Letter from the Director

11 January 2021

Dear NSF friends, members, and community,

I had hoped to write an upbeat letter at the start of 2021 with greetings for the new year, but the specter of insurrection at our Nation’s Capitol on Jan 6th dimmed my optimism for 2021. As our country works to recover and heal from these horrible events, I have been reminded by many friends and colleagues that our democracy is only as strong as our communities make it. To that end, NSF is committed now more than ever to providing programs that share different perspectives and encourage thoughtful dialogue and civil discourse on topics that underpin our national security.

Two quotes this week summarized for me the challenges ahead and the need to focus our energy on restoring democracy at home, in Washington DC, and abroad by seeking truth and honoring diverse viewpoints…even when we disagree.

“The truth unquestionably is, that the only path to a subversion of the republican system of the Country is, by flattering the prejudices of the people, and exciting their jealousies and apprehensions, to throw affairs into confusion, and bring on civil commotion.” (August 18, 1792 letter from Alexander Hamilton to George Washington)

“Our democracy is not self-sustaining. Rather, it demands that we nurture and defend it through thoughtful, truthful discourse, free and fair elections, and respect for the decisions of the American people. We must reaffirm and defend this commitment every day. By honoring facts and truth as fundamental underpinnings of the democratic process, I am confident we can move forward as a country, and in our pursuit of a healthy environment and thriving economy.” (08 Jan 2021, Richard G. Newall, President, Resources for the Future)

Our upcoming programs are designed to bring you a range of perspectives on new and ongoing national security issues. Watch the NSF website for program dates, videos of past programs, and new invited commentaries: https://nationalsecurityforum.org

Due to the events on Jan 6th, our January program was delayed until the Jan 27th. Dr. Erin Miller from the START Center at the University of Maryland will be presenting on “Global Terrorism Challenges.” She will be joined by discussants from the Department of Homeland Security. Future NSF topics include a first look at the Biden Administration National Security Agenda in February, transitioning to a new energy security in March, and rethinking Iran nuclear policy in April.

If you have additional topics you would like to see covered, please email me: mccarthy@nationalsecurityforum.org

An exciting new development for NSF is an expanded collaboration with our corporate sponsor, Mission Support Technical Services (MSTS) – the contractor managing the National Nuclear Security Site (NNSS) in southern Nevada. In partnership with MSTS, we are developing a series of programs around nuclear security, counterterrorism, and environmental issues related NNSS operations. This will include quarterly NSF programs on different topics, longer more in-depth workshops focused on nuclear issues in Nevada, and the rescheduled on-site tour of NNSS after we are all vaccinated and COVID is our rearview mirror.

NSF is also working with the Washoe County School District to reconvene (virtually) the Youth Security Forum (YSF) in May 2021. We will be looking for volunteers to lead discussions and participate in the YSF in the coming weeks. Investing in the next generation of national security leaders is one way we can all build a brighter, more secure future.

Please feel free to contact me anytime if you have questions, requests, or comments about NSF Programs.

I wish you all a safe, healthy and peaceful 2021 and I look forward to seeing many of you at our upcoming programs.

Stay safe and healthy!

Maureen I. McCarthy, PhD
Director, Programs & Commentary
Email: mccarthy@nationalsecurityforum.org

Letter from the Director regarding COVID-19

19 March 2020

Dear NSF Friends and Family,

The National Security Forum recognizes that we are all living in challenging times with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to spread both at home and abroad. Our thoughts and gratitude go out to the dedicated members of our community working on the frontlines of the pandemic that are providing for and protecting our community during this difficult time. We are especially grateful to all the healthcare professionals, Federal, state and local officials, and critical businesses that are staying open and working hard to protect us, our families, and our community.

NSF is adjusting our programs and events to comply with Governor Sisolak’s order to close all non-essential businesses in Nevada and the CDC guidelines to limit gatherings to under 10 people. The NSF is canceling our in-person meeting scheduled for 16 April and will evaluate holding future in-person events as circumstances warrant.

In order to continue to keep you informed about critical national security issues, we are implementing a virtual program-hosting capability for our meetings starting in April. I will send a follow-up email next week with program details and login information for our first on-line program in April. Transitioning to online programs will allow us to keep our NSF community informed and engaged during this challenging time.

The COVID-19 pandemic is moving very quickly in the United States and abroad. As of today, the United States has over 10,000 cases and 150 deaths. The death rate in Italy has just passed that of China and the United States and Europe are implementing drastic measures to shut down international and domestic travel. One piece of good news today is that China reported no new cases yesterday. However, there are concerns of resurgent outbreaks in China and other Asian countries such as South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore that have seen significant decreases in COVID-19 cases over the last few weeks.

For those of you who missed Dr. Jim Wilson’s very enlightening presentation to NSF on COVID-19, the video of his talk and Q/A are posted on the NSF website (scroll down on the landing page): https://nationalsecurityforum.org

As you seek information about COVID-19 on the internet, please keep in mind that some news sources are legitimate, but many are not. We recommend that you rely only on trusted news sources and federal agency guidelines and be skeptical of news stories where the source is unknown or appears to be mimicking a known site. A few trusted sources are given below:

Federal Agency Links:

News and analysis sources:

WARNING! There is vastly more disinformation being passed around on the internet than factual information. DO NOT BE DUPED. Below are a few examples of the ongoing Disinformation Campaign. This list was provided by Mike Mathews (DHS/CISA) Protective Security Agent for Nevada (and our January NSF speaker).

Article Title URL
Russia deploying coronavirus disinformation to sow panic in West, EU document says https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-disinformation/russia-deploying-coronavirus-disinformation-to-sow-panic-in-west-eu-document-says-idUSKBN21518F
Here’s A Running List Of The Latest Hoaxes Spreading About The Coronavirus https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/janelytvynenko/coronavirus-fake-news-disinformation-rumors-hoaxes
Be Wary of Those Texts From a Friend of a Friend’s Aunt https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/16/us/coronavirus-text-messages-national-quarantine.html
False coronavirus rumors surge in ‘hidden viral’ text messages https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/false-coronavirus-rumors-surge-hidden-viral-text-messages-n1160936
Coronavirus Misinformation Is Spreading Through Bogus Texts And Group Chats https://www.huffpost.com/entry/coronavirus-text-fake-misinformation_n_5e714e65c5b63c3b648682c5
In fast-moving pandemic, sources of falsehoods spread by text, email, WhatsApp and TikTok elude authorities https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/03/16/disnfo-texts-trump-quarantine/

If you have questions or requests for NSF on COVID-19 or other national security topics please feel free to contact me: mccarthy@nationalsecurityforum.org or Randi Thompson at: info@nationalsecurityforum.org

Thank you to all Nevadans for heeding the advice and guidelines from the CDC, Governor’s Office, Coronavirus Task Force, and your local community leaders to provide the maximum protection to our families, our communities, and our country.

Stay informed and safe!

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Maureen McCarthy, PhD (Program & Commentary Director)

On behalf of Randi Thompson (Executive Director), Garry Garretson (President, Board of Directors) and the NSF Board