Clinton administration: Homeland Defense Before 2001

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The concept of protecting the homeland—homeland security—predates the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks upon the United States. According to the Wikipedia, prior to the events of 9/11, the operative term was civil defense. [1]

Since September 11, 2001, the term homeland defense has come to be a part of everyday jargon. It is more or less accepted that the term followed on the heels of the events of 9/11. Perhaps amazingly, however, the phrase homeland defense—as well as that of homeland security—have been used by experts and policy makers, members of think tanks, the military, and the U.S. Government, as well as being very much a part of long-range counterterrorism and other planning for a number of years prior to that date.

Margie Burns, author of "The strange career of Homeland Security", wrote on June 29, 2002, that the phrase homeland security was "little seen" before September 11, 2001.[2]

It would appear that only the American public was oblivious to these terms. However, since the events of 9/11, government leaders and the experts and pundits almost incessantly mouth these phrases at every turn. The list of examples of the pre-9/11 use continues to grow.

The following relates to Homeland Defense Before 2001—during the Clinton administration.

Also see:


To the best knowledge of one writer, the term homeland defense is attributed to a 1997 report by the National Defense Panel. The source of this report could have been any number of documents dating from 1997. [3]

  • One source might have been a Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) briefing given by James R. Blaker and Steven J. Nider: "America's 21st Century Defense." Based on December 1995 PPI recommendations, Senators Joseph I. Lieberman (D-CT) and Daniel R. Coats (R-IN) co-sponsored legislation to establish a National Defense Panel. In December 1997, a nine-member panel released the report "Transforming Defense: National Security in the 21st Century." Either could have been the source for the term homeland defense.[4]
  • A third possibility might be another yet-unidentified document referred to as Rethinking Defense—Revision to 2 MRC Doctrine dating from 1997. This document clearly identifies Homeland Defense among its objectives, including an itemized list of tasks.[5]

Background on Anti-Terrorism Policy

During his first term in office, on April 10, 1982, President Ronald Reagan issued National Security Decision Directive Number 30: Managing Terrorist Incidents, which established that the U.S. Department of State would take the lead for international terrorist attacks, the FBI for domestic incidents, and the Federal Aviation Administration for incidents concerning aircraft. The Directive established the Terrorist Incident Working Group, which was responsible for coordinating efforts to respond to terrorism, and the Interdepartmental Group on Terrorism, which was responsible for formulating terrorism policy.

In his second term, in July 1985, Reagan issued NSC-NSDD-179: Task Force on Combatting Terrorism, establishing a counter-terrorism task force, which was led by then-Vice President George H.W. Bush [6]. This was followed in January 1986 by NSC-NSDD-207: National Program for Combating Terrorism, which outlined guidelines for preventing and responding to acts of terrorism.

Phil Lacombe and David Keyes wrote the article entitled "Defending the American Homeland's Infrastructure", which was published in the October 2000 issue of the Journal of Homeland Defense. They refer to a final report issued more than a decade before, in February 1986 during the Reagan administration, called the Public Report on the Vice President's Task Force on Combatting Terrorism.

Lacombe and Keyes wrote that the Report noted then "that key industry and government assets presented attractive targets to terrorists. The report also grasped how vulnerability resulted from openness inherent in our society and its highly sophisticated infrastructure: the intricate, interrelated networks supporting transportation, energy, communications, finance, industry, medicine, defense, diplomacy, and government."

The Task Force's "Conclusions and Recommendations" in 1986 stated that "International terrorism is clearly a growing problem and priority, requiring expanded cooperation with other countries to combat it. Emphasis must be placed on increased intelligence gathering, processing and sharing, improved physical security arrangements, more effective civil aviation and maritime security, and the ratification and enforcement of treaties.

"It is equally essential, however, that our defense against terrorism be enhanced domestically. For unless the trend of terrorism around the world is broken, there is great potential for increased attacks in our own backyard."

Clinton era


Lacombe and Keyes also refer to the June 21, 1995 Presidential Decision Directive 39 (Unclassifed)/Unclassifed Abstract issued by President William Jefferson Clinton. The Directive "instructed a cabinet committee to review critical national infrastructure's vulnerability to terrorism in order to make recommendations to the president." In addition, Attorney General Janet Reno subsequently established the Interagency Working Group on Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) which included "representation from a range of federal agencies. The group eventually concluded that potential sources and forms of attack had evolved sufficiently to require new kinds of review addressing both physical attacks, such as bombings, and electronic, or cyber, attacks."

In response to "the working group's recommendations, [President Clinton] issued Executive Order 13010-Critical Infrastructure Protection on July 15, 1996, founding the President's Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection. The committee was designed to report to the president on threats involving vulnerabilities to critical national infrastructures while providing policy alternatives and solutions."


On May 22, 1998, President Clinton issued Presidential Decision Directive-62 (PDD-62), "Protection Against Unconventional Threats to the Homeland and Americans Overseas" and Presidential Decision Directive-63 (PDD-63), "Critical Infrastructure Protection."

  • PDD-62 stated "Because of our military strength, future enemies, whether nations, groups or individuals, may seek to harm us in non-traditional ways including attacks within the United States. Because our economy is increasingly reliant upon interdependent and cyber-supported infrastructures, non-traditional attacks on our infrastructure and information systems may be capable of significantly harming both our military power and our economy."
  • PDD-63 called for "a National Coordinator whose scope will include not only critical infrastructure but also foreign terrorism and threats of domestic mass destruction (including biological weapons) because attacks on the US may not come labeled in neat jurisdictional boxes."

The May 5, 1998, issue of Policy Analysis published by the Cato Institute featured an article by Ivan Eland, director of defense policy studies at Cato: "Protecting the Homeland: The Best Defense Is to Give No Offense."


On January 20, 1999, Dr. Ruth David, former CIA deputy director for science and technology and then President and CEO of the ANSER Institute for Homeland Security, spoke before the National Military Intelligence Association (NMIA) Potomac Chapter at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, DC. The topic of her address was Homeland Defense.[7]

Jonathan S. Landay wrote the article "Launching a homeland defense" for the Christian Science Monitor on January 29, 1999:

  • "Since 1995, President Clinton and the Republican-led Congress ... boosted spending on these programs by billions of dollars. ...[and] Mr. Clinton has announced he will add billions more for counterterrorism and national missile defense (NMD) in the fiscal 2000 budget he sends next month to Congress. Lawmakers are expected to embrace his plans, and perhaps inject more money than he seeks ... These efforts have come to be known as homeland defense." It is, asserts Deputy Defense Secretary John J. Hamre, "the defense mission of the next century." [8]

On February 1, 1999, President Clinton and Vice President Albert Gore, Jr.'s FY 2000 Budget: Preparing America For the 21st Century was released. The Budget included:

  • "Prepare America for other critical future challenges. The President's framework will reserve 11 percent of the projected surpluses for military readiness and pressing national domestic priorities, such as education, research, and the security of Americans at home and abroad."

Thus far, the term homeland defense had not been specifically used by the White House or the Clinton administration, although Presidential Decision Directive-62 (PDD-62), issued by President Clinton on May 22, 1998, did make reference to protecting the homeland: "Protection Against Unconventional Threats to the Homeland".

Another example comes from the curious naming of the ANSER Institute for Homeland Security. Although the Institute was both funded and initiated by October 1999, it was not formally established until April 2001. Even this opening, it is said, apparently was preceded by a "month of high-tech and heavy-hitter-security-type buzz" due to the Institute's "ties to the military and to the intelligence community."


On February 8-10, 2000, the RAND Corporation, assisted by "many sponsoring organizations, and particularly by the Los Angeles County Terrorism Early Warning Group (TEW)" organized and hosted the Symposium "Bioterrorism: Homeland Defense: The Next Steps." Besides the Los Angeles County Health Services and Sheriff's Department, Symposium Sponsors included government entities such as the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories.[9]

On April 3, 2000, Anthony H. Cordesman, Senior Fellow for Strategic Assessment at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, submitted a rough working draft of a 37-page document: "Defining Homeland Defense." The report was only one in a series of documents prepared by Cordesman which began as early as 1998 under the heading of "Defending America: Redefining the Conceptual Borders of Homeland Defense."

According to the government contractor the MITRE Corporation ("a not-for-profit national resource that provides systems engineering, research and development, and information technology support to the government") web site: "A concept was initiated at MITRE in June 2000 to develop an internal MITRE prototype information service for homeland defense. Several teams were established to develop an internal Homeland Defense Information Service (HDIS) Web site." [10]

The CSIS published the report from the July 11, 2000, meeting of the Second Senior Advisory Group that was held at the Dirksen Senate Office Building. The title of the publication, available on the CSIS web site, is "Defending America: Redefining the Concept of Homeland Defense." [11]

The Defense Science Board (DFB) published the Executive Summary (Volume I) of its 2000 Summer Study report Protecting the Homeland in February 2001. The DFB published Protecting The Homeland, the Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Unconventional Nuclear Warfare Defense 2000 Summer Study in July 2001.

In the September 2000 Project for the New American Century document entitled Rebuilding America's Defenses For a New Century, Homeland Security was identified as one of Four Core Missions for U.S. military forces in the September 2000 The report's co-chairmen Donald Kagan and Gary Schmitt and principal author Thomas Donnelly placed defend the homeland at the top of the list:

"America's global leadership, and its role as the guarantor of the current great-power peace, relies upon the safety of the American homeland; the preservation of a favorable balance of power in Europe, the Middle East and surrounding energy-producing region, and East Asia; and the general stability of the international system of nation-states relative to terrorists, organized crime, and other 'non-state' actors."
"HOMELAND DEFENSE: America must defend its homeland. During the Cold War, nuclear deterrence was the key element in homeland defense; it remains essential. But the new century has brought with it new challenges. While configuring its nuclear force, the United States must also counteract the effects of the proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction that may soon allow lesser states to deter U.S. military action by threatening U.S. allies and the American homeland itself. Of all the new and current missions for U.S. armed forces, this must have priority."

In summation, the authors state:

"Finally, we have argued that we must restore the foundations of American security and the basis for U.S. military operations abroad by improving our homeland defenses. The current American peace will be short-lived if the United States becomes vulnerable to rogue powers with small inexpensive arsenals of ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads or other weapons of mass destruction. We cannot allow North Korea, Iran, Iraq or similar states to undermine American leadership, intimidate American allies or threaten the American homeland itself. The blessings of the American peace, purchased at fearful cost and a century of effort, should not be so trivially squandered."

However, nowhere within the 90-page PNAC document was anything remotely akin to the events carried out upon American soil like those of September 11, 2001, ever anticipated.

Another installment in Cordesman's "Defending America" series of reports—a massive 207-page "rough draft for comment"—was issued on September 1, 2000: "Homeland Defense: Federal Policy and Programs to Deal with the Threat of Attacks with Weapons of Mass Destruction".

Page iii of the Executive Summary states:

"There is a wide spectrum of potential threats to the American homeland that do not involve the threat of overt attacks by states using long-range missiles or conventional military forces. Such threats include covert attacks by state actors, state use of proxies, independent terrorist and extremist attacks by foreign groups or individuals, and independent terrorist and extremist attacks by residents of the US. These threats are currently limited in scope and frequency. No pattern of actual attacks on US territory has yet emerged that provides a clear basis for predicting how serious any given form of attack will be in the future, what means of attack will be used, or how lethal new forms of attack will be if they are successful."

Dr. Ruth David and Randy Larsen, Colonel, USAF, Ret., Vice President and Director of the ANSER Institute, published the article "Homeland Defense: Assumptions First, Strategy Second" in the Fall 2000 issue of Strategic Review and in the October 2000 issue of the Journal of Homeland Defense.

  • David and Larsen pose the question "What is homeland defense?" and then answer it by saying that "The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) states, 'Homeland defense is the core of military service. Yet the Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms does not define or even mention the term." If, they say, you should "Ask foreign military officers what the mission of their nations' armed forces is and most will say, 'To defend our homeland.'" But, they add, "That is not the answer one would hear from most American military officers." In fact, they admit that "there is a raging debate among and within federal agencies whether this mission should be called homeland defense, domestic security, or civil support." [12]

Another article in the October 2000 issue of Journal of Homeland Defense was written by Ambassador Michael A. Sheehan, Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the U.S. Department of State: "The Best Homeland Defense Is a Good Counterterrorism Offense". Sheehan, with his vision for homeland defense cast outside of the physical United States, wrote:

  • "The United States is among the world's leaders in homeland defense; our efforts to strengthen our security continue unabated every day. However, as we continue to bolster our defenses, we need to continue to monitor and counter the changing threat of international terrorism, which is forcing us to expand the scope of our homeland defense. With the rapid changes occurring in the domestic and international environment, we must develop an active defense outside the United States to guard against threats emanating from overseas and to protect American citizens and assets abroad. Without this expansion in scope, even the best domestic homeland defense—a Fortress America—leaves the United States and its citizens vulnerable."

In the October 2000 article by Lacombe and Keyes (Journal of Homeland Defense, "Defending the American Homeland's Infrastructure"), the authors state:

  • "While American infrastructure still enjoys some geographic protection from physical attack, new threats, particularly cyber-threats, bypass traditional security methods. They are undeterred by geography and travel undetected by current national defense mechanisms until the damage has already mounted."

In October 2000, the library at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I. published an online "Selected Bibliography" on "Homeland Defense and Domestic Terrorism." All of the material in the bibliography (updated in 2002) can be found in the Naval War College Library or on the Internet. The introductory paragraphs on the web site gives the rationale behind the bibliography: [13]

  • "The 1998 Twentieth Century Fox film The Siege starring the quintessential action men, Bruce Willis and Denzel Washington, went very far in bringing the idea of domestic terrorism back into the minds of the American people at a time when they had just bandaged their hearts after the horrific bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building. The movie begins with images of the bombing of the Beirut Marine Corps barracks in 1983 and quickly takes the viewer to New York City where FBI agents are tasked with discovering the perpetrators of a string of increasingly devastating bombings within the city's perimeters. What unfolds is a chaotic scenario of terrorist activity that places the FBI, the CIA, Presidential advisors, and the U.S. Army in a position where each distrusts the others. The situation is further aggravated by the presence of the Army General that everybody loves to hate played by Bruce Willis. In a scene where all of the designated senators and key players from the FBI, the CIA, the Department of Defense and the Executive Branch are gathered, the question of who should really be in charge is asked and reference is made to the Posse Comitatus Act.
  • "As sensational as this movie is, it is not really too much of a stretch of the imagination when one considers the bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, the World Trade Center, Oklahoma City, and the incident in the Tokyo subway. In spite of restrictions on the use of military force within America's borders, current literature shows that the U.S. Armed Forces are better equipped than local civilian authorities to identify and respond to the threat of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
  • "Contrary to the feelings of the upper echelon personnel in the film, the National Guard is currently making exceptional progress in the training of rapid response teams. Even with this down-to-business, get-prepared position of the National Guard, military leaders and policy makers are afraid that we are not sufficiently prepared for the possibility of chemical or biological attack on home soil. Last but not least, if the idea of WMD attack at home is not unsettling enough; the changing global weather patterns can almost certainly be counted upon to create disasters like the 1998 ice storm that crippled parts of Canada, Northern New England, and upper New York State.
  • "With all of this in mind, the term Homeland Defense has evolved in the literature to describe the policies and preparations designed to protect Americans here in the Continental United States against catastrophic attack."
  • A few items stand out from the Naval War College Library's listing:
"An Argument for Homeland Defense" by Fred C. Ikle published in the Spring 1998 issue of the The Washington Quarterly.
John J. Stanton's "White House Plans Cyber Homeland Defense Effort" published in National Defense, September 1998.
The 1999 United States Army Training and Doctrine Command, Joint and Army Directorate, Supporting Homeland Defense from the Army Training and Doctrine Command, Fort Leavenworth, KS.
The December 1999 article "Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. John J. Hamre Challenges Standing Committee to Lead Debate on Homeland Defense" by William E. Conner published in The Officer.

At the Quadrennial Defense Review Symposium held on November 8-9, 2000, Colonel Larsen, Director of Homeland Defense with ANSER, Inc., gave the power-point presentation Homeland Defense.

  • Larsen said that the term homeland defense was "Nearly synonymous with the 20th century term national security. There are however," he said, "two primary differences."
"Nation-states, large and small, and some non-state actors have the capability to bring a new type of warfare to the American homeland."
"New types of weapons, such as cyber and biological, are immune to our superpower status and traditional defenses."
  • Larsen continued in his presentation to say that "Homeland Defense requires a national strategy and a new security partnership."
The threat of a major asymmetric attack on our Homeland is real. The Federal Government will play the lead role in deterrence, prevention, preemption, attribution, and retaliation. State assets, including the NG and local governments, will play the lead role in first response and consequence management. The private sector will play a critical operational role. There is a requirement for an integrated warning/information/coordination system.
  • Larsen, on behalf of ANSER, took the position that "the time is now," and quotes then Secretary of Defense William Sebastian Cohen: "The debate on homeland defense is yet to begin" (October 2, 2000).
  • The media presentation ended with slides of ANSER's Institute of Homeland Security web site.

In December 2000, CSIS published "Homeland Defense: A Strategic Approach" authored by Joseph J. Collins and Michael Horowitz.

The CSIS published another "Defending America" report on December 12, 2000. Cordesman and Arleigh A. Burke penned "Defending America: Redefining the Conceptual Borders of Homeland Defense."

On December 15, 2000, the Second Annual Report of the Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities For Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction: II: Toward a National Strategy for Combatting Terrorism" was released by the Rand Corporation. (191-page pdf).

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