Talking Takeovers In Defense and Intelligence With Michael Chertoff
Where is the US Gov't falling behind?
LL:Is the U.S. government behind on this?
MC: The current administration is moving forward on this. That being said, it is not moving as far ahead as we would like it to be. The architecture and technological questions are very complicated so it is hard for policy makers to really figure out the right answer. But part of it is you get sensitive reaction when you put the words "government" and "Internet" in the same sentence.
I don't know if the right model is to have the government sitting on the Internet for the entire civilian sector and watching things go back and forth. So the question is, how do you build the system that leverages not only the government's unique capabilities but makes them available and owned in the private sector so we can protect our critical infrastructure? Is that through trusted mediators?
This is hard to address so that is why it is taking a while. But I also have to tell you that I've heard we are also a little skeptical because "nothing has happened" yet. But in 2007, when people were saying we are in a housing bubble and there could potentially be an economic dislocation and housing prices would precipitously drop, there were plenty of people saying "oh it would never happen" and in 2008 it did. I think we need to get focused and get things done before something does happen.
I believe we are in an economic downturn and everyone is feeling the impact. I will tell you while there will be policy and budget changes in this space, there is no doubt in my mind that defense security and intelligence will continue to be a very vibrant part of the national budget and economy. I say that for two reasons. No one in government misses the fact that job one is to protect the American people. And if there is an attack on the U.S. and you haven't done everything reasonable to stop it, that pretty much shuts down the rest of your agenda. So this is the base line requirement of government. And second, I think the private sector is going to be more proactive because people are realizing the battlefield is not at the perimeter any more. It is in every body's office buildings, power plants and all over the world. And to some degree, you will have to make investments in the private sector to protect those assets.
LL:While it is also the private sector's responsibility to up hold the base line in protecting Americans from terrorism is the government meeting their baseline requirements as well?
MC: One area I would like to see more investment in is bio security. I think we are beginning to lag a little behind in terms of being able to respond to biological threats. Now, for full disclosure, we do represent companies that make sensors and technology of that sort. But I do think while we can put first generation sensors around the country, we have to get to the next generation of those capabilities.
The other area we need to work on doesn't deal with technology at all.
It deals with taking the counter measures that we have and distribute and stockpile them to communities around the country. Right now, the FDA objects to that because they believe you should only distribute them after you see a doctor first. But the problem is if you have an Anthrax attack, there are not going to be enough doctors to see everyone say in New York City in 24 hours. We are going to have to get our heads around the fact that to prepare for a catastrophic, biological event we are going to have to change the order in the way the FDA does business.
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A Senior Talent Producer at CNBC, and author of "Thriving in the New Economy:Lessons from Today's Top Business Minds."