Who goes there? And what are his/her skills, professional qualifications, and other capabilities? The only sure way to answer these and other questions posed in times of crisis is through a national credentialing system that takes into account a long list of practical requirements and possible pitfalls.
The cost, and the challenge, of providing security at the Super Bowl and other major sports events has escalated exponentially in the almost eight years since the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States. And there are absolutely no fumbles allowed.
The most perfectly planned and carefully implemented security plan can easily go awry. All it takes is one suicidal terrorist or deranged assassin to make a major special event much more exciting, and dangerous - for participants and spectators alike - than originally anticipated.
The federal government has told the nation's states and cities to build up their homeland-security capabilities - a difficult and costly task at any time, but even more so during a recession. Here is one way to solve the "unfunded mandates" dilemma.
The greatest challenge facing UK and London officials will not be the staging of a worthy successor to China's sterling 2008 Games, but maintaining tight security in an open society where the cuisine may be less varied but freedom and diversity are much more highly valued.
It would be much more complicated than "a two-step smoke-alarm process," but the nations of the world now have the technology needed to develop and build a truly global international, and interoperable, sensor system capable of almost instantaneous detection of imminent disasters. So why don't they?
The high-tech professionals entrusted to protect and preserve a company's - or country's - IT networks do not always recognize that their first operational priority should be the protection of their own equipment, specifically including detection and encryption systems and devices.
Few if any states will reject federal funds earmarked for any purpose or program. But recent analyses suggest that a high percentage of federal-level allocations for local homeland-security plans and programs are not as well targeted as they should be.
A new look at how DHS grant funds are being spent should be a major priority of the Obama administration. It will be difficult to find fault with the earlier focus on equipment, but it seems obvious that the previously neglected "planning factor" also deserves greater emphasis.