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Review of Chertoff's Homeland Security: Assessing the First Five Years.

Surveillance Studies Network
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  • Homeland Security
  • Political Science


bernhard Bernhard, Daniel. 2010. Review of Chertoff’s Homeland Security. Surveillance & Society 8(1): 103-105. | ISSN: 1477-7487 © Bernhard, 2010 | Licensed to the Surveillance Studies Network under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives license. Daniel Bernhard Darwin College, University of Cambridge, UK. [email protected] In Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, former Secretary of the American Department of Homeland Security (DHS), revisits his years at the helm of that controversial agency and makes the case for why an activist security policy must not be banished from the American political landscape. A substantial academic literature has come into fashion recently to criticise risk-based security planning, claiming that overzealous security measures result from the logic of mitigating risk, which cannot be mitigated, thereby endlessly escalating security efforts. However, Chertoff champions a risk-management approach to security policy that seeks to resist both the hysteria that suffocates free societies and the complacency that ignores real dangers. Chertoff lays out his argument in a methodical and systematic fashion – threat by threat, response by response – producing an easily accessible glimpse into the Junior Bush cabinet, and perhaps into the future of American security politics. Readers may be surprised at how greatly Chertoff diverges from the Bush path. Though he never criticises his patrons directly, Chertoff repeatedly insists that the best security policy is a proactive one that eliminates the sources of enemies’ grievance. He is not afraid to call for improvements and he offers a refreshingly sober, non-dogmatic defence of some Bush- era policies, arguing calmly and sensibly for the lesser-evil instead of calling his critics as poor patriots or levelling some other petty accusation. There is a strangely compelling dualism to Chertoff’s ideas. On the one hand, Homelan

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