Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sweet! (CHAD Sweet.) Revisiting the Chertoff Group

Homeland Security by Derek Purdy used under a Creative Commons License

My analytics show a spike in hits related to Chad Sweet, who is an associate of former U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. I blogged about Sweet and Chertoff's new venture on March 30, but at the time the Chertoff Group's website was not ready for prime time (or, for security folks, "3 am"). It is now.

Interestingly enough, the contents of the website are very compartmentalized. Rather than getting one view of the services they provide, you need to go to separate pages for risk management, crisis management, and merger and acquisition advice. Similarly, there are separate biographies for each of the principals. I wonder if this website organization is a holdover from the principals' security experience, in which people are only told what they need to know and operations are kept separate to prevent leaks and contamination.

So anyways, since my readers seem to be interested in Chad C. Sweet, I took a peek at his biography. Excerpts:

At the Department of Homeland Security, Chad Sweet worked directly with Secretary Michael Chertoff to restructure and optimize the flow of information between the CIA, FBI and other members of the national security community and DHS. Mr. Sweet also supported the Secretary during numerous operations to detect, disrupt and respond to terrorist plots both in the United States and overseas, including the August 2006 US/UK liquid explosives plot, the March 2007 Fort Dix Six plot, the June 2007 JFK Aiport plot and other incidents that remain classified.

No mention of the Madrid train bombing, but that investigation was not primarily a DHS one, but one from another agency. But his earlier resume is interesting. Check this:

After having helped to fight the threat of Communism during his tenure at the CIA, Mr. Sweet left the Agency in the early 90s and began a career in finance.

I'll grant that Sweet left finance several years ago, but there's a bit of irony inasmuch as the finance sector is becoming significantly dependent on government handouts. For purist capitalists, that sounds like Communism invading the country from within.

Back to today. I never did figure out why there was a sudden surge of interest in Chad Sweet, but I did find this April interview with Michael Chertoff in which he discussed the Chertoff Group.

[R]ight now it’s myself as chairman and founding principal, Mike Hayden, Paul Schneider who was, as you know, my deputy before that was head of acquisition for NSA and the Navy in the Clinton administration, Admiral Jay Cohen, who was head of technology and before that head of technology for the Navy, and Charlie Allen, of course, who was our head of intelligence and before that was pretty much head of everything you could be for the CIA and was head of national collections. Finally, Chad Sweet, who was my chief of staff, a former Goldman Sachs banker and before that a government person, is our chief operating officer. A person who is hands-on and chief of operations.

The idea is that we wanted to bring together a really unparalleled team of experienced homeland security architects and people who could look at the issue of homeland security as broadly as possible, including the intelligence side, the acquisition side, the technology side, the policy side and the operations side. And among the six of us we pretty much have all of those things in DHS, in DoD, and the Department of Justice, law enforcement and finally, in the intelligence community. So we have pretty much every element of homeland security covered.

Well, every element of homeland security except for private sector experience - it appears that Sweet is the only one with significant private sector knowledge, and even that was only gained in a decade between two government stints. Let's face it - it sounds like I have more homeland security private sector experience than any one principal in the Chertoff Group. (Not that I'm submitting my resume to them or anything.)

But then again, that's how the government game is played these days - when dealing with the government, experience in working with the government is much more important than experience in working with the private sector.

Again, for purist capitalists, that sounds like Communism invading the country from within.
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