Project on National Security Reform Cites Need for Restructuring of U.S. National Security System

WASHINGTON , July 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The national security system created by the U.S. government in 1947 that served the nation throughout the Cold War is outdated and needs a massive restructuring to better protect the American people from...


WASHINGTON , July 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The national security system created by the U.S. government in 1947 that served the nation throughout the Cold War is outdated and needs a massive restructuring to better protect the American people from terrorism, rogue states and other 21st century dangers, according to a study issued today by the Project on National Security Reform (PNSR).

The Preliminary Findings Report - based on research and analysis by more than 300 national security experts from think tanks, universities, federal agencies, law firms and corporations - is a congressionally mandated study that paints a portrait of a national security system plagued by serious problems, despite reforms made since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The problems the report identifies in the national security system include:

-- Frequent feuding and jurisdictional disputes between cabinet secretaries and other agency heads that force the president to spend too much time settling internal fights, waste time and money on duplicative and inefficient actions, and slow down government responses to crises.

-- Too much focus by the president and his top advisers on day-to-day crisis management rather than long-term planning, allowing problems to escape presidential attention until they worsen and reach the crisis level.

-- An increasing number of political appointees who serve only briefly in top national security posts.

-- A budget oversight process in Congress focused on individual agencies, crippling efforts to move quickly to fund emergency operations by multiple agencies.

-- A Congress increasingly polarized along political party lines on vital national security issues.

PNSR is funded by Congress, foundations and corporations to carry out one of the most comprehensive studies of the U.S. national security system in American history. It is located within the Center for the Study of the Presidency, which is a nonpartisan and nonprofit organization that was a cosponsor of the Iraq Study Group.

The project is directed by a 24-member Guiding Coalition that includes former senior federal officials with extensive national security experience. A complete list of Guiding Coalition members and the Preliminary Findings Report can be found at www.pnsr.org.

Guiding Coalition Member Thomas R. Pickering - who served as under secretary of state, ambassador to the United Nations and in other top posts in the State Department for decades - said the PNSR findings will be valuable to whoever becomes the next president and to Congress.

"Our national security system is broken and needs fixing," Pickering said. "Agencies need to cooperate rather than compete with each other as they work to protect the United States from a broad range of new dangers never imagined when the National Security Act of 1947 was signed into law. This isn't a Democratic or a Republican issue, but a challenge facing our country that must be met by America's leaders on a bipartisan basis."

PNSR is scheduled to issue a Final Report in October recommending actions by Congress and the next president. The project is expected to prepare draft presidential directives and a new National Security Act to replace many of the provisions of the one enacted 61 years ago.

"Our study deals with issues vital to the protection of every American family," said James R. Locher III , executive director of PNSR. "How will America respond to another major terrorist attack, even a nuclear one? How will we deal with future natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina at home and conflicts abroad? The way our national security system is structured plays an enormous role in the answers to these questions."

The PNSR report emphasizes the importance of approaching national security challenges as multiple risks - such as the possibility of nuclear or bioterrorism - that may never occur but need to be managed and minimized, rather than as an overriding threat that can be eliminated.

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