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Stephen Flynn

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Commander Stephen Flynn, USCG (ret.) “is a researcher, independent advisor, and frequent commentator on homeland security, global trade and transportation security, and emergency preparedness.  He is the inaugural occupant of the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Chair in National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. Dr. Flynn 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. Since 9/11 he has provided congressional testimony on homeland security matters on eighteen occasions.


Commander Stephen Flynn spent twenty years as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Coast Guard including two commands at sea, served in the White House Military Office during the George H.W. Bush administration, and was director for Global Issues on the National Security Council staff during the Clinton administration. He holds a Ph.D. and M.A.L.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a B.S. from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.” Commander Stephen Flynn is the author of The Edge of Disaster: Rebuilding a Resilient Nation and America the Vulnerable: How Our Government Is Failing to Protect Us from Terrorism.”


Publisher’s Weekly said of America the Vulnerable: How Our Government Is Failing to Protect Us from Terrorism, “Arguing for the primary role of homeland security, Council on Foreign Relations fellow Flynn describes a nation living on borrowed time. He presents a hypothetical scenario of a devastating "next attack" and stresses the difficulty officials have in learning new tricks and politicians have in paying for them. Flynn stresses as well the susceptibility of the food supply to sabotage and the lack of oversight in a vulnerable chemical industry, emphasizing in particular the continuing failure to establish systematic inspection of cargo containers. He is most convincing in arguing the risks of a "silver bullet approach," the assumption that a single innovation will solve a particular security problem. Instead, Flynn proposes a Federal Homeland Security System integrating private and public expertise, funded by levying fees on such activities as the movement of containers and by requiring owners and operators of critical infrastructure to carry antiterrorist insurance. The details of Flynn's proposals are significant in representing a genuinely long-term response to a threat he is convinced will remain serious for an indefinite longterm. Any risks they might pose to civil liberties, he argues, are marginal compared with the likely domestic consequences of being caught unprepared a second time—or a third.”

The Edge of Disaster: Rebuilding a Resilient Nation
Stephen Flynn  More Info
America the Vulnerable: How Our Government is Failing to Protect Us From Terrorism
Stephen Flynn  More Info

According to the book description of The Edge of Disaster: Rebuilding a Resilient Nation, “Americans are in denial when it comes to facing up to how vulnerable our nation is to disaster, be it terrorist attack or act of God. We have learned little from the cataclysms of September 11 and Hurricane Katrina. When it comes to catastrophe, America is living on borrowed time–and squandering it. In this new book, leading security expert Stephen Flynn issues a call to action, demanding that we wake up and prepare immediately for a safer future.


The truth is acts of terror cannot always be prevented, and nature continues to show its fury in frighteningly unpredictable ways. Resiliency, argues Flynn, must now become our national motto. With chilling frankness and clarity, Flynn paints an all too real scenario of the threats we face within our own borders. A terrorist attack on a tanker carrying liquefied natural gas into Boston Harbor could kill thousands and leave millions more of New Englanders without power or heat. The destruction of a ship with a cargo of oil in Long Beach, California, could bring the West Coast economy to its knees and endanger the surrounding population. But even these all-too-plausible terrorist scenarios pale in comparison to the potential destruction wrought by a major earthquake or hurricane.


Our growing exposure to man-made and natural perils is largely rooted in our own negligence, as we take for granted the infrastructure handed down to us by earlier generations. Once the envy of the world, this infrastructure is now crumbling. After decades of neglect, our public health system leaves us at the mercy of microbes that could kill millions in the next flu pandemic. Flash flooding could wipe out a fifty-year-old dam north of Phoenix, placing thousands of homes and lives at risk. The next San Francisco earthquake could destroy century-old levees, contaminating the freshwater supply that most of California relies on for survival.


It doesn’t have to be this way. The Edge of Disaster tells us what we can do about it, as individuals and as a society. We can–and, Flynn argues, we must–construct a more resilient nation. With the wounds of recent national tragedies still unhealed, the time to act is now. Flynn argues that by tackling head-on, eyes open the perils that lie before us, we can remain true to our most important and endearing national trait: our sense of optimism about the future and our conviction that we can change it for the better for ourselves–and our children.”

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