Flynn, Stephen (Stephen E. Flynn)

views updated

Flynn, Stephen (Stephen E. Flynn)


Born in Salem, MA; married; wife's name JoAnn; children: Christina. Education: Graduate of U.S. Coast Guard Academy, 1982; Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, M.A.L.D., 1990, and Ph.D., 1991.


Home—New York, NY; CT. Office—Council on Foreign Relations, 58 E. 68th St., New York, NY 10021. E-mail—[email protected]


Consultant, educator, and writer. U.S. Coast Guard, became commander; commanding officer of Cutter Point Arena, 1984-86, and Cutter Redwood, 1992-93. Brookings Institution, Washington, DC, guest scholar and visiting fellow, 1991-94; U.S. Coast Guard Academy, New London, CT, associate professor, 1994-99; National Security Council, Washington, DC, director of Office of Global Issues, 1997; U.S. Commission on National Security (Hart-Rudman Commission), Washington, DC, consultant on homeland security, 2000-01; Stanford University Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford, CA, consulting professor, 2006—; Council on Foreign Relations, New York, NY, Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow for National Security Studies; principal for Stephen E. Flynn Associates LLC. Advisory board member for Crossflo Systems, San Diego, CA. Has appeared on numerous television and radio news programs, including Meet the Press, 60 Minutes, NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Today Show, CNN, Nightline, Charlie Rose Show, and National Public Radio.


Distinguished Graduate, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, 1988; International Affairs Fellowship, Council on Foreign Relations, 1991-92; Annenberg Scholar-in-Residence, University of Pennsylvania, 1993-94; Coast Guard Academy Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award, 1999; Legion of Merit, 2001; Maritime Security Service Recognition Award for Outstanding Worldwide Leadership, 2005.


(Preparer, also project director with Gregory M. Grant) The Transnational Drug Challenge and the New World Order: The Report of the CSIS Project on the Global Drug Trade in the Post-Cold War Era, Center for Strategic & International Studies (Washington, DC), 1993.

America the Vulnerable: How Our Government Is Failing to Protect Us from Terrorism, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2004, published with a new afterword, Harper Perennial (New York, NY), 2005.

(With Daniel B. Prieto) Neglected Defense: Mobilizing the Private Sector to Support Homeland Security, Council on Foreign Relations (New York, NY), 2006.

The Edge of Disaster: Rebuilding a Resilient Nation, Random House (New York, NY), 2007.

Contributor to books and reports, including At Issue: Politics in the World Arena, edited by Steven L. Spiegel and David J. Pervin, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1994; Invisible Crises, edited by George Gerbner, Hamid Mowlana, and Herbert I. Schiller, Westview (Boulder, CO), 1996; Fires across the Water: Transnational Problems in Asia, edited by James Shinn, Council on Foreign Relations (New York, NY), 1998; Beyond Sovereignty, 3, edited by Mary Ann Cusimano, Bedford/St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2000; How Did This Happen? Terrorism and the New War, edited by James F. Hoge, Jr., and Gideon Rose, PublicAffairs (New York, NY), 2001; Governance & Public Security, Syracuse University (Syracuse, NY), 2002; Treaty Enforcement and International Cooperation in Penal Matters, T.M.C. Asser Press (The Hague, The Netherlands) 2002; The Re-Bordering of North America? Integration and Exclusion in a New Security Environment, edited by Peter Andreas and Thomas J. Bierstecker, Routledge (New York, NY), 2003; Beyond Sovereignty: Issues for a Global Agenda, 3rd edition, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2005; The Forgotten Homeland: A Century Foundation Task Force Report, chaired by Richard A. Clarke and Rand Beers, Century Foundation Press (New York, NY), 2006; and Seeds of Disaster, Roots of Response: How Private Decisions Affect Public Vulnerability, edited by Lewis Branscomb and others, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2006. Contributor to periodicals, including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Foreign Affairs, and the Journal of Commerce. Also project director for America: Still Unprepared, Still in Danger (report of an independent task force sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations), Gary Hart and Warren B. Rudman, cochairs, Council on Foreign Relations (New York, NY), also published as an electronic resource, both 2002.


A former U.S. Coast Guard commander, Stephen Flynn is an expert in various aspects of national security and terrorism, including catastrophic terrorism, emergency preparedness, critical infrastructure protection, trade and transportation security, and border control modernization. He is also the author or coauthor of several books focusing on national security and terrorism. As reported by Traffic World contributor Angela Greiling Keane, Flynn has strong and outspoken opinions about national security, especially as they pertain to the international maritime industry. "Our national security system is designed largely to do what it did during the Cold War," Keane quoted Flynn. Keane then noted that according to Flynn, this follows a philosophy geared "to wage a conventional war and defend the United States against enemies overseas. That, he said, ignores a dramatic shift in the nature of war."

In America the Vulnerable: How Our Government Is Failing to Protect Us from Terrorism, the author argues that the United States is ill-prepared to stop another terrorist attack and that a more stringent national security agenda should be developed. In addition to pointing out where advances can be made, such as placing global positioning system sensors on all imported containers, Flynn also gives praise to some programs, such as the Container Security Initiative to help screen imported containers. In his book, Flynn presents various terrorist scenarios that could occur in the United States. Flynn summed up his book's view on the country's state of readiness in an interview with Dave Goldiner in the New York Daily News, noting: "The security measures we have been cobbling together are hardly fit to deter amateur thieves, vandals and hackers, never mind determined terrorists." Most critics praised Flynn's effort to warn Americans of the dangers they face. James Craig, writing in the Military Review, commented: "Flynn's short, well-written, easy-to-read book is an effective guide that advances the homeland security debate. It should be on the shelf of any security scholar or practitioner." Brendan Driscoll, writing in Booklist, noted that the author "reminds us that the cure for fear is practical, not ideological."

In The Edge of Disaster: Rebuilding a Resilient Nation, Flynn continues his discussion of improving American security. However, this time he addresses not only terrorist attacks but also the idea of protecting against natural disasters. Among the natural disaster scenarios he presents are an earthquake in California, an outbreak of the avian flu in New York, and a chemical plant explosion. In the course of the discussion, the author calls on corporations and government to collaborate more closely on ways to prevent disasters and terrorist threats. "Flynn's book is yet another wake-up call from our ‘national state of complacency,’ noted Larry Anderson in Government Security. Vanessa Bush, writing in Booklist, noted: "Flynn's book reads like a thriller but has the added punch of reality."



Aviation Week & Space Technology, September 20, 2004, David Hughes, review of America the Vulnerable: How Our Government Is Failing to Protect Us from Terrorism, p. 59.

Booklist, August, 2004, Brendan Driscoll, review of America the Vulnerable, p. 1880; February 15, 2007, Vanessa Bush, review of The Edge of Disaster: Rebuilding a Resilient Nation, p. 19.

Book World, March 4, 2007, John McQuaid, "Open Target: After 9/11 and Katrina, Why Is America Still So Vulnerable?," p. 2.

Campaigns & Elections, May 1, 2007, review of The Edge of Disaster, p. 66.

Government Security, February 1, 2007, Larry Anderson, "Brittle, Not Prepared."

JoC Week, February 4, 2002, Joseph Bonney, "A Voice for Homeland Defense," p. 36.

Journal of Commerce, January 19, 2004, "Stephen E. Flynn Has Earned a Reputation for Being Outspoken about Supply-Chain Security, and the Title of His New Book Minces No Words: ‘America the Vulnerable: How the U.S. Has Failed to Protect the Homeland and Its People from Terrorism,’" p. 8; July 19, 2004, R.G. Edmonson, "Steve Flynn's Call to Arms: Book by Former Coast Guard Officer Criticizes Homeland-security Policies since Sept. 11," p. 35; August 2, 2004, Peter Tirschwell, "A Price Worth Paying," p. 6; March 13, 2006, "Book to Address Infrastructure's Vulnerability," p. 8.

Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2004, review of America the Vulnerable, p. 566.

Military Review, January-February, 2006, James Craig, review of America the Vulnerable, p. 123.

National Journal, March 11, 2006, Art Pine, "Port Protection Looks Overseas," p. 67.

Newsweek, September 20, 2004, Jonathan Alter, "The Danger of Distractions: The First Responsibility of Government Is to Keep Us Safe, Yet We Talk More about Flip-Flops and Halliburton than Missing Nuclear Material," p. 29.

New York Daily News, July 18, 2004, Dave Goldiner, "New Book Dismisses Homeland Security Efforts as ‘Scant Progress.’"

New York Times, June 19, 2006, Eric Lipton, "Company Ties Not Always Noted in Push to Tighten U.S. Security," p. 1.

Providence Journal, September 26, 2006, "Port Security Expert: Americans Are ‘Overwhelmingly Ignorant.’"

Publishers Weekly, July 5, 2004, review of America the Vulnerable, p. 48.

Reference & Research Book News, February, 2005, review of America the Vulnerable, p. 158.

Sea Power, November 1, 2004, David W. Munns, review of America the Vulnerable, p. 35.

Survival, summer, 2004, Jonathan Stevenson, review of America the Vulnerable.

Traffic World, June 28, 2004, Angela Greiling Keane, "Picking Security Priorities: Security Expert Flynn Claims Overseas Focus Leaves U.S. Ports, Transport Sites Increasingly Vulnerable," p. 13.

Workboat, August, 2004, Pamela Glass, "Q & A: A Talk with Stephen E. Flynn, Senior Fellow, National Security Studies, Council on Foreign Relations. His Book ‘America the Vulnerable’ Was Published in July," p. 14.


Council on Foreign Relations Web site, (August 15, 2007), biography of author.