomatic
arsenal. Seeking a balance. Well, what greater voice
than clearly the voice that we’ve just heard of
the Senator from New York about the delicate nature
of that balance. But what greater voice than another
Virginian to come before us in this moment, to talk
about how he was able to balance the budget of his state
and deal with a $6 billion deficit but continue to invest
in the people of Virginia — their education and
healthcare and the environment.
How he was able to harness the power and the force
of technology and use it for good. And how he as a state
leader was able to stand as our nation stood when the
Pentagon in his state and when airports like Dulles
and Reagan National were brought to a halt. Ladies and
gentlemen, we are fortunate to hear a voice this morning,
a voice of reason and reflection and a voice that is
clear — as clear as a bell when it comes to speaking
to not only the role that has to be addressed by those
who work here in Washington, D.C. but those who work
on the front lines as well, when it comes to this important
issue of safety and security, national and homeland
security and especially how that issue is to be addressed
beyond the beltway.
Please join me in bringing forth a true visionary
and committed servant in this regard. Governor Warner.
JW: Thank you Secretary Slater. Thank you, Rodney,
for that introduction. If you were, at 2:30 last night,
in Memphis, I’d love to have heard what kind of
introduction you would have given me if you’d
gotten here at midnight. That was very kind. We miss
your leadership in transportation and I know you continue
to go good work now in the private sector and look forward
to continuing working with you.
I want to echo what my friend Rod Slater has said
and Senator Clinton has said and acknowledging John
Podesta and the Center as well as The Century Foundation
and The American Prospect Magazine for bringing together
this forum to talk about new American strategies. Although
what I want to talk to you about this morning is perhaps
not simply new American strategies, but in some cases
in terms of homeland security and particularly homeland
security beyond the beltway -- cases where they may
not even have been a strategy in the first place.
I want to give you a little bit of experience of the
last couple years from a governor in a state that is
somewhat unique as one of the states that were attacked
on 9-11. Some of our first phases in terms of our war
against terror here in the homeland, and some of the
issues mostly issues to NOVA that I’m not sure
we need a new strategy, we just may need a strategy
to start with.
Now I became governor about four months after September
11th. Although like everyone in this room had their
own September 11th stories I was in the midst of the
campaign for governor. The polls were tight. We had
the big debate coming up. I happened to be in Alexandria.
Somebody called. Told me to turn on the television.
Suddenly the debate didn’t seem very important.
Went over to our campaign headquarters. Saw the smoke
billowing out of the Pentagon. We were a mile away.
All of the issues that literally an hour or two earlier
were on the front burner suddenly receded. All I could
think about was how I was going to get my kids home,
whether my wife was going to come back from campaigning
on the road. At that point like virtually every other
American I realized that everything had changed in terms
of where we were going to head as a country into the
In the months and years that have followed this country
has fought one war in Afghanistan, another in Iraq and
we continue to an ongoing battle against international
terror. Now what is sometimes lost, I think -- particularly
here inside the beltway -- and as somebody who lived
for the last twenty years inside the beltway and now
live outside the beltway in Richmond, I think sometimes
inside the beltway we forget that the effort to fight
terrorism really isn’t fought here in Washington.
It truly is fought outside the beltway.
The front lines of the domestic war against terrorism
are being fought at the state level and at the local
level. As a matter of fact the first responders to the
attack on the Pentagon were the Virginia State Police
and firefighters from Arlington County. Now this partnership
and this need for a new partnership is critical in our
efforts to protect our national security. What that
has pointed out since 9-11 is that there were many vulnerabilities
that had simply never risen to the point of appropriate
review prior to that attack.
We also know in the two years since that time that
while we focus on the war in Iraq or we focus on the
international scene which Senator Clinton so excellently
addressed, we continue to fight a very different kind
of war here at home. In the last two years in Virginia
alone we’ve seen in a very real way the scares
that came about from the anthrax threats.
We saw in a few months after that a case of domestic
terrorism in the sniper incidents that paralyzed seven
million people from Bethesda to Richmond. We’ve
seen at the state level repeated increased security
warnings and the concerns of that spread through our
communities. While not a terrorism threat, we’ve
seen in a very real way that the security concerns raised
by natural disasters with the recent hurricane.
The fact of the matter is when I was running for governor
two years ago I got to candidly tell you that I didn’t
imagine that security or particularly even the phrase
homeland security would be a critical part of my governorship.
But let me assure you for every governor in American
today, it is. It has required a whole new approach to
issues of coordination, a whole new relationship between
state and local first responders and in many cases I
think we’re still in the process of trying to
figure it out.
In Virginia we’ve done a couple of things. In
the first two weeks of office we created a Secure Virginia
panel made up of first responders, legislators, senior
members of our administration, the private sector as
well. They’ve brought forward over eighty recommendations
upon which we acted upon to try to insure that we upgrade
homeland security in Virginia.
Now the first phase of the domestic war against homeland
security focused on where the public has been aware
in the last few years. The question of our first responders.
The first phase focused on the lack of communication
between state, local and federal first responders. The
first phase focused on the lack of communications equipment,
interoperability standards, lack of appropriate training.
In many ways in that first phase dramatic progress
has been made. While the federal dollars, the much promised
federal dollars haven’t come nearly as quickly
or in the size and amounts that were initially promised,
we are seeing resources move through the states down
to the local level in making sure that the training,
equipment, and standards between our first responders
Now in many ways the public’s awareness of this
and they’re seeing this has been a sign of progress.
But that first phase while it will continue and there
continues to be needs for additional resources, that
first phase in many ways is receding. We’re actually
starting to move into a second phase in terms of homeland
security, a second phase where I don’t think the
lines are as clearly drawn or I don’t think the
issues have been as clearly thought through or I don’t
think the public has been brought into the debate nearly
Let me give you five areas that I believe bear need
for much further discussion, much further examination
and perhaps not simply a new strategy but an actual
strategy in the first place. The first question is that
of economic security. As a governor that Secretary Slater
indicated has had to grapple with a six billion dollar
shortfall in the twenty-one months I’ve been governor,
I’ve seen first-hand some of the economic consequences
of the aftermath of 9-11.
Yet from any kind of state -- or for that matter particularly
national standpoint -- I don’t believe we as a
nation have to come to grips with how we protect our
economic security in a post 9-11 world. How has productivity
been affected? How have consumer buying patterns been
affected? Are we going to be able to maintain our nation’s
competitiveness in a global economy, in a networked
economy that requires the rapid movement of information,
When quick delivery is a key to competitive success
what happens when we build in our country required and
necessary perhaps bit additional security concerns at
our borders and in our networks that slows down the
movements of those goods, that slows down the movement
of that information. What kind of effect will that have
upon American company’s competitiveness not just
this year but for years to come? So the whole question
of economic security on the downside.
On the upside have we thought through, and Virginia
is perhaps better positioned than most states to take
advantage of this, as we suddenly see billions if not
tens of billions of dollars flow into Homeland Security?
Are we as an economy and as a country positioned to
leverage those resources in a way that those dollars
are not simply spent but invested?
For example do we have a plan to insure that just
as there were many commercial applications that came
out of the space industry, that came out of traditional
defense investments, are we going to make sure that
we have an economic plan for commercialization of all
the dollars spent on homeland security and related security
activities? So questions of economic security vis a
vis homeland security I believe we need a more complete
Second question. A question of requirements for new
levels of public/private collaboration. Now one of the
things we’ve seen whether it be the hurricane
in recent weeks here in this area, whether it’s
in examinations of bio-hazard threats around the nation,
the public sector’s knowledge of our critical
infrastructure that is 90% controlled by the private
sector is quite thin.
It is going to require a new level of cooperation
between public sector players and private sector players.
In many ways this is going to require a whole reformulation
of the relationship between public sector and private
sector. The normal governmental relationship particularly
to those private sector players that provide our critical
infrastructure is that of regulator and an entity being
Suddenly in the post 9-11 world we’re asking
you from the public sector no, share information with
us. Share information with us in the public sector that
may put you at a competitive disadvantage. Now in Virginia
we’ve tried to grapple with this a little bit
by passing exemptions to our foil laws so that banks,
telecom companies, utility companies can share with
us their networks, their information in a way that will
not have them be put at a competitive disadvantage.
But as we think through this sharing of information
it’s going to require a whole new formulation
of this public/private cooperation when in the most
part our private sector partners view the government
as someone that you actually want to try to restrict
information to because of the regulatory environment.
So we’re going to need, I think, a re-examination
of the whole public/private relationship. A third area,
one that has received some attention again perhaps in
national strategy sessions, but let me assure you where
the rubber hits the road is at the state and local level
is that ongoing balance between civil liberties and
the needs for enhanced securities.
Virginia unfortunately was the state where many of
the terrorists were able to secure through loopholes
in our DMV systems driver’s licenses. In Virginia
we’ve taken a series of corrective actions. Yet
at the same time in our rush for enhanced security there
remains incredibly complex issues about balancing civil
libertarian concerns and the state’s need to make
sure that we protect the integrity of the identity of
those who want to drive with a Virginia driver’s
We right now have passed recently the presence requirements
for our driver’s licenses. But the implementation
of that policy in a way that is not discriminatory towards
new Virginians is an issue that is being repeated time
in and again in states all across the country right
now. But again candidly hasn’t been perhaps thought
through other than on an ad hoc basis.
This issue will become even greater as we see the
move from legal presence to actually bio-informatic
being put on driver’s license and the ramifications
of that. At issue again not being thought through or
thought through here in Washington, but being dealt
with in state capitals all across America.
A fourth issue that I think needs greater examination
is the requirements that security concerns can’t
fit in some narrow little box off to the side but that
security concerns and the public’s interest in
security pervades everything in terms of their relationship
with government. Senator Clinton’s comments about
the need for the administration to be more straightforward
in terms of its dealings on the international scene
also have application on the domestic scene as well
because what we are asking from our people is in effect
trust us in regards to homeland security.
Trust us in regards to an area that for the most part
people haven’t even thought about prior to 9-11
and now think about only reluctantly. Unfortunately
we have to recognize that that willingness of the public
to trust in governmental institutions to take care of
their security and domestic tranquility relates to not
only how good a job we do with equipping our firefighters
and our police forces but also has an awful lot to do
with the government—with the public’s overall
trust in government as an institution.
As we all know, that trust is eroding in so many ways.
At the state level the question of accountability in
terms of how the Department of Transportation delivers
and builds its roads or how the health department delivers
healthcare services or for that matter how the tax department
collects your taxes and the public’s confidence
in those institutions also affects the public’s
confidence in the ability of government to provide for
So we need enhanced accountability in all levels of
government in terms of delivery of services if we’re
going to garner the public’s trust in terms of
our ability to provide for homeland security and continue
to fight against terrorism. The final issue and one
that has received a great deal of attention is the whole
requirement for increased collaboration between all
levels of government.
It’s become a bit of a truism that pre 9-11
the ability for state, federal and local authorities
to work together was somewhat suspect and in some cases
non-existent. Now I think progress has been made in
that effort. But this desire and need to make sure that
we have enhanced collaboration between state, federal
and local governmental entities particularly in the
area of homeland security is absolutely critical.
And someone who has just gone through first-hand a
hurricane that tested in a very real way that extent
of that collaboration while in many ways we have made
great progress let me assure you I was looking for FEMA
ice trucks for two days, and we couldn’t find
them. So there is still room for improvement. So collaboration
between all levels of government must be increased and
continue to be cooperated if we’re going to make
sure that we meet this new strategy for homeland security.
Insuring greater government confidence, balancing
civil liberties and our security needs, recognizing
that we must engage in a whole new relationship between
public and private collaboration particularly as we
re-define that regulator/regulatee environment and raising
issues about economic security are in my mind all areas
that not only require new secure—new strategies
but actually strategies in the first place.
I can’t stress enough that the frontline of
the battle for homeland security is not Washington but
is taking place at the state capitals and local governments.
My hope is that the activities of this conference though
can spark the dialog and spark the ideas that will give
us the tools that we need.
Last night I too was not here Rodney. I was actually
in Lexington, Virginia at the Virginia Military Institute,
where we were having a homeland security conference.
Some of the local press came up to me and said well
governor this is your—the first conference of
this. Is this gonna become an annual event? My response
was my hope and prayer would be that it wouldn’t
be an annual event. That this may simply be an issue
that will pass off the scene.
But in truth is this is an issue that is here to stay.
This is an issue that we in this country will be dealing
with, fighting on, having to reevaluate this year, next
year and unfortunately for decades to come. The work
of this conference and the work of the conferences last
night in VMI and across this country are critical to
our nation’s security and long-term economic prosperity.
Let me assure you that we from the state level look
forward to that partnering relationship, look forward
to the continuing dialog and want to make sure that
we maintain that front role and frontline cooperative
spirit with you. So John, thank you for having me here
today, and I look forward to the continued work of this
conference. Thank you all very much. (Applause)