Transition to Department of Homeland Security Essay
I - Transition to Department of Homeland Security Essay introduction. How the homeland security all started
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The need to defend and protect the country and its people from life-threatening situation like calamities and terrorism is one of the basic reasons why Homeland Security was created. In the age of terrorism and the US’ position in this particular battle, the country and its people are in danger of being hurt or killed by actions of terrorists. And because of that, the need to have an agency systematically use the information and the resources to stop, prevent and manage terrorist actions as well as other calamities has become paramount; that is why Homeland Security was created. Hamburg and Brotman believed that “more attacks are considered likely as the U.S. entered a new era in national security (Hamburg and Brotman, 2005, p. 152),” adding that “these events led to significant federal legislative, regulatory and policy action affecting communications law and practice” that included the creation of Bush of Homeland Security (Hamburg and Brotman, 2005, p. 152).”
Homeland Security started as Office of Homeland Security or OHS after President Bush named it a new office operating and situated inside the White House. Its first point person was Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, who worked under the title Assistant to the President and started with his function with less than a month after the 9/11 attack, working for OHS on October 8, 2001. Because of the proximity of the creation of OHS to the 9/11 attack, many believed that more than anything else. The focus of OHS is the prevention of another attack on US especially in this scale and gravity, and it seems that shortly after it became operational, OHS has already played an important role in national security. “Since its inception, the OHS has played a key role in coordinating and implementing government policies and procedures in response to the ‘war on terror’ (Hamburg, Brotman, 2005, p. 152).”
The next important development to affect Homeland Security happened on March 2002 with President Bush’s signing of the HSPD-3, also known as the Homeland Security Presidential Directive 3. According to Bush, the rationale behind the creation of such agency is the need for an agency to be the source of information dissemination action especially if the information concerns the presence or risk of a terrorist attack or terrorist threat to Federal authority, state authority or even to the local authorities, as well as threat to the American people and the American establishments in the country; the creation of any agency that can act as the main agency to handle the problems and complications arising from the need to manage and control the threat or the presence of threat of terrorism to US and its people. That is explaining it by and large, because the task(s) of the Homeland Security and its officials and members are more complicated and difficult, especially when it comes to resource management and handling inter-agency operations if and when the homeland security agency begin making its move in accordance with its functions and responsibilities during particular situations (Hamburg, Brotman, 2005, p. 152).
Before the year ended, President Bush approved the Homeland Security Act of 2002 on November of the same year. Through this law, the DHS was formally created and empowered by the government and the constitution to function based on the features and responsibilities accorded to the office. But it wasn’t officially operational until the secretary and the deputies are named. Ridge was again at the forefront of homeland security, this time after being named the secretary at the start of the following year on January 24, 2003 (Hamburg, Brotman, 2005, p. 152).
There was not much development until 2004. That year marked several important developments and critical turn of events for the DHS. First was the approval of the Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2004 signed by President Bush in lieu of the necessities of the Homeland Security Act of 2002. In the same year, Ridge would tender his resignation (November), followed shortly by Bush’ naming of Bernard Kerik to take the vacated slot in the DHS on December. Kerik was a qualified and sound choice for Bush, as Kerik’s track record included his decorated stint as commissioner for the New York City Police Department. But before the year ended, Kerik turned down the post because of personal reasons. The following year, Bush named a new candidate for the position: Michael Chertoff. A former federal judge, Chertoff was nominated on January 11, confirmed by the senate and was sworn in the office on February 15, 2005. He won via a unanimous 98–0 landslide vote in the U.S. Senate (Hamburg, Brotman, 2005, p. 152).
The DHS also had some internal issues in 2006 to 1008, like employment features and processes that are not in the best interest of the employees because it makes employees unprotected by the union and collective bargaining rights. For example, the MaxHR, which was blocked by the court, the federal appeals court and was not supported by Congress and its appropriations for the fiscal year 2008 that renders DHS incapable financially of undertaking the MaxHR. Despite moves by the DHS to have the system approved through schemes that include renaming the system, it was still not enforced and used, and DHS in 2008 finally stopped in pursuing it.
The move to create the Department of Homeland Security was met with criticisms. And even after President Bush himself validated the need for such agency, there are still those who believed that this particular agency is nothing more than a part of the political strategy aimed at making handling post 9-11 easier and more manageable to the ego and sense of security of U.S. and U.S. politics. “The office, having only 120 employees and what was derided as a prohibitively small budget in light of the gravity of the events the nation had just witnessed, began to be seen as just another government bureaucracy (Bullock, Haddow, Coppola, 2006, p. 10).” There were other criticisms that were thrown at DHS, ranging from mismanagement of funds, low employee moral and poor performance by the department. Because of this, DHS became unpopular especially among Capitol Hill and White House top brass and officials. “Support for DHS faded quickly. Most policymakers believed that either the DHS was unable to perform terrorist threat analysis adequately, or that other departments within the federal government could do it better (Howard, Moore, Forest, 2005, p. 267).”
II. The transformation before and after 9/11
There were many different important transformations that happened after the September 9, 2001 terrorist attack; changes and transformations in the features of national security and its bureaucracy, the chain of command, coordination and protocol, changes that directly and indirectly affected the office, nature of work, scope and responsibilities of Homeland Security and other involved agencies under the US government. One of the notable post 9/11 changes is the creation of the Homeland Security office and the reorganization that followed the creation of the office. The post 9/11 US marks the Homeland Security era, wherein the main thrust of the government is change and transformation, for the better so that the US is not vulnerable or victimized by terrorist actions again, while at the same time maintaining a state of readiness across all departments and agencies that can immediately and effectively respond to terrorism or threats of terrorism. Inside the Homeland Security office, a significant change and transformation also happened, and that is the transformation from being known as the Office of Homeland Security (OHS) to being the Department of Homeland Security or DHS.
An important transformation post 9/11 was the dissolution of previously important and significant government offices. When the United States Immigration and Naturalization was dissolved and stopped being an official government office, it was the office of the Homeland Security that took over the duties of the now-defunct US immigration and naturalization office. This happened on March 1, 2003. Related to this development is the change that meant creation of two different offices that handles immigration and customs-related concerns like security and citizenship. These two new offices post 9/11 and post United States Immigration and Naturalization are the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Another related change and bureaucratic transformation was the creation of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a government office that is directly under the supervision of the DHS.
The changes that happened beginning the start of the Homeland Security era are not just limited to addition or dissolution of new and old government offices and agencies. With the creation of the DHS, there were changes as well in budget and manpower concerns that the White House now has to include as well in its list of priorities and considerations, especially since the very young DHS office boasts of 200,000 employees to make it the number three when it comes to manpower size; following closely other departments which are also stocked with the most number of employees working for it like number two Department of Veterans Affairs and the largest Cabinet department namely the Department of Defense.
The creation of the DHS was a change that rippled change and transformation effects post 9/11 that was felt inside other departments as well, forcing them to accommodate the change and make changes internally so that change is effectively integrated and the transformation as painless as possible. Take for example, the case of the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Energy. The creation of the DHS made these departments responsible for the tasks that the DHS delegated to them, this as part of DHS’ nature to operate in an inter-agency capability.
Some of the changes are not entirely about dissolution of offices and creation of new ones. Mostly, it was about reorganization, since the government believes that the unorganized channel of information and chain of command between and among different government units was an important point of concern in the weak intelligence and terrorism response capability of the country prior to 9/11. “The federal government in response to a concentrated effect to fight terrorism was a maze of bureaucratic red tape…intelligence, law enforcement, and military assets were in a state of protocol freeze (Hutton, Mydlarz, 2003, p. 2).”
The reorganization that happened inside the DHS and immediately during the establishment of DHS was an event not seen for a long while when it comes to the aspect of federal government agencies and offices being reorganized. It is immense and broad reaching and affected change in many different levels that the closest possible similar experience of the US government with this type of change at best is the change that happened during the approval of the National Security Act of 1947, which allowed the creation of important civil and military security and defense oriented offices like the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council, the same law that rearranged several departments in the military and placed these reorganized military offices and units under the command of the secretary of defense in lieu with the creation of the Department of Defense (that is why it is similar to the changes that happened during the creation of DHS). Several internal changes and development happened; an example was the Homeland Security Advisory System, which was made effective starting March 12, 2002.
The creation of the National Response Framework (NRP) and its implementation on March 2008 was also an important development characterized by change and transformation. The NRP acts as an improvement from the older National Incident Management System (NIMS). NRP includes a more detailed and more updated perspective and approach towards government agency response to domestic incidences.
III. Agencies involved in DHS
The inter-agency operation capability and access of the DHS to guarantee the effective undertaking of tasks necessary to save lives in the event of calamities, disasters and terrorism is guaranteed by the involvement of 22 different agencies in the tasks that DHS is involved in, should DHS seek the help and active participation of any one or all of the agencies. The 22 different agencies are as follows: the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service; Customs Service, Coast Guard and CBRN Countermeasures Programs; Domestic Emergency Support Teams; Environmental Measurements Laboratory and the Energy Security and Assurance Program; Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Computer Incident Response Center; National Domestic Preparedness Office, Nuclear Incident Response Team, National BW Defense Analysis Center, National Communications System and the National Infrastructure Protection Center; the Office for Domestic Preparedness; the Plum Island Animal Disease Center; Secret Service and the Strategic National Stockpile and the National Disaster Medical System; Transportation Security Administration; United States Citizenship and Immigration Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the United States Federal Protective Service.
The rationale behind this is that these different agencies are all necessary for the effective performance of DHS. Since the DHS is involved in almost every aspect of protection of human lives (from calamities and natural disasters to terrorism), it is easy to assume that DHS would be needing the expertise of professionals from different varying government agencies that can provide separate yet interrelated information that can result to better intelligence gathering and management and better preparation and response.
IV. Impact the agencies have made in the safety of the U.S.
The US government is hoping that involving several different agencies in the homeland security efforts will improve intelligence gathering, use of intelligence and the ability of the different government agencies to act together and provide a consolidated effort to address a particular incident and avoid another situation wherein lives were lost. This is because information and intelligence, as well as inter agency cooperation, was not managed, as was the case of 9/11 and post 9/11 analysis, and the reason why DHS was created in the first place. “The September 11 attacks triggered reviews of analyses and recommendations made before the attacks (Birkland, 2006, p. 36).” The government made careful analysis on which agency to put in and integrate with the DHS and its efforts; and these agencies are definitely capable of providing impact on the effort of DHS to ensure US safety.
The different agencies that are found included in the DHS serve different purposes and have impacted the effort to make the United States safer. For example, the customs and coast guard services help in protecting national safety by ensuring that the country’s borders are protected from illegal immigrants who maybe terrorists, coddlers or supporters of terrorist that may wreak new havoc in the country if unchecked. In the book “Homeland Security” by James JF Forest, it is noted that “illegal immigrants are still coming in waves (Forest, 2006, p. 1)” and protecting the safety of the United states require the DHS the ability to check, control, monitor and manage human and other kinds of traffic in the borders where terrorist and terrorist supplies may enter.
Citing the contribution of each and every one of the 22 agencies cannot be accomplished in a very limited area of discussion. The best option there is to discuss explain and expound on the basic idea that inter operation of different agencies was considered as the best solution to combat terrorism and the threat of terrorism because cooperation between different agencies with different specializations means the presence of intelligence and assets which, when combined, can be very potent and useful.
Some agencies are there to provide help in different ways. Take for example, the capability for risk assessment by the agency members in different fields of specialty, like public transportation which is a very likely target for terrorist attacks. “Regarding passenger rail security, key Department of Homeland Security (DHS) stakeholders with critical roles include the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which is responsible for the security of all modes of transportation (Berrick, 2007, p. 1).” The agencies focused on using their own strengths to contribute to the overall effort of the DHS to protect the US and ensure the country’s safety.
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