March 9, 2005
Nearly three years have passed since September 11, and despite all the new security precautions that have been proposed, we are still dangerously unprepared to prevent or respond to another catastrophic attack on American soil. Faced with this threat, the United States should be operating on a wartime footing here at home. Instead, we are living on borrowed time - and squandering it - while our most serious vulnerabilities lie ominously exposed. In this powerful and urgently needed call to action, Stephen Flynn offers a startling portrait of the radical shortcomings in America's current plan for homeland security. He describes a frightening scenario of what the next major terrorist attack might look like, revealing the loss of life, and the immense economic havoc it would leave in its wake, as well as the seismic political consequences it would have in Washington. Despite increased awareness, we still offer our enemies a vast menu of soft targets: water and food supplies; chemical plants, energy grids and pipelines; bridges, tunnels, and ports; and the millions of cargo containers that carry most of the goods we depend upon in our everyday lives. The measures we have cobbled together to protect these vital systems are hardly fit to deter amateur thieves, vandals, and smugglers, never mind determined terrorists. Worse still, small improvements are often oversold as giant steps forward, lowering the guard of the average citizen and building an unwarranted sense of confidence. It does not have to be this way. Flynn carefully outlines a bold yet practical plan for achieving security in a way that is safe and smart, effective and manageable. In a new world of heightened risk and fear, America the Vulnerable delivers a timely, forceful message that cannot be ignored.
Dr. Stephen E. Flynn, Commander, U.S. Coast Guard (retired), has been a Senior Fellow with the National Security Studies Program at the Council on Foreign Relations, headquartered in New York City, since June 1999. On March 15, 2002, he was appointed as the inaugural occupant of the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Chair. Dr. Flynn recently served as Director and principal author for the task force report "America: Still Unprepared-Still in Danger," co-chaired by former Senators Gary Hart and Warren Rudman. Dr. Flynn ranks among the world's most widely cited experts on homeland security, and trade and transportation security issues. U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert Bonner credits him as serving as the intellectual architect of the U.S. government's Container Security Initiative. He is also the founder of an innovative private-public partnership to advance global container security involving the America's largest ports known as "Operation Safe Commerce" and an advisor to the private-sector "Secure and Safe Tradelanes Initiative." He served as the principal advisor to the bipartisan Congressional Port Security Caucus and is a member of the Marine Board of the National Research Council. From August 2000 to February 2001, he served as the lead consultant on the homeland security issue to the U.S. Commission on National Security (Hart-Rudman Commission). He has served in the White House Military Office during the George H.W. Bush administration and as a director for Global Issues on the National Security Council staff during the Clinton administration. Dr. Flynn has been a frequent contributor to the prestigious journal, Foreign Affairs including "The Neglected Homefront" which was the lead essay in the September/October 2004 issue. Since 9/11 he has provided testimony on thirteen occasions on Capitol Hill and has testified before the Canadian House of Commons and the Canadian Senate. He has appeared as a guest commentator on Meet the Press, Nightline, the Charlie Rose Show, 60 Minutes, The Today Show, CNN, and NPR's All Things Considered and Morning Edition. A 1982 graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, Dr. Flynn served in the Coast Guard on active duty for 20 years, retiring at the rank of Commander. He received the M.A.L.D. and Ph.D. degrees in International Politics from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, in 1990 and 1991. He was a Guest Scholar in the Foreign Policy Studies Program at the Brookings Institution from 1991-92, and in 1993-94 he was an Annenberg Scholar-in-Residence at the University of Pennsylvania. During his Coast Guard seagoing career, he had two tours as commanding officer of the Coast Guard Cutters REDWOOD and POINT ARENA, and one tour as operations officer of the Coast Guard Cutter SPAR. His professional awards include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, the Coast Guard Commendation Medal and the Coast Guard Achievement Medal. In 1999, he received the Coast Guard Academy's Distinguished Alumni Achievement award.